Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We are Invisible

This year the Old Man seemed so frail.
His eyes grew dim, his skin was pale.
His once smart tunic, smudged and torn,
the scarlet cloth, threadbare and worn.
His shoulders sagged as if the burden was too much.
He seemed to shrink from any human touch.
He did not hear the bells' tinkling any more
drowned out by the F16's triumphant roar.
Carefully, he picked his way along the broken street,
discarded toys crumbling beneath his feet.
Journey's end, the ones he sought,  could not be far,
following the relentless phosphorous star?

Now he has gone, I search the place
and  though the air's still heavy with his shame,
of his presence there is no trace,
only a tear-stained note, or was it only dew?
'Oh children of Gaza, I came.
but  in this place, I could not find you.'

This poem was inspired by the Xmas card sent out by Medical Aid for Palestinians. The image was painted by Fatima, in the Bourj al Barajneh refugee camp in Lebanon, whose own life must be hard enough without thinking of her brothers and sisters in Gaza. The translation of the Arabic reads, "Oh children of Gaza, I came and didn't find you."

Friday, December 03, 2010

There's a hole in my Firewall!

Once there was a Wikileak struck all dumb,
Two-faced politicians, now on the run,
Caught with their pants down, having too much fun.
No decent citizen would’ve kept mum.

Red faces, burnt fingers, exposure to The Sun?
Fat chance of those hacks getting off their bums,
No profit in this, they can all do sums,
Two-faced politicians now on the run.

Kick-backs and expenses, still smoking gun
Unplanned , not what you promised on the stump,
Swore you’d make a statesman, not Forest Gump
Caught with your pants down, having too much fun.

No decent citizen could’ve kept mum.
What did you expect, treating all like scum.
Too late feeling sorry now, looking glum,
Once there is a Wikileak, no use playing dumb.

Break the culture of secrecy! Stop the undercover warmongers!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


Listen to the olive groves whispering
in the dusk, more insistent
with each shaking of the ground,
strong voices not to be drowned,
not to be broken, even as each bough
is splintered, veiled in dust.

Harvesters of hate, you must
learn how the wind gathers up their words,
against your will, under your noses,
sets them free to cross check-points,
searching round each angle of the wall,
whistling through each crack
impossible to hold back.

Here we sit before the fire,
plates full, glasses raised.
The curtains are drawn tight
The conversation intelligent, polite,
but nothing can displace
the windows’ stubborn rattle,
well-travelled winds arriving,
infiltrating unsought for words,
unbidden stories of trees at battle.

Another one set off by a CD,  this time '...for the ghosts within' Robert Wyatt, Gilad Atzmon and Ros Stephen. I find constant inspiration in the poetry and music of others. The photograph shows a Palestinian olive grove set ablaze by Zionist settlers.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Tide has Turned

Tyrants fear the sea,
watch its silent swell with dread,
scan the horizon for the smallest sails,
boats laden only, it is said, with hope.

Tyrants fear the sky, cannot cope
with thoughts of birds’ free flight,
keep their eyes wide open,
long into a blacked out night,
knowing that come the dawn,
wings will stretch out for the light.

Tyrants fear the land.
The toe-curling sand is not theirs
to hold. The deepest roots mature,
hidden from sight of their towers,
safe from the assassin’s blade,
nurtured by our own blood,
an infinite future of flowers.

The idea for this poem was suggested by 'The Tide has Changed' Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Ensemble's latest CD, so thanks to Gilad, Tali, Frank, Yaron and Bill. Those of you who are interested in such things may have noticed a surge in interest in this blog ( averaging 50+ hits a day ) which is not bad for an obscure poet from Wales ( it doesn't bear comparison with Gilad's 7000+ hits a day that he gets for his writing ) so thanks to all my readers. Keep spreading the word. I've got a lot of catching up to do!!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Wasteland

You heard it here first -
The South Sea Gherkin’s burst!
Blackberries jam up the Underground
And everywhere you hear the sound
Or nervous, corporate farting,
Squeaking rats departing.
There’s a warrant out for the Cocaine Kid.
They’re desperate to know where he hid
The loot. His cousin, Cam the Sham, wears
A mournful, honest face, swears
We’re all in it together. It’s only fair
That each and every one of us should share
The pain. His Old Lady’s tucked her skirts tight in.
Her charity is wearing awfully thin,
But you can tell she really cares
For all the struggling millionaires,
Gathered round the Cabinet table,
Doing the level best that they are able
To line the pockets of their kith and kin,
Without be found guilty of that capital sin,
Being caught with one’s fingers in the till.
Rob the blind! Do what you will.
Loot and ravage with impunity.
The next lot of thieves are sure to grant immunity.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Promises, promises

Promise to set the world on fire.
Promise to add jazz and blues to the pyre.
Promise more Chernobyls.
Promise free suicide pills.
Promise more education for the rich.
Promise the homeless a ditch.
Promise to reward all tax evaders.
Promise to welcome US invaders.
Promise to kill off the sick and old.
Promise to leave the unemployed in the cold.
Promise to worship all arms dealers.
Promise to exile helpers and healers.
Promise to fund more law and order.
Promise to build bigger walls at the border.
Promise better bonuses for bankers.
Promise free passage for all toxic tankers.
Promise fewer trains in every station.
Promise panic and consternation.

Do all of this and you’ll have my vote
Without reservation, or precautionary note,
Because I know I can rely on you.
I’m quite certain exactly what you’ll do.
As surely as night changes into day,
You’ll do the opposite of all that you say.

Oxfam sent me the following message:
‘This month the UK Climate Change Minister, Chris Huhne will go the UN Climate Conference in Cancun. He will have and incredibly important part to play there.

We’ve been wondering “how we should wish him good luck?” And we want your suggestions for ways to grab his attention  just before he goes.

Dear Oxfam, I hope the above will be of some assistance…

Friday, November 12, 2010

Good riddance to Phil Woolas

Politics, they explain, is a contact sport,
so gouge and stamp without a thought.
All's fair in electioneering or war.
All that counts is the final score
and should you win, you get to write
the history, avoiding everything that might
embarrass, or cast doubt
on the part you played throughout.

Unfortunate that racist defamation,
though, for a while, it served to keep you at your station,
when the lies fluttered home to roost,
you found your own neck in the noose.
It was you who ruined your own reputation.
The lies you printed were your own creation.
If politics is a contact sport,
then you've been K.O'd. as you ought.

The honour for landing the first blow has to go to Joanna Lumley and it obviously scrambled Woolas's head, because he thought he was standing for the BNP in the last election. Harriet Harman was quite right to dump him. There should be no place for anyone like him in the Labour Party and as for those who are 'rallying' to support their 'friend', they'd be better off joining him on the dole where they can all spend some time litter picking ( gathering up spent election leaflets for a start! )

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Last Supper

Oh how I wish the sun could shine
upon this war scarred face of mine.
Instead, all day, I wait in line
attendant on the bullets' whine.
The sky's expression, always grim,
confesses as the light grows dim.
There's blood, not wine, around the rim.
The cup is empty now. The hymn
dies on my lips. The bitter cloud
flays raw my skin and as allowed
the flesh of all my comrades, cowed
where once they marched erect and proud.

When they carry us from the 'plane,
draped in the flag, to hide the pain,
ask if our youths were spent in vain.
Keep on asking. Again! Again!

Completed at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Behind the Masks

All Hallow's Eve
is for those who can believe
in ghosts and ghouls
and celebrate the simple fools
in motley, going from home to home.
Here's one in the guise of a louring giant,
his partner a vicious shambling gnome.

Have a bag of toxic sweets
left over from last year's treats.
or perhaps a tube of super glue,
the one a reward for honest virtue,
the other justice for a miser.

Behind the witch-gnome's visor
the vicar's crabbie wife
chortles at her new and secret life,
whilst grinning like a demented goon
the vicar himself can only just refrain
from howling at the moon.

Blood Money

Unusually a preamble to the poem. Our writing group was set the task of telling the story of a five pound note as it passed from
one person to the next and this is what popped into my head ....

Clean, unlaundered, quite pristine
straight from the jaws of the cash machine,
folded safely into the recesses of my purse,
money may be a sin, but want of it is worse.

The plumber wanted cash in hand,
finished the work three weeks later than planned.
Won't find a cheaper job, he promised with a wink.
By Friday I stood cursing the same old blocked up sink.

One of many, in a brown envelope, safely out of sight,
tucked in the planning officer's back pocket, snug and tight.
He felt it with every buttock clench,
the next day, sat in judgement, on the magistrates' bench

She took the money up front with a smile,
tucked it provocatively into her bra while
he started to remove his shoes and socks
and she made ready her chains and locks.

In an evidence bag smeared with dark stains
and in one corner a splinter of her brains.
She could not understand her pimp would never agree
that there are any circumstances when love is truly free.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Stick it where The Sun can't shine!

Rape, murder, torture
celebrated with outrageous pun,
hallmark of the tabloid,
zenith of The Sun.

Foreigners, scroungers, wasters
each and every one,
unless they are Australian and
owners of The Sun.

Raghead, Chink, Spic,
Frog, Mick, Ivan, Hun
all fair game when you name and shame
on the front page of The Sun.

Sadism, perversion, depravity,
all bodice ripping fun
doing wonders for the circulation
of the ever probing Sun.

A hamster and a minister
in flagrante with a nun
sure fire banner headline
in tomorrow's Super Sun.

WMD, poison gas
nuclear warheads by the megaton,
we found them all hidden
behind page 3 of The Sun.

Fear, hate, greed,
when all is said on done,
these are the needs that drive us on,
by commandment of The Sun.

No scrap of human decency,
morals have I none,
perfect qualifications
for editor of The Sun.

A world groaning with refugees
who cares? WE WON
shareholders of The Sun.

You'll never find the truth
in the webs that we have spun
pointless even searching
through the columns of The Sun.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Don't ask....

following the latest bomb scares
according to
reliable Western intelligence resources
( how many oxymorons
can you fit into one line of poetry? )
there are between four hundred
and five hundred Al Quaida operatives
working out of the Yemen
which begs several questions

one, if you can count them
then you must know
who they are and if
you know who they are
you might be expected
to do something
to stop them sending
explosives round the globe?

two, if they are so damned clever
blending in seamlessly with
the local population
that no one knows
who the hell they are.
then how the fuck
can you count them?

three, is it remotely possible
that this 'organisation'
is the product of feverish minds
now that the red ogres
have morphed into venture capitalists
and populate the hospitality suites
of all the chic London clubs
both lap dancing, and soccer,
leaving us in need of new horrors
lurking under our beds?

four, don't we need
something to take our minds off
bankers bonuses, off shore holdings,
speculation, hedge funds managers,
Swiss bank accounts, media monopolists,
the number of millionaires in the Cabinet?

It's all so obvious.
It all makes sense
doesn't it?

I have given up listening to or watching the 'news' before I smash up all the radios and tvs in the house!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


Nurses swarm through the ward
saving their stings for the feckless drones,
the ones with clipboards and pens,
quick to point and then make copious notes.
For us, trapped in beds and chairs,
carers have nothing but honey,
soft words to see us through the endless day.

Is it too much to expect
that the Minister of Health,
( or whatever fancy title
the new all joined-up government
sees fit to conjure up),
should understand that hospitals
run on compassion and selfless dedication,
whilst the counting of paper clips,
paper cups, beans and chips,
the correct alignment of a med chart
have as much relevance
as the Minister’s last fart?

Just spent week in Morriston Hospital having my lung drained of 5.825 litres of fluid, the presence of which might explain why I was having trouble breathing. There are too many people to thank for my care. Every stay in hospital leaves me wondering how the staff cope and keep smiling and keep going. Thanks too to all of you who kept my spirits up with your texts and visits. Back in harness now as you can see!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mind Games

2713 miles away
You’ve played e4
And in the same instant
I watch it on screen,
My stomach churning
The same way it did
21 years ago,
When you showed me
How you saved a lost game
With a double rook sacrifice.

You’d played
in the next room then
And I could not watch,
Just sat there trying
To fill my mind
With any old nonsense,
Waiting for your face
To appear at the glass.

There was a time,
Before you learnt
To take the piss,
When I could always tell
The result before you spoke.
You just couldn’t stop
Beaming, but now
That I can follow you
Move by move,
I still can’t fathom
What’s going on.

Richard is playing for Wales in the Chess Olympiad in Khanty Mansisk.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Pope's Rhino

"Since God has given us the Papacy, let us enjoy it." Leo X

Blue-eyed, blonde haired
choirboys gather
trembling beneath
Benedict’s golden banner.
Little girls squeal
to see such fun
as the priests feel
their way in a daze
through the faithful,
hearts overflowing with praise.

Today I heard the story how
From Gujerat to Portugal,
Ganda the rhino
survived three months at sea,
being gifted by the great Sultan,
then toyed with by a bored king
until he turned his horned back
on mortal combat
with the monarch’s pet jumbo.
So, clad in green velvet,
garlanded with flowers,
shackled to the deck,
amidst silver plate
and aromatic spices,
intended as a gift for Leo X,
he took to sea for the last time.

The Pope has an elephant in the room.
It goes by the name of Hando.
All that he lacks now
Is an armour-plated rhino.
This omission in the Great Plan
Will never, never, never do, oh no!

A divine wind
whipped up a storm
before La Spezia
and though Ganda could swim
the chains round his feet
ensured no salvation for him.
Then came the bad news they could not staunch -
Rotting carcass recovered on the beach near Villefranche.

Now the Church is in crisis
The warning bell rings
Too many have heard
What the chorister sings
There’s something amiss
In the great scheme of things.

Meanwhile, while you are waiting I am sure you would appreciate a good dose of aggressive secularism!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


The poem's written, but you're going to have to wait, because it's going off to a competition. This is where it will appear once the deadline has passed. The clue to the subject is in the picture. Nothing like suspense is there?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

EDL Stormtrooper

He’s a little man,
but when he’s hidden in a crowd,
he feels ten feet tall,
powerful and proud.

He’d never take you on
one to one in a fight,
but if he’s part of a gang,
watch your back, right?

He’s part of a column,
though he can’t add 8 and 8.
his life is consumed
by loathing and hate.

He’s a work-shy little shit,
but if he can put the blame
on anyone else
that makes sense, doesn’t it?

He’s a tool in the hands
of would be dictators,
blunt instrument once used
disposable, deniable later.

They did not pass in Bradford. Not enough people understand that fascists have to be confronted physically, before they can do any damage. It will be too late to defend beleaguered communities if they are given a free hand to run riot. Wherever they are active, the incidence of racist crime multiplies like nowhere else.

Pina Bausch

A blank white canvass blossoms into vibrant rainforest the forest bursts into life birds become men trees fashion themselves into limbs their roots burrow deep inside where dark rhythms pulse the heart of the Amazon drumming in my head soothed by butterfly wing washed clean by torrents drenched in the passion of dance.

Later I found myself
wandering the streets
of the manic city,
oblivious, floating,
in a trance.

This came to me during and after watching a performance of ‘Água’ by the Tanztheater, Wuppertal. I am not a fan of modern dance. I had never even heard of Pina Bausch, but as far as my few days at the Edinburgh Festival were concerned this was the WOW! Moment and words are simply not enough.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

An American poet at the Bookfest

Onto centre stage he leapt.
Behind bright yellow specs he kept
His eyes hidden from intrusive evening Edinburgh sun.
I’m American. I’ve come
To share some thoughts with you,
My feeling of homesickness, the soft dew
Glistening on Connecticut,
My mother’s constant angst, but
But then to lighten the serious tone.
I’ll deal with masturbation - all my own.

It’s over now, so why look back.
We won that war didn’t we.
I’ve already forgotten all I learned about Iraq.
The war on terror I understand.
We’ve go to stand strong, but
Where the fuck’s Afghanistan?
Don’t ask me. That’s a place I will not go,
A book kept closed, along with rendition and Guantanamo.

Here in my champagne bubble’s the place I like best.
For all the rest, I couldn’t care less.
The sound of my voice, the feel of your thigh,
Life’s so simple, no need to ask why.

Apologies to all the good American poets! It was just my like to find this one!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

White Space

Two steps forward,
drive the blade home.
Two steps back,
gape at the wounds.
Turn away from
the gurgling sound,
time oozing away,
just like in the video,
just like the arcade game.
This is how
I prove myself.
This is how
I make my name.
This is how
I demonstrate
my own superiority.

You're having a laugh.
Two a penny.
It's them or us.
He ain't getting any!

From Wikipedia
Stephen Lawrence was murdered in 1993. On 14 February 1997, the Daily Mail newspaper labelled all five of those believed to have attacked and killed Lawrence "murderers", challenging them to sue the newspaper for libel if they were wrong. The headline read "Murderers: The Mail accuses these men of killing. If we are wrong, let them sue us." Underneath this headline appeared pictures of Gary Dobson, Neil Acourt, Jamie Acourt, Luke Knight, and David Norris. In 2002, two men accused in the Lawrence case, David Norris and Neil Acourt, were convicted and jailed for a racist attack on a plainclothes black police officer.
In July 2010, Gary Dobson was jailed for five years for dealing in drugs.
No one has been convicted of Stephen Lawrence's murder. The suspected killers, all but one now possessing additional police records, are at large and detailed on the Mail website.

This grim poem was the product of a sleepless night, probably because I would have to admit to the Daily Mail doing something good!

Saturday, August 14, 2010


This is Malindi,
the mystery of salt on my tongue,
toes curling in the surf,
scanning the horizon
for sharks.

This is Suez,
perched on a life-raft,
the better to absorb
the rising perfume of fresh leather,
chaos of colour and sound
from feluccas clustered all around.

This is Genova,
sleek destroyers anchored
idle now, but restless.
Mother, not nine years
out of Stalin's camps,
still thin and wary,
teetering on the edge of exile,
keeps me wrapped up warm
against the cold to come.

This is Biscay,
sneaking on deck
for a last game of quoits,
rolling with the grey swell,
ice in my eyes.

This is Tilbury,
the disappointment of dry land,
made softer by the first feeling
of snow on my unsuspecting cheek.

This is Blackpool,
chip wrappers hurtling
round the Pleasure Beach,
overloaded, braying donkeys,
gritty ice cream,
broken lights tinkling,
as I ride the Rockets
on my own.

This is the green Bay,
banner bright St. Helen's,
blousy Mumbles,
close by Aberfan Way.

This is the Haven,
two pairs of footprints
traced in sand and coal dust.

This is the road to Treshnish,
suspended in glass,
rafts of puffin everywhere,
Great Black Backs balanced
on thin air.

This the riding of the Wyrm,
heads haloed by the setting sun,
spray sheets wound
ever more tightly round.

This is the liner Mavi Marmara,
pressing against the tide,
decks slick with blood,
sharks circling.
My life is at the flood.
I hear the call of the sea again,
a rhythmic pulsing deep inside.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Open Mike

Poetry abhors a vacuum,
so wise old poets say.
Who gives a fig for wisdom?
I'll do it my way.
Sit still and listen
as my consciousness just flows.
Half an hour later,
as emerging from a dream,
ask yourself the question,
what did it all mean?

Anything you can say
I can shout louder,
louder than anything
you throw my way.
See how I thunder.
See how I curse.
My words make no sense, but
they do not lack force.

Pretty, prissy poesie
tripping down the line,
all one with Nature.
Such harmony of mind
and body and spirit
is so very rare to find
in one so impossibly young,
so talented, so blind.

Wild eyes, wild hair,
wild words flying everywhere,
wild gestures, wild stares -
it means I'm quite emotional,
it declares my passionate side,
it shows I really cares.

I am the rebel poet,
with a pint glass in my hand.
Cursed be all convention!
Conformity be damned!

I am the rebel poet.
My metre's in my fist.
Death to the Establishment!
It's my arse they should kiss!

I am the rebel poet.
I'm the one to watch.
I see you heading for the bar.
Make mine a double scotch.

I enjoy open mike nights, but if you can't take the piss out of yourselves .....
The last line of the fourth stanza is not a misprint just a subtlety that anyone from Swonzee might recognise! Picked up the image on the internet. Not sure whose it is and I hope they don't mind me using it. It fits so well.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Song of the Whistleblowers

Look, he shouted, stop him now!
That banker's a thief!
That got him labelled a red,
whose protests were beyond belief.

Look, he pointed, it's obvious,
that copper's both violent and bent.
Since he spoke those words, his life
in a cell in Broadmoor's been spent.

Look, he swore, waving a fist in the air,
this judge just toes the government line.
That earned him an extra long sentence
on top of a crippling great fine.

Look, he reported, the records reveal
the Minister's drowning in graft.
They opened up the mines again,
dropped his body straight down a shaft.

Look, he begged, any fool can see
the Bishop's spouting lies.
They burned him at the stake
after plucking out both of his eyes.

Look, he explained, can't you read,
the press baron's a conman, a liar,
so the media ripped his tongue out,
then destroyed all his words on a fire.

Look, he warned, the writing's on the wall.
America's careering out of control.
They sent him to Guantanamo
to rot in their darkest hole.

Look, he wrote, in his big black book,
this poet's too scared to speak
and was condemned out of hand
as a crackpot, an illiterate freak.

Look, he laughed, can't you see
the Emperor's body is bare.
Now, if you search all public records,
you'll not find a trace of him  - anywhere.

Well done Wikileaks!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

13 Ways of Looking at a Cruise Missile

The germ of an idea,
intelligent destruction,
blue print in some mind’s eye.

Fruition, intricate,
delicate circuitry,
the act of creation.

See how metals bends
to my will.
See how I shape the wind.

Maps, contoured
food for the insatiable.

A glint in the eye,
red button, cross hairs,
precise timing.

Slipping out of the Stealth's belly,
erupting like a fountain
out of sea-shadow.

Silenced sky,
blacked out city,
The lightshow begins.

Video screen. Your target?
That impersonal concrete block.
Track the missile all the way to snow.

The trembling air,
the collapsing walls,
the suffocating tomb.

Crater, black hole,
here it fused
with flesh and bone.

Surgical strike
objective attained,
box ticked.


A hand growing
out of the rubble.
The last breath spiralling
out of reach.

The starting point for this poem was Wallace Stevens' '13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird', a great piece of work which has been parodied in many different contexts, but I suspect, none so harsh as this.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Affairs of State

His Eminence is in conference
with the entire legal team,
discovering new laws
to circumvent the old laws,
legislation so full of flaws
that any respected public servant, quite unplanned
could experience the workings of criminal justice first hand.

His Eminence’s agenda is full today.
The financial wizards and bankers are in,
their objective to discover an original way,
a new place to salt away the loot,
just in case of that rainy day,
a secluded island in the Caribbean,
an Eagle‘s Nest, an Alpine scene,
which would you choose?

His Eminence has been delayed.
A stretch limo full of whores
posing as ministerial candidates has strayed
from the confines of the palazzo
and their images have been displayed
illegally for the whole world to see.
Are there no depths to which the Internet will sink?

His Eminence’s schedule is on hold.
The make-up girl became quite hysterical,
her blood froze when someone told
her she had just one hour to ready his face
for the daily piece to camera interview.
The studio air turned literally blue.
The lighting was far too hot she felt.
Who would take the blame should the wax all melt?

His Eminence cannot be disturbed.
He is completing a birthday list
for a bright young thing,
sweet sixteen, so rarely kissed,
a future laid before him,
for her, an opportunity not be missed,
a brief taste of power over an aged fool,
small sacrifice for missing school.

His Eminence is resting now.
If only you could see his angelic side,
note how while he sleeps his mind is occupied,
how even now he cannot keep
his wandering fingers still,
like a pastor worried for all his sheep,
or counting banknotes in his sleep.

Just passed 10,000 hits thanks to surge in Northern Italy, so this comes by way of thanks!
A quick response from Italy gave me this link. I'm sure you'd like to meet the Italian Minister for Equal Opportunities. Satire becomes life! Found a more interesting pic!

Thursday, July 08, 2010


Whenever I see a dripping tap,
I fear for the future.
Whenever I fear, I see
a future of dripping taps.
Whenever I see the future,
I fear a dripping tap.

The fear is in the last drop,
the shrivelled crops,
the burning field,
the sea of sand's relentless creeping,
the birdless sky,
the buried city,
the undiscovered artefact,
the mystery of not being,
the price for not fearing,
the price for not seeing,
the price for not turning back.

This is for Stephen Derwent Partington. He'll know why!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Leave it to the diplomats....

In the White House, rules a black man,
his ideals, his principles fading
faster than a spray on tan.

Beyond the Great Wall, the Central Committe decrees
more electricity, more technology, more shopping malls
to keep the masses on their knees.

In Moscow, the Mafia lays down the law,
pisses in our faces and as the vodka flows
pisses even more.

In Number 10, the Bullingdon Club meets,
to allocate severe cuts, divvy up the spoils,
throw more people on the streets.

In Tel Aviv, the Irgun rules,
carves up Palestine
under the noses of those other fools.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

All America Demands Justice ....

The president is as angry as angry can be.
Pollution is spreading all over the sea.
It's not due to Exxon, it's down to BP.
He's calling for justice and full reparation.
He's spreading his message across the whole nation.

But wait, there's a memory stirring in me.
There's something familiar in those letters, you see,
A name with a B and also a P,
The name of a place that reminds me of hell,
Thirty six years dead and I can still smell
Those bodies all burning inside,
The thousands of victims of Union Carbide.
You'll know now, for sure, what those letters spell,
B - H - O - P - A - L.

I can take you back, it's all still there,
Ruined factory, poisoned earth, venomous air,
Black, black water in every well
And now you can go back home and tell
Of deformed limbs on every street,
Of the blind and the mad who you had to meet.
Yes, tell all the guilty, who got off scot free,
Safe in their mansions, where no one can see,
The compensation per person was just 30p.

Of course BP should pay for what it has done, but let's not be selective. What goes for BP goes for everybody else and certainly for American companies who dodge behind the protection of an all powerful state. Governments too should be called to account for giving the multi-nationals free rein to plunder and spoil.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Ballad of 13

Bogside, Sunday, red mist calling,
Stumble onto cobbled street,
Bleary, angry, no more falling,
Steady now on swollen feet.

Paras sweating, faces twitching,
Huddled, cursing, in the dark,
Trigger fingers raw and itching,
Barrack rage about to arc.

Placards, banners, clatter, voices,
Heaving surges. Just can’t wait.
Comes the moment for the choices.
Pick the stone. Select your fate.

Batons beating riot black shields,
Visors lowered, hidden eyes,
Tear gas flooding concrete fields,
Enclosing us where feeling dies.

Useless chanting, fractured hymns,
Bloody, bloody, bloody faces,
Bloody broken, bloody limbs,
Desecrated, once safe places.

Cold intention through the gun sight.
Old man dangling, feckless lout,
A bullet’s distance through the night.
Ready! Snuff his lights right out!

Father Daly, ducking, waving,
Bullets screaming round his head,
What’s the point, you ask, in saving
Bodies, when our souls have fled?

Neatly labelled, features flat,
Thirteen corpses stacked like lumber.
No need tell a Derry man that
Thirteen’s an unlucky number.

I don't want you to get the idea that the US and Israeli governments hold the monopoly in state terror. The Brits have been doing it for a long time. 25 years on, no one has been brought to book for these 13 murders.
This was first posted in 2006. I knew, of course, that 14 died as a result of the Paras' action. Tomorrow the Saville Enquiry reports. Will it be any better than the Widgery Whitewash? I notice too, that so many of my Irish brothers and sisters are deeply involved in the movement for a Free Palestine and still prepared to risk their lives for justice.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wounded in Action

Don't look away,
as you pass me by.
Look me in the face.
Look me right in the eye.

I watched you wave your flag.
I saw you cheer and scream.
I've seen it ever since,
in every waking dream.

Straight after the explosion,
when a bright sky turned black
and I could not move one finger,
or raise my shattered back.

I saw you line that street,
with your well-intentioned friends,
but where are they all hiding
as I battle to make ends?

Not looking for your pity.
Don't waste your charity.
Now that I'm beached and wrecked,
just treat me with respect.

Don't turn away,
as you pass me by,
Look straight at what's left of my body.
Answer the question - why?

The picture shows Gelli Aur and an open day to raise funds to turn it into a facility to treat wounded and traumatised soldiers in Wales. Wales, per head, contributes more recruits to the army than any other part of the UK, yet there are no such facilities in our country. Governments of every colour are all too ready to send our young men into war, but they are not prepared to look after them when they return having paid the price for the folly of others. It is a crime that these boys have to depend on charity in their own land and how ironic is it that those of us, who opposed the wars in the first place, are the first to put our hands in our pockets to put this right?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rachel Corrie Returns

If you once thought
that when you crushed her bones
and stopped her mouth with sand and stone
murder would bring silence,
then think again.

If you once counted
on distance in time and space
to wear away the memory and in its place
leave blank acceptance,
then think again.

If you once believed
that your great lie could hold
back the tide until by virtue of its growing old
it could be taken for the truth,
then think again.

See how proudly she breasts
a merciful sea,
defiant of your tanks and jets and mines,
laden with the best in all of us,
full of love for Palestine.

Watch the convoy on the Internet. You won't get any coverage in the media!
How wrong I was when I first posted this poem. Even in my wildest nightmares I never imagined they could do this. And now, even after the murder, the MV Rachel Corrie sails on to Gaza on her own. I cannot believe the courage of these people. Here at home we must re-double our efforts to break the siege.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Not a poem - a rallying call!

Please pass this video on to all your friends and contacts and to whatever you can to support Free Gaza.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

For My Sister

Lift up your head.
Like the first snowdrop
nosing into the light,
feel the sun upon your face.

Lift up your eyes.
We are all around you,
all as one,
reaching for the skies.

Lift up your heart.
Life is beating strongly.
Your perfect love
sustains us all.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Classroom

On a concrete canvas,
the people's artist has stencilled a tear
and that same patch of blue sky
that Oscar Wilde could see from his cell.

My teacher is observing me closely,
high up in his one-eyed tower.
I feel his cross hairs tickle,
focus on the back of my neck.

The same drill is repeated,
day after invisible day.
Choose your stone carefully.
Learn to keep your head down.

Slow learners line the streets
to give blood, shrouded
out of proper respect
for your own sensibility.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In Retrospect

High walls do not keep
a terror out, but
lock the terror in.
Bright citadels live in fear
of outsiders and were built
by those who have everything
to lose and nothing to give.

In those cities were too many old men
poring over books, plaiting
words into their own shapes,
far too many young men
pouring blood from scripts,
swords placed in their hands.

The path homeward was narrow
as you started out,
but then, as you progressed, grew wide
and though you began on your own,
you soon found others at your side.

Together now,
we can look back down
at those awesome structures,
which once seemed to us
impenetrable, so tall,
and see, at last,
where small cracks are forming,
and know those grey slabs
will fall.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Myrddin's Daughter (for Catrin Finch )

She can conjure sunlight anywhere,
light a rainbow in your hair,
pluck wind sound from the sullen air,
soothe a wildcat in his lair.

She suspends us in her glass
where safe in her mysterious clasp,
as breezes toying in long grass,
in seconds hours fly and pass.

She can make the night sky throng
with voices summoned by her song,
oh how they make us yearn and long
for the places we belong.

She can strum the strings of Bogota.
She can raise Tryweryn's star
and though we listen from afar,
she reminds us who we are.

After hearing Catrin Finch perform with the Colombian group, Cimmaron, in the Taliesin Theatre, Swansea, Friday March 12th 2010.An unforgettable night. Myrddin is Welsh for Merlin and an alternative Welsh title is Merch Myrddin.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

High Definition Tsunami

mango, amber, nut brown,
men thrashing around
dark water swells,
ice white water crashing down
scouring once ground.

Green faces, violet lips,
mangled cars, beached ships,
khaki men and guns,
white, clip-boarded, ant men,
yellow earth movers crawling
through once towns.

Silver tongued men,
smart, fawn words,
bronze faced ones
glide past dead men,
zebra-striped, sleep walking men,
red eyed, silenced once again.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Next year in Al-Quds

Though we ourselves lack food,
we treat our guests as all men should,
sprinkle crimson petals at their feet,
next year in Al-Quds.

We raise our young
to distinguish evil from good,
that all the stars are ours,
next year in Al-Quds.

lost childhoods,
grey men laughing,
next year in Al-Quds.

where winding walls once stood,
young men rising,
next year in Al-Quds.

hawk dark woods,
doves winging,
next year in Al-Quds.

Friday, March 05, 2010

School Photograph

Familiar faces
every one
frozen awkwardly
in that moment.

Head leaning
to one side,
I didn't really want to know,
eyes closed,
I didn't care to see,
teeth bared,
I was too timid,
whisps of hair intruding,
I was careless.
a careless pose,
I was ignorant,
contrived arrogance,
I thought I knew.
blissful ignorance.

Familiar memories,
in all their eyes,
through every one.

She promised to meet me
at the end of the road.
An opportunity lost.
I didn't care
to please her.
An ambition achieved.
He swrore
he would forgive me.
A hatred nurtured.
She asked me
if I was responsible.
A moment of fear.
He was balmed.
Uncontrolled laughter.
The other one
was rewarded.
Unashamed sadness.

Familar feelings
at inconvenient moments.

She left a note
This is no time for self reproach.
I destroyed
the evidence.
Everybody does that kind of thing.
He was watching
through my open door.
The past must be buried.They all knew
the truth
in the end.
will have to pay
for the damage.
Think of the future!

This photograph
has been ripped to pieces
many times,
yet patiently
and neatly sellotaped
and every time.

This old, new poem actually dates back to 1966 and my first
year in Swansea. I was lucky enough to have one to one
tutorials with Vernon Watkins and he encouraged me to
play around with line structure.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Still they cannot silence him ( Dennis Brutus 1924 - 2009 )

Never knew the man,
Just another exile named,
Whose solitary flame kept burning
So still they could not silence him.

Heard that story,
How, held prisoner once,
He seized his only chance.
A guard looked sly, the other way,
Then turned and fired one shot.
He lay dead still,
But no mere bullet in the back
Could silence him.

Shielded by bullet-proof plate glass,
Anglo American office workers paused
To stare at his body, lake of blood,
Couldn’t care less cops hanging about
Waiting for a “blacks only” ambulance
To cart the day’s refuse out of sight,
Then back to work, business as usual,
But still indifference
Could not silence him.

Rest cure on Robben Island.
In the neighbouring cell smouldered
Another name, branded
Mandela on all our minds.
Together, they could not silence them.

Swansea, Saturday on the Mumbles Road,
At the gates of St. Helen’s,
Or even trampling the sacred turf,
A mighty rucking
Of police, ‘sports fans’, vigilantes,
Beneath the freshly daubed walls,
His words, BAN THE BOKS
Echoing round the world
So surely could they not silence him.

Offered his name in gold
He shunned such place in history
And never would his name
Be chiselled in the same stone as our oppressors,
Nor will apartheid
Rear up in different lands
Without that voice being heard again.
From Sharpeville to Jenin,
From Soweto to Jibaliyah,
We will rise up and they will hear
And understand that never will they silence us.

My friend, Dave Jardine, e mailed me from Djakarta
with Dennis Brutus’s obituary from The Guardian
and reminded me how he and a group of students
from Swansea travelled to Cardiff in 1969 to hear Dennis
Brutus speak. That group became the core of those
who organised the demonstration against the
Springboks rugby team’s match against Swansea.
The match was disrupted by a pitch invasion lasting
some 20 minutes. The extreme violence used
against protestors was shown on TV all around the
world. Outside the ground it was no better with a
2 hour battle to defend against constant police attacks.
It was the beginning of the end of apartheid sport in

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Brueghel's 'Landscape with the fall of Icarus'

On the high hill,
the lone man follows the plough
and makes his mark where he will.

In the field below,
the shepherd observes his flock,
knowing where each lamb will go.

Across the green bay,
the galleon unfurls canvas,
makes ready for the sail away.

Above them all,
the watcher waits to choose
which one will stand and which one fall.

Not what you might think at first. This about the act of imagination.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Witness 69

Self-composed, cocksure,
as inquisitors doze
throughout the inquisition.
Their eyes glaze over.
His black needle points
pin them to his page,
delivered matter of factually,
unfaltering, dispassionate text.
Heard it all before,
of course, the ill concealed smirk,
the half stifled sneer,
unintentional illuminators.

How many lies can balance
on the head of one pin?
An infinity of falsehood
so it seems.
How many lives lost
in spin?
Not enough to make him sweat,
not enough for even one regret.

How many more millions have been wasted on Chilcott and still the criminals are not put on trial?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Fistful of Poetry ( the book )

As you will see the advert for the book has now moved to the sidebar and the poetry service will be resumed shortly. In the meantime may I remind readers that proceeds from the sales of the book go to medical aid for Palestinians. Haiti, however terrible, was an act of nature. What is being visited upon Palestinians is an act of man which too many of us still seem to be willing to overlook.