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DHRUPAD 22 (empty)

Empty,

emptied the skies,

unwoven by soaring diving swallows suddenly not there

suddenly silent as the still silvered edged trees,

dusted time-dusted, picked out in the

more slanted light suddenly now.

The clouds pouring in now pouring in the winds.

Still warm the sun still warm

though the nights grow cool now.

The days are set,

the days are settled,

they nestle down on quietened fields

in the quiet ripening

fields where the slow pheasants pause

and pick and move on.

There will be the

wheeling words of red kites soon and buzzards soon

their own spells their own

summoning autumn songs

high in the blue and dazzling dazzling heights of

tumbled skies

and the grain nodding heavy

and the hazels winking

and the ash

trees longing to let go,

to let go.

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LAMINATION

These words have gathered themselves together

Like swallows in a cooling sky.

Dark news from the cities

Where fools hold sway.

The stone at Llanlleonfel hardly speaks,

Stuttered in silence, its lines unread.

The stone of Llanynis taken to safety,

A kind replica gathers moss in an empty field.

The stones of Llanddewi Cwm, the woven stones,

Broken and holy, no one sees any more.

Words there are dying, eagle cries scratched and fading.

The stones of Gelynos subside into their own graves,

Locked in roots, bound by promises, muttering names.

The stone at Llanwrtyd, the old view subverted,

The road to world’s roof pitted, empty.

Is it still there in the darkness?

A mystery looking out, an old palm resting in an old lap,

As if after despair.

The stones of Llanafanfawr, huddled safe from storm,

Root words that mean their opposites, that savour contradiction.

The stone of Llangamarch, bestowing its blessing on jackdaws,

By the river’s edge in the water’s roar.

A storm of awen stripping away discourse.

A scroll rolled and unrolled a galaxy away.

The stone of Cilmeri, where hope died,

Where hope is offered flowers continually fading.

A place to lose heads, to find a well of eventual peace.

All these stones cold, hard, mute.

They can not tell of our futures here,

Though they remember the past,

And that, they all know, is the same thing.

The stone of Llanlleonfel is an Early Dark Age memorial to two fallen Welsh warriors inside the small church at Lllanlleonfel. The script is hardly readable now, the exploits forgotten.

The stone at Llanynis is a deftly carved pillar cross, removed to a local museum, but replaced with a fair reproduction, leaning isolated in a cleared graveyard.

The stones of Llanddewi Cwm, are no longer in situ. They consisted of deeply carved interlace patterns, once part of a free-standing cross stone.

Gelynos is an early Non-Comformist chapel site on a hillside road. Its walls long gone, its gravestones tipped and sinking into the earth.

Llanwrtyd stone is a memorial stone with abstracted Celtic-style head, lost within the depths of an old church nave.

The stones of Llanafanfawr are enigmatic geometrical carvings now placed into the porch wall.

The Llangamarch carving is above the church porch. It has a representation of a figure holding a spiral below a sun wheel cross.

The stone at Cilmeri was placed last century in memory of the death of the last great Llewelyn, Prince of Wales, ambushed and slain here.

All these stones are in, or look over, the Irfon Valley in mid-Wales, where I live. The title ‘Lamination’, which is name given to the weathering deterioration of these old carvings, is also a play on ‘lamentation’, particularly the Biblical Lamentations of Jeremiah, so popular in the Reformation for its relentless descriptions of ungodliness and destruction of nations.

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The Doors of Midsummer

A breath of cloud moves east across Y Garn’s face.

Words are as scarce as swallows in a cold summer.

Anyway, anyway, they only grow from dream to tangled lie,

flowering like the bindweed covering all beneath,

Weighing down, weighing down until nothing else remains.

The doors have opened in every hill,

An invitation to join the dance and summer’s feast.

But we are taught to doubt generosity,

To look for the trap in openness and goodness

(nothing is true that comes so free and easy).

River and clouds are the rulers of this world

and they move on in their own time, unbidden.

Tune to a key that sings of endlessness, even though

no one here knows anything of that song.

For emotion is born from time and loss:

In timeless halls is no such thing.

No such thing but endless dance and bliss.

If the summer never ends

It will be a hard winter, here.

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Light-hammered days.
Green burnished boughs.
Always this beginning
Scoured by cold winds.
Here and gone before we know it.
Birdsong too intricate to remember –
This woven life
With subtlest changes,
The dream repeats.
Though you might wish it,
There are no lessons to learn.
All the stories, a foam of blackthorn,
Blossoming suddenly everywhere.
Taste this now, it will soon be gone.
Gone to return, a somewhat different song,
Called out from another valley,
A little nearer, a little farther off.

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LUMINOUS 2

The day has no horizons
aimless we are where we wander.

short hours lost, dressed in silence
free of consequence, free of purpose.

as if the world were just created,
six days gone and the seventh, wondering.

the burden of memory not yet felt,
luminous ghosts of joy in luminous surrender.

and the hum of bees
or distant traffic
or chanting.

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DHRUPAD 13 (emptying out)

The skies are empty now empty of whistling wheeling swallows.
A quiet white
blanket of satisfaction mists the land
the ashes peel curl and fade, the hazels crisp.
Veils thin and mysterious return.

the slow dead
and the quick dead
turn and rise to see the returning tides of winter.

But it is still peace today sunlight floating down
the world slowed but still growing.

Searching for the right words, is it?

Like the swallows
sweeping crying have gone have gone but
for one or two flitting and diving
and getting
their last supper
for a good long while a good while
on the winds to the warm lands,
the sun warming wings and the rising air wriggling with life.

Distance distance words wheel enough enough corner of the eye corner of the mind distance empty.

Searching for the right words,
like counting ripples as rain fills the puddles
and mud coloured is the earth
and mud coloured is the sky and
mud coloured is the day filled with muddy thought
and tongues still as the still hills
and mind as fast as streams and as easy to understand.
The wheeze of swallows fills space leaves space empty space gone gone gone

for rain here cools and day shrinks and the long night the long night dreams dreams and whimpers a new tune
a new song the right words
the right words ice sharp and curled clear and ice bright

and here now here clear and calling and big as hills

and a throat of bursting rivers
and a sleep of dark moments
and shadows longer longer
reaching to horizons and the bell of the star sky ringing ringing and the shiver of distance opening
up and a deep, round silence
an empty skull dome silence
a cave drip drop dark silence a
story
silence where footsteps walk
and branches swish back
and in the corner of the eye the corner of the eye
change
wings
low
and sleek and loping through the drying soughing

a language change a sloping change of light
turn out turn in turn around empty skies

wind empty cloud empty star empty word empty.

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LLANWRTYD EISTEDDFOD 2018 – waste gwastraff
This was my submission for this year’s local eisteddfod, that happened just yesterday night. Good to take part in a celebration of art that has its origins so long ago in the 11th century, even though I am not (yet) able to submit pieces in the Welsh language. There are so many pressures these days distracting people from coming together as communities to appreciate each others’ talents. The Eistedddfodau are truly the jewel of Welsh cultural community. Categories range from set pieces in music, recitation, poetry and song to personal choices and works on given themes, as this was. Llanwrtyd Eisteddfod lasts all day, with children performing in the morning, youngsters in the afternoon and adults in the evening. We left about half eleven at night and it was still going! Each local eisteddfod is an opportunity for those who are aiming to enter the prestigious National Welsh Eisteddfod, to get sufficient adjudication and placements to go forward into the finals – so even in the smallest eisteddfods one can see really top quality performances, as well as locals having a go. Getting well respected adjudicators is a key element in attracting the best performers to a local eistedddfod. At all the eisteddfoddau I have seen, the adjudicators are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful in their comments – a true encouragement to creativity.

I have pared away the warm, waiting wood.
The ring of it: the blade pulled,
The curling lucent layers dropped, shuddered to floor.
The shape changing, the deep cut,
The curving line, the scent within the grain
And the borrowed light upon its smoothness.

To make a bowl slowly by hand
Is to contemplate emptiness
And the arc and sorrow and gravity of it all
As the thin curls scatter.

Not much of anything is needed, after all,
If all and all moves toward a single, singular point.
The rest, remains, resting pointless,
Discarded, unfulfilled, as debris.
Becoming something else, but not a worthy thing.
A means to an end, chaff and dross, lees and leftovers,
Swept and piled to make a kindling for a winter’s fire.

On the seventh day
Was there a pile of junk,
The unmade becoming unmanageable,
The chosen and the unchosen,
The first inkling of heaven and hell?

Where went the scraps?
The unwanted edges, the unfinished lines,
The swirling, sanded away interstellar dust?
Perfection is nothing but a stubborn tyranny,
A piling up of discarded beauty, disregarded,
For a dream, the hope of something that is not yet, not yet.

And this life now, whittled away,
Hollowed out a little more by each breath:
Less remains now, for certain, than what has gone by.
If there is an end, not just a turn in the road,
What shall remain of this slow work, day to day?
What of the careful polished surface, the tidy edge,
The slow shaping, the muscles’ rhythmic ache?

Careful or careless, we blind ourselves with dutiful goals,
Discard what seems unnecessary, untimely, unhelpful.
To make something to hold us safe in eternity
We scrape away the real, carve away the grain,
Slicing through the beating heart of things
To find the food that will feed our deepest hunger.

As a vessel for your grace, or as a begging bowl,
We are slowly emptied out, as a waning moon
Over a restless ocean.
Three drops were all that was required,
All else became poison.

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