Snow Baby by Mike Jenkins

You were a snow baby. We should’ve called you Eira. You were almost marooned in hospital: jaundiced face yellow as egg-yolk, clutched head the shape of a shell.

You grew to your name, Bethan, grew round. Your plum cheeks swelled to its sound.

And now in town you let the flakes settle in your long hair, saying ‘Ne’ mind. I like ’em there.’

I played you Ommadawn: layers of cloud frost, hail and sun climbing till that lightning moment when you were born.

Wrapped still throught frozen nights, layers of a nest taken from the strands of our house: broken violin string, discarded lace and strap of a watch you never wore.

Your dreams hatch and drift with feathers of the pillow-bird you believe in no more.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from Red Landscapes

 


Fun Fact: Mike Jenkins’ daughter is the Welsh politician Bethan Jenkins AM, (born 9 December 1981), who has represented the South Wales West Region for Plaid Cymru as a Member of the National Assembly for Wales since 2007.

Vedran Smailovic by Mike Jenkins

People dash across our TV screens

like sheep scatting from a moorland blaze,

they’ll disappear over the edge of dreams

when we ascend to sleep away the day.

 

But, all of a sudden, within a frame,

a portrait animated and tightly-strung:

the cellist plays on streets where lame

buildings hobble before falling down.

 

His slashback hair is aging a rocker style,

upturned moustache makes a sign of peace;

his two faces: a pizzicato smile

and mournful vibrato of so much grief.

 

His audience are the pavement wreathes,

from the distance come heckles of gunfire:

the amphitheatre where he once bowed

is a frozen skip of bricks and wires.

 

On a thin point he gradually spins

the web-fine veins of an Adagio,

while hearing the bomb’s deadening dins

and fearing for that small bridge below.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from This House, My Ghetto

Middle Age by Mike Jenkins

Middle-age is when

you begin to get sensitive

about the crowd swearing at bald refs.

 

It’s when your daughter’s

History homework’s on Dunkirk

and she asks ‘Were you around then?’

 

You look in the mirror every morning

glad that you’re short-sighted

and haven’t got your glasses on.

 

Certain nouns slip out of memory

to be replaced by verbs

like ‘to sleep’ and ‘to lie’.

 

It’s when you want time

to go rapidly to the next holiday,

yet halt completely before you die.

 

It’s when your appalling flatulence

is exposed to your spouse

and you don’t even bother to say ‘Pardon!’

 

You acquire irritable and incurable

ailments in corners of your body

and consider using herbal remedies.

 

You decide you need a new challenge:

working without a tie, your naked

adam’s apple is swallowed by the boss’s eyes.

 

Middle-age is when you take yourself for granted:

treat your dreams as pieces of furniture,

get rid of them on a skip.

 

It’s when you’re addicted to routine

and you don’t admit it, keep on taking it

till you O.D. on those same old scenes.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from This House, My Ghetto

Moithered by Mike Jenkins

She used it totally out of place

but natural as calling an infant ‘Babes!’

The poet’s moithered by all that pollution

like herself annoyed at my constant questions.

 

The word was her, chewing-gum twirler

giving so much lip and jip,

a desk-scribbler stirrer

using her tongue as a whip.

 

It was perfect for flustered:

I could imagine the artist

as all the complex phrases whirred

and churned, his hair in a twist.

 

No examiner could possibly weigh it,

no educationalist glue and frame it:

it leapt out like her laughter

and my red mark was the real error.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from Red Landscapes

Industrial Museum by Mike Jenkins

For Adrian Mitchell

 

Hello and welcome to our industrial museum.

 

On your right there’s a slag-heap reclaimed…

a hill… another slag heap…

that one shaped as a landing-pad

for bird-like hang-gliders.

 

Notice the pit-wheels perfectly perserved

where you can buy mementoes

of the Big Strike and eat authentic cawl

at an austere soup-kitchen.

 

There mummified miners cough and spit

at the press of a button

and you can try their lungs on

to a tape-recording of Idris Davies’ poems.

 

That rubble was a 19th century chapel,

that pile of bricks an industrial estate.

The terraced houses all adorned

in red, white and blue as if royalty were visiting.

 

See how quaint the wax models

of women are, as they bow in homage

to polished doorsteps, the stuffed sheep

at the roadside give off a genuine odour.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from Invisible Times

The Talking Shop by Mike Jenkins

In the Talking Shop

they spit out bones

which an auxiliary sweeps up:

they’re crushed and made into gloss

for the latest glamorous brochure.

 

They talk white paint, plush curtains,

flowers and plants in the foyer:

they shred leaves of Chaucer

to garnish an exhibition.

 

Cogs of paper push hands

and a clock somewhere

justifies its existence.

They decide to decide later.

 

All the pounds left over

from multi-gym exertions

are heaped on the floor

for clients to sketch

in their frequent boredom.

 

In the Talking Shop

originality is a luxury

nobody can afford:

and if you complain

the word-detectives soon arrest

your mouth and use it to bin

the scraped paint, dead flowers, shoddy curtains.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from This House, My Ghetto