Nursery Rhyme by Kevin Brewer

Ring-a-ring of funeral bells

Throw the pussies down the wells

Ninety people fell and drowned

When London bridge came falling down

.

Ba-ba black sheep’s locked outside

Now the farm’s gone apartheid

Today’s pressures just too much

Humpty Dumpty’s cracking up

.

Jack Horner rings the Sunday Times

Utters a few warning lines

Slams down receiver then he’s gone

Sticks in a thumb explodes a bomb

.

Sitting drinking ginger ale

Duke of York turns ghostly pale

Ten thousand men go up in smoke

Their ashes settle round his cloak

.

Mary Mary quite contrary

Jumps from the eleventh story

Meets the pavement face to face

But makes an impact on that place

.

Pavement artist then takes part

Makes Mary Mary objects d’art

Splattered stone stands in the Tate

With Mary Mary on a plate

.

Sing a song of 50p

Mummy say one more to me

No more no more good night good night

God reaching down turns off the light.

.

.

By Kevin Brewer

Rain by Winifred Grace Turner

It rained last night, what a lovely sound,

With kisses so welcome, it softened the ground.

A raindrop sparkles on a leaf by my door

Iridescent and trembling waiting for more.

A spiders web shimmers, gossamer lace.

With fairy like fingers it caresses my face.

A snail leaves a trail as it moves slowly along

The rain freshened air fills with the birds lovely song.

The world is awakening, the sun will arise

Flame coloured banners will colour the skies,

New buds will open and flowers bloom again

Welcoming new life, brought by Gods blessing of rain.

.

.

By Winifred Grace Turner

Autumn Gold by William Hayles

Golden leaves beneath my feet,

Autumn winds through my hair,

Flowers fade in slow retreat,

Foxes sleeping in their lair.

.

Ashen skies of nimbus flocks,

Shrieking geese flee from the east,

Falling showers of icy drops,

Soaking land, man and beasts.

.

Short days fly from dawn to dusk,

Chill nights sheltered by crackling fire,

Cattle in byre, fed on husks,

Springs green pastures their desire.

.

Boughs of apples creak and groan,

Hazels hardening on the tree,

Fields of stubble, freshly mown,

Swallows gone beyond the seas.

.

Orion’s sword arm held on high,

His flashing belt diamond bright,

The autumn stars invade the sky,

And silvery moon lights up the night.

.

It’s chestnut roasting, marshmallow toasting,

Hot toddies and mulled ales downed,

In the hedgerow robins boasting,

Leafy carpet covers the ground.

.

Autumn, herald for the winter,

All brown and red burnished gold,

Time is passing like a sprinter,

Now the year is growing old.

.

.

By William Hayles

The Birthday Card by Frances Cummins

The shaking hand that traced the wiry letters

traced the future:

that caressed my hair when I was young

now grips my heart with grief.

And I am left to wonder –

Did you know too?

.

Hands more eloquent than words their joints gnarled

like old branches

their sinews stretched with time

tell the story of a life long-lived.

And I am left to wonder –

Do you know too?

.

The emptiness of future anniversaries

flashed before me;

Words of love, not for this day alone

but for all the days to come.

And I no longer wonder –

You do know too.

.

.

by Frances Cummins

(1992)

Psychodahlia by Mike Jenkins

Down in the darkest corridors of municipalia

is where the seed must’ve come from,

nurtured no doubt by a quirky computer

about the time of the Garden Festival.

.

It was to be Merthyr’s own shrub:

a plant ideally suited to the area,

only needing to be oiled every ten years,

never losing its metallic beetroot colour.

.

‘What should we call it?’

discussed the Parks committee:

‘Mini triffid?’ ‘Spike drunkard?’

‘ow about an ever ‘ard?’

.

Without realising their irony,

because a stalwart councillor, after too many beers,

slipped on his way to a spaghetti

and skewered himself on the castiron cactus!

.

‘DESTROY KILLER PLANTS!’ screamed the local press,

but law and order merchants were impressed

by its vicious leaves and bought thousands

to surround the Civic Centre, school and institutions.

.

Soon the forked flora had spread everywhere

threatening the soles of stray vandals,

so the Council named it ‘Psychodahlia’

and the computer was made into mayor.

.

.

by Mike Jenkins

from This House, My Ghetto

Additional information: Mike Jenkins (born 1953) is a Welsh poet, story writer and novelist writing in English. He taught English at Radyr Comprehensive School in Cardiff for nearly a decade and Penydre High School, Gurnos, Merthyr Tydfil, for some two decades before that. At the end of the 2008–2009 academic year Jenkins took voluntary redundancy. He now writes full-time, capitalising on experiences gleaned from former pupils. He continues to live in Merthyr Tydfil, and has done so for over 30 years. He is also the father of Plaid Cymru politician Bethan Sayed née Jenkins MS and journalist Ciaran Jenkins.

The Uninvited by Dannie Abse

They came into our lives unasked for.

There was light momentarily, a flicker of wings,

a dance, a voice, and then they went out

again, like a light, leaving us not so much

in darkness, but in a different place

and alone as never before.

.

So we have been changed

and our vision no longer what it was,

and our hopes no longer what they were;

so a piece of us has gone out with them also,

a cold dream subtracted without malice,

.

the weight of another world added also,

and we did not ask, we did not ask ever

for those who stood smiling

and with flowers before the open door.

.

We did not beckon them in, they came in uninvited,

the sunset pouring from their shoulders,

so they walked through us as they would through water,

and we are here, in a different place,

changed and incredibly alone,

and we did not know, we do not know ever.

.

.

by Dannie Abse

from Early Poems

‘God’s fool, God’s jester’ by R. S. Thomas

God’s fool, God’s jester

capering at his right hand

in torment, proving the fallacy

of the impassible, reminding

him of omnipotence’s limits.

.

I have seen the figure

on our human tree, burned

into it by thought’s lightning

and it writhed as I looked.

.

A god had no alternative

but himself. With what crown

plurality but with thorns?

Whose is the mirthless laughter

at the beloved irony

at his side? The universe over,

omniscience warns, the crosses

are being erected from such

material as is available

to remorse. What are the stars

but time’s fires going out

before ever the crucified

can be taken down?

Today

there is only this one option

before me. Remembering,

as one goes out into space,

on the way to the sun,

how dark it will grow,

I stare up into the darkness

of his countenance, knowing it

a reflection of the three days and nights

at the back of love’s looking-

glass even a god must spend.

.

.

by R. S. Thomas

from Counterpoint; 3. Crucifixion (1990)

The Houses of the Valleys by Ann Hughes

Reaching out in unending lines

Houses of the valleys, all the same

In their uniform of dereliction and decay

Clinging on to the hillside, like old people

Clinging on to the old way of life.

.

Smoke rises from the chimneys

Catching the last fading sunlight

of the promising summer of plenty,

Falling soon to the sills in black sooty smuts

Where sometimes people sit and stare.

.

The empty streets echo in the silence

of tack boots on the cobblestones,

Black windows stare at me with accusation

Betrayal screams at you with her evidence

in the houses of the valleys.

.

.

By Ann Hughes (1992)

Healing by R. S. Thomas

Sick wards. The sailed beds

becalmed. The nurses tack

hither and fro. The chloroform

breeze rises and falls.

Hospitals are their own

weather. The temperatures

have no relation

to the world outside. The surgeons,

those cunning masters

of navigation, follow

their scalpels’ compass through

hurricanes of pain to a calm

harbour. Somewhere far down

in the patient’s darkness,

where faith died, like a graft

or a transplant prayer

get to work, repairing

the soul’s tissue, leading

the astonishing self between

twin pillars, where life’s angels

stand wielding their bright swords of flame.

.

.

by R. S. Thomas

from Mass for Hard Times

(1992)

Alive by R. S. Thomas

It is alive. It is you,

God. Looking out I can see,

no death. The earth moves, the

sea moves, the wind goes

on its exuberant

journeys. Many creatures

reflect you, the flowers

your colour, the tides the precision

of your calculations. There

is nothing too ample

for you to overflow, nothing

so small that your workmanship

is not revealed. I listen

and it is you speaking.

I find the place where you lay

warm. At night, if I waken,

there are the sleepless conurbations

of the stars. The darkness

is the deepening shadow

of your presence; the silence a

process in the metabolism

of the being of love.

.

.

by R. S. Thomas

from Laboratories of the Spirit

(1975)