Archive for March, 2015


It is almost April, but the day before
yesterday hail spattered on the pavings,
lightning fell like a branch, thunder resounded
across the city and the comedy dog,
from two doors down, did his hoarse yip, yap, yap yip.

Yesterday, an east wind shuddered
the cherry blossom and blew the bees awry
and I thought the seasons disjointed.

Today, white blossom and apple-green leaves
formed a bright canopy – and I remembered
a year ago not twenty miles from here
were snowdrifts waist high and tall trees felled.
We are creatures of the moment. Tomorrow
remains an abstraction.




, , , , , , , , ,

No Comments


The now westering sun illuminates
the serried galleries of discarded slate.
There were once three thousand quarrymen
and ‘The Great Strike of Penrhyn’ – a three year
dispute. The owner, Baron Penrhyn,
built terraced houses with front gardens
for the few who had crossed the picket lines.
The first chapel was named ‘Bethesda’ (Hebrew
for ‘house of mercy’) – after the Roman bath,
near Jerusalem’s Sheep Gate, where ‘the man
was made whole and took his bed and walked.’
They named the slate town after the chapel.

As we drive on up the valley to the pass,
we can see, increasingly far below,
the river’s white waters and, suddenly,
three black horses skittish in the meadow
at the valley bottom, miniscule
like the woman in blue who walks towards them.

We pass a ruined cottage. ‘And thorns
shall come up in her palaces, nettles
and brambles in the fortresses thereof:
and it shall be an habitation
of dragons, and a court for owls.’ The height
of the mountains, the darkness of the lake
at the top of the pass, the size of boulders
the last ice age left are biblical.
Among distant ruins, we imagine,
too readily, both dragons and owls.
But we speak of the three black horses
and the woman in blue as a blessing.




, , , , , , , , , ,



… inflated, a fiver, Made in Spain, bought
with candy floss and a fluorescent snake;
harness, saddle, accoutrements in red
and gold with tassels; caparisoned as if
for the Spanish Riding School in Vienna
or the corrida; forever prancing
with a winsome, vulnerable chestnut eye
but, though deflating, still too big for the long
drive south so left with us for safe keeping…

It rides unseen in the gazebo – secure
from downpours or gusts or jackdaws – becoming
one dimensional. Perhaps we will
frame it as a keepsake.




, , , ,

No Comments


The fog bell sounds every thirty seconds.
A shag bobs in the swell by the lighthouse
painted black and white with the legend
‘No Passage Landwards’ on its east and west sides.
An occasional heavy wave thumps the beach.

I climb the high bank of sea-smoothed pebbles
from the landward side and hear and feel them
chafe and slip. At the seaward foot of the mound –
a petrified wave three times my height –
an angler stands, motionless, his rod propped
on a tripod, the line taut in the tide.
And the bell sounds twice every minute.

On the island, a quarter mile away,
are cormorant, guillemot, razorbill.
On the horizon, tankers are waiting
to berth at Holyhead on the high tide.

He is watching the line, I presume,
ready for the slightest twitch to pull in
whatever it is his optimism
has prepared him for. The island has housed
a monastery, a sanctuary,
a telegraph station – now elder thrives
and puffins flourish on Puffin Island
or Priestholm or Ynys Seriol.
Every half minute, the lighthouse bell sounds.

I have my own fish to catch. This place,
whatever the weathers, inspires, inspires:
it is the end of land and the sea’s start,
under a sky always open, immense
but its compass points known beneath rocks
unchanged, a fifty year pilgrimage.

He is still watching the line when I leave
climbing the steep bank of worked pebbles.
And the bell sounds, and sounds…




, , , , , , , , , , ,



High waters from each end of the straits
meet here in whirlpools, in vortices
of current and spume – that at their highest
cover the island, which weathers each maelstrom,
and flood its improbable cottages.


A little inland along a banked lane,
lambing ewes are in a field. There are
a dozen or so, some birthing, some with young.
We look over the bank, startle a ewe,
intrigue her offspring. Mother moves off,
child follows. The grass is cropped, springy.
The recent storms have felled an oak that lightning
had blackened and eviscerated years ago.
Waters rush through culverts beneath the lane.


The tides ebb. On the island, no one now
uses the fish traps the drowned cottages
were built for. Codlings, dogfish, sea bass
swim freely, oblivious of chance.




, , , , ,

No Comments