Old House

The trees outside stand sentinel
above the rain-shine rooves.
This house is old and stands alone
High up on a hill.
The rooms are full of photographs,
books lined upon the shelves,
twice read or waiting still,
some with shattered spines.
The carpets, worn,
by thirty years of passing feet
are faded by the sun.
Notebooks filled with dead ideas
and some of them begun.
Dark wood and walls washed white
contain this quiet place.
A painting of a tired knight
dominates the space.
Dreams are always real.

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when i was small

when i was small and nothing was named

triangles rounded, appealing yet strange,

pink pastel , green, powder blue,  cream,

on a chain of balls hung by my hand

in the space now named kitchen, mundane,

a wondrous light gleamed on the taps

a window shaped shadow shone on the wall

sunspots and dazzle in dust motes that danced

the magical, mystical weave of the world

 

daydreams later, music, rhythms and words,

hidden companions jumped out of books

words that told astonishing thing, they flew

black wings, deep blue, a momentary flash,

crystalline visions, a jewel  shone in a beak,

a message from angels that sheltered the bed.

morning left  on the walk to the school

to the room of the witch, her ice cold eyes

held nightmares, inaccessible stars,

barred windows where birds sang outside

a world full of things not understood

diving inward, escaping

curled up tight in a ball

eternally quiet

eternally small

 

Thanks for Poetry

thanks for the light on the walls and the taps

that light that shone through the kitchen window

when i was small and nothing was named

 

thanks for the lazy cat sleeping in sunshine

the cat i cared for as mine for a time

she gave me my first gentle knowledge of death

 

thanks to the brother dead before i was born

who taught me all a brother could be

a fantasy figure of unbroken virtues, Galahad vanished

 

thanks for daffodils that blazed in the garden,

giant hollyhocks, blood peonies, roses,

the gnarled apple tree branches and pears

 

thanks for the nursery school teacher

who tortured my mornings, her ice cold eyes

made me throw up at the approach to her door

 

thanks for the blackbird, the song-thrush, the night,

daisy chains, faery rings, the jackdaw in flight

the souls and spirits that danced in the garden

 

thanks for Arthur’s round table, Robins arrows,

my imaginary horse, all my hidden companions

who jumped out of old dusty leather-bound books

 

thanks for the love that i found here and there

and the help from unexpected places,

strangers, wise friends and wanderers all

 

and thanks for that mighty punch on the jaw

the blow that almost left me deaf in one ear

driving me inward to find myself in escaping

 

thanks for clouds, forests, mountains that rumble,

dogs that tumble in grass, running horses,

the endless crash of giant waves on the shore

 

ravens, seagulls, all things that fly,

the moments i saw true love shine in eyes,

the curve of a lip at the start of a smile

 

tangled limbs, sleeping faces, blessings,

grace, beauty, rivers that rush over stones,

my search for Excalibur out on the moors

 

daydreams, music, rhythms and words,

the strength of an oak, the willow that bends,

the magical, mystical weave of the world

 

i give thanks for will power, imagination and hope,

for knowing how to cope and survive

most of all i give thanks for being alive

 

The Carer

she slept with the dog when it was sick

providing warmth and constant care

she rescues birds and creatures lost

is kind in every thought and deed

cherished her mother to the end

gives and doesn’t count the cost

if heavens reward on earth was given

and all the world was fair and just

she’d be blessed and crowned in glory

a special rose would bear her name

but such grace is always silent

and books will never tell her tale

 

 

 

 

 

What we will do for love ….

Asked to write a love poem and finally lost for words!
This love? that love? how many have there been?
and who of them was first? probably fair Psyche,
she who burned Eros’ wings, in the dark unseen
and put his feet to flight. There’s a lesson there.
It’s hardly likely, after that, I’d fall in love so quickly ,
but I did, with Guinevere, and she ran off with Lancelot!
ah how women do deceive! it made me feel quite sick!
After that I sat about and thought.
It all seemed like a shot in the dark.

Wendy was too soppy. Maid Marion seemed brave and kind
but she was always off with Robin shooting arrows in the wood.
I wanted one who was strong and good, the sort I couldn’t find,
one who liked what I did instead of what they thought I should.
Some one who understood! I was young and stupid.
So much for Cupid! Wild thoughts ran round my head.
A friend came by to see me, said “STOP READING BOOKS!”
”If you want to know what women are like drag one into bed”.
So I did. I chose one only for her looks. A big mistake.
It’s more than looks that make a girl. I soon found out.

I went back to the library and searched amongst the shelves.
I read history, not mythology. I was seeking hard, firm facts.
Not much mention of the woman I needed there.
Battling, defeated, Boudicca had some appeal,
Joan of Arc, a little mad, Cleopatra sounded bright.
All were doomed. Past age. All done and dusted, Dead.
And then I found the poets. Their voices burned the page.
Poems of love and loss and passion, sacrifice, desire
It set my heart afire. Visions of real love filled my throbbing head.
I saw that you must work at it, losing is better than never having.
Its torture, sad, tragic, maddening. It’s happiness, joy, and magic.
It’s worth fighting for and always trying. Real Love is never dead.

I sat in a noisy cafe, reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets,
glanced across the room. I saw her there composed.
She seemed complete.
She was reading Keats. I smiled.
“Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art…”
Good start. Our glances became frequent.
I took up courage, walked across. “You like T.S. Eliot?’
”Oh yes! I love him! Dylan Thomas?”
I smile again, nodding, offering her coffee.
We smiled and talked and talked. I walked her home.
Spent all night writing poems on her doorstep.
Fortunately it was summer. I didn’t freeze to death.
My poems only purpose was to make her love me.
I wanted her to love me more than all the poets.

She inspired me. She desired me. She was the first –
my sonnet.

 

 

 

A Welsh Voice

 

The mists, the mountains, cloud topped giants,
houses hung beneath the roads,
the mysteries of Cader Idris,
the bearded lake, Arthur’s stone,
a throne beside the glassy water
hollowed rock o’er grown with moss,
the leap of silvered salmon in the river,
the sheep, the lanes, the wayside markers
in the wall of wild flowers blooming,
by granite seat of ancient Bards,
where people gathered
hearing story roll from lips and memory.
All these things we saw together,
wandering in the wilderness of Wales
with my father, as a child.

The village streets where women gossiped,
the cobblestones and chimney pots
enchanted drifts of wood-smoked air
the clanging chime of book shop bell
as my father lead me to a gloomy room
walled with shelves.
Reaching up above my head
he handed me Dylan Thomas
a poet he had never read.

In bed that night a door swung open
with all the chimes of stream and meadow
louder than the bookshop bell
ringing out in word and image
words delicious in my mouth
the sounds, the shapes, the sensual pleasures
wrapped in beauty, thoughts profound,
laughter, love, the lowing cattle
driven home at eventide.
The orchards and the apple trees,
the night above that shines with stars.
The chapel choirs sang out across the valleys
voices raised in harmony and hymn,
the moaning echoes of the wind in grass
the sighing singing of the sea,
short lives lived
parading slowly to the grave.

The Hidden Ones

Our people were warriors, they journeyed far.
They followed the sun, the moon, the stars.
They honoured their dead who dwell with the living.
They left their mark on hilltop and moor.

They farmed the land to suit the seasons,
Skilled in crafts and rejoicing in song.
They sailed the seas and carved the stones.
They run in the blood, remembered in bone.

In spoken words, with no need of books,
Their stories passed from heart to heart.
Power and land they may have lost
But their thoughts and truths were not overcome

They have no followers yet are followed still,
With origins lost but stories repeated,
In the great glories of poetry that still lives on,
They are amongst us here, the hidden ones.

When I was small

when i was small and nothing was named

triangles rounded, appealing yet strange,

pink pastel , green, powder blue,  cream,

on a chain of balls hung by my hand

in the space now named kitchen, mundane,

a wondrous light gleamed on the taps

a window shaped shadow shone on the wall

sunspots and dazzle in dust motes that danced

the magical, mystical weave of the world

 

daydreams later, music, rhythms and words,

hidden companions jumped out of books

words that told astonishing thing, they flew

black wings, deep blue, a momentary flash,

crystalline visions, a jewel  shone in a beak,

a message from angels that sheltered the bed.

morning left  on the walk to the school

to the room of the witch, her ice cold eyes

held nightmares, inaccessible stars,

barred windows where birds sang outside

a world full of things not understood

diving inward, escaping

curled up tight in a ball

eternally quiet

eternally small