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CYMRU, IF I NAME THEM

If I name them shall I make them mine,

Those hills that rise and fall in cloudy distances?

Shall I take them into my folded self,

Safe memorised and belonged?

Will they, then, wake enough

To acknowledge this time’s short passage,

Allow a fleeting sun-warmed moment of life

To be counted and valued?

Is there then enough silence in them

To quench the rabble tides of complaint?

Enough sobriety and bliss to dismiss

The well-worn excuses of failure and exile?

We are eagles weeping in the crowns of eternal oaks,

Waiting for the one who made us thus,

To come and set us free, to give us,

One last time, our form and status,

To let us die loved in our own place.

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RAGNAROK: OUR PLACES BOOKED

Such a perfect still sky, cloudless.

Radiating heat to infinity,

Darkening by the second,

A touch of pink on hill and tree.

Yesterday another piece of heaven fell to earth.

We have news that our betters create

A new constellation of stars,

A new heaven of beneficent watchers,

Angels of rare metal to stand by our heads,

To stand by our feet,

To cover us with their wings,

To watch over us without cease.

The wars go on.

They are boring wars, small wars,

No heroes, no grand victories.

A death of cities, a death of nations.

The death of women and children,

The death of hope, the death of goodness.

We will be safe, though.

Our leaders have said.

They spend their time

Nesting these notions,

Thinking for the future, they say.

While bits of heaven fall to earth

And small things die of cold in the late frosts,

And there is so little, so little

That changes,

Millennia after millennia.

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GIVEN TIME

Given time

All the stones return.

.

Companionship, the soft moss

That greens broken voices.

.

We are accustomed to abandonment

Where roads turn back

Leaving the high hills to themselves.

.

We are accustomed to the tides

Of disdain from those

Who cannot see our wealth.

.

We breathe free in cloud and soft rains,

In the glance of sun,

In the silent press of snow.

.

What we lack

Has been given away freely.

Nothing of worth

Has been lost.

.

From the darkening skies

A single feather falls.

The stones are silent.

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It is not the roads that we have lost

That leave us blinkered and aimless.

It is the songs.

It is not the gold we have given away

That leaves us impoverished and hungry.

It is the songs.

Left silent without even echoes.

The body’s rhythm stuttered,

The heart’s reason stultified.

We have gathered, huddled in silent cities,

Upright, efficient, vague and unmoved.

No tides of song, no roaring winds of song,

No rising hearts, no heat.

Never lost in the making of names.

Never tangled in the fleeting syllables.

No lilt, no catch, no net, no praise.

No meaning that dives deep below meaning

And feeds the spirits of the dead and of other places.

No offered breath, no chant that infuses hours with timelessness.

The electric hum of compliance.

The drone of automatic equilibrium.

White noise of dissolving passion.

Quietly waiting an end to tedious static.

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THE OLD TALIESIN

He does not have to raise his voice –

Silence comes with it like the tide on the shore.

Bent-backed, i see his strong staff, serpent-wrapped.

It is still a tree of fruits, sweet and bitter:

A crab apple scented with autumns, hard with frost

And the seeing of too much sorrow.

I see his bright brow, bald as the moon.

He is being chased again through the halls of the world

By another who shall not relent.

And he will change form again,

On wide, sunlit oceans again,

But not until the three drops congeal in truth,

Not until the chariot wheel is cracked,

Not until a new axle pin is shaped and smoothed.

A year and a day,

And we shall all change places.

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Penygarngoch rises from the past,

A whale of rock, green draped,

Through the hayfields and meadow mists.

Rising above the lowing cattle,

Rising above the blackcap’s song.

Higher than the raven’s tumble,

Higher than the roads and pathways.

The present does not wash it clean of memory.

It does not replace the layers accumulated,

The dust of starlight, the tombs of kings.

In its deep roots, in its trickling waters,

In its sedge and scrub and bracken,

In its clear-eyed dreaming head,

In its separate, aloof completeness,

In its drawing out of silence,

In its dome of watchfulness,

It rises higher into the sun.

Both consonant and vowel,

Both noun and verb.

A rounded arc that restfulness adheres to.

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July is a slow river.

It slides behind a mirror sky

Smoothed by silence and bees

A breeze of roses and sweeping swallows,

A sweet weight of honeysuckle.

The hay is cut between rains.

It lies in long warm lines.

Certainty and uncertainty

Is what we live with.

Storing up what keeps us.

Everything is harvested in its own time.

The western wall carries the sun’s warmth

Well past the white skies of midnight.

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THE LEDGERS

I have been collecting the names

of demons from dusty ledgers,

Each a fossilised passion or despair.

Every one a poet and a diva,

Conceited, numerous as neurons

In the brains of man.

Some starved, some sated.

It is the nameless ones

We should be fearing most,

Whose attributes and legions are unlisted.

It is they that twist the fibres of time and space,

That lead us down reasonable paths

To utter foolishness.

They bear the bitterness of millennia being ignored,

Sidelined by brassy, golden heroes.

Volcanic, metamorphic, sedimentary –

They constitute, certain, a slow wearing bedrock.

They know too well the mountains and horizons we long for

Are all relentless and prone to murder.

Dressed in orifices of delight and disgust,

The greatest demon is the one that teaches

That there are no such things as demons,

Denying all history, mocking the laboured divisions

Of day and night, and reasons why,

Filleting the intellect from all shining breath.

They are well-beloved now in sharp suits,

Eloquent in Greek and Latin, they dream in Sanskrit,

Swear in Aramaic, count in Japanese.

They name and number every combination

Of moral gymnastics.

They are masters of the callisthenics of judgement,

Ballroom dancers of complete seduction.

They are the best of us, who best us.

We, the sly self-harmers of evolution,

Ingenious inventors of delusional druggery.

They are dressed in war and holiness

( as we could tell the difference).

All they need is a little time, a little understanding.

‘Sit you down, take us through your thinking.

We will listen.’

Non-judgmental, professional, just taking

One or two salient notes.

Paring off slices of soul for real estate

At bargain rates, a place to retire to,

With excellent views.

‘But look’, they say,

‘We are nothing

But patterns of thought.

Born, nurtured, clothed,

Given names.

Exercise us,

we will become domesticated,

The new normal.

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SOLSTICED

.

Garth Bank is a mind

Resting in silence.

.

Bryn and Y Garn

Become domed and spacious.

Valley rivers make no noise-

The whole world stands still.

.

The cold of eternal space

Touches the edge

Of our certainty.

.

So we cling

To an ephemeral fullness

And watch a blue distance

Grow warm in haze,

.

Nested in comfortable notions,

The children of cracked worlds.

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A CUCKOO IN THE NEST

A cuckoo see-saws in the sunny dregs of May.

All the fractured warriors, pale and bloodless,

Sink into the seed-filled soil.

The winners and losers are the ones

Who laid out these fine roads.

So we can trust no other paths

Through the oak deep woods and sun-warmed cliffs.

They have buried their gold here and there

Like dinosaur eggs, cold hope and useless,

Without the thrusting love of bees.

We shall walk among the dead and borrow their dreams.

Bred for an ostentatious perfection

The roses strangled by a sea of happy weeds.

Yet we take the rose for our badge:

The blowsy, failing, propped and preening dream

Of old men and fanatics, and fight the weeds together.

The cuckoo mocks the sunny morning.

Innocence supplanted by an unbuilt guile.

The world see-saws on precipitance.

The stars, at least, remain, untouched

By this busy arrogance of being.

How many times shall I sing the same song,

O, Enitharmon? Until the long grey rains

Wash all footsteps away?

Gronw, Gronw, that stone over your heart shall not save you.

It will be laid out: the failings of desire and the roads of gold.

It shall all be sundered by the returning soul,

The tides of people, a song of weeds.

Sweet smelling idiots, the tiered hierarchies of perfect moments.

We have longed for its return – the resonant, ephemeral cuckoo.

But now its constant echo palls. It is no bard, but pure politician.

It ousts the futures of others, counts away choices, one by one.

The roads that are reasonable, are inevitable.

You had the choice a long time ago, if you recall, to be a hero

Or to fall safely into those ruts of good and equitable habit.

We have been charmed down from the tree now,

Given a voice, and we must fill the role assigned us.

To heave the future from its nest, watch it crack

Against the stones, and pray for food to still sustain us.

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