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