Thursday, December 28, 2006

Target Acquired



Not a new post - an old one in a new form for those of you who haven't yet found the YouTube poems yet.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Reconstruction

New day, new beginning in Manhattan.
First ladies stand around
swathed in silk and satin,
purring as the first steel rises.
At the appointed hour
with not much more than the sound
of polite applause
to break their stubborn silence,
the first stage of Freedom’s Tower
makes an entrance.
The Mayor’s speech delivers no surprises.
We’ve heard this genuine outpouring
of raw emotion so many times before
and we’re guaranteed to hear it more and more
until it reaches a well rehearsed climax
at one thousand seven hundred and seventy six feet
and tributes to the awesome power
of the dollar spew forth from Fox’s hacks.

Look on my works, ye mighty and despair.

Outside the Green Zone,
nobody must stand around for long.
Conclude your business and be gone,
before the bomber rises,
before the first steel splinters the air
and the bullets come to part your hair.
Oh my love, hurry home. Don’t pause
by every passing mound of earth,.
reading cards that merely state
‘Unidentified male’, What’s the worth
in wondering whose son lies there,
when in every house, mother’s wait
lingering by the door, long after
all hopes have blended into one long night?
Oh, my love, hurry home. Follow this light
through the hell of fallen palms.
Be invisible in the fire free zones,
until you reach my open arms,
and we can make believe again,
we’re safe here, on our own.

Look on your works, you mighty and beware!

Sorry for the gap since the last poem. I haven't gone away, but I've been very busy and haven't had the thinking time I would have liked. Much as I would love to keep up the previous rate of output, I don't think I can do it, so be prepared for fits and starts and be patient with me!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Trees of Wales Speak




It’s taken almost forty years
for our ‘liege lord’, Prince of Wales
to find himself a third, or is it fourth
home here, but even so, the hills
and valleys glisten with the slimy trails
left by loyal ‘locals’ as they queue
to offer credit, where none is due.


The English landlord of a nearby pub
rubs his hands raw with glee,
the mayor, toad-like, sits in his parlour,
quaffing real ale and offering opinions for free.
It’s great for trade and the economy
and if you’re looking for real proof,
house prices are going straight through the roof.


The Prince is paying for his new home
with a million of our money,
( My sides are splitting. It’s so funny. ),
so that one weekend in fifty two,
the royal coupling can stroll about, take in the view,
admire the progress of their pedigree flocks,
go hunting some unlucky fox,
go driving in their Chelsea tractors,
much to the delight of local benefactors.


Poor dab, he should have told us of his plight
and we’d have found a cheaper site,
like that boarded up crack house
on the Gurnos estate, a bit of a wreck, but then
all the family could chip in, help decorate
and before you know it, locals rally round,
Dai Needle, Jac Smack and their good mate,
Phil E, sound as a pound and dead creative.
A bit of plaster here, a dab of paint there
and soon the neighbours could come in to celebrate
right royally - fucking great!


He’s even been to university in Aber,
so with all his knowledge of Welsh language and history,
you’d think by now, he’d solved the mystery,
that not all men and women are his to hire
and when it comes to second homes in Wales,
there are sleeping giants you don’t want to wake,
for some dragons round here still breathe fire.

AOL News - "Prince Charles has bought a property in Wales that he intends to let when he is not there. Charles has opted for modest accommodation in the form of Llwywormwood farmhouse in the tiny West Wales hamlet of Myddfai, near Llandovery, Carmarthenshire.
But the three-bedroom property is located in the centre of its own 192- acre estate and reportedly cost at least £1million." Souvenir mugs ( illustrated ) are available from www.xpress-gifts.co.uk.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The White Stork of Glais

I chose to rest high above the river,
near a solid stone bridge, for just one day,
to watch the frantic sewin leap, quiver
in the air, then melt into freezing spray,

watery spirits, tricks of passing light,
defying the shadows of speeding cars
relentless heralds of the coming night,
and ignorant of the presence of stars.

They too are watching, gathered down below,
the curiously disconnected men.
If they could only see the things I know
they’d leave this place and never come again

I have seen silver rivers burning dry.
I have witnessed the bleaching of their sky.

At the end of last summer, a solitary European White Stork appeared in our village and settled on a lamppost overlooking the by-pass. This was the first sighting of a White Stork in Wales for over 100 years. The image is taken from http://www.birder.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/WhiteStork%20(1).jpg

Monday, November 20, 2006

Walls 6


6. Four Walls Do Not A Prison Make

And so to the four walls of my personal cell,
PADDED,
so that only the chosen ones can inflict
injuries to my person,
SOUND PROOF,
so that decision makers can deliberate
without disturbance,
TRANSPORTABLE,
so that it can turn up in the neighbourhood
without arousing your suspicion,
DENIABLE,
just in case you are stupid enough to take note
of all the comings and goings
SURROUNDED
by the most important wall of all….
your silence.


That's the end of the 'Walls' series. I expect you might have some walls of your own to add.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Walls 5



5. The Wall of Hate

Blunt instrument in the hands of thugs,
self anointed concentration camp guards,
who misunderstand the message of the broken shards
of glass and cries of Jüden Raus!
and gather at the Wailing Wall,
so that we might witness, one and all,
how false contrition comes before the fall.

They fear an enemy without,
These concrete slabs a last redoubt,
with death and hunger on the other side,
but all the time, as dark as sin,
the enemy strikes from deep within,
a cancerous growth that cannot be denied.

You’d think the victors of Jericho,
would surely understand, must know
that towering walls offer no protection
to a people mired in self deception.
Long after an evil empire falls,
its history lies revealed, in fallen walls.
I see today that when the Israeli's threatened an air strike against the home of a Palestinian militant, his whole community offered itself as a human shield to stop them. From people who have nothing, expect the highest forms of self sacrifice!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Walls 4


4. The Lennon Wall

Hidden away in Prague,
ironic in the Diplomatic Quarter,
twenty scruffy yards of wall,
a bit like John himself,
haloed in fluorescent paint,
‘Give Peace a Chance’ its call.

The painters lead the secret police
and their army of tame scrubbers
a dangerous, merry dance, for
as fast as the wall could be scraped clean,
back came the yellow submarine
and the Kilroy with round specs.
No amount of frenzied rubbers
could prevent his Scouse nose
from poking where it ought not to have been.

Undercover cops wear denim now,
flaunt disreputable hairstyles.
They’ve even studied and learnt how
to appear disinterested in art.
Round the corner the US Embassy,
democracy’s bleeding heart,
bears a plaque announcing,
'Kafka lived and worked here',
and guess what?
They don’t get the joke.

Today I see that Blair admitted/denied that Iraq is a disaster. Time to get the straight jacket ready I think.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Walls 3



3. The Berlin Wall

They scaled its grubby concrete face,
adapted the skills of moles,
or vaulted from the other side
on the end of fibre glass poles,
died in droves to flee from the forbidden place
across the great divide.

So where has the monster disappeared?
Where is this thing that we all feared?
The odd graffittied monolith still stands
and where the JCBs have cleared
the memories away, the market stalls
each offer multi-coloured souvenirs.

Yes, you can buy the genuine article
at bargain prices and on any street,
along with a sliver of the Iron Curtain,
VOPO documents of uncertain origin,
and objects from the Fuhrer’s bunker
to go with your chunk of Berlin rock.
Dou you remember all the rhetoric about giving the Soviet bloc freedom? Now all we hear is complaints about the number of Eastern European migrants coming over here for work.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Walls 2

2. The Great Wall of China

Seen from outer space,
it looks like an unhealed scar
on the face of the planet.
Hardly what the builders intended
from their limited perspective
at ground level,
in their frenzy to oblige, construct
a symbol of unassailable might.

Now as much use
as that buried terracotta army,
row on row of obedient warriors
with no Mongols in sight,
apart from the relentless hordes,
drunk on an Emperor’s delusions
of grandeur, complaining
about foreign food,
brooding about another long flight,
trying to look intelligent
not over awed.

This poem is for Keith Ross, De Murphy and Bob Cotterill who occupied the keep of Cardiff Castle yesterday to protest at the treatment of Palestinians and have since been arrested. Will update on this when I know more.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Walls 1


1. Hadrian’s Wall

Watched over by windswept raven and hooded crow,
a dead snake stretched out across misted hills,
the final frontier in that cold, old war
to stem the heathen terror from the north,
its name cursed by stranded legions, not worth
one sisterce in the greater scheme of things.

Skilfully preserved now for the edification
of another confused and misled generation,
but will we understand what the wind sings
and who would wish to share the fate
of that last guard tied to his post
with blue faces gathering by the gate?

Apologies for the break in transmission, but life has been crowding in on poetry. This poem is the first in a cycle of six all with the general heading 'Walls'. The image is taken from http://www.gorge.org/images/hadrian/5wall.jpg

Friday, November 10, 2006

So near and yet ....

Just as we top the first rise,
just as we catch the first glimpse of home,
why are the tears still flowing?

It’s the knowing.
It’s the certainty that some
will not make it past the lies.

Now that we know for sure.
Now that there’s no denying
why does my heart so stutter still?

Yes, time itself can kill
and whilst yet more are dying
the guilty turn out clean and pure.

Gravediggers’ work is not yet done.
Walking dead cling to the light.
Butchers adopt new guises.

And you wonder why the world despises
the profit seekers in the night,
fat, safe, not sorry, each and every one.

They need not fear the fatal message.
No folded flag comes to their front door.
They’ll carry on much as before,

Patriotic speeches across the floor,
scant attention to the poor
victims of their power games
and with the coming of old age
after dinner speeches to ensure
their pension funds grow more and more.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Election Day


Let the bells ring out
Let the whole world know it's coming.

Let the bells ring out for Rumsfeld
Let them spread our joy and cheer
Let the whole world know that there is hope.
We can bring an end to fear.

For Bush there's disappointment writ on his tiny face
As he sees the voters confiscate all his brand new toys,
but in homes throughout the land the thoughts light up
they’re coming home, they’ll soon be home - our boys!

So let the bells ring out. Let the fighting end.
Let them spread the news. It’s come
and Karl Rove can resign himself to ending up
just another washed up bum.

But though there's fun and laughter for all
And they’re breaking out the beer
Let's not forget to keep the pressure on
To make it crystal clear.

Let the bells ring out a warning
to those who follow on.
Don’t turn back on what you’ve promised -
you too can soon be gone.

Missed yesterday's post. Stayed up too late enjoying the election results. I don’t think Walter Brennan would care for this!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mr. President explores a new policy ....

I know the human being
and fish can co-exist
peacefully. This one here,
flat out on the dish, missed
the boat, caught at the end of the pier
by an angler who had not read
our agreement. It was
just a problem with communication,
not a policy failure on my part.
People have a need to be fed
and they turn to the sea, because
ours is an island nation.
It’s nonsense to demand an investigation.
There is no connection with escaping radiation.
Nobody ended up dead,
apart from the fish, and that
was not part of the new deal
and, as the prophet said -
goddamn fish can’t feel!

Hey! Do you really have to put up with this jerk for another two years? Sorry nations that live in glass houses shouldn't throw .... Image by Carl Groat.

Monday, November 06, 2006

29th and last

Thank fuck it’s Wednesday.
School’s out.
The walls are split asunder
At the seams
By streams of joyous
Refugees. Bus bays
Fill with cars,
Each one groaning to be gone.
In an instant,
The birds are flown
Across the yard, released,
Beyond recall,
Past tense, post mortem,
Born again.
So, why then
Did you return
So many times
To the sordid
Scene of crimes?
What was your excuse
For watching
As a lust for learning slipped
Through your fingers,
A monument to folly reduced
To so much dust?

About time for this, my leaving speech on quitting teaching after 29 years. Image from www.solidarity.com/.../huckvoucher1.html

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Beit Hanun



Sisters of the shattered cities,
your wall of veils is yet more powerful
than the concrete of the widow makers.


The armoury of the pitiless -
satellite surveillance, jets,
gunships, tanks, cluster bombs,
DU, chemical weapons, bio toxins,
nuclear warheads- is as dust
in the face of your defiance.


The stones in the hands of your sons
were once witness to the rise
and fall of the omnipotent,
thus we are not the only ones
who know this history and answer
your courage’s call.

Mere words cannot do justice to the courage of these women.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Poets in the Forbidden City



After the official reception,
the banquet and the endless round of toasts,
the poet retired,
to a new bed of words.
The poem which he found there
sparked no fire, the boasts
of midnight frogs intruded
on his every thought
and the images he sought
paled besides the one vision
of that writer who failed
to halt the column of tanks
with his own barricade
of flesh and bone.


The poet had been warned in dreams,
that like the Emperor before him,
he should never spend
two nights in succession, alone
in a familiar bed, lest
he should share the fate of his compatriot,
discovered too late,
before his warning confession,
mouth stopped with sand and stone.
A poet in the service of tyrants
feels himself secure, but in this place,
nothing is as it seems.

Late post today after much distraction.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Alyssa Peterson



What did the cage hear
ripped from pregnant pauses?
What does ‘waterboarding’ signify?
What is the ‘toast rack’, the ‘wishbone’,
a ‘stress position’, just words
wrenched out of context?


What did the cage see,
when others chose to face
the other way? A lone woman
uniformed, crisp, upright, her bright eyes
brimful, her lips silently mouthing the word,
NO!


At what point did cold steel
begin to bleed,
concrete grow slippery and red,
the M16 at her side fall silent?


What did the cage feel
to see her wasted there,
while high above the flag
fluttered feebly for the fallen,
defiant, defiled?


When the cages have all emptied,
when the ‘interpreters’ have long since fled,
she stands guard for all of us,
in the company of a swelling legion of the dead.

This story is only just beginning to emerge here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Election Promise


New Labour lined the lobbies two by two.
The whips prowled round with narrow, desperate,
smiles, so keen were they to see
that each MP knew what to do.
They had no need to sweat.
In Bliar’s brave ranks would you have bet
That only twelve would dare to stand their ground?
As for the rest, they tamely joined the queue
to add their voices to the bleating sound
of self delusion, self interest, self abuse.

It won’t be long now, before we see them come again
besuited, red-rosetted, scroungers all
on our doorsteps come to call
for more support, but listen, let me warn them…
Don’t come knocking on my door.
Don’t come asking for my vote.
I won’t be pictured next to you
on your next photo shoot
The bile is rising in my throat
and I know just what I should do
with your backside and my left boot.
This one's going to my local MP. I'll let you know if I get a reply. Oh and by the way this is poem 100!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Message to our Sponsors


The Great Architect of Nations says:
collateral damage
gnaws away at your own foundations.

The wise man says:
he who walks on the other side
is still splattered with mud.

History says:
the smallest concession to dictators
unites with them in the spilling of blood.

Your bank balance says:
for every digit you read,
add ten to the body count

And no matter what your accountant says,
and no matter how high the shares climb,
you’re running out of time, for

Your conscience knows,
the relentless pursuit of profit
is not the same as the pursuit of happiness and

The proverb says:
he who sleeps with the devil
becomes the devil.

This poem is for Shi Tao, Kianoosh Sanjari, Mohammed
Abbou and Nguyen Vu Binh, ‘The Martyrs of the Web’
( The Independent Friday 27th 2006 ) and is a warning to
Google, Yahoo and Microsoft not to continue collaborating
with the Chinese and other dictatorships.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

High Dartmoor


The hidden land’s breath rises up,
one swirling, cloying wall of mist,
through which the hands of trees
reach out to claw us from the road
at every twist and turn.
The wheels hiss at passing ponds
and they blink back,
blind, black, glassy-eyed.
We switchback through the lanes
hounded by drystone walls, their grey faces
leaning through the windows,
pressing us back into our seats,
where we cower like the sheep,
trapped in our own headlights,
until, as if emerging from a deep, deep trance,
we catch the sunlight dance again,
upon the distant sea.
This is for John and Jane and Alice and Edward who made us all so welcome last weekend. The Gothic mood in no way reflects on the the easy companionship we enjoyed.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Statement from the Ministry of Defence


In the interests of the state,
in pursuit of the greater good,
in the ongoing war against terror,
to protect us from a fate
far worse than death,
to shield the population from human error,
( should some experiment go wrong ),
to prevent the pointless shedding of blood,
we poisoned you.

You understand it makes sense now
that more than half a million have died
to stop Saddam learning from us.
You must surely understand how…
you have to see that this is
a cause for celebration and some pride,
not more whingeing and fuss.

This is what we were elected for…
to make tough decisions.
We poisoned you and what is more…
we’ll poison you again!

"Defence scientists secretly tested E.coli bacteria as
a possible biological weapon in and around two British
towns, documents reveal." AOL News 27.10.06.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Slough Strikes Back!



( with apologies to Betjeman )

Come friendly bombs and fall on Blair.
He’s scarcely even human now.
It makes you really wonder how
they fell for him.

And as for unctuous Gordon Brown,
he strains with one hand on the crown,
so now’s the time to bring him crashing down.
He’ll make no difference.

Take Prescott and his double chin,
his weak right hook, his cheesy grin,
his fondness for illicit sin.
He explodes himself.

Destroy the ugliness of Reid,
on fear and hatred he must feed
to satisfy ambition’s need.
Disintegrate him.

Take perm a sun tan, Peter Hain,
who flushed all principle down the drain,
a prancing peacock chasing gain.
Irradiate him.

Come TNT and blow to smithereens
all well conditioned spin machines,
the tame MPs, the wannabes and old has-beens.
Take them all!
Announcing a mini blog break. I'm off on my travels again. Not so far - Teignmouth in Devon to visit an old friend from university days. Back on line on Monday.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Coming Home

It won’t be long now.
The boys are coming back.
You can see the senators
squirming. The word is out.
There’s no place to hide.
Opinions polls begin to slide.

They’ll never admit
that they were wrong,
they were just on a different sheet,
but it was the right patriotic song.
Getting ready for a fall back position.
Sneak the retreat into a late night edition.
Yes, it was mission impossible,
but we fought the good fight
and God’s still on our side,
so that must make it right.

It might take a while
to untangle the mess.
There’s elections to win,
a presidential address
to write, one that avoids long words,
linguistic booby traps,
historical or geographical mishaps,
truth.

It won’t be long now.
They’re waiting.
They’re sweating it out
with RPGs still concentrated
straight on the half track.
The boys are coming back.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tsunami Swansea Bay



The ugly lovely city is no more.
Scattered all along a silent shore,
groups of survivors stand,
disbelieving, by a sea of sand.


They had no time to wave goodbye,
as the whole green bay merged smoothly with the sky,
all those familiar sights swept clean away,
in one instant, green transformed to grey.


Townhill, Sketty, West Cross, Mumbles
levelled, one inhuman shambles.
Morriston, Hafod, SA1,
St. Helens, the Liberty, all gone.


The Guildhall Green and Castle Square
all vanished in the watery air,
and all those picture postcard pubs where
Dylan used to drink, there’s nothing there.


Public grief for all to see
in your front room, on your TV,
you turn away, you do not even pause
to think, it’s different if the face is yours.

It does not take long before major disasters fade in the memory. After all, they all happen so far away, don't they?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Isle of Dogs



There were once wolves on this island
and invading lords grew pale at the thought
of fruitless sailing into the teeth
of unforgiving westerlies.
Our mountains lowered higher than theirs
and the sheer sides of unscaled cliffs
crowded in on the quivering ranks
of their tame mercenaries.
Rain sliced through armour.
Shields snagged on vicious brambles.
Weapons rusted mysteriously.
Even the flattest plain rose up,
with beasts that belched fire and smoke,
roared defiance.


Now we are domesticated -
dogs that guide the blind in circles,
insignificant dogs that yap and run,
muzzled dogs, puzzled dogs,
tired out dogs, wired up in cages,
dogs that hunt in drunken packs,
dogs that piss in the street,
dogs that fawn at any master’s feet,
dogs that fart and roll over,
Big Issue dogs with appealing eyes,
dogs that lie in front of the fire,
then lie and lie and lie,
wild eyed dogs that cringe
and play dead too easily,
tricky dogs, licky , licky dogs,
dogs mired in their own vomit,
dogs chasing their own tails.

One for the lovers of myths. Image from http://www.propstore.com/images/products/638/battle.jpg

Monday, October 23, 2006

When the sky winks ....



Who switched the lights off?
Gridlock loves NY.
The Wall Street marionettes lie
On pavements, sucking black air,
Or mole-like snuffle
In the subway station,
Members of the world’s most powerless nation.
In Central Park, eyes turn anxious
Skywards, but even stars lurk behind clouds.
The Starship Enterprise is not allowed
In US air space and Star Wars
Are subject to a super natural pause.
The sage at the wheel of a beached Yellow Cab
Confesses to a priest with the gift of the gab,
Being kept in the dark is peculiarly frightening.
Who’s behind it all - Osama Bin Lightning?

A piece of whimsy today, first published in the South Wales Evening Post ( 12.9.03 )

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Execution of Pétain's Tree

What kind of tree was it?
Not an oak, for sure.
Some kind of Gallic apology,
probably pollarded,
coupé en brosse,
hard looking,
with swastikas or tricolours for leaves?
Who would suspect an elm
of collaboration with the enemy?
Who would dream of
incriminating a willow?

What evidence did the prosecution produce?
Witnesses who swear it
was seen in the company
of other suspicious trees.
Confessions by other collaborators,
all submitted voluntarily.
Only a fool could not see
the tree’s twisted nature.
Why even Pétain’s dog pissed on it!

Guilty by association.
No jury could have reached
a different verdict.
The judge was a veritable Solomon.
There could only be one sentence
and what an act of imagination it was
to replace the guillotine,
the hangman, the firing squad or the lethal injection
with a common or garden saw!

Then before the final ritual with axe and fire,
did some solemn priest
choose a suitable hymn to sing,
or dredge out the old lie about Death having no sting,
and did someone have the wit
to count and measure every ring?

Doris Lessing in ‘Prisons We Choose To Live Inside’ wrote, “A certain tree was once sentenced to death, at the end of the last war. The tree was associated with General Pétain, for a time considered France’s saviour, the France’s betrayer. When Pétain was disgraced the tree was solemnly sentenced and executed for collaborating with the enemy.” I have tried to get more information about this, but without luck so far. Anybody out there know anything more?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Witness



( For Robert Fisk )

Someone has to see,
keep looking, face
those things we cannot bear to be.

Like a corpse with shattered fingers.

Someone has to shriek
those words that tear us,
the ones we cannot bear to speak.

Like the long lists of the dead.

Someone has to shake
us from this shocking stupor,
free us from the prisons that we make.

Like slaves in the market of souls.

Someone’s got to be there,
taste the roasting flesh on their own lips,
sense the crackling in the air.

Like a child in a charnel house.

Someone has to stare over that edge we
fear to walk towards.
Someone. Someone else. Not me.

After hearing Robert Fisk on 'Desert Island Discs'. 30 years on the front line, so that we could hear the truth!

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Perfect Scream



Wake up now. Wake up to the perfect scream.
No time to sleep, for if you sleep you dream
And if you dream, the judge is sitting there,
No sign of mercy in his ice block stare.


No sign of mercy in his ice block stare,
Not one sign of hope in this cold place where
So many lives are sliced apart and he
The soulless sits in judgment over me.


The soulless sits in judgement over me.
With one sentence he has the choice to be
The unforgiven father or worse still
A tyrant with another’s time to kill.


A tyrant with another’s time to kill
Drones on relentless, oblivious until
My battered spirit just can’t take it all
And my eyelids start to droop and fall.


And my eyelids start to droop and fall
No more my slip from grace I can recall.
No time to slip, for if I slip I dream.
Wake up then. Wake up to the perfect scream!

One of those darker moments, but hey, we all survived!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Cell



( after Niclas Glais )

I disappeared in the usual way.
When asked about it,
all the neighbours fidgeted and turned away
to tend their roses, for after all
this sort of thing can happen any day.


I sit here now, in my own space,
eight by eight, around me four
walls of thoughts and the faces
of my guards, young boys every one,
gathered from sorry places,
where pits have closed,
the bobbing fleets are gone,
wheels have seized up
and weeds run riot over stone.


I hear rumours of a great debate -
many scholars pore over the question
of ‘excessive use of force’.
For me discussion comes too late,
resting on my bed of sores,
unconcerned with their problems of remorse,
waiting for the questioning
to stop.

Glais, the village in which I have lived for the last nineteen years, is known for a much more famous poet and radical, Nicholas of Glais, T.E. Nicholas, 'The People's Bard'. You can find out more at....

http://www.terrynorm.ic24.net/nicholas%20glais%20sonnets.htm

Original artwork from....

http://www.tcsdaily.com/images/Library/None/guantanamo-prisoner.jpg

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Heritage



The houses of Matera,
carved out of skulls,
stacked like decaying bone,
Year Zero in one landscape.


Flayed by stinging spirals of dust,
we began to trudge upwards,
in search of tourist traps,
tunnelled into crumbling stone,
the colour of rotting parchment.


After the wine, the must.
After the procession, deserted streets,
resonant with cries for
yesterday’s feet of clay,
‘Viva S.E. Mussolini!’
‘Viva Silvio Berlusconi!’


What became of the diggers?
Where is their memorial?
Somewhere underground.

Matera is a World Heritage site and I hadn't even heard of it before stumbling across it during our exploration of Apulia. To say the site was stunning just doesn't do justice to what we saw. You can see more info at....

http://www.initaly.com/regions/B&M/matera.htm

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Stretch




Shutter
your eyes
to any sight


Blank out
all the shapes
but one


Point
your nipples
to the sun


Arch
your long back
to catch the


Light
or preferably
the eye. Now


Look
into the distance
but do not


See
anything so absurdly
close to you


Whisper
not the words
he wants to hear


Hold
on to your
own dark thoughts


Smile
the contemptuous
smile.

A select few know who the subject of this poem is. The image of the lizard sunbathing in Puglia ia a convenient add on many years after the event in question. Now that I'm back on line and almost in the correct time frame, it seems a good point to remind you that 4 poems are now on YouTube and can be found at the following addresses .....

Jenin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3RiIeCvW6Y

The Ballad of 13: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMKtMUfx8_M

Fragmentation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xZYRzsEOXQ

War Chic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oL7CA_T_vzk

As this is a new venture for me, I would apprecaite your comments.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Castel Del Monte



Marbled walls conceal vacant space within.
More surely then all fleeting power falls,
this posturing exposed both weak and thin,
pointless repenting all your former sins.


Stubborn ramparts that once held hordes at bay
under wild winds’ blows crumbled and decayed.


Where once the solemn writ of kings was run,
where once vain princes scorned the weak and played,
now fly blown curs, content, doze in the sun.

Back in harness, refreshed and ready to go. Puglia in southern Italy was amaazing as you are about to find out.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Worm's Head, West Bank

I slept in a cell, on the slopes of the sea,
Content with four winds to keep watch over me.
The wyrm slept beside me, his head in his paws,
The ribs of his green flank exposed to the shore.

He cowered in terror, as the sky screamed with rage.
The earth shook with fear, as the bars of the cage
Drew closer around him, near the end of his day,
His broken chest heaved, as his life ebbed away.

I turned in my sleep, as the East Wind took hold,
Said, 'Open your eyes before you grow old.
See your brother there, dying, while you lie at peace.
Rise up and go to him. Raise him up from his knees.'

Those eyes now possess me, in the deep of my dreams.
My silence is shattered by the ache of his screams.
His fingers are clenching in fists of white pain.
When will I ever sleep as soundly again?

The picture is of Worm's Head on the Gower Peninsula, half an hour from my home and a favourite place to walk. Named by the Vikings, 'wyrm' being their word for 'dragon'. On one occasion, I had dozed off on the grassy bank overlooking the Worm, but my 'peace' was shattered by a low flying jet practising bombing runs, coming in off the sea.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Edge of Darkness



Who armed the hunters
With the knife?
Who sent them out
With words of hate?

No prayers can turn them round.
No tears can bring them home.

One strangled no
Echoes round the towering dead.
The innocent and the guilty
Comingled in the smoke and dust
Within our shaking heads,
Dumb disbelief,
Words frozen and unsaid.
We who watch the world unseam
Share with the haunted minds
Which sit and scheme
The awkward questions ...


Who armed the hunters
With the knife?
Who sent them out
With words of hate?


No prayers can turn them round.
No tears can bring, them home.

The whole world knows that Osama Bin Laden was trained and armed by the CIA. The whole world knows that members of his family were smuggled out of the US after 9/11. The whole world knows that Sadaam Hussein gassed the Kurds with munitions and technology supplied by the west. The whole world knows that the US government continued to fund him after this crime had been committed. So why are the criminals who did this still in government and not in the dock?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pink Celandine, Flower of Flowers!

Our love
is like the pink celandine
which grew
even after other flowers had died.
People stood to watch
as it spread out
through windows,
down onto pavements,
across roads,
along motorways.
They were fascinated and surrounded.
Nothing moved but the flower
which grew and kept growing.
The pink celandine
which survives us,
that is the most beautiful flower
of them all.

The final poem in the cycle of six. Botanists and art historians will be perplexed.

Monday, October 02, 2006

CV for a New Labour Leader




Audacity! Mendacity!

The ability to ignore
what people need,
in the unashamed service
of naked greed.

Audacity! Mendacity!

The ability to destroy
what others have built
without showing
the slightest sign of guilt.

Audacity! Mendacity!

The ability to conceal
what you have really planned,
keep out of sight the evidence
you secrete in your own hand.

Audacity! Mendacity!

The ability to slaughter
at the stroke of a pen.
The ability to do it
time and time again.

Audacity! Mendacity!

The ability to cling on and on
even when the last figment
of common decency
has long gone.

Audacity! Mendacity!

The mask is available from 'Silly Jokes - Joke & Party Shop' or direct from source at 10 Downing Street.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Marwahin

This is where they are buried.

This is Ali Abdullah, aged 60.
This is Mohammed Abdullah, aged 15.
This is Sabha Abdullah, in her 80s.
This is Sana Abdullah, aged 35 and pregnant.
This is Ali Kamel Abdullah, aged 14.
This is Mohammed Kamel Abdullah, aged 13.
This is Hussain Abdullah, aged 10.
This is Hassan Abdullah, aged 9.
This is Lama Abdullah, one year old.
This is Zahra Abdullah, aged 52.
This is Hadi Abdullah, aged 6.
This is Mirna Abdullah, aged 13.
This is Maryam Abdullah, aged 29.
This is Mohammed Ghannam, aged 35.
This is Suha Abdullah, aged 30 and seven months pregnant.
This is Qassim Ghanam, aged 17.
This is Mustaffa Ghannam, aged 15.
This is Hussain Ghannam, aged 14.
This is Zeinab Ghannam, aged 10.
This is Fatima Ghannam, aged 9.
This is Duha Ghannam, aged 7.

This is Blairs’s vacuous, ‘not guilty’ smile.
These are Bush’s dead eyes.
This is the glory that was Israel.
This is the legacy of our civilisation.
This is our shroud of silence.

I don't mind telling you that there are tears in my eyes as I write this and a burning anger that will no be put out until they pay for this. Follow the links...


http://marwahin.blogspot.com/2006/07/blog-post.html
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/article1769991.ece

Saturday, September 30, 2006

First interview for a teaching post in Swansea



Oak panelled kitsch,
portraits loured from the walls,
( there were thirteen in all )
a pair of councillors shared a private joke
others shuffled papers,
business like, professional,
one slept peacefully,
like a dormouse in a teapot,
unheeded by his neighbours’ vacant stares.
Only the chairman fixed me to my seat,
with an incandescent glare.


His birdlike secretary
flicked a single sheet of paper
across the glistening divide.
What was the question?
Not ‘What the fuck am I doing here?’
What was my reply,
with one eye on the sarcastic clock,
the other on the gothic ceiling,
vainly searching for the sky?
I forget, but guess what?
The chairman’s nephew
claimed the vacant slot.

The picture shows Swansea's Guildhall tower. You might remember that in another poem I referred to the fact that Hitler had earmarked this for his regional seat of government when the Nazis successfully invaded. It's true. You can check it out. He was a really stupid man, who never realised that he didn't need to invade at all!

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Promise



Do not have fear my daughter,
those black shapes
are only priests
who pass in the night,
those burning eyes
are only stars
wandering in the sky,
the blood which
flows from my breasts
is but the milk
which you must drink
to revive yourself.
Do you see the fires
coming from the distant mountains?
They are the angels
coming to carry me to heaven.
Do not have fear,
the man with the gun
will help you.

The first in the cycle of six. Nearly 40 years old, this poem. How far have we come in all that time?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Government Inspectors Cloze



Never trust an expert though
an expert’s always right.
The thing about all experts is
they’re creatures of the -----.
The best work of an expert
is conducted out of -----.
You can always tell an expert
‘cos they’re frightened of the -----.
If you’ve listened to an expert,
you know that black is -----.
Experts raise you up and up,
then drop you from a ------.
Experts lead us into war, but
have you ever seen an expert -----?
Experts tie you up in knots
and their knots are always -----.
Never challenge what an expert claims,
because, like wolves, they ----.
When considering the views of experts,
when you get right down to it,
the government and its experts
are always full of ----.

This is a cynical, if light hearted participation piece in which the reader, or audience, is expected to fill in the blanks. The picture is the venerable Lord Hutton, a man who combines the attributes of three wise monkeys in one person.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

In praise of the zebra



Hold your breath.
Scan the horizons.
They’re somewhere in the haze,
as still as death.


Test the sullen air.
Listen with your whole self.
You may not sense them, but
they’re watching. Over there.


Even now you cannot see
what you are yearning for
amongst the blur of lines,
in the shadow of the baobab tree.


The grass begins to move in waves,
Dust devils twitch and tantalise
the restless tourist tribe,
the waiting band of slaves.


Remember when the light first shone
and the land rippled as one,
you grabbed your Pentax, but
too late! Too late! They’d gone.

This works on a number of levels, but readers of Le Carre will detect an extra, hidden dimension. You might like to know that I was born in Nairobi, Kenya, but that the family came to the UK when I was six and I have never been back.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Luxembourg Gardens



Wish I could walk
through Luxembourg Gardens
where I could walk before.


And did those feet,
bare, blue and swollen
from the long marches,
rest upon a mantlepiece,
contemplating the situation?
Perhaps we all suffered
from sleeping sickness
at the fire’s edge -
our faces winding
up the chimney
and out into the streets
from which they came.


The dogs, they howl
at midday,
perched on sweating
heaps of garbage,
heads back,
impatient
for the mad axeman.


At night, they slink
into alleyways,
while the litter
burns across
the avenues.
They watch
lines of people
fleeing like animals
from the hunters
close behind.
They cringe
at the strange, loud sounds
and weep
for lack of air.
At midday
they live again -
what
can it all mean?


Last summer
the blind could feel
the way here,
but now
it is lost.
They are led
by friends.
Their faces have changed
from the inevitable
to the fearful
question.
But what of the blind dogs
who lack ‘friends’?


You say
my hands are rough.
They are lacerated.
If you could see,
you would know
where I was
last night.


You ask
where my dog is.
It is dead.
Things are very hard
on dogs now.
Some of them
are luckier
than others.


It has started
to rain,
( Oh let it fall
on the seeds
within us ),
meaning a breathing space,
time to withdraw,
go walking
dogless,
where I walked before.

Late post today. Excuse? I was rivetted to John Le Carre, 'The Mission Song'. Could not put it down until I had finished. Le Carre is one of the angels and I don't know how he can get inside my head, but he does it every time. The poem is one of that aforementioned cycle of six. By my count only two more to complete the circle.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Touched by genius

I’m on the floor,
asleep under the piano once more,
rapt in sheets of sound.

Poised on the stage,
sax in hand,
clean off the page.

It can’t start again.
I tell myself and then
the music rips the walls apart.

Where did that note come from?
Whose scream of anguish or ecstasy
came floating into the dream

on a river of tears,
on a bed of thorns,
scraped out of metal
on a bed of petals,
at the moment I was born.

Can’t keep my wings still.
Is this what the Red Kite feels
tilting with air?

The dolphin,
as it leaps sunwards?
Explosions everywhere,

Reverberation,
unearthly sensation,
unexpected destination.

I’m on the floor, under the piano.
You might think I’m dead,
but there’s music swirling in my head.

Another great night in the company of Gilad and friends, playing in a tango ensemble called Tangents. Warning - Art Fishel is coming your way soon!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Lucky



Cat knew
With her electric skin,
She pushed back
The fringe of darkness
And her phosphorescent eyes
possessed the will
To pin one
Like a butterfly.


And so she sat erect
Or curled up
Out of second sight,
Highly gifted,
unapproachable,
elect….


Until we glimpsed
Her sleek, black fur
In a swathing light.
Though dead,
Cat seemed so neat
In the mirror
Of that night, her last
Ecstatic stretch of claws
And ripple of momentary fright
Snapped
With a thump and shiver
Of delight.

I keep trying to surprise my readers , so I hope you didn't expect this. On the news front the demonstration went well and if you want more information you can go to


http://respectuk.blogspot.com/2006/09/blair-tme-to-go-live-report-no-12-more.html

or

http://mancsagainsttanks.org/pictures

Friday, September 22, 2006

Street Party


Dance in the face of your oppressor.
Dance on the face of the dollar bill.
Dance till all the guns fall silent.
Dance until the hawks are still.
Dance to the rhythm of marching feet.
Dance till dancing fills the street.
Dance to stop the Cruises flying.
Dance in the names of both living and dying.
Dance with the innocence of youth.
Dance with the defiance of the old.
Dance knowing dancing is the truth.
Dance to drive away the cold.
Dance to keep the passion burning.
Dance, for every step is learning.

No blog tomorrow. Break for public duties. We are going to die in Manchester. The plan is to totally surround the Labour Party Conference in the G-Mex Centre and at 2.15pm stage a mass die in. You probably won't see this on the news, so I'll take some pics and post them as soon as I can. This photograph was taken by 'Bob' on one of the London marches and can be found at...
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/03/336369.html

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Coming of Age



Like this -
we stand, side by side
in long, black sheds,
which spit out
so many dead mates
per day,
and when HE says so
we jump to it,
caress the stinking metal,
soothe it.


The factory
was a prison,
until they smashed all the bars
and butchered the jailers,
in one day.


That day,
when my kind machine
had put me to rest,
my mate came up and said -
Seeing how it’s a special day,
me and the lads
we got together,
you know what I mean.


Leaving the floor
was like an operation,
an amputation,
which lifted away
the pain,
but from time to time
the stump would ache
and ache.


Sure enough,
they were waiting outside
looking at each other
in anticipation
of my eyes -
and it was a bloody watch!
A watch to time
my slow death by,
a bloody watch?
But I smiled
and said -
Thanks lads,
thanks a lot.


An obsession
is not a mistake,
it is a device
to help you
to forget.


Later
when they were stuffing my face,
and later still
when I had drunk myself stupid,
I could hear it
ticking inside my head.
I knew that it would soon be
too late.


A forgetful man
blots out
fragments of his existence.
They never
commit
anything.


The flic
swaggered through the door
calling his cognac.
I saw
the white holster
bouncing past my face,
and I called out
in my stupour -
Is it real?
His teeth glinted
maliciously -
Do you really want to find out?
I stand up -
Of course, let me see.
The lads -
Go on, go on
it’s his day
today!
I took it from him
playfully.
- I shall execute you
I said,
childishly,
and lined him up,
my hand steady.
He smiled and raised his glass
to me!
He was still smiling and ticking
when I squeezed
with all my remaining strength.
It was that simple,
my short story.

A return to juvenilia. This was the second of the cycle of six which won me the English Medal almost 40 years ago. That makes three you've had so far. It's like looking at the work of a complete stranger. I think the central idea was OK, based on the report of a real life event, but as for the final structure and development, it makes me wince. Is honesty and openess the best policy, I muse?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Perceptions


Thus ...

Mad Thomas cut a fine figure
in his sombre blue uniform jacket
with its Merchant Navy badge
sewn precisely in the centre
of the top pocket.
His shoes always gleamed.
He had a persuasive smile
and a soft, soft voice

... we came ...

Mad Thomas lectured
to us students
in the Meadow Lecture Room
until
they sent two porters
to carry him out.

...to learn...

Mad Thomas gathered together
flocks of visitors
to Swansea's Guildhall
(Hitler he commented
had chosen it
for his seat of government.)
and conducted them on guided tours
until
they discovered that he
was in the wrong institution.

...the value ...

Mad Thomas lived with us
in the Aquarium
bought us chips
at Sketty Cross
and drank
in the Vivian Arms
until
we were all barred
for singing Die Rote Fahne.

...of insanity!

Believe me, this character existed and did all of the things described. It was my second year in the ugly, lovely town. Some of us, once we get here never leave. Why should we?
The photograph is from Alex Thomas excellent website Swanseacam which you can fnd at http://homepage.ntlworld.com/alex.thomas/swancam.html

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Judgement Day


We are the voice of Reason!
We are the fist of Justice!

We are the voice of Justice!
We are the fist of Sanity!

We are the voice of Sanity!
We are the fist of Humanity!

We are the voice of Humanity!
We are the fist of Reason!

We are the voice of Martin!
We are the fist of America!

We are the voice of Nelson!
We are the fist of Africa!

We are the voice of the killing fields!
We are the fist of Asia!

We are the voice of the death camps!
We are the fist of Europe!

We are the fist of Belsen!
We are the fist of Ramallah!

We are the fist of Guantanamo!
We are the fist of the disappeared!

We are the voices from the Past!
We are the fist of the Future!

This is a poem to be chanted, preferably by lots of people.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Eco Warriors




“Fighting vehicles and artillery
can harm the environment
and pose a risk to people.”

Well blow me!
Almost sixty
And I’d never thought of that.


Such a simple idea you see, it
Would never occur to the likes of you and me.
Scientists can now make weapons green,
Extract the lethal lead,
Reassemble the pieces and it is said,
Convert explosives into shit.


So remember, if you’re capable,
When it takes your brother’s head clean off,
That insensitive shell
Was completely biodegradable.


Report in the Sunday Times yesterday reveals that BAE
Systems, one of the world’s biggest arms manufacturers
and dealers is developing ‘green’ weapons! The quote is from the Ministry of Defence.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Travelling

A voice travels
Through darkest galleries.
Walls cannot block out
Even slight
Whispering

You take a man,
Lock him away
From the light,
Gag hin, shackle him,:
Beat him, shroud him,
But still
His voice travels
And finds
Companions,

Thousands of miles
Separate us.
Obstructions
Have been placed
Between us,
But somewhere in this night,
Floating over the ether
That voice travels
To greet us.

Time
Divides generations.
Histories
Can be rewritten
Time and time again,
But voices
Once thought silent
Span ignorance
My friend.

In all this time
I'm stranded here,
Rooted to this place,
But your voice still
Reaches.
You can't stop it
Travelling
In the end.

In 2003 Paul Robeson Jun. toured South Wales to launch the exhibition 'Let Paul Robeson Sing' which celebrated Robeson's long association with the Welsh Miners and in particular the occasion when, banned from travelling from the USA, Robeson broadcast live across the Atlantic. There was a wall at the exhibition on which hundreds of people wrote appreciative comments and this poem joined them on the wall.