JackdawQuarterly writers’ group: Summer meeting

30 04 2016

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Feel welcome to read a poem or an extract of prose, or to simply listen along to others on the theme ‘panic’.

 

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A Reading @ The Word Conwy – Sunday August 16th 1.15 Conwy Guild Hall

6 07 2014

A festival of words.

http://thewordconwy.com/wordsmiths/

conwy

http://thewordconwy.com

I will be reading before the national poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke, @ The Word Conwy this summer. The event is on the same weekend as the Feast programme and also features the linguist David Crystal.

“A festival of words. Sounds like heaven on earth to me” David Crystal, the world’s leading expert on the English language.

http://www.conwyfeast.com/feastattheword/





The Fifty Move Rule

19 10 2013

The intended reason for the rule is so that a chess player with no chance to win cannot be obstinate and play on indefinitely or seek a win purely due to an opponent’s fatigue.

She edges closer in dreamy dark,
‘he should sleep through now.’
Check. Scratched from safety,
he blunders an arm between them. She moves
away. An exchange of sighs.

Desperate to resign.

Isolated pieces patrol, paring trenches
paralleling harmlessly. The board is dusty;
his turn. The game is torpid; his turn.
The intercom invites him with songthrush,
stream, sonata and he is teased to tiredness
by a baby’s breaths. A vicarious sleep.

A flare of sound, a firework of panic
and he chooses carelessly. Reading
the black like Braille, stumbling
towards the baby’s wail,
he pauses to take
down dressing gown
and she is there to turn
on lights, offer advice.

He follows her around the board,
swapping territory, holding hopes
giving ground, facing stalemate in silence.
He plays at parenthood.





The Grave of a Ground (Port Vale 2 Crawley Town 2, Saturday 6th August 2011)

30 01 2013

photo (1)

There is sense in cemeteries and symmetry
in gravestones. The cross is a puzzle of stations
but when I link the points I find flags,
badges, shields, coffins.

The workshop could be replanted with offcuts,
try oak Mr Williams grins. Stable for the table.
He traces calloused fingertips on a spiderweb grain.
Black ash is cheap and cheerless.

He shows me how to saw odd angles so they sleep
as snug as dovetails, then preaches to the class
of my dedication: lathing late, sanding all spring.
Diligence makes the best bookcase.

He never asks to see my plans, discerns cab’net
when I mumble casket. He signs a yellow slip
so I can work through lunch drawing and etch
three chalky white letters on the lid.
Dad is in the Head’s office all afternoon,
loudly warning my mother I’m macabre. He nods,
she sobs and my name is shadowed out from
the school show brochures in thick marker.
Sir wouldn’t look at me the Saturday,
my brother and me screwed on brass handles
and trudged it home. It was David’s idea to take it
to the stadium, prop it against the Railway Stand
to take turns stealing glances at the game
but men touched the casket like mourners
as we passed, offering to shoulder the weight.
‘A coffin’s not as heavy as a death,’ said a voice

outside the Bull’s Head and he lay a folded scarf
inside the lid. Pin badges and pennants and papers
thrown in as the landlord sang sermons. I rang
the pub bell’s lonely chime as the procession filed away.

People eddied in the swell outside the ground
rolling against the metal gates in grumbling waves
until sirens stanched the flow. Helicopters hummed
all evening and the heat dripped out the day.

While the weatherman’s arm covered the Potteries
from overnight storms, Mum warned me not to sleep
through my alarm. Her voice smoothed silences
dug up by news footage of a match day melee.

I found photos of the coffin and the crowds
in all but one of the Sundays and read reports
of riots until the print was fat with rain.
I posted the puddles with each paper.

They hadn’t even mentioned my name.
There was nothing noted of how I’d mixed ink
with filler to cover the screw holes,
contoured the edges so it’d be lighter.

Outside the club is an ashen mound. A handful
of black sawdust, weightless and portentous.
A coffin is not as heavy as a death.





Reasons I won’t ask him

27 12 2012

He’ll tell me the foundations aren’t level
while scratching at the corner of his eyebrows
until I sulk off.

I’ll hand him tea in soily cup
as he pegs out right angles in string
and asks me to fetch the post mix
from the boot.

‘It’s an easy mistake Son,’ he’ll say
sketching on to the plans where the door
should’ve gone. Then he’ll build
a shed from the panels I ignored
in the alleyway since spring.

He’ll need someone to foot the ladders
he brought and I should pin the felt down
in the corners he can’t stretch to anymore.

Mum might bring the baby out to play
on the balding grass, joke about men at work
and we may all pretend that’s the truth.

After the brushes are cleaned
he’ll pour the tea away,
wash the mugs.





The Longest Day

2 09 2012

Silk of midnight cloud,

the tender reminder of an endless

June evening.

It is a lazy dark tonight, the moon

a pearl earring snagged on the penumbra

of Tryfan. The model village is dozing,

Then, a siren like a baby’s tired cry,

and helicopter flit as jarred insects.

Houses light up. The fire

is young but the windless night

shoulders the crackling.

The coil of flame drips down

the Conwy Valley and orange slick

snarls wider. Mist is choked

in a panic of smoke, the coolness

charged by risk. The tear

in the cloak of the mountain

is a sick loop through to the core

of centuries. It is midnight, the fire

grows like a rumour.