Monday, June 29, 2009

One Night in Tiree


Out of the sky blue
bus we flocked,
where eagles soared
and corncrakes mocked,
where white sands fled
the broken hour glass,
a bold, flirtatious sea
frilled into ribbons
of blue and ultra marine,
surf caressed Balephuil's
glistening crescent clean,
clover scented machair
cushioned each footfall so,
when we looked back,
we could not even see,
the place where we had been.

As if waking from a dream,
we queued on the jetty
and watched The Clansman seem
to grow out of a glassy sea.
While we still clung to memory,
mobiles began to chirp,
searching for a signal,
searching for another world,
round the clock coverage,
the death of a superstar,
a media monster rising
unbidden from the deep.

With such tentacles reaching everywhere,
who could blame the ones who could not see
what we still see, nor understand our yearning
for just one more night on Tiree.

As you might gather, a magical, restful week island hopping in the West of Scotland in the warm and generous company of Ann and Julian. We took in Luing, Mull and Tiree and had the advantage of a midge free week of blazing sunshine. Scenery and wildlife extraordinary.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Angels ( a poem for many voices )


This is the one
whetting the blade of the stilleto
long past midnight.

This was the one
perched grinning over the entrance
to Dachau.

This is the one
who waits patiently
on the grassy knoll.

This was the one
who cast the napalm net
over My Lai.

This is the one
who lines prisoners up on the edge
of a pit of lies.

This was the one
who spread his wings
across Halabja.

This is the one,
a pregnant woman in his cross hairs, whispering,
'One bullet - two hits.'


This was the one
who breathed a veil of phosphorus
through Jabilya.

This is the one
whose intricate mind fashions
the IED.

This was the one
with a baseball bat, steel toecaps
and a Rangers scarf.

This is the one
sitting in an office, estimating the profit
on each individual shell.

This was the one
we never saw
coming.

This is the one
with a bony finger poised
over a button.

The picture is of a war memorial (!) in a park
in the centre of Shrewsbury.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Away Day



The rains fail in Powys.
No leaves on the line.
No landslides frustrate us.
The train runs on time.
We set off ecstatic.
No cloud in the sky.
We sit as if stunned
as the landscape slides by,
the smudge of a forest,
the flash of a stream,
the scythe that was swift
sweep by in a dream,
Cnwclas and Dolau,
Cilmeri and Garth,
Llanwrda, Llangadog,
Llandeilo, Ffairfach,
the drone of the diesel,
the rhythm of the rails,
the gossip, the stories,
sleepwalking Wales.

This was written on the train on
the Heart of Wales line as members
of the Brynamman based writers'
group, 'ScribesRus', returned from
a day trip to Shrewsbury. Colin Jones
wanted a poem that used the rhythm
of the train a la 'Night Mail' and also
the names of the stations en route.
The original title was 'Away from it all',
but Beryl Henshaw came up with the
much snappier 'Away Day'.

There's one further context you should
bear in mind. This was the day before
the big elections on June 4 and we had
been talking about the mess that
confronted us. No one knew what
could be done. Nobody knew who they
could vote for. So in a sense, our day
out was an escape from an ever pressing
reality.