There is a Rowan published on Gods & Radicals

My poem ‘There is a Rowan’ has been published on Gods & Radicals HERE. It explores links between wild rowan, cerddinen wyllt, and the gwyllon ‘madmen’, ‘wildmen”, or ‘spectres’ who ride on the hunt of Gwyn ap Nudd and Arthur’s attempts to capture them.

There is a Rowan

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Down, down, down
the spiralling staircase
is not the the only way
I will not walk again.

Your castle moves,
illusions kept in place,
six thousand speechless
guardians on the walls.

Deeper than a nuclear
bunker the secret it holds
is far more dangerous.
You sleep like a bomb.

The breath of Annwn
resides within your chest
rising, falling, rising
like the living and dead.

I dare not ponder what
you dream in case I find
I have been dreamt here.
Yet here I know peace.

So much more powerful
for I know you contain
the fury, madness, chaos
of the spirits of Annwn

and if it is released
the breath of all will end.
In the moment we breathe
together I am blessed,

imbued with the Awen.
How to carry your breath
back home from Annwn
and shape it into words?

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In the myth I live by, after Gwyn ap Nudd (our Brythonic Winter King) is defeated by Gwythyr (our Brythonic Summer King) he retires to sleep beneath the hollow hills in a tomb in Caer Ochren, the Castle of Cold Stone. This poem is based on my practice of visiting him there over the summer months.

The images are of Winter Hill, one of the hills in the Old North I associate with Gwyn. Much of the other side of the hill is still scarred and barren from the fires that raged throughout the summer last year –  a sign of the current imbalance between the seasons due to climate change?

Winter Hill Scarred

 

Mabon Learns to Play the Harp

It was Mabon who played then in the youth of the world
Greg Hill

Take the hand of the invisible
and make it visible.

Pluck a chord of light
like a string from the ball of the sun.

Imagine spiders spinning their webs

between the constellations;
the songs of the stars,

make them audible.

Fashion the nine chords
of my harp – the harp of Teirtu –

do not think of how it will play alone
as you in this House of Stone

in the hall of Pen Annwn.
Think not of the turning of his fortress

‘in Annwn below the earth’
or ‘in the air above’.

Do not ponder the reason
for your imprisonment – why

you must become an awenydd or bard.

Reach into the darkness with the audacity
of youth and imagine the discovery

of the wealthy realms of Pluto.

Ask not why the sun does not shine there,
why a dog’s jaws are the doors

and questions remain unanswered.
Reach deep within for the chord that moves

the hearts of planets – underworld gods.

In the river of tears consume the hazel nut
unknowing if it contains the awen

or countless meteoric souls.

Escape down the trail of a meteor
on the salmon of Llyn Llyw.

Take the hand of the visible
and make it invisible.

Forget this story –
you have always been the harper
and my harp has always played on…

Mabon's Harp

Gwenwyn

Am I cure or poison?

Will I heal or kill the wounded kings:
Bendigeidfran, Lleu, Lludd,
all rulers of Prydain?

I am also
‘worry’ ‘ferocity’
‘spite’ ‘venom’ and ‘jealousy.

Just one drop of gwenwyn
on the gwenwynbar

(the poisoned spear
crafted between
worlds)

and they are
between life and death

their souls departing
with the piercing scream of an eagle
with the flash of a kingfisher
with a flock of ravens.

Who can heal them?
Is Morgana ‘the first in healing arts’
our Paeon – our healer of the gods
of all our poisoned wounds?

What is my origin?

Did I drip from a serpent’s tooth?

Did I spill from the cauldron
when the awen was stolen –
the source of the
wasteland?

Gwenwynbar

For Tonight

I am a shape who shifts
like the costumes of mosses
like the rabbit eyes of trees

Tockholes I

leaping out of my skin
plunging into the dark arms
of underwater trees

Tockholes III

for once knowing beauty and fluidity
as I run down stairs without
missing a single step.

Tockholes IV

I am the waterfall and its deep pool,
the sun reflected and the fear
of loss surrounding him
like the magic of Faerie,
the golden ball,

Tockholes V

the secrets found by bees
crawling into the purple caverns
of foxgloves emerging centuries later
coated in dusty wisdom.

Tockholes VII (copy)

Can it be possible
that I am wide awake
like your rival as you dream
these enchantments

and here, now, even
at midsummer

the aspen trembles
at your name?

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

*This poem is based on a walk in Tockholes Wood on Midsummer Eve and is addressed to Gwyn, who remains a presence in my life even in his absence from the landscape.

Her Crying Eye

For Creiddylad

Weep tears
surround me
like a stranger
to all hope like
a Goth song

always winter

in black by
the strobe lights
underground.

In the catacombs
the priestess weeps:
the altar is gone.

Reminders flash.

Was this worship?

Raising my hands
to the other stars of
disco balls drums

pounding sadness
all night in the dark
half of the year?

Pay the price.

Yes I’m paying.

Must I pay by tears?

I stole her ecstasy
in a white-cream pill.

Was this happiness?

Flashbacks repeat.

I am always empty
but her crystal tears
suggest something.

I wish I could cry.

 

Crying Eye Clip Art Library II

*This poem was inspired by the visions of two participants in a workshop I ran on ‘Honouring Creiddylad’ at the Space to Emerge camp – they both saw a crying eye.