Bridging

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foto©robcullen13012021

“Our lives are but specks of sand — better to use the time we have usefully.”

In this time of fractures

Of the emergence

Of old hatreds

The telling of lies

When politicians, our leaders

Seem unable to refrain

From encouraging fear

We need to build bridges not walls.

Bridges aren’t just about getting somewhere

In this age of having to get somewhere

Bridges are about connections

About joining one side to another

To join the divides and separations

Bridges span different views

Bridges connect generations

We need to build bridges not walls.

Bridges make things come together

Make old and new things one

Bridges make life possible

Bridges span and connect

Bridges aren’t about divisions

Bridges join and mend

We need to build bridges not walls.

Bridging the gulf between us

Help us to speak to one another

Allow us to bring things in

Allow us to take things out

Allow us to meet and share

Allow us to see things anew

Bridges join and renew

We need to build bridges not walls.

To span divides, connect, renew

Bridges are life givers

So not let divides

Part us from life

Or keep us away from one another

Bridges give meaning not walls

So let’s build bridges together

We need to build bridges together not walls

We need to build bridges together not walls

We need to build bridges not walls.

….

©robcullen13012021

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foto©robcullen13012021

“Our lives are but specks of sand – better to use the time we have usefully- build bridges not walls.”

WRITTEN BY

Rob Cullen

Rob Cullen artist, writer, poet. Rob runs “Voices on the Bridge” a poetry initiative in Wales. Walks hills and mountains daily with a sheep dog at his side.

In a time of contagion

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foto©robcullen012016

You cannot call my name.

We will remember for all time the summer of this year

when last Spring, woodlands and forests had a quietness

almost an expectation

as if the trees knew and were waiting.

I would not describe it as tenseness,

the quiet wasn’t peaceful either.

It was what I would describe as resignation

if I were to attach it to a humans form.

After the heavy rains of winter,

people described them as exceptional,

rains the like of which no one could remember.

No one had seen such rain who was still living.

Out on the openness of the mountains plateau.

It was different.

On the hill above the village,

water took the shape of fear.

Carried on the edge of the wind,

its swiftness gave no cause for concern,

gave no cause for the alarm to be raised,

or bells to be rung on the church belfries and spires.

The smell of death spread thinner than wisps

of smoke, through hard weather whitened grassland,

barely visible,

beyond the horizon, its source unseen, at first,

but what did that matter in any case,

it was what it did when it arrived,

for all to see,

that was what mattered.

Death came anyway.

It used a cipher to hide behind, another’s form,

another’s name, to confuse, to distract.

Tell me your name. It is useless to ask.

I have no name

I am nameless

I am as old as time.

©robcullen31122020

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“The hill of sorrow.” foto©robcullen31122020

Death comes easily. It is always there — always near, always close by waiting. In March 2020, I suffered heart failure and came close to death. I didn’t survive because of luck — although I was lucky. I lived because of the professionalism of medical staff in our local hospital’s Accident & Emergency Unit. I was discharged five days later after two operations and a defibrillator pacemaker. That wasn’t luck. I know that if I lived in another country without a National Health Service I would be dead — death would have had its way.

I listen to the news casts each day, hear the latest covid stats — the number of new cases and the number of dead. Occasionally I see photos of crowds of people celebrating, ignoring the risks and the consequences, and the following week the spike in the stats that follows as sure as night follows day. I muse on whether people place so little value on their lives that they are willing to place themselves at such great risk. It suggests to me a mass Russian roulette.

I avoid crowds or social events in which there will be a large gathering. I am an artist, writer, poet who enjoys my own company and isolation doesn’t weigh heavily on me. More importantly it gives me time. Time to write, time to read, time to play with pen and wash. And there is so much to see, feel, smell and breathe in. Every walk offers a richness of opportunity. I do not live in a town or a city but on the outskirts of a town in wooded countryside. On the last day of the year 2021 I think I am lucky.

©robcullen31122020

WRITTEN BY

Rob Cullen

Rob Cullen artist, writer, poet. Rob runs “Voices on the Bridge” a poetry initiative in Wales. Walks hills and mountains daily with a sheep dog at his side.

Resistance Poetry

Resistance Poetry

Verse as Commentary

A Sense of duty (excerpt)

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I listen to the voices of those

talking quietly of their day

of their worries,

and sharing the joy

of milestones missed

the sadness of memories

and the missing of you.

I watch men who stand

leaning, crying in a grief

that has no sense of ending

of the keening, of the longing

to hear your voice

before the sound

of it is forgotten

and that dread of forgetting.

There is a kind of peace here.

White Sheets

DSC_5843 (1)White sheets.

Hanging from the wash line.

Is this a wash day?

A wash day like it used to be in the village.

With every house on a Tuesday morning

hanging the washing on line after line

in the back gardens.

The wind catches the sheets.

And as they billow like sails

they make that cracking noise

as the cotton snaps to its full length.

White sheets blowing in the wind.

Rising and falling as they are caught and buffeted.

The wind drops and the white sheets

slowly drift back to hang limply.

The wind rises again and the sheets

begin to stretch out with the force of the breeze.

The clouds break.

And brilliant sunshine illuminates the sheets.

A stronger gust and the sheets stream out again.

Each sheet rises in sequence to reveal the pathway.

To reveal you standing there.

You. Watching me.

Silently.

And the sheets hide you again as they fall

to hang without movement.

But then begin to unfurl and rise

as yet another gust pushes the white cotton out

and you are once again exposed.

You stand watching me with that serious look.

Your eyes expressionless.

Studying me.

And once more the whiteness falls

to cover where you are standing.

There is no movement now.

Just the brilliant whiteness

falling on you like a curtain.

And then you are revealed again.

But it is not you.

It’s the girl standing there in your place.

Your daughter.

Standing there expressionless.

Staring as the sheets rise and fall rhythmically.

And then you begin to move.

A long slow stride.

Towards me.

You move.

Almost as though you are in slow motion.

That slow time again.

There is no sound now.

Your eyes are focused on me.

You know me.

You look at me.

And now rain drops.

The sound of a steady pit-pat.

The sound increasing.

Rain falling.

Suddenly a crescendo.

White sheets spattered.

Grey spots

On white sheets.

Nearly dry white sheets.

Water spatters.

Water stained

White sheets.

Turning grey.

Hanging limp now.

Hanging to the ground.

And you are gone

Awake now in the darkness.

Uncertain of the time.

Lying there listening.

To the rain.

Rain hitting against the window of the bedroom.

Words (Excerpt)

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I love the revelry of words sound

words as they ride and are formed

languishing momentarily or longer

on the back of the tongue

brought forward on the breath

to roll and reverberate in the vault

of the mouths vast darkness

to briefly rest on the tongues tip

a momentary and glorious savouring

and then to flit from the bit of my teeth

and freed then thrown outward

on the stuttering blast of breath

the sound of words the dissonant clash

and the smooth assonance

that always manages to awaken me.

Uncertain Times (excerpt)

Of words and truth.

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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?

 Rob Cullen