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Dyma Llangamarch

DYMA LLANGAMARCH

This rock forehead
Staring into God’s blue eye.

This river wrapped promise.
This precinct pinned against the
Warm breast of wood and slope:
A brooch of brightness.

A way across,
And a way through.

A confluence,
As all names are.

Sometimes easy with itself,
Sometimes crouched and wary.

Crowned with blackbird song
And dancing jackdaws.
Fed with waters, rich and strange.

Overlooked, perhaps, but
It outlasts its saints,

As quiet goodness
often does.

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The title is in Welsh, meaning ‘This is Llangammarch’. In English, Llangammarch has a double ‘m’, but only one ‘m’ in the Welsh. It is named from the River Cammarch, which here meets the River Irfon, just below the promentory of rock on which the church stands. The old settlement was on the north side of the river, though is now largely on the south bank, under the lee of the wooded slopes of the Epynt escarpment. The area was renowned for its mineral springs, some with high sulphur content, some with high magnesium and barium. For a while, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the area boomed as several spa resorts sprang up fed by the new railways from cities in the south and east. The First World War ended all this and the coastal resorts soon took over .

Spite Inn

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SPITE INN

June settles in,
Warm and fine and easy.
Beyond Spite Inn
Clouds roll through the wet grasses.
Two cuckoos praise each other
Across the oak valley floor.
The old roads drip green.


Spite Inn is a ruined, but preserved, building on the road between Tirabad and Cyngordy on the northern slopes of the Eppynt. It is likely a drover’s resting place, and its name is thought to derive from its rivalry with another nearby inn.

June Drift

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JUNE DRIFT

I am as blurred as the cleft of Cwm Dwfnant shrugged with cloud,
shunned in its darkness, up hanging from the heights, silent as a hawk.

like ladders the thistles grow, straight and high, and the sedges hustle
the grasses, cropped short, and rain-laden.

the woods, a hushed audience, wait for rain
that is as welcome as the sun, as welcome as the long, pale dawns,
as welcome as the naked starlit evenings.

sallow seed slides and drifts, amnesiac angels, bounced on warm air,
and shallow cool down by the gurgling river’s bank.

and the globeflowers at Nant Y Bran bursting and butter-bright as suns
on their long green necks. and yet they still cannot look into tomorrow.

where shall be ever planted the sweet heads of valerian
and the meadowsweet foaming up through the coming of another summer.

light drizzle rains down, slowly drifting east. a cuckoo mist, a cuckoo silence.
I am blurred as the sources of all rivers are, nominal, approximate.

this white drift is a moment that now dissolves the hills
and clarifies by shimmer and shade the valley’s deep and every fold.

the unknown and the known are not new dreams to us.
they clothe us and wrap us round, swaddled and held still, a long lullaby,
sometimes with words, sometimes with sounds,
sometimes with a warm breath
that is itself no different than love.

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These blurred, cool days are best,
Soaked with fresh green airs
Hedgerows smudged with bluebells,
Cowslip clouds lolling heavy in the grass
And the rivers running brown and full
Over hollows and heaped grey rock.
And everywhere the blackbirds sing
On wooded slopes,
And the flit and flick of swallows
In the slow rain.

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HAIBUN – The Heat Rises

Seeing some recent photographs from Japan, ( train riders do so love to click the rising sides of Mount Fuji as they speed past to and from Tokyo), I remembered how it was there towards the end of May in Honshu. The temperate Spring weather suddenly gives way to an increasing heat. Vegetation that budded discretely in warm sun now turns rampant jungle, sliding down walls and roadsides in tumbled tendrils. Pocket towels delicately sweep sweated brows and necks, the weight of a humid summer sun bends heads and we begin to avoid the wide open city spaces where light rebounds off dazzling bright concrete. The shade in parks is inhabited by quiet, slowly moving people. Pale skinned girls, translucent as moons, carry parasols in lace-gloved hands and the perspiring salarymen, ties loosened, curse their cheap suits and dream of beer.

End of May.
The heat rises
To the top of Fujisan.
We move more slowly,
Like carp in green waters.

The past turns haiku.
The valleys dissolve in rain.
Disappearing light.

To culture silence
And watch unhurried,
A task few relish.

Here to dream

We are only a dream here to dream.
An exhalation of hill and forest.
A fancy of slab rock and weeds.
A drift of fog taken shape then dissipated.
Hardly even a thing, hardly a name.
A point of reference to a moment, green and eternal.
This field of dream, this song thrush stilled,
This fall of light rain, this cool dissolution,
This river breath.

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Sunday morning

A cuckoo’s voice
rides the undulations
of the day.

Hardly a breath of wind,
but it will come on to rain later.

Sunday morning sun pushing towards brightness,
fades through lazy layered atmospheres.

The roads are quiet.
In an hour or two
the tourists will arrive
to see what life is all about.

They will whisper by,
Pass through in clean cars
and return tonight
to their city sleep,
Dreams of emptiness
and birdsong.

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