Archive for February, 2016


…is our sort of place – an island only
at spring tides. Sant Dwynwen, patroness
of lovers, was a princess, virgin, nun.
Her true love test required fresh bread crumbs,
a linen kerchief, a well, an eel
– and an optimistic lad and lass.
The saint’s shrine was popular until
the Puritan heave-ho – although, even now,
perhaps, in the earliest of summer’s dawns
or when mists rise or by full moonlight
some lovers will come to find the well.

Beyond the lighthouse, the cormorants and
distant rocks, beyond the edge of Ireland, passed
the Azores and the Sargasso Sea – where
eels breed and die – beyond the far Antilles,
the Atlantic and the Amazon embrace.




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We first saw them in Taormina
on the railings of the piazza
overlooking the Bay of Naxos;
then on the railings at the Albert Dock
behind the Tate opposite Birkenhead;
and on the steps by the old County Hall
from the Embankment up to Waterloo Bridge.

They are usually small padlocks, some
combination although most are keyed,
the sort used for suitcases or garden sheds,
some with names or initials but most seem
anonymous – though perhaps the weathers
have made them so – some obviously purchased
for the occasion, others found in a drawer.

Does one of them keep the key – or is there
a duplicate so each could unlock
eternity? Maybe they throw the keys
into the air. Environmentalists
and authorities are justly concerned.
There were bridges in Paris imperilled
by the weight! Perhaps, if we were young again,
we would – yet we were never ones to
score our names on wood or stone. Love is private.
Who would have thought that there were so many
narcissists! The lovely lock of hair kept
in a locket has been forsaken.
So, let hard won gold and diamond tell
locked on our ring fingers.




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In our time we have sashayed by the Arno,
we have loitered on the Ponte Vecchio
in our time, as if Beatrice and Dante
were liberated from their fine romance,
their courtly allegory of love,
their dalliance with Mariolatry.

But even in Florence it rains, cascades
down the Basilica and the Uffizi,
darkening terra-cotta, marble, limestone.
Lovers repair to bars for sambuca,
each with three coffee beans – the holy
trinity of health, wealth and happiness,
to be lit then snuffed before imbibing,
like brief votive candles.




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For you and me, like Henry Moore’s bronze
kings and queens, there is something very
special about sitting together
on a public seat with a majestic view…


On the erstwhile Exxon Valdez ride
at the ’90s Epcot Centre, plunging
above Alaska with a dying friend…

Snow falling on Halkyn Mountain over
the estuary from Parkgate promenade
and a fire briefly flaring then dying
by Flint Castle on the distant shore…

A child begging on the corniche at Luxor,
singing, ‘Michael, row the boat ashore,’
and the crowded ferry crossing the Nile…

‘John Williams, Plumber, A Deganwy Lad’,
with a view of Penmaenmawr – Wagnerian,
mauve against the bright sky above Ynys Môn –
the bench washed away in a freak storm…

Beside The Lake in Central Park, early
September before 9/11,
the row boats empty in the humid air…


Relaxing on the cruiser at Edfu
with mint tea after a temple visit –
on the road, a camel and donkey
passing in the back of a pick-up…

On the steps of the Community Hall
where Mandela trained to box, next to
a serious queue for a bouncy castle…

Opposite Conwy Castle, the curlews
and the shelduck on the sand banks at low tide –
in the channel along the far bank
a water skier buzzing, buzzing…

Next to the river and the Peter the Great
fantasy statue, in the Monument Park,
with Dzerzhinsky facing his future…

Market Street, Jozi, with the theatre
and bookstalls – and its environs safe
again but at what cost to the homeless
who squatted in the windowless buildings…


On the topmost row of the amphitheatre
at Epidaurus, dusk settling among
the olive groves and the tourist buses…

On the beach at Alvor – where Portugal
ceded Mozambique to Frelimo
in a country club – with North Africa
seemingly just beyond the horizon…

In the grounds of the Hector Pieterson
Museum, with the liberated traffic
of Orlando West careering by…

Etna rising in mist from Taormina’s
Giardini Villa Communale
with its avenue of olive trees,
each a memorial to the naval dead…

In Polesdon Lacey’s rose garden,
designed by the playwright Sheridan,
with cattle lowing below the terrace…


Ah, to have such promising prospects, the first
of Disneyland, the last of England – somewhere,
looking forward, to imagine the worst,
to speak of the past, to learn to know blessings…




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A wedding gift from an American friend,
the Thai temple stone rubbing of a sueng player,
a lutist – this one left-handed, flying
with wind blown robes – has travelled with us
from our first bedroom, in a flat, to this
‘music room’ – named for a piano,
a violin, a penny whistle,
a bohran, a family of recorders
and the air-borne musician. Nearly
fifty years have changed the rice paper
from off-white to almost sepia
but the imagined plangent notes steep
the gathered stillness of the room. Pilgrims
make rubbings to have the silence with them
always. Whether copied for faith or trade,
this angel has kept watch.




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