I Thought I Had More Time

Paul Steffan Jones AKA
01/24/19 07:22:28PM
13 posts

My tribe

my place in it

the island of our existence

and patriarchs entitled

John John

David David

Evan Evan

Rees Rees

Owen Owen

Thomas Thomas

they did not have many names

and never questioned why

it was so long ago

when there were fewer words

available to be connected

to people who had no names

who were our ancestors

Dylan Marlais Thomas

they forget the middle name

in the land where you need

three names to be identifiable

from the next Thomas

the next DT

somehow there are two suns in the same sky

the primary school yard is

overlooked by a house

in which I live

I don’t know how to like people

they are strange and frightening

I stood where the sun did not reach

I moved my feet a few feet

it took me many years

of tiny toe actions

and Herculean effort

and several changes of footwear

to see the sunshine on my toes

summoning me from my cave

the sons of the hinterland farms

were written off as “hambones”

I was probably closer to them

than I admitted

than I suspected

the clipped enclaves of council

houses replacing former tied cottages

on the edges of villages

bring back the countryside

living on the land

an end to employment

and its tyrannies

some people's furrowed brows

as the result of invisible ploughs

a half-remembered agriculture

of the mind superimposed

on meadows of skin

I was thin then

thought the wind would blow me away

him that wind

him that did not

now tries again with renewed oxygen

I am heavier

more anchored

holding on to a metal post

conveying a button

at a pedestrian crossing

I felt the cold in the days

with less flesh on bones

pre central heating

those guards in front of coal fires

what were they guarding?

what was necessary?

what was required?

what was essential?

it was getting harder to tell

keeping on top of things

or at least to their sides

sliding backwards slowly

on a sloping concrete path of ice

laden and with a hedge

for a handrail

Nature to my rescue again

the bunch of fives

always offered

turn it around

so that it faces itself

disarms itself

Mars bars

Milky Bars

Curly Wurlies

Puffa Puffa Rice



dandelion and burdock


and Bazookas

we became the sherbet herberts

the invasion of sugar

taking over certain

hours of my life

punk came

punk rock


do it yourself

be brave

with one's talent nowhere near

fully formed

or likely to ever be

bass boom lines

wafer guitar chimes


him that wind a hymn

33 or 45 rpm

12 or 7 inches of

hypnotic black whirlpool

the depths


the gems among the dust

John Peel on late night Radio 1

a Japanese cassette player at the ready

capturing the sound and its attendant

inimitable and irritating hiss

I wore the big hopeful badges

of the new sound

until it was superseded

and there was no further use for

those silhouettes of rodents and wreaths

a walking pictorial promotion of a moment

puck rock suicide Scottish guitarists

pipe me aboard

their all-steel pistols

pointing to my place in the mud

I try to accompany them

by desperately coaxing

a beat from the keys and coins

in my pockets

I am here for the equinox

preparing for equality

whilst developing into a crooner

of my own love life

my acceptance of loans

out of kilter with any other sort

of tribal gathering

an electric guitar solo strikes up

and I can’t breathe

for this epiphany

as I have outlived my heroes

and give thanks for songs that outrank

most people I have met

in their importance to me

sometimes there are glistening listeners

attentive and orderly

other times it's shuffles

and an embarrassment

of embarrassments

that loud scraping sound

of uncomfortable chairs being moved

sing something simple

for you

and for me

Top of the Pops

Pan’s People

T Rex


The Sweet


Alvin Stardust

Gary Glitter

Jimmy Saville

Jim’ll fix it

the can-do years

the make-believe adolescence

the lack of confidence

the impudence

the insolence

the smiles of the circling hyenas

the pasted-on tinsel sneer veneer

of the promise that did not deliver

the cover story for secret domination

of one’s private madness and oppression

Father Christmas must share the blame

the anticipation of a munificence

of presents delivered by a mysterious stranger

who enters like a burglar

a thief of transactions

and of the true meaning of magic

rock’n roll summers followed

by rock’n roll Christmas

like rivers of dead polluted sharks

our little country town

a matter of two or three commercial streets

dropping down to the river

guarded by a redundant

military construction

an old man with no legs

got around there on a homemade sledge

he must have had a challenging life

to me he was something out

of a fairy tale or

an unfunny comic book

another inhabitant of that town at that time

was called Dai Split Nose

that’s all I knew of him

we lived in a house owned by a chapel

none of us knew that distant cousins

lay buried unmarried in a corner grave

around which my father pushed his lawn mower

visiting Ministers of Religion dined

in our home each Sunday

in a room reserved for that purpose

they ate alone in silence

while we had our family meal nearby

they were alien to me and a little forbidding

I wish now I had broken through my shyness

and intellectual and linguistic inferiority

to speak with them about the word of God

and how Methodism was faring in the early 1970s

the stone of chapels and their cemeteries

always rained upon or so I remember

where the sun set

I don’t recall my great grandmother

who died six years after my birth

though I remember playing

around her ancient one storey cottage

and in its orchard

I was distraught at losing

tiny blue US 7th Cavalry

toy soldiers among the crevasses

that were its cobbles

Henry Tudor had passed that way

a secret fort overgrown

the shock overthrow of the show

the soft defences of a country

that forgets its been invaded

its graves seen in the same view

as bales of hay wrapped

in their shining black plastic bag shrouds

when a target is not a target

I also don’t remember her daughter

who died when I was two

my mother missed her each day

of her remaining life

I missed her too

in the photographs she has a high forehead

she made her own clothes

including her wedding dress

my mother knitted my jumpers

until increasing income

and the widening reach of retail opportunities

made us less self-reliant

she sewed patches onto the worn knees

of my jeans creating

a peasant distressed look

that would later become fashionable

she spoke the intuitive Welsh

and the learned English of

the hollows and lanes that led to

Sunday schools and sermons

some of the words were highly localised

a language of those hedges

as were the ways of saying those words

and all other words

she’s leaning into you

the wide belt of her wedding dress

punctuating her tiny waist and that day

as you exult and fret over your triumph

and the rising sea level which will bring

coral which will invade the photo frame

the image slowly sucked away

by the salt of brine time and tears

my only surviving memory of  the day

my paternal grandmother died

is her daughter in law not wishing me

to watch that night’s episode

of World at War on TV

but being overruled by her husband

I was an unplanned first born

taken shortly after my ironic birth

to the Rhondda valley

to be introduced to the family

of my great grandfather

I threw up on my grandmother’s shoulder

such was my brand new life

and its direction

my parents did the best they could

beset by doubt and lack of resources

in a landscape of linoleum

and used cars

and everything changing

all the time for people

unused to such a pace

of transformation

in my father’s car

my sister and I in the back

faces behind glass

we didn’t go far

relatives and graves

and orthodontists

a sneak view of the rises

the dips

the possibilities

the impossibilities

piggy back

bubble cars

and Hillman Imps

Esso Blue and

Green Shield stamps

those times I thought about the universe

how big it might be

how it neighboured another universe

how big that might be

how the neighbouring universe

bordered on yet another cosmos

how big they all could be

and so on

my head ached

world without end

one night as I lay in bed

I observed a shape

emerge from the carpet

growing until it became

a narrow black triangle

about the height of a man

in the street light dark

was this the Devil we had been promised

or just my overactive childish imagination?

I sneeze

what escapes?

a sneeze that’s all

my best friend and I bemoaned

the lack of homegrown serial killers

I read a book on Manson

during a thunderstorm

we got our wish

the Vietnam War

the PLO

the IRA


the Angry Brigade

Brady and Hindley

Zodiac Killer

The Daleks

The Sweeney

take your pick

my pet dead lacewing

surveyed through inert eyes

the end of the century

of massive killing

and felt fine

last night I dreamed my wife and I

were having dinner with friends

in the valley where I was brought up

I was distracted glancing

in the direction of the coast

a volcano had erupted on the estuary

my father appeared and we discussed

this occurrence

this may have been influenced

by reading reports of people who had lived

on the escarpment to the east of that valley

seeing the glow of Swansea

following a Luftwaffe night bombing raid

two counties away

I longed to watch two trains

racing each other

yes two trains

on equal lengths of track

on equal rate of incline

with evenly-powered engines

a contradiction of the principles

of public transport

I had never seen one due to

the effects of the first Government

cutbacks of my lifetime

but this was my very own Roman Emperor Syndrome

not Hornby

not British Rail

not Beeching

but always on time

or ahead of it

a castle town again and again

I am on the sidelines

as others journey down

their memory lanes

an odd one out

the British Empire

still in our heads

somewhere somehow

in the backs of minds

though we don’t rule waves

no English Electric

superstar test pilots overhead

when we were thinner

the past as a different hue

tonight it's 70s pink and orange

the stain of an unknown stamen

the morning after

the sun revealed

hangovers of different levels

of discomfort

with martially inclined friends

I played at being soldiers

in the woods behind our school

I made a Sten gun

by nailing two straight lengths

of wood together into a right angle

this game was called “Armies”

some of us ended up in the Army

we dammed a stream with stones

mud grass and twigs

and broke these barriers

when we became bored with our handiwork

unaware that we were imitating

the rural monumentalism

of our principality

and the tactics of those

opposed to its existence

we were chased once

by cattle that we had antagonised

throwing stones at them

producing sparks from their hides

in the thickening twilight

made a spear of a stick

a small number of us grappled

with ideas of liberation

whatever we meant by that

I thought I was preparing for a war

with known and unknown adversaries

made a stick of a spear

the heart-squeezing soundtrack

of ice cream vans

remixed in some accidental ears

as ambulance sirens

I amassed a wealth in toys in

as plastic intervened

Fireball XL5

U Boat and Short Sunderland




an old cricket bat I never used

Action Men

helping me learn how to fantasise

about decisive action

without ever taking it

Joe 90

Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons

The Champions

Garrison’s Gorillas

Tom Grattan’s War





after the Magic Roundabout

there was no need to be real

no need to grow up

Benny Hill

Jimmy Hill

Brian Moore

Dickie Davies

Billy Bremner

Harold Wilson

Ted Heath

Tiede Herrema

how men were

Raquel Welch

Sophia Loren

Brigitte Bardot

Ursula Andress

Jenny Lee-Wright

Caroline Munro

Ingrid Pitt

Madeline Smith

how women were

my first day in comprehensive school

sitting on the floor in a new building

a gym with new boys

I talk nervously

and earn a clout on the top of my head

from a shoe wielded by the games teacher

I am hurt shocked and a little embarrassed

by my first lesson in

how older males are violent towards

younger males


it’s a man’s world

he can keep it

some schoolboys accused their peers

of “not having enough spunk

to shag a mouse”

I lived in fear of earning that epithet

whatever it meant

and of the milk white girls




those times when one is confused

by one’s gender

not knowing what to do

not liking what was expected

everyone looking the same

the long hair

the soft focus

the decline of hard labour

the deflection of draughts

we grew larger and more stupid

misunderstanding what expectations

Time would have of us

on the cusp of spring

becoming summer

of a language nearly changing

into another

the handover

from a safe pair of hands

to us

the light bulb people

the people light bulbs

the neon nowhere

empty vessels on an endless train

of other empty vessels

the rolling stock

the obsessed cocks

electrified trash but not fatally so

those mules

the workplace turned out to be a circus

conjoined with a black comedy

or an off-white tragicomedy

moving paperwork and people

from one end of the county

to the other and back again

from one under-rewarded circumstance

to the next

Pompous Dick presided there

with handbags for hands

and two glass eyes that saw

all they needed to see

a bag for a bag

he joked

I got it

I got it every time

this page has some issues

kill page

your call will be answered shortly

refer to supervisor



sensitively illuminate your anus

put it on the market

sell yourself as you have always done

as you have been obliged to do

for decades at a time if you’re lucky

a micro job in the zero hours economy

the golden age of useful employment

now foreclosed

I have been a wage slave

since 1981

my father toiled between

1953 and 2002

Arbeit macht frei

the promise of a better standard

of living with little thought

of achieving much else

so where are the Celtic warrior heroes?

are they amongst us in IED-proof vehicles

or entombed in slate

that awaits the quarryman’s swing?

would we recognise them if we saw them?

the line breakers

the berserkers

shock troops

unthink tank

think big


the lengths of their lines

their direction

where they point to

their alignments

the Druids will return in small boats

that are not coracles

with trails of elvers as wakes

when no one is looking

landing at the mouths of minor rivers

row upstream sometimes carrying

their vessels on their backs

that are not coracles

knowing when to nod

when to breathe

when to see

when to soar

knowing when to know

they say they can now print

a viable gun in 3D

can they print new homes?


sustainable energy?

a cure for all medical conditions?

the truth?

I thought I had more time

but forgot to remember

and remembered to forget