Poems

Some of these poems were written by Dr.Dick as original ideas. Some are the work of others whom he personally admires and whose work he chose to include. Some are adapted from the work of writers he does not even know. Yet others are old personal favourites quoted just because he wished it so.

* * *

They Just Pop In Jan/June, 1998

They just pop in long enough
To leave shoes and coats and scarves
Over all the chairs.
They just pop in long enough to clamber, leaden-footed
Up and down the stairs.

They just pop in long enough
To switch on every light, open every door,
To leave their muddy footprints on the floor.

To crumple every cushion, wrinkle every mat.
To fiddle-play with every this and that

To drench the towels and fill the house with shrieks.
To hurtle through the rooms like lightning streaks.

To play pretending washing up
Get soap suds on the floor

To laugh and give a huggle,
To hear a story, have a snuggle.

To give the piano’s keys a knock
And lose one sock.

They just pop in long enough
To light up my life for an instant.
As when a kingfisher flies over a lake.

* * *

By Muriel Butler Schofield

My blood is of the Border Land
As warm as her red clay
And my song is for the Border Land
I sing through every day

As in my heart for ever more
The fairest visions lie
Of those green hills and those green fields
That cradle deep the Wye

Whitewashed farms in Breconshire
With cart tracks down the lane
The spire of many a Gloucester church
Grey against the rain.

Valiant Celt who bravely stayed
Glorious Saxon forging yet
In the best bloods of races both
The Border Men are met.

Castles of the Marcher Lords
Falling to decay
Helmets buried; rusted swords
The Border wins the day!

My cry is for my childhood's earth;
The scenes that I knew then;
The wild brown roar of Severn's tide
And the voice of Border Men.

Apple towns of Hereford
Spied from many a hill
The Ancient heights of Radnor
So majestic, and so still.

Yet Earth with all her bounty
No greater beauty lent
Than she gave to my own county
My green, and magic Gwent

Oh, there's poetry in the west wind
And there's wine in the Severn foam
When the sun sinks low on Offa's Dyke
And a Borderer goes home.

* * *

The Last Days

Creep into your narrow bed,
Creep, and let no more be said.
Vain your power though you stand fast;
You yourself must break at last.

Let the arguments now cease!
Geese are swans and swans are geese.
Let them have it how they will!
You grow tired; best be still.

They out-fought you, hiss'd you, tore you.
Better men fared thus before you;
Fired their ringing shot and passed,
Fiercely charged - but broke at last.

Charge once more then, then be dumb!
Let the victors when they come
Chanting out their songs of hate
Find your body by the gate.

* * *

Dreamseller

If there were dreams to sell,
What would you buy?

Some cost a passing bell;
Some a light sigh
That shakes from Life's fresh crown
Only a single rose-leaf down.

If there were dreams to sell,
Merry or sad to tell,
And the seller rang the bell,
What would you buy?

A cottage lone and still,
With woodlands nigh,
Shadowy, my woes to still,
For just my love and I
Until I die.
This dream I would buy.

* * *

Seaside

I remember the sea, that day on the beach.
The foam came washing over rocks and feet.
She was my age. Our mothers met and talked
As our fathers dozed in the heat.

The waves rushed and the gulls called.
A dog played in the sea as he pleased.
She said her name was Suzanne,
As the dog barked and shook himself and sneezed.

We were wary of each other but we played
Amongst the deck-chairs and the soggy towels.
We dug beneath the sand a tunnel
Our fingers creeping towards each other like moles.

Closer and closer we moved until
Our wet fingers broke through and curled
In the darkness out of sight we touched.
Stranger met stranger and the world turned.

So it was that day I first saw you.
Stones and the nearby sea churned.
Stranger met stranger and the world altered.
In a moment my life had turned.

* * *

The search for gods March, 2008

As I flew
My mind reached out and slipped
The surly bonds of earth and space and air
My hand stretched out to touch the face of God
He was not there.

Beneath the widowmaker waves
My arms reached out and left
The bonds of ocean.
The stone cold, bone cold
Water pressed and foamed
I peered to discern the face of God
He was not there.

Amid the sound of gunfire
Close and fearful
My terror crawled out toward
The promised aid of candle, book and bell
I begged the chance to confess
Remorse for my past to God himself.
Of course, he was not there.

Seek and ye shall find is a monstrous lie.

* * *

Come to the edge.
It’s too high.
Come to the edge.
I might fall.
Come to the edge!
And she came.
And he pushed.
And she flew…..

* * *

Darling Pix,
You might not be too happy at the number of this birthday. I have
hopes that this small poem will show you a little of what I feel about it.
To me you have never been smarter or looked lovelier. I love you
with a warmth that has taken me forty some odd years to grow, .. and that it
takes a woman of thirty some odd years to understand.
Peace and love
Dick


FOR PIX ON HER FORTIETH BIRTHDAY

30.November, 1972

I remember the sad and troubled girl-face at the start
And later days of walks and seagulls and Welsh-water.
I remember the unreal day, - the brown-clad cars and the blue-clad men.
The hand-held, life-joined, spell-bound, - just we two.
I had put a ring around your finger and you, a circle round my mind.
Now I remember your birthday but not your age.

I remember the black-dog in a boot and lipstick'd 'Merry Christmas.'
A wrist-bandaged first-babe. Dry heat and oranges.
I remember the happy-sad second birth, - by knife a life secured.
And lady-light, mother-warm, woman-heart you, throughout.
I have made a house around you, and you, a home around us all.
Now I remember your seasons but not your dates.

I remember plates and glasses from Priddy to Bethlehem,
Avebury's magic boulders, Grecian rocks and channel-foam.
I remember beds warmed from Pembroke to the Golden Horn
And night-sky, star-seek, touch-close pillow'd heads together.
I have drawn sad lines around your eyes and you a welcome around my heart.
Now I remember your moments but not your time.

I remember the house you filled with new life,
Girl-child and Strong-son, the hopes of our hearthrug whiles.
I remember how my time with you is measured not in instants but in octaves.
Now long-last, peace-love, life-hope two good friends.
I have put an arm around your shoulders and you a warmth around my soul.
Now I remember your days but not your years.

* * *

March Sunshine 19.Mar.1972

Solemn winter-wear fills dark corners
Harlequin is in the air and on the shoulders
Solstice shrinks into the distance
And the teeth feel new air
Vernal lust is better than December’s log
Now dead as memory.
She knows it with me.

Earthwomb fills with yellow silkcorn
Stemsap draws up to fullest height
The eyes of the sun are open,
Blinking at the light
And trees pluck up courage
Enough to open their minds.
She feels it with me.

The heartless winter is washed away
Ploughs mar the land like patches on a trouser
Catkin dust hangs in the air
Replacing last week’s icy breath
Hardmeat gropes for work inside my shirt sleeves.
She shares it with me

* * *

THE GAME
What is the game?
Is it just a selfish child-play?
It was, but fifteen years of days have moved my feet
And fifteen years of nights have drawn me near to her.

The game was a game
For two to play.
Its gentle start a warm glow in a cold place
Its joy the new discoveries.

The game was no more a game.
The play was too intense.
Its pleasure, the secret of two lonely souls,
Was drowned in a sea of words and rules.

Is the game only a game
Or a living world
When she is part, no all, of what I am
A ha'porth of stars in my own back pocket.

The game that was a game
Is a game once more.
It is a mound of time lying patient
And not to be with her is itself a brand of doom.

* * *

8.February 1973

I have just taken her back.
Back to the white-walled place of moaning nights.
Not 'til now did I feel broken.

Of course she cannot say she wants me. Overtly that is false.
But she could have said she wished one day to want me.
She could have shown she'd thought and cared.

I have told her as I always do the truths she wished to hear, -
My love, her welcome, the looked-forward-to times.
And yet she still o'erlooks to help me up
From my knees.

She looked at me and said that I looked tired.
It's true but I cannot answer, wishing not to remind her of her failure
To remember that my tedious burden can ever be quartered
By a chosen phrase.

How long can love survive in such a clime?
How can I stay with one who cannot, - worse still, will not, see?
Who knows my topmost stair
Yet will not tread it.

My years are growing long around me.
If I had my freedom or my courage
I would fly the closeness of the only thing she still offers,.. sameness.

For there is nothing in me that matters
That she cares to tell me of. Only the nothings move her.
Only the mediocrities and the grey, still, pointless efforts.

* * *

TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN WARRIOR 1973
Alone
Under the blaze-burned flash.
Alone.
What did you scream at the blast, the burn
The white-hot thing that red-bled you to your lying
In that muddied field
Alone?

Alone
Under the cold-racked stone.
Alone.
What do you think of the noise, the people,
The talk that lip-served you to your hiding
In this shiny place
Alone?

* * *

28.February, 1973

AMBIVALENCE

They say that love does not explode,
Burst and blaze out to the very fmgertips.
And they are wrong.
It daily blasts up to my forehead from my heels
And even on my tip-toes I cannot see its tops.

They says that love does not grow gently
Or fill more than the given space in merest time.
And they are wrong.
It wells out from my sinews and my aching
And gulfs the whole momentum of my mind.

They say that love is not the greatest thing
Amid the trumpets and the swords it stands not high.
And they are wrong.
It towers over things and over people;
It towers even over what I yet still try.

They say that love is not today's thing
That it holds no moment for this day's hymn.
And they are wrong.
It counts the seconds' severance and the hours'
And fills the empty lakes of space right to the brim.

They say that love is not a lasting thing
And cannot cross the bar that separates two crowns.
And they are right.
For our loves, in the dark, have striven to get closer
And I fear that they have passed each other and not known.

* * *

Shape poem

I
Once
Knew a girl.

Her
Name
Was Friday Brown

And
That
Was enough.

* * *

There came a time of pondering and decision. It was on a long road that lead
home to one fine but chill woman or back to the passionate one who sobbed.

ON GOING HOME
Avebury Ring, 1975


Grey sarsen stones in grass, like aged knuckles on a green table
Loaded down into time pits with their feet lost in ages.
No reason for the curving lines and pointed ways
But running full circle to themselves; the stones
Start and end at the same place
Each returning to the other half of itself.

Straight roads through forests like tarmac rivers with banks of trees
Swinging from hill to hill with beeches to mark their way.
No reason not to turn my wheel and compass, round
Running, full circle, back to her again. The road
Starts and ends at the same place
Each leading to the other side of its own beginning.

Watering eyes like wavering thoughts blur the edges of my time,
Make me ponder on their differing welcomes and breathless joys.
No reason for the wandering flesh or wondering mind
But running full circle to a home; I too
Start and end at the same place .
And I, through duty alone, go home, safe with the better part of myself.

* * *

WAITING 1975

That Hyacinth as large as an oak tree
Cannot cover a single moment of pain
It cannot, like me, dip its brain into a hedgerow
Or its eyes into a birdsong.
It cannot feel the heat of a Greek pavement
Nor hear the sealed and turquoise light of candles.
She tries, she tries, oh how she tries.
But there are pages that her eyes have not yet read.
She knows not yet that all my searches elsewhere
Are just me seeking her.
I must wait and longer wait
Until the cobwebs and the dust are blown
Away on the swirling shafts of her own light.
For the orchard branch does not cost its apples.
The sea does not count its rocks.
The blown leaves say not where they have been.
The sun does not tell where it has shone.
My rising heart is cupped in her hands
(Do not break me again into fragments, - I am small enough now)
And a kiss that lasts an hour
Cannot hide a second's waiting.

* * *

A Question ••••• what is the answer?

[Mark Richards
November,1975 ]

What is my name?
Who am I?
Where did I come from?
Where am I going?
To hell ••••
To heaven •••• I wonder:
Have you known me?
Have you seen me?
Have you heard me?
Have you felt me?
- do I really exist,- do you?
Oh God •••• give me strength
To face the uselessness and
Nothingness of life.
Is it all worth it?
God! can you hear me?
Answer my questions, or can't you?
Again, is it all worth it -
Being born, brought up,
Constantly harassed by our
Superiors, for so-called
Juvenile Delinquency?
No!! To hell with it, it’s insane.
Then why do we bother, you and I?
You don't know do you?
Shall I tell you why
You don't know the answers?
Because there aren't any bloody answers.
It’s all a useless creation.
God is playing a game he can't lose, or can he?
Maybe he is having fun up there,
Watching us, laughing at our misfortunes.
Maybe he feels like me
Depressed because he's created
Something he can't destroy.
Surely if he could he would ••••• wouldn't he?
Pause here •••• and reflect!!
Ask yourself this;
Why am I here?
What is my purpose?

* * *

Hiraeth,..
the joy of grief, the splanchnic thrill of remorse and sorrow and home.

[Eheu fugaces, posthume, posthume ]
Oh for the years that were lost to me, lost to me.

The languid lily swift to mourn
Earth's roses show their beauty all.
Gardenia loaded with dark promise,
Hollyhocks scarlet, crimson, white, - that stand so tall.

But these are not for me.
I want for my small part
The swaying yellow flower of Wales
That smells so soft and cool, - and breaks the heart.

* * *

BREATHWARM
Breathwarm
Smoothround
Wetsoft
She shines the scythe to cut my thorns.
Her catblack feet apart she shows
a hearthful of dark cinders
Warm as a June fortnight.
Lipflesh
Lightshine
Thighbrush
She lifts her breasts as full as eggs.
Her toastwarm teeth and sweet-tip tongue
blanche and gules in heraldic surrender.
Her fingers plunge and find her kernel.
Honeycomb
Crumbles
In cinnamon'd wine
The thick salt seedwash is on her lips. She lies sun-warmed,
still and wholesome as a breathing pebble.
For me her golden sundial casts no shadows.

* * *

LINES IN ST.QUENTIN 1987

No candle lightens with its warming rays.
Granite the stones and languid grey the days.
The sound is absence. The number is none.
No now, nor some-day blots out mem'ries' shades.

All lines of poems ever writ, so sage
Lie powerless, low and dead upon their page.
No Requiems soothe the black dog of despair.
The strains of Masses cannot calm the rage.

No thousand oaks their stalwart shelters yield
No thousand firs from freezing thoughts can shield.
Demon legions march and devils stand alert
And cherub hands of babes crude weapons wield.

The curving wave and foam of Cyprus fails
As do the grassy hues and misty trails.
No desert sun can beam into the gloom
Nor comfort stem from lovely, wet, wild, Wales.

Now the transparent fingers of the old
Reach for the proffered palm of youth so bold
In vain. In hamstrung sinews of old age
Young men and colts limp trembling, wintry cold.

No mother's hand can soothe the mind's affray
No limpid gaze the anguished brain belay.
The hidden, broken heart in shadows lost
The eyes of pity, cast down, turn away.

Dawn chorus from each thousand-feathered nest
Fails in its task the lowly soul to test.
Flocks of birds are earthbound, caged and captive
And swallows strain to lift each leaden breast.

From violet and rose their petals stray.
All fruitless are the orchards of bright day.
No cheer from dew on leaf or ferny frond
All sere and lank those darling buds of May.

No joy at dawn the light-foot deer to see
Nimrod comforts not the flowering lea
Where butterflies fall wingless to the ground
And raindrops fall as salt-tear as the sea.

Yet soft-blown breeze now drops its words to grass
Whose nodding heads the whispered message pass
The crush of lonely loneliness is eased
The sands of home run home at last, at last.

It needs no angel music from above
No poets' words nor power thereof.
Enough to know she looks me in the heart
And says 'I wait you still,.. come back, My Love'

Time was, forever seemed an everlasting part.
Today that same forever's time too short
To hear on distant winds that she now stands
And says,.. 'I wait here yet,.. come home, My Heart.'

* * *

ON ARRIVING IN FOLSOM PRISON
Nothing now is left but the waiting dread.
The hands, that holding yield yet yielding hold,
Have parted. The touch of lover to lover
Finds contact only soul to soul.
Eyes dried to withered husks blow out across the desert
In a wind that came from a far off street
That had no name. The sour milk of human blindness hurts
And slows the suff’ring limbs and once-winged feet.
The foul tongues and fouler deeds of men
In this foulest, hidden place thrust
Into the body a volley of rusted spears
And forth come only ashes and an ancient dust.
Teeth fall like stones and stars like molten boulders.
Lambs are born blind. Rocks bleed and Heaven quakes.
Surviving on the dead skin of the soul we're lost
And time drips slow from iron trees to fill the sour lakes.
Sun extinguished, the cold slides blades in to the bone.
Cactus, diamond spined, occludes the paths.
Lost on lonely roads the children quiver
And Satan sees then holds his sides and laughs.
Still, I can follow,.. now in spirit, then in flesh
Her fragrant footsteps dressed in purple-blue.
For our links, long-forged, are shining mithril mesh
Our velvet chains are stalwart, proof and ever new.

* * *

RACE MEMORIES 1988

I remember,.. something,.. far and quiet
Blemish hid by distance, faults eclipsed by time and absence.
The coal grew, green and quick in frond and trunk.
There was rain upon the forests and the dark, valley earth.
Warm clouds and mists thronged on the young mountains.

I remember,.. something,.. long ago yet still.
Westward from Wye through sylvan glades and druid woods
When the wolf and the doe and the bear worked the lonely leas
The Celt came cautious to an open land
And a snowflake melted on the breath of the first Welsh word.

I remember,.. something,.. stab and steel
Clubbed head and severed sinew. The keening women sorrowing
In the oaken thickets and by the darkened tarns.
The power of Rome stood proud a while at Isca.
The legions scorned the heathen speech of playing infant slaves.
Now Rome is gone.
The children and their words remain.

I remember,.. something,.. hidden, shadowed.
Arthur of the Dragonhead and his Camelot in Gwent.
Forbears of the miners armed to clash with Dane and Saxon,
For wary Kingmakers or for Bearers of the Rose.
They still live there,
The Richard’s and the Harry’s, the Edward’s and the Jone’s.
And red, dead leaves, as then, fall oh-so-lightly on the sad Welsh turf.

I remember something,.. I remember something. Or was I there?
The Rhondda grey of landscape, chapel, house.
The sunless, see-through collier faces
Lungless men, finger nails dressed for early mourning.
The birds sang, frantic to be heard through smoke and rust and steam.
Man acknowledged gods on foot but not on bended knee
But their coughing fell on deaf, uncaring ears.

I remember,.. but do I remember,.. Or did I read or dream or hear the tales,
Told what I now recall in songs of the ancient race?
My father’s father’s mother tongue I never learned
But I carry his germ, my plan is from him,.. and her.

Yes. Yes. I was always there,.. Welsh as a dragon,
A raindrop in one Welsh eye,.. a free tear in the other,
And remembering.

* * *

ON RECEIVING HER LETTER Chino, 1988
Her sweet words sent from the jewelled, bright bay
Tell fevered thoughts and warm delights,
Speak dreams that meld our minds by day
And yield the power that rules the nights.
The glittering, coloured corner showing
And folded leaves within that dare
Dispel my sadness, greeting, flowing,
Spin magic from the heavy air.
Then stony walls are burst, not holding
And iron bars all pay their tolls.
The hermitage is ours, enfolding
All future hopes of human souls.
Thus thrice ten thousand years in tresses
And endless miles are swept away.
So, fondest thoughts and hid caresses
Can reach their distant place and stay.

One heart in twain, one soul shred open
One garrison mind repelling gloom
One parted, never-parted pair, then,
To the ending and from the womb.

We touch through aether, one another
Our aching thoughts sped far and high.
For we are won, each by the other
And we are one, my love and I.

* * *

In this bizarre society a common prison punishment for infringements is to lock down grossly overcrowded cell blocks, sometimes for days, in squalid animal conditions of hygiene, bad ventilation and boredom. Prisoners often secrete letters from home to tide them over these petulant retaliations.

* * *

LOCK-DOWN LETTER
The doors slammed shut, the key's last turning
A concrete shell and men within.
While sun sneers down brute harsh and burning.
The everlasting sweats begin.

The locked-down souls so listless, seeking.
Like Roman legions strong in chains.
Still air is torrid, damp and reeking
Inseparable now the pains.

Thence, angels, like birds, have flown afar.
All treasured hope turns off and dies.
The teeming brain falls still as a star
And saints, ashamed, cast down their eyes.

The gods now hide their ancient faces
Turn but a page to start a tear.
'Tis ye, with written thoughts and phrases
Who calms the ever-present fear.

* * *

Sonnet: Wales’ Way

Were all the peaks of Gwynedd in one great crag heaped up
Idris upon Moelwyn, Heddof high on Llydd
And great Eryri atop of all,..
How lofty then, how tall?

Were all the lakes and streams of Gwent in one great river joined
Wye and Usk and Ebbw, Sirhowy and Henllysydd
And Severn water at the tide
How mighty then, how wide?

Were all the forts of wildest Wales in one great castle linked
Criccieth, Harlech, Conway, Raglan of the Wars
And Caernavon’s towers in flames of gold
How might they bar the road?

But there is no denial such. No hurdle rests in place
When we two meet, stand hand in hand, and loving, face to face.

[Happy Birthday, my Love. November, 1995]

* * *

ANGELS in the TREES

[June, 1977. Last changes to date August,.2019]

We were youth, the future of our day.
The young men with wings upon our feet,
The doves of morning.
We were the young lions, the chariots of power.
We rode the iron wheels.
We swung the iron swords.
We sang as we walked the fresh world.

From this she chose, and went on choosing, me.
She set the sweet, light toes of babes upon my morning lawn.
The sunshine sinewed boy-child and the fairest daughter of the moon.
She gave me calm and charm and comfort,
Orchard days and honeyed nights.

She was loving, warm and drowsy in the early Sunday bed.
She fended off a while those clawed tormentors,
The eyeless rogues, the ground-glass ghosts,
The dull thud of falling death.

I lived knee-deep in June and figs and moonbeams.
We were no longer plural.
I learned to think in only the third person, she,.. she,.. she.
We were wedded together we two,.. and silent,.. the world shut out
Held not by contract nor by chains
But by a million fine threads woven of a lifetime.
I was a poet, feeling words, talking to skylarks, hearing colours.
Her voice was home.
She was the Bringer of Rainbows.

*
Then, one shadowed day she crushed the earth.
Her duty,.. a religion of the mind,.. a righteous fortress,
Locked out reason, locked in guilt.
Her worship was a blasphemy.
Her lifelong silence was and is endless purgatory
Our future was its wanton sacrifice.

I saw frost on stones, felt teardrops on fingertips.
I heard the long, sad song of the violins of autumn.
Now there is old dust on the bluebells and I know my solitude.
The remaining road, the rest of my way,.. nothing will change.

The gates are closed behind me. Forward now, alone.
Each day another Troy to sack; always another Rome to burn.
The grief of that everlasting abandonment weighs daily heavier
And can not be outlived.

But I remember,..
I remember, when angels sat in the branches of our trees.

* * *

CYNARA

One day, as he mused, he thought back on the days and ways he might have lost her during their long years together,.. that, had that happened, she would, forever, have been his lost but cherished love.
Yet, deep and far , there lives still, .. his lasting icon, .. his own, ... Cynara.

*

My guilts lie light upon my back save three
That punish yet. The old man scorned, .. the show
Of red-threads violence woven, for a few,
And helpless She, that day struck down with callous blow.

The unpaid debt, this deed, her pain anon,
My treach'ry, fear, remorse all fill deepening holes.
Sad moons looked round for us but we were gone
And earth ground slow neath weight of parted souls.

Oh, elfin, fairy girl of times long past
I've daily left the ground on wings of you.
You gave more than I asked. Life's hardest task
Was, while loving you, to hold another promise true.

Heard faint from b'yond the limits of earth's curve
The words of olden love are iron bands.
Your welcome invite powers yet my weakening nerve
Your form, young-ripened, still lies in my hands.

I shall recall, when age white winters sends
And little's left but treble voice and tears
You gave me Heaven, .. free, summers without ends.
Your features fond have soothed my passing years.

When secret sorrows fill the midnight mind
Or probe all thoughts with silent mem'ries calmed
I know that you are nearing and will find
Me ready, open-eyed and open-armed.

Incentives come but from the soul's deep glade
And love's old shackles bind my every part.
My Cynara steps out of ancient shade,
She beckons and I rush back to her heart.

* * * * *