Paul Steffan Jones 1st


 

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Category: Poetry

Change Hands


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2019-02-25

A pound found

on the ground

on which he'd parked

the car

he spends it or 99p

to be precise in a charity shop

on a Fred Astaire CD

for his mother in law

the remaining penny

goes into the collection box

on the counter

in the dwindling town centre

still warm with coffee

and giving

he is happy with the symmetry

of the day

the chance findings

the changing hands

his changed needs

a different sort of payday

his changed self

recycled now like everything

that once existed

exists now

and is to exist

Posted in: Poetry | 0 comments

I Thought I Had More Time


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2019-01-23

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

Nesquick

Corona

dandelion and burdock

gobstoppers

and Bazookas

we became the sherbet herberts

the invasion of sugar

taking over certain

hours of my life

punk came

punk rock

punks

do it yourself

be brave

with one's talent nowhere near

fully formed

or likely to ever be

bass boom lines

wafer guitar chimes

chanting

him that wind a hymn

33 or 45 rpm

12 or 7 inches of

hypnotic black whirlpool

the depths

crackling

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

Showaddywaddy

The Sweet

Slade

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

Baader-Meinhof

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

Subbuteo

Scalextric

Cluedo

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

Bonanza

Lassie

Stingray

Thunderbirds

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

rugby

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

haughty

knowing

tormenting

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

about:blank

OK

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

think

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?

hospitals?

sustainable energy?

a cure for all medical conditions?

the truth?

I thought I had more time

but forgot to remember

and remembered to forget









Posted in: Poetry | 0 comments

Bag for Life (Don't Sell Your Dreams)


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2019-01-01
Bag for Life (Don't Sell Your Dreams)

The fear of Christmas

of the retail hell we've made it

and dying in a giant

impersonal shop-hangar

wearing unclean underwear

after discovering that a product

one has just purchased

was cheaper elsewhere

the anxiety of missing out

on a bargain

of losing a receipt

of not finding a car parking space

the tyranny of opening and closing times

of time itself inching forward

unstoppably impudently

fretting about leaving items in hotel rooms

letting a fire go out

and not having funds

for unashamed continuous consumerism

worrying about saying the wrong thing

and forgetting acquaintances

before they forget about one

the disappointment of

not remembering any dream

the itchiness of being a member

of a minority population

of ignoring one's native language

apart when required for jingoistic purposes

the fear of not being as brave as the past

or as brave as fear

Posted in: Poetry | 3 comments

Out of Control


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2018-12-08

What you wish for is

not always careful

a glib handover

in an ambient Tiger tank

in shadows of oboes

on an European coastline

you know so well

a meaningful vote

devoid of much meaning

not the kind of leaving

you had in mind

when you let that paper

drop into the aperture

we’ve been mis-sold

overblown oligarchies

and demoralised democracies

so let’s invent pop up monarchies

and subvert history

as it is all made up

as it stumbles along

or at least that’s what

the fecklessness of many

of our leaders seems to suggest

and remember to schedule a tour

of our shiny new fiefdom

some time after we have

regained control of it

not that we ever had it

under our control

journey to the more neglected areas

whose road signs brightly herald

the contribution made

by the former partner

to the construction of those routes

linking these communities

to the prospect of a more civilizing life

though by then these may well

have been taken down

or fallen down

amid the amnesia often

reserved for the poor

ticking a box

shouting the loudest

and decrying those

who don’t share exactly

the same views  

doesn’t always deliver our wish lists

as our unity drip drip drips

into stalactite statues

in mothballed baggage reclaim halls

what we've packed

is what we've become

Posted in: Poetry | 0 comments

Low lie Land


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2018-11-03

Knut Madsen

bad lip cop

dressed his bride

in a brick wedding dress

thinks he recognises

people he used to know

in how total strangers look

in far-removed locations

lip bad cop

black electric vehicle

hybrid hymen hymnal

chasing all the flies around

the effluent that attracts them

sticky on his wheels

round and around

still can't shake off

those pony tricks

and scrotum athletics

in an inner sanctum

in a jam

an electric eel

gets an electricity bill

wrongly addressed

bin credit rating

predicts no future

cop bad lip

what's for dinner?

breaking out of his language

he had some predecessors

called Gullick?

wondered if they were still around

with no notes to compare

that's the trouble with the past

it's just too long ago to remember

he sees from his banking app

that she's been to

P-o-u-n-d-s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-r

looks like a stretched-out German word

maybe it is just like those on old tanks

and the fuselages of the first jet fighters

maybe it’s a German company

like some supermarkets and train operators

restless in a virtual kilt

he waits for her to come home

the day is gone spent on futility

but they’re getting shorter

so not to worry

he’s just heard Anton von Pilferer

on the radio

best place for him

volume control

on/off

variable reception

in different rooms

keep moving to receive/lose

the signal

the tension of everyday life

of having to perform each nanosecond

stripes his back

he's Madsen

a mad son

under a mad sun

lip balm too late

copped bad

an accident of an archive

updated by apathy

and nugatory tinkling

by the powerless servants

of the Central Power

he’s a contemptible person

in a county of his country

he’s a knut


Posted in: Poetry | 0 comments

In The Museum of Peace


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2018-09-26

I pledge peace not knowing where it is

as fighter planes roar through the valley

I am deaf beneath

behind their slipstream

their scorched air

feel the change inside

don’t know if it’s going well

it’s too stony for me to cry

keys fall down a drain

fast-moving mountain streams

flow back on themselves

the commodification of

the remembrance of

our war dead

the steely eyes

smart uniforms

glinting bayonets

the choreographed floral tributes

one of the things we do best

the massive architecture of cathedrals

oppresses with displays of power

the building blocks of victors

of looters

of liars

I have become acclimatised

to the idea of conflict

even though I never joined a regiment

learning to play it as a child

soldiers are waged slaves with guns

Sports Utility Vehicles

are now weapons for hire

while some bored underpaid

museum attendants daydream

of a raucous rewritten Third Reich

and getting parts as SS fighters

in b-movies

no flash

Posted in: Poetry | 0 comments

Princes and Princesses


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2018-08-13



The river flows

the river always flows

the villagers earned a living of sorts

hewing anthracite

separating the hard coal

from the damp underworld

below the restless bed of the Black Cleddau

that seeped through the mine walls

and into their concerns

flowing haughtily past their daily lives

they shuffled with deeply felt reservations

into that space that afternoon

after they and their protests

were turned back by their employer

ruthless rising water

penetrated the roof

crashed

over

under

into and through them

a terrifying combination

and confusion

of explosion

gust tide and flood

among the trapped dead were

some who had been unaware

that they were the descendents

of the princes and princesses

of their country

impoverished and estranged

by the fortunes and accidents

of dynasties and birth

by the loosening

of the ties of kinship

and the ratcheting of

the new ways of exploitation

and impersonalisation

abandoned to an unroyal fate

on a lonely peaceful bank

a short distance from wading birds

whose beaks ply the sullen mudflats

there’s a modest monument

like a headstone

that’s overcrowded with names

remembering the date

Valentine’s Day 1844

listing those men

and their children

and unidentified women

and child miners

who never came home

to their festival of romance

but these veins flow

these veins always flow

Posted in: Poetry | 0 comments

1938


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2018-07-28

The Great War had not shaken

them from their faith

had not deflected them

from the path they had followed

more assuredly since the excitements

of the latest Methodist Revival

if anything the conflict

and its aftershock had helped them

make sense and come to a sort

of understanding of the new world order

that now came looking for them

in their previously unknown collection

of fields barns and cottages

they still respected the word

and feared God's judgement

remembering past transgressions

while processing current discomforts

there had been talk

in the vestry

the village shop

on the lanes

and at the gates

that something hadn't been quite right

that day in the first hopeful July

of the new century

that had become all too familiar

her father twenty years older

than his bride was rumoured

to be her cousin also

on the morning of her own big day

she was satisfied that the dress

she’d fashioned represented a good fit

after the alterations she’d made

as her baby grew within

placing a tiara on her high forehead

she left the dark warm indoors

of the home of her family for the last time

as an unmarried woman

in the yard she walked coyly

but purposefully through

a phalanx of neighbouring men

and beneath their raised shotguns

framed by whitewashed walls

and the fallow orchard behind

waiting for her in the chapel

where her parents had wed

was the Italian-looking young man

who would soon leave her for the sea

and return to visit when he could

during the next six years of war

each time rekindling a passion

that spanned an ocean

Posted in: Poetry | 0 comments

Unilluminated Ruminations


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2018-07-16

Let rage ride a ragged pony

around the fenced-in final

Site of Specific Scientific Interest

its legs buckling under

the combined burden of

foaming resentment

short-lived joust-tirades

and knee-jerk dismissal

of potentially good things

but when you’re born

you get a life

you get a name

you have to live

with that name

that life

with all of its expectations

its meanings

fortune and misfortune

I am almost alert

and will not sleep

as long as the death watch beetle

holds me in its sway

reminding me of the terms and conditions

of worms and munitions

and the hum of the soundtrack

of my collected respirations

the elixir of preparation

and the preparation

of the elixir

the moving air

the flies on hot roof tiles

science as aspirin

alchemy as a thread

through the eye of a needle

in the cemetery of celebratory dead

a view through a green glass sphere

“better do it now than wish it done”

where are my ghosts?

where did I put them?

the clouds conceal a super moon

could they be hiding anything else?

did I visit the moon?

I can’t remember


pond orphans occupy

ex-factories

vying with versions of levitating ladies

(they’ve parked a little too close

I want to urinate

my car’s windows fog up

perhaps I should drive away

or limbo dance my way

around the door)

in old-fashioned fields

stand scarecrows

scaring crows

scared crows

scare crows

sacred crows

scarred crows

blow up your television

escape to the country

from your country

where is your country?

blow up your television

the Clitheroe Kid

updated for the Age of Dunce

and the Presidents without a brain

becomes the Clit Hero Kid

blow up your television

your Jezebel label

with rebel labia

Euphrates nose

an unusual bouquet

Mermaid Quay

poems about blackbirds

I don’t have one

I had been looking for

the most recent results

and the hotel offers an excellent selection

of shops in the town

that's nearest to a city

and the hiss of the unknown

that kind of person who is

in the humidity of the unknown

and students were able to find out

more about the role of a company

in the humidity of a few hundred yards

a paean for an undiagnosed chutney

my MP40 submachine gun

got from the retirement

of a demobbed Action Man toy

his hard plastic hair

and raised scar

his no cock cock

then Siouxsie Sioux sings

reunion begins

passwords based on

early Atlantic coast saints

early Atlantic coast saints

based on passwords

I struggle to recall their successors

wonder who they could be as I stroll

around the magnificent shops

or as I wait for the fog to lift

and the horizon to be returned

the liturgical urge

the need for mystery

explained or not

Jesus

please us

please

Posted in: Poetry | 0 comments

Country Man


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2018-07-04
Country Man

You seem to have featured

in nearly every photograph

taken in your bypassed village

in the years following

the Second World War

you appear bemused

as though surprised

that you have survived

still strong in the weakening

that old age invites in

getting used to a world

that has changed and people

no longer being around

you have white hair

black eyes

a black suit

for weddings

funerals

and snapshot opportunities

an unconscious caricature

of film negatives

and the light and shade

of the photographic prints

of your era

sometimes you are standing

at the side of one of your sons

a father of a dozen children

pleased with the progress

of the generation you part-created

in one image you are clothed

in rough loose textiles

that could have come

from a half century previously

the tenacious thread of rural hard work

as you awkwardly but proudly hold aloft

a newborn great granddaughter

your face beaming

in the handover from

the old to the new

Posted in: Poetry | 2 comments
 
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