Nights darkness settles

foto©fionacullen240121

….

Driven snow flurries gust in off the hill

Oak clung leaves stripped by the blow

And the familiar path winding low

The wet gullies ice whitened begin to fill

….

Nights darkness settles where I stand still

Stars bright glimmer through clouds break

Psychosis has taken you and heartache

The wrench of love for a child – a bitter pill.

….

©robcullen10032022

Comings and goings.

foto©robcullen23072022

I was waiting to note

the day the Swifts

left our country

and the unnoticed

silence left behind

I’ve never actually seen

their leaving before

I remember on August 8th

thinking they should

have gone by now.

And today sitting

reading a poem

about swallows “flittering”

and the way in which

they line the wires

before they fly

and are gone

leaving only skies

empty and silent

of their comings and goings.

©robcullen23072022

VoicesontheBridge Tonight – Pontypridd @StoryvilleBooks

VoicesontheBridge…What a great night, a great reading and a great venue!

Many thanks to all the poets reading Stephanie McNicholas, Des Mannay, Pete Akinwunmi, Ben Wildsmith, Nicholas McGaughey, Susie Wild – Exceptional!

Many thanks to the audience!

And lastly many thanks to Jeff and Storyville Books

We shall start planning for a VoicesontheBridge in September –

Many thanks again all!

Rob Cullen

Silence kills

I walked past the bench today on the old pathway

a place we’d sit surrounded by woodland’s stretches

Where I’d listened to you talk of Poland before the war

Of the Germans, Auschwitz and you as a teenage boy

delivering bread from your father’s bakery

to the Waffen SS barracks I remembered in sepia tones

Photographs only. And you’d lose some loaves behind

the wire fences – no more words, no more details.

you did what was needed to be done. No questions.

What else could you do. Nothing more to say

The old bench is falling away now, the pathway a mire

of boot marks washed in black mud by the rains

constant falling and your days my dear Stanislaus

are getting forgotten too. Are you listening to the way the rain

is falling again today. And so with thoughts of you  I walk through

the heavy leafed trees weighed by the gathering rain

I’m lucky I’ve been surrounded by people like you

who through their actions mattered, your words of kindness too

Remembering you  I often wonder how your fathers bread tasted,

how it smelled in that place where burning flesh consumed the air

where burning human flesh and the violence could not be ignored.

And as you told me once silence kills – imagine a life with that?

Stanislaus Pipkin was originally from Poland. His father a baker

was forced to supply bread to the SS Barracks in Auschwitz

Concentration Extermination camp. Stanislaus as a teenager

helped his father by delivering bread to the barracks.

He also gave bread to the inmates although to do so

meant certain execution if discovered. Stanislaus

didn’t talk much about his activities.

After the war Poland was overran by Soviet forces

 and Stanislaus was eventually forced to escape to Britain.

He came to live in Wales where he worked in the mines.

He married, raised a family in Pontypridd.

When the communists were ousted from Poland

Stanislaus was able to return free from the fear

of reprisal for his activities.

Stanislaus Pipkin was honoured by Poland as a National Hero.

©robcullen30062020

VoicesontheBridge 7th July 2022 6pm @StoryvilleBooks Pontypidd. Be wise, be there!

Voices on the Bridge Thursday 7th July at 6.00pm @Storyville Books Pontypridd- Line-up confirmed…Stephanie McNicholas, Des Mannay, Pete Akinwunmi, Ben Wildsmith, Nicholas McGaughey, Susie Wild and yours truly Rob Cullen presenting and reading. Let me know if you’d like to read in the openmic.

Bio’s

Stephanie McNicholas trained as a journalist in Cardiff in the 1980s and went on to write for national and regional newspapers and magazines. Steph published her second book – WHEN PONTY ROCKED! – in 2021. It tells the stories of the many musicians from her home town in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

Pete Akinwunmi is the vocalist and songwriter with the band TaffyWasAThief. Poetry writing developed from lyric writing resulting in narrative poetry combined with the urge to entertain. Brought up in care in 1950’s/60’s Aberdare, South-Wales as the only black person in the Cynon Valley has provided a distinct and unique view of his homeland.

Nicholas McGaughey lives in Pontypridd. He has new work in Bad Lilies/Stand/Lucent Dreaming/The Friday Poem and Spelt Magazine.

Susie Wild is author of the poetry collections Windfalls and Better Houses, the short story collection The Art of Contraception listed for the Edge Hill Prize, and the novella Arrivals. Her work has recently featured in Carol Ann Duffy’s pandemic project WRITE Where We Are NOW, The Atlanta Review, Ink, Sweat & Tears and Poetry Wales. She has placed in competitions including the Welshpool Poetry Festival Competition, the Prole Laureate Prize and the Mslexia Women’s Poetry Competition and performed at festivals including The Laugharne Weekend, Green Man and Glastonbury.

Ben Wildsmith was born in Birmingham at an early age and began crawling westwards immediately. He is a songwriter, journalist, support worker and anarcho-syndicalist carbuncle on the body politic. He is a Literature Wales bursary recipient and Hay Festival Writer at Work. You can read him each Sunday in Nation Cymru.

Des Mannay is a Disabled, Welsh writer of colour. Poetry collection, “Sod ’em – and tomorrow” (Waterloo Press). Co-editor ‘The Angry Manifesto’ journal. Prize-winner in 4 competitions, shortlisted in 7. Performed at many venues/festivals, in numerous poetry journals, 36 anthologies. Judge in ‘Valiant Scribe’ competition.

Rob Cullen has organised VOB since 2017. He is a gardener, environmentalist, poet, writer, artist. Throughout lockdown he has been frequently published in Resistance Poetry, & also The Lark, US – Plus The Atlanta Poetry Review; Culture Matters anthologies Ymlaen/Onward & Gwrthryfel/Uprising & A Fish Rots from the Head as well as “The Learned Pig” Arts Journal, Cambridge, UK. Rob’s work regularly appears in the Red Poets annuals. He’s completed two novels.

See you at VoicesontheBridge!

VoicesontheBridge 6pm Thursday 7th July 2022 @StoryvilleBooks Pontypridd Update: line-up change –

Stephen Payne is unable to read due to potential Covid infection. Pete Akinwunmi has agreed to stand in for Stephen.

Voices on the Bridge Thursday 7th July at 6.00pm @Storyville Books Pontypridd- Line-up confirmed…Stephanie McNicholas, Des Mannay, Pete Akinwunmi, Ben Wildsmith, Nicholas McGaughey, Susie Wild and yours truly Rob Cullen presenting and reading. Let me know if you’d like to read in the openmic.

Bio’s VoiceontheBridge Thursday 7th July 2022

Stephanie McNicholas trained as a journalist in Cardiff in the 1980s and went on to write for national and regional newspapers and magazines. Steph published her second book – WHEN PONTY ROCKED! – in 2021. It tells the stories of the many musicians from her home town in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

Pete Akinwunmi is the vocalist and songwriter with the band TaffyWasAThief. Poetry writing developed from lyric writing resulting in narrative poetry combined with the urge to entertain. Brought up in care in 1950’s/60’s Aberdare, South-Wales as the only black person in the Cynon Valley has provided a distinct and unique view of his homeland.

Nicholas McGaughey lives in Pontypridd. He has new work in Bad Lilies/Stand/Lucent Dreaming/The Friday Poem and Spelt Magazine.

Susie Wild is author of the poetry collections Windfalls and Better Houses, the short story collection The Art of Contraception listed for the Edge Hill Prize, and the novella Arrivals. Her work has recently featured in Carol Ann Duffy’s pandemic project WRITE Where We Are NOW, The Atlanta Review, Ink, Sweat & Tears and Poetry Wales. She has placed in competitions including the Welshpool Poetry Festival Competition, the Prole Laureate Prize and the Mslexia Women’s Poetry Competition and performed at festivals including The Laugharne Weekend, Green Man and Glastonbury.

Ben Wildsmith was born in Birmingham at an early age and began crawling westwards immediately. He is a songwriter, journalist, support worker and anarcho-syndicalist carbuncle on the body politic. He is a Literature Wales bursary recipient and Hay Festival Writer at Work. You can read him each Sunday in Nation Cymru.

Des Mannay is a Disabled, Welsh writer of colour. Poetry collection, “Sod ’em – and tomorrow” (Waterloo Press). Co-editor ‘The Angry Manifesto’ journal. Prize-winner in 4 competitions, shortlisted in 7. Performed at many venues/festivals, in numerous poetry journals, 36 anthologies. Judge in ‘Valiant Scribe’ competition.

Rob Cullen has organised VOB since 2017. He is a gardener, environmentalist, poet, writer, artist. Throughout lockdown he has been frequently published in Resistance Poetry, & also The Lark, US – Plus The Atlanta Poetry Review; Culture Matters anthologies Ymlaen/Onward & Gwrthryfel/Uprising & A Fish Rots from the Head as well as “The Learned Pig” Arts Journal, Cambridge, UK. Rob’s work regularly appears in the Red Poets annuals. He’s completed two novels.

See you there!

The air is bare this evening

….

Sitting on a chair outside our bedroom 

looking up at the mountain ridge

There was a time

in the first week of May

when the sun was setting

behind the wooded ridge

the warm air shimmered

with insects in their millions

the sounds of Martins and Swifts

Swallows too feeding in the dimming light

and now the light is bare

and everything, the hours

and the day is still…

so quiet you know it’s not right

©robcullen10062022

Poem for lovers day – The first place in ‘75

fotocreditrobcullen

It was the first place we lived together

that white walled top floor flat

in an old Brighton town house.

It was a war zone of cold rooms and drafts.

we’d push newspapers rolled up and folded

into the cracks and gaps to block the blast

from the windows sash when the wind blew in

over the whipped-up roiling crazy white sea

gales that rattled windows and frames and doors.

From our bed on early December mornings

we’d watch a tower crane overhang the Kemptown

road with a Christmas tree sitting on its jib.

Those were mornings of clear skies

after the waves of the gale had receded

the gas fire’s flames flickering low, a mix of yellow and blue,

you played that scratched Baden Powell vinyl record

and the strains of the Samba Triste

filled the wooden floored rooms above Belvedere Road.

In the day we walked the sea front watching crashing waves

stir the shingle while fishermen hauled the keel boats

up through the pounding shore below the kids rides.

our love was fiery then.

….

©robcullen18012020