A few Welsh haiku

under the green cliff
where the red house hunkers down
old sand is silent

we take off our masks
reveal our smiling faces
surprising the ghosts

on the narrow path
a man with a blue suitcase
leaves his bed behind

the hill fort stands high
as history disappears 
shapeless stones tell lies

Careless rain

Pale waves nibble at grass and sand,
tired riders complaining
of years in the saddle
as water-coloured land licks into the ocean

and there is no edge,
no border
just a man singing
into an angry crowd
while the band leaves the stage

Footprints are blurred, then slide away,
and who is to decide
where he stood? Too late now to say
which is land and which sea:
even the moon hesitates

The tree of knowledge
is drowned or buried:
the tree of life
simply forgotten

Grains of sand turn into cliffs of clay,
not gold: a cold wind
from the north brings
careless rain,
flotsam and jetsam
flooding the failing fields

and if the singer digs a shallow grave
he will surely drown
despite the distant hill
and the whisper
he is trying to unearth

Beyond the masks

Beyond the masks and the skull
outside the walled garden
through red and yellow
toward sky space

you walk across endless green
and into blue:
the ancient hall lurks in the background
behind distorting mirrors

You do not age at all:
you are as I first saw you
falling in love with the future
praying unprincipled prayers

You bring me back
to the fountain of fire
time and again
your words as silent as ever

Funeral of Prince Philip

It’s too late now:
I can’t get him back,
reach out my royal arm,
keep him from harm

stop the Land Rover,
order a rethink

There is no-one beside me
– no nudge, no wink –
just practitioners of sorrow 
out front, too visible, 
no tomorrow

I wear a mask and sit alone:
no laughter in the night
no rolling stone

Was there something I should have done?
Escaped to Greece or Denmark,
Corfu in the sun
or rain?

Dug deep, started again?

No, it’s too late now:
black suits, black wheels,
no-one to tell me how he feels,
no witty, careless remark 

Just dark

haiku: paths

the graveyard is closed
and ghosts walk down narrow paths
that lead to glory

the path through the marsh
leads me deeper and deeper
a sinking feeling

I have to turn back
pick my way along the path
already travelled

The Holocaust Discussion Group

It was no secret what was happening… It was like killing rabbits… But people are not rabbits. Even after the war, when they could see that the survivors were not in fact rabbits but people, they still felt in their hearts that the dead ones had been rabbits. – Lionel Davidson, Making Good Again

Surrounded by poetry
pegged up prettily
to lure passers by

and in some cases translated
from the original pain
with killing pictures

the holocaust discussion group
faces eternal questions.

Did it? Do we have the right?
Could they? Can we? How long?
Did people really think
they were rabbits?

There may be a more sinister explanation, but
it is too late to ask questions,
and too early:

we crouch helplessly round a serious table 
with personal pots of tea 
and strained faces.

Only the poetry makes sense,
and not many people read poetry

Poetry repeats itself.
It has to:
nobody listens.

Just another waterfall

He watches as the shadowy ship on the horizon
beyond the blue-grey house
disappears into the Blakeney mist

sinks soundlessly into the distant pit
where there is no sun,
and is consumed by your tears

Just another waterfall
in the story told
between your sheets

as if all waterfalls were not miracles
and all ships do not continue to exist
beyond your fears

He waits for the horizon to reimagine itself
in uncreated light
sees figures walk on what had seemed to be water

and you out there like a sunset
unique, shimmering,
riding the waves

while wild barley lines the inland verges
ripe but ungathered,
way beyond temptation


The night is deadly quiet,
still as a dead man’s breath:
life teeters on the empty edge,
and those of us who live in dark places
become invisible, 
even when the light returns

In times past the twisted paths,
the blind cliff edges and wrong turns
have filled our dreams:
now we search our faded memories
and find nothing but flowers,
a house on an island, a view of the sea

I muse on all your deeds,
I consider the works of your hands


no king is saved
by having tall armies
no mighty man
by great strength or the power
of a hundred horses

you throw bright stars
making patterns in heaven
while angels laugh
and we play with creation,
rejoice in your glory

Safe place

Hills stretch away into the beckoning distance
harsh and unknown
intriguing and shapely

I wander among them
looking for steep paths,
that precise point where land gives way
reluctantly to sky

touching the forgiving rocks
that beckon to me

I am seduced, gone astray:
I feel the curves,
but you find me here as always

I hear your voice
when the sun arrows down
or the moon arrives too soon

You shade my naked skin,
my exposed shoulders:
I go out and come in
through darkened doors

You give me new questions,
old magic:
a safe place in the wilderness

(Based loosely on Psalm 121)