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Category: Poetry

Inundations: Battle of The Atlantic


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2017-10-19
Inundations:  Battle of The Atlantic

(For Captain Jenkin Evan Jones 1904-1986, Thomas Jones 1898-1986, Captain David John Jones  OBE 1896-1973, Daniel Owen Jones 1904-1936, Henry Lloyd Jones 1911-1985, Charles Ellis Jones 1914-2005 and James Jones 1901-1969)


Closer to your men now

these breathless damp survivors

in a lifeboat

you have to remember

that you are the master

that you remain in command

the abandonment of your vessel

a torpedo followed up by

21 shells from the deck

and AA guns

a different kind of rain

waves of unkinder weather

the steel from another furnace

always crawling out of the sea

always returning to it

the sea keeps you afloat

the seas swallows you

do you think of your homeland

as you await the rescue

of your crew

how your ancestors’ great flood

honoured the Biblical flood?

come from God’s country

to the high seas

of a world at war with itself

a world on fire

in the absence of fraternity

(your brother wrote in his diary

of how he had watched the ships

in his convoy one night

going down

one by one

cargo by cargo

friend by friend

life by life

extinguished light by extinguished light

disappearing act by disappearing act


that boy that his brothers had lifted up

to a beam in a barn

to enable him to strengthen his arms

to balance against the weakness

born in his legs)

the sea keeps you afloat

the seas swallows you

years after your death

and those of your maritime siblings

one soporific TV afternoon

in my NATO assured home

I saw footage of the victorious

U-124 sailing into its home port

proudly bedecked with trophies

from your ship and others

for the adoring crowd

two years after this triumph

this raider lay rusting

at the bottom of the Atlantic

all hands lost

the new cemeteries

of the new warfare

among the resting places

of older sunken worlds

the sea keeps you afloat

the seas swallows you


Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep.

(Psalm 107, verses 23 and 24)

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Hugging The Shoreline


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2017-10-11

A brother and sister

nine and five

a weekend or a holiday

it's their time

that time of their lives

they’re on a beach

he’s lanky

in trunks of nearly

no colour

she’s blonde

and more effervescent

they can’t swim

so they play in the certainty

of the shallows

laughing uncontrollably

at their repeated failure to retrieve

their inflatable ring

that the wind is blowing

towards the estuary

flip-flopping from their outstretched little hands

they’re focussed on that inexpensive circle

absorbed in their simple game

by being alive

and being allowed to be alive

in the outdoor world

their father appears suddenly

breathlessly

something of Sean Connery about him

but not thinking of entertainment

their mirth turning to foreboding and guilt

as they are told that they are

on the verge

of stepping into the drop

from the sea shore

into the deep swallowing mouth

of the river

the same waterway on whose banks

they were born

they watch the ring dance upstream

and out of their lives

as they begin to trudge behind the adult

to the safety

of the striped windbreak encampment

in the dunes

and the unshakeable embrace

of a family that mourns

each loss of possession

however paltry

however badly made

in their non-throwaway existence

the boy later hears tales of children

who had drowned near that spot

and that when the sea had finally

returned their defeated bodies

it was found that crabs had eaten away

their eyes

he grows taller and realises

how useful cunning is

however he does not learn to swim

and at times is ambivalent about

the possibility of submerging

nowadays

during Happy Hour

he haunts the edges

of the bars of the swimming pools

of Mediterranean hotels

in the presence of the jelly bellies

tattooed backs

and canine voices

of those of his countrymen

who express a hatred

for everything

that lies beyond

their island

he still keeps a distance

maintaining a hard border

impervious to the ocean

that surrounds him

and that waits for him

patiently and timelessly

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Weather Forecast


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2017-04-11



I wait for a storm

that has a name

more known

than people I know vaguely

more known than me

I wait for a storm

that knows me

that names me


...

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Remember Remember


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2017-04-11



5th November

Remembrance Sunday

then some wasteful argument

about football players

wearing poppies or not

we escaped being defeated

by German Wunderwaffe

but still insist on such handbags

I remember Jackie Leven

a favourite crooner-writer

who died in the same year

as my mother

I bought him a drink once

the night he visited my county

the kind of thing one does

for one’s heroes

when they make that journey

when one makes that journey

too


...

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I'm a Non-Entity Get Me Out of Here


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2017-03-24



The exaggerated melodrama of

the contemporary method

of delaying the announcement

of who’s been voted in or out of

this evening’s hit TV show

that pantomime pause

a menopause

by the men of pause

I’m in danger of becoming dimmed

so put me on dim watch

like most popular culture

those diversionary tactics

those big legs that carry Little Mix

blare out over the latest chapter

of this nation’s paedophile history

historical or not

what about historical abuse

that happened in historic houses?

or historical abuse

of a historical character

in a historic house?


...

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No Harps


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2017-03-12



I am not a harper

I am not a Fisher King

I am neither of these things

I am not a father

I am not a feather wing

I am neither of these things

I am not a player

I am not a fiddle string

I am neither of these things

I am not a piper

I am not a diamond ring

I am neither of these things

I am not a singer

I am not a playground swing

I am neither of these things

I am not a sinner

I am not a waspish sting

I am neither of these things

I am not a swimmer

I am not a moorland spring

I am neither of these things

I am not a winner

I am not a rifle sling

I am neither of these things


...

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Song of David


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2017-03-08



There used to be giants

nimbly rolling the rocks

around the known landscape

to cap water spirals

the people used to be giants

now they were not

or so they thought

though suspicious of Rome

they went about unarmoured

along forest tracks that led back to them

they strained to hear the bells

of the sixteen wall towns

of the kingdom they were told lay

under the shallow bay

they believed though no sound came

save the mourning of gulls

and the collapse of waves

he took his first steps and was injured

his father and his uncle

battled against snow to get his face sewn up

but a crucifix injected itself into his arteries

and travelled those routes for many years

forcing him out of shape

to grow tall and crooked

trying to sink into his shoulders

as his mother had done at that age

the shadow of smoke

he recalled Jesus

how gentle he’d seemed

the women loved him

still he couldn’t understand why they did that to him

he was obliged to follow the old religion

though more drawn to Hell

he looked like the Turin Shroud when asleep

he kept telling them he was dead


in a country with a higher number

of castles than any other

he played at the cottage of his great grandmother

and the motte and bailey castle

next door after which it was named

the comfort of grass and a six hundred year gap

and discovering gooseberries for the first time

both his grandfathers died at the wheels of their cars

without a mark in almost inexplicable accidents

when this curse outlived its usefulness

he would learn to drive

in order to get out of this valley

where everything was washed down slopes

into the river into the sea into the ocean

into rain back to this place again

TV was new wall-to-wall war every night

Vietnam and Ulster

and the offerings of producers

who had survived the “last” war

he in turn re-enacted liberation

and freedom fighting with comrades

and guns left over from the resolved

and unresolved conflicts

of previous generations

providing ammunition

for their imagination

he put knives in his pockets

his belt his eyes

to steady his nerves

to ward off his father

whom he had exceeded in height

he was not taught the story of his country

but guessed at its events

and found that his broad accent

was nothing to be embarrassed about


he spoke two languages

but wanted to renounce one

until he learned to love it again

to revere his birthplace for what it was

and not dismiss it for what it wasn’t

at the beginning of the space age

his parents acquired labour-saving devices

that helped them in their daily chores

and in the raising of their children

but these machines took over their time

and sucked out the soul of family life

they looked after a chapel

next to their home

the silhouettes of tombstones

dancing around his bedroom walls

illuminated by car headlights

the new people arrived

they had always been there

but now seemed to be everywhere

speaking the language his tribe had absorbed

they took over abandoned farms and chapels

and the leaderships of some of the hundreds

the inflexions and drive of a different gang

he pretended he was like them

but in the uncertainty of changing North Atlantic culture

his tongue fumbled some of the old words

in their unfolding

in the summer he slept with windows open

in the mistaken benevolence of electric light

beyond which night creatures

exhaled their excited air

and burned empty homes

he grew into song

into words and deeds

his chewing gum grin

glossing over his mistrust in his seed

until the egg begged

now the blood of princes runs through him

carries him shoulder high to computer-enhanced

mountains blue with rain

where they do not overwinter sheep

the blood of princes runs him through


...

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A Welcome to Cwm Teifi


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2017-03-07



I leave this river
that nourished my upbringing
and inspired my imagining
as you arrive,
or, rather, return to its banks

in the valley where the sweat
of the labour of our forefathers
mingled with sweet meadow streams,
helping to replenish this waterway,

its stately, muscled progress,
trout breaking its surface
on warm, dreaming evenings,
in circles, those lines without end,

the flash of the kingfisher,
the seemingly stilted flight
of dragonflies,

the ancient, narrow bridges,
arches leading in,
leading out,
persisting, permitting.


...

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Wales in The Middle


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2017-03-03



The lonely chapel of Soar Y Mynydd

could be the centre of our country

at least my version of it

the guns of the spare neighbouring farms

twitchiness around their triggers

lest another gun returns

let us acknowledge our killers

for they are of us

and not so different

our trajectories leading to

opposing outcomes

and while we’re facing our violent past

let’s recall our battle sites

not lauded

though they’re here

over a gate or a hedge

under a centuries-deep carpet

down a dip

off a minor road

with the signs deliberately changed

to the wrong direction

we fought too

we died too

but our sacrifices don’t count

in the toxic pre-Brexit empire

those mysterious mounds

those straight roads

the many narrow ways home

this is my country

you can have it


...

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Dream Republic


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2017-02-27



Watching Spanish football

on TV in a bar

a new form of guttural expression

that language that explodes

I’d been at the minibar

the waiter says he doesn’t

remember

Guernica

and the lost mass graves

of the vanquished

including my ancestor

Rhondda miner

Jutland stoker

medal winner

hillside boxer

circus bear wrestler

Civil Warrior

fighting for democracy

with his hands

and hand tools

murdered in Bilboa prison

by guards retaliating

against the last impassioned

throw of his knuckles

I drink alone in a Malaga bar

recalling the bare bones

of this story I was told

when I was a boy

dreaming of another dream republic

a better tomorrow


...

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