I count the species in the orchard hedge Maple, Blackthorn, Hawthorn and Hazel thrive Blackberry and Honeysuckle intertwine Elder pruned and cut hard to renew two Oaks, two tall Maples break the line a Red Admiral sits on a Buddleia leaf needing to find a place to hibernate. An idyllic scene a man laying a hedge the clear blue skies under an autumn sun but never far from my mind that other world Of war in Syria, the unrelenting brutality and the suffering of people in these times and of the silence of the people of my kind and of the silence, the discordany unravelling of the myth of the Wests superiority of the myth of the Wests democracy of the myth of the Wests morality.
Politicians assume the cloak of Pontius Pilate and wash their hands of responsibility.
This is a message from the borderlands an endless void a windswept land like all deserts stripped bare of features. So I whisper the message — If you could have heard all that I’ve heard. If you could see all that I’ve seen if you could have been there, far out there and if you could have listened to peoples words, listened to those broken hurting people and that place out there, in here, in me, in you. The dark frontier, that secret place you know I know, we know, we all know, but deny its existence.
But for me there is no choice. I cannot deny its imprint on my mind, my memory is not deaf or unfeeling, its not blind. But I wish sometimes that it might be so. Now what do I do with these memories, the words I do not wish to store, and hold like some mad treasure trove, archive of horrors of mankind, of humankind the stories told and told again.
The faces change but the pain and fear, the words remain. It’s unending, it’s our narrative as long as we survive this story will evolve and grow for we are humans. I worked amongst the desolation, fragments, survivors, of lives that might have flowered in their right time. And that endless unknowing of what might have been of who would I have been if that had not been done to me, to who I was, a child, and unsuspecting. Imagine the innocence and the quiet trust.
And all that time of working to heal — denial. A total blindness to the reality of the harm being done to children everywhere you look. It’s a reality, take a bus or a train, sit in a café you will be close to someone who has survived. And then the guaranteed denial that fact is fact In the face of all that. And then that sound of wheels within wheels grinding, the noise of conversations and the deals in closed rooms to keep silence, to protect the perpetrators and prevent the door room from being opened and the truth from being known and shared.
Forty years of denial, obstruction and frustration. Our lives are brief, a mere fluttering in time. So open the door wide and let the light in!
Child Sexual Abuse By Powerful Westminster Figures Covered Up For Decades, Inquiry Finds.
I see only forgotten men Living in places With once famous names I hear only words, Of tales and deeds, Of days of women and men, Long since forgtten Long since dead.
And in these times of uncertainty, People live surrounded By purposeless decline. A landscape of waste, And those twisted lines, Of once white shone steel, Polished by the unce\asing grind Of the turning wheel, That now lie hidden by elder. And gathering the dirt brown stain Of rust and disuse, Map out the death struggle Of this dark place, And in this uncertainty people live. Writhing in its decay Its history ensnares The withering and hopeless present. But its people refuse to cry out. Anger has been replaced, By that silence of regret, That pitiless lament, Of resignation and acceptance. Some say it is our age, As if we were born in other times And others days, Or as if this turmoil, And unceasing uncertainty, Was of our own making.
It has taken one hundred years To silence and forget, To carve away with such precision. One hundred long hard years, To isolate those memories, To purge our dreams, And cut with all the accuracy Of liquid golden steel, The misery of generations, The torments of our people, Of the years of our childhood, And before. We can do nothing. We can say nothing. We are not listened to. This is the song of our people, We suffer, we suffer, We have cried too much, We have cried much too long And we have become lost. But do not stir us, For we are dark dogs,
We are shadow dogs, We sleep in motionless terror. Do not speak to our hearts Of indignities, of suffering. Do not kindle our hatred. Do not evoke words to spur, Our slumbering emotions. We sleep, we sleep.
That strange silence When did it first occur? Were there no witnesses? Did no one see its coming? Had it been something gradual? Something that had begun Without our knowing. Or with that abruptness, That quickness of the blade, That cuts and severs, And life without knowing, Without recognizing its own going, Seeps silently away.
That strange silence When did it first occur? Were our eyes turned away? Our intelligence caught By other curious happenings. Was it that? Simply A distraction of sorts. Or was it something That we secretly welcomed? And now if there are regrets It’s too late, much too late. All that has been is no longer, All that may have been, Is now silent and forgotten.
Who will remember? Or will it become, A few pages here and there, Of names and muttered words? Some faint remembrances? That strange vision Of people blackened, Standing in cobbled streets, Faces turned towards camera, Their eyes watching, Looking but seeing nothing. And we see nothing of them. Their world, our past, A fleeting glance caught On the papers gloss. And in this hour I ask – Is that all that remains? That strange silence.
Of words and truth.
Like grasses bundled And withered in storm We are blown helplessly And not a word is spoken. Who sings the authentic song? Who speaks the words of truth? Who stands for me and mine? Who looks at what we see? Who hears what we hear? Who breathes the air we breathe? Who sees what is right and wrong? Who speaks for me and mine? Who sings the authentic song? Where are our heroes and poets now?
This poem was written during 1984 and was published in my first poetry collection “Uncertain Times” 2016. It is very much a poem of its time and represents the mix of defiance and despair.
In 1984 Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher decided to break the strength of the National Mine Workers after it took strike action to defend against mine closures. The government had foreseen in advance the possibility of a strike by the Miners and stockpiled vast quantities of coal reserves, it also mobilized the Police and Army who were involved in violent confrontations when miners tried to stop coal movements. In the end the government broke the strike, subsequently mines across Wales and the UK were closed down just as the Miners Union had predicted, and mining communities were devastated by largescale unemployment without any meaningful government support. The communities were overwhelmed by crime and drug misuse. There is little doubt that bringing coal mining to an end in the UK was done primarily to promote North Sea Gas and Oil.
The communities in the South Wales valleys survived, much changed, and after a long period of uncertainty, are thriving.
The photograph of the Naval Colliery, Penygraig, Rhondda was taken in 1970 while I was at Art School.Resistance Poetry
Out on the mountain wind lifted and the rain swept in from the Severn Channel — I feared I’d be caught walking peat boggy ground on the old Miskin Estate I stood watching the rain filled white grey shroud smear the dim domed lower hills and pass me by
I found myself listening out there to the wind blow soughing its sighs through the conifer woods remnants, blasted and flattened by the New Year gale that felled the woodlands on the hill tops, the frosted high slopes
and in the morning after it looked as if a war had been fought while we slept off the New Year party in the quiet of the hills lee. after walking through the forests desolation I was reminded of the bleakest Paul Nash painting, those shattered Ypres trees and now fifteen years later the trees lie still jumbled and broken the walls of the estate built to enclose common land have fallen too and are now used in places to make paths where the land is wet and poached by cattle hooves.
But although these long dry stone walls have tumbled we have different kinds of walls to enclose us today, the relentless addictive industrialised consumerism that inflicts its message from the first day of a child’s birth you need, you want and you will never get enough.
Etudes 1 (Après Ravel: Le Tombeau De Couperin — 1. Prélude)
A fish only exists on the flat screen a lion only exists in surround sound an elephant is only real in digital form although a 3D moulded form can be provided if they are dying out they have been recorded of course the smell is absent but that doesn’t matter they are not a part of our world they are not a part of It the disconnect between animals and It is permanent
Etudes 2 ( Après Debussy: Images #1, L 110 — Hommage A Rameau )
Space is constructed from flat lined edges in digital Wi-Fi time only Earth has decided to wrap itself in plastic (plastique) Earth has brought It upon itself. So It must be so. The laws of science of how It has all come to be means only misery Deep Time has no meaning
Etudes 3 (Après John Coltrane After The Rain)
The first law of It is “more” The second law of It is It’s never enough The fourth law of It is out of sight out of mind The fifth law of It is there is just today The sixth law of It is there is no consequence The seventh law of It is worrying is pointless The eighth law of It is don’t talk about your worries The ninth law of It is that there are no Laws The twelfth law of It is that there is no It.
Etudes 4 (Après Arvo Part — Stabat Mater for Choir and String Orchestra)
Earth is burning my soul is crying Earth is in flames and there are not enough tears to put out the flames Earth is burning my heart breaks but we must defy IT no more excuses resist