Poem On October

In the final week of October, I was Resident Writer at the Dylan Thomas Boathouse. This project, ‘Poem in October‘, saw a number of different writers running events and engaging with visitors in the beautiful museum and tea rooms. I was the last of these, and my week, which I called ‘Poem ON October’, saw me collating, collecting, and encouraging poems from people visiting the Boathouse who had travelled, in some cases, not just from other towns and cities but from other countries, as well.

I collected over 200 poems on October, autumn, the Boathouse, and the stunning estuary views, and put these together into a grand group poem, which you can read below. I used at least one line or phrase from each poem received – no mean feat!! I managed to include something from every poem, apart from two. This one:

I found a pumpkin

It had a lump in

its mouth. I found it

in a forest,

I named it Boris.

Um… Hard to fit this one in! And another, rhyming poem, which told, in brief, the story of the life of Dylan Thomas. It was too hard to include that, when I had asked everyone else to write about autumn / October / the views! So, sorry if these are your poems. I don’t think Dylan would have minded! The poem below is thematically more sound with these exclusions. And, well, Boris is indeed a pumpkin, but politics are not for this project, really, either…

Many thanks to all who took time to write with me at the Dylan Thomas Boathouse, in any case. It was fun! And I think the end result is very interesting. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Poem On October

by Visitors to the Boathouse, 25th – 30th October 2016

compiled by Mab Jones

 

(i)

October is the time of change.

Autumn has begun.

Autumn it is dawning.

The hillside ripples with Autumn greens.

Leaves as red as fire.

Trees of gold and green.

Low lying light.

The flurry of the Autumn wind.

Apples falling,

falling down,

dancing off the trees,

dancing in the air,

tumble and skitter

in our pathway,

under feet, where

a blanket of leaves

lie. They love tumbling

down, orange

red and brown.

Brown, yellow, green.

Crunching, rustling,

a kaleidoscope of burnished memories

in this breezy, hidden forest where

roots raucously roam.

 

(ii)

There is nothing about the autumn

that I wouldn’t like to repeat next year.

 

A pot of Earl Grey and

Welsh rarebit.

The woodburner’s glow.

Smells from bonfires.

Eating biscuits.

Thick jumpers

and fluffy socks,

the donning of scarves.

Hot chocolate, fireworks,

murmured conversation and

roaming dogs.

Paw prints along the path.

Big castles.

The wind blows in your face.

Cosy in bed.

To walk on the hill’s shoulder.

Still autumn views.

Ride your bike as leaves fall.

We can run in the leaves.

Autumn is the best,

especially in the West.

The month of my birth,

and yours.

 

Bonkers, conkers, muddy shoes

leaving crisp, gentle footprints.

Put some big socks on.

 

Apple and cinnamon,

pumpkin and sage,

the tastes and smells of October,

when the grass is jewelled.

hedgehogs, squirrels

munching on acorns,

conkers, horse chestnuts,

stunning sun rises,

the misty mornings,

smoke curling up the chimney,

swirling sweetness,

October of our lives.

 

(iii)

October winds growing stronger,

October waves growing bolder,

The wind is howling,

an explosion of crows.

Autumn leaves are falling.

October grey sun.

Seeds holding the promise of fruit.

My heart, made of leaves.

 

Birds squealing with delight

at dusk, and at dawn.

Plain at noon.

Sun dazzled beaks.

The seagulls swoop,

the curlews cry.

Lapping water.

Boats splashing on the sea.

Thigh-wadered fisherman.

The glistening river as it flows.

An atmosphere of calm.

Streaks of silvery light.

Lonely boat on sandy bank.

The choppy sea is flowing.

 

Ebb…. and flow.

The clouds roll in.

The sea rolls out.

 

(iv)

Summer’s grave, autumn’s gate.

Halfway back from nowhere.

Wide brooding, dull and greying, skies.

Animals start going into hibernation.

No more heat, no more sun.

A little auk drifting in on the tide,

sloe-black eyes staring blindly.

A scary orange pumpkin

that has no mouth or nose,

a hollow stare,

cackles creepily.

Pumpkins lighting up like torches.

A bird as black as coal, fast as the wind.

The fall of giants.

The skeletons of the trees,

the spider-like branches.

Fingers of mist.

Chilly fingers scaling your face.

Spooky ghosts.

Hijacked / ambushed.

The days go cold.

The trees sway.

Decaying leaves.

Muted shades.

Beaches deserted,

sun retreating.

Winter is knocking

round the corner.

Winter comes soon.

Then it’s snowing.

The day ends quickly,

rattling across the years.

 

(v)

Memories made,

Never to be forgotten.

An October birthday.

The view is beautiful.

Under silk moods.

Whiskey to the heart.

Full of peace, being playful.

We will be fellow adventurers together,

each year will be a new year we’ve grown.

In fondo mi sento fortunato.

Today I take home a

poet’s song.
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The Day I Became a Socialist

This post is inspired by a couple of recent occurrences. Firstly, by the novel Six Pounds Eight Ounces, written by Rhian Elizabeth. In the first chapter, her character Hannah King details her first youthful forays into writing, and the teacher, then, who doesn’t believe the work is really by the girl. Which sounds familiar to many (now-writers) I am sure… Secondly, myself and poet Johnny Giles recently ran our first creative writing group for the really quite brilliant Recovery Cymru at their centre in Cardiff. The topic we wrote about, given by Johnny, was ‘the moment I knew’. While some of those attending chose to write about recovery, others, such as myself, did not. Here is the piece that I actually wrote….

 

I was thirteen years old, and it was prize-giving day. The stained glass windows of my prestigious all girls’ high school made the hall seem greater than it was, at the time. Since then, I have been back, and things inevitably seem less grand, so much smaller, than I had thought. But, at the time, the hall was like a church to me. Paintings of scenes from Shakespeare lined the walls, and the teachers, like a murder of crows in their long black gowns, were perched in rows on the stage ahead of us.

I felt hot and sweaty, my grey uniform itching me. My thighs were stuck together as I sat cross-legged on the floor. But I was excited. I had come top of the year in English Language i.e. creative writing, and top of my class in English Literature. I had achieved an almost impossible 90%. I knew that, this year, I was going to be awarded the prize for English. I was ready to leap up and clamber onto the stage where the crows would welcome me in and my fellow school mates would applaud all my hard work and, it seemed, tiny titch of talent.

We came to the English Prize. Miss Turner explained that the award – a bit of metal glued onto a piece of wood – was for the girl in our year who had made the most progress in English. I knew that this was me. The year previous to this, I had been floundering around, thinking I might be an artist when I grew up, but now I knew I was going to be a writer. And, I was good at it, my exam results and consistent As in my homework proved that. I got ready to jump up, thighs un-sticking with a squelch, toes flexing themselves in readiness.

And then it came:

“Gemma Davies is this year’s winner.”

My heart actually broke inside my chest. I could feel it weeping, a wound; or an internal eye shedding tears. Gemma Davies had NOT got the highest marks this year! I had. But, Gemma Davies had won nearly every other prize… I could hardly believe it. But, in that brief moment I realised that Gemma, lovely Gemma, lovely middle-class Gemma, was the face that fitted this kind of occasion, even though, technically, she wasn’t the one supposed to be up there. I saw her saunter onto the stage to collect her prize. Her long blonde hair flowed gracefully out behind her like a queen’s cloak.

My short, dark, badly-cut bob was never going to win over that. I was chubby, and sweaty, and nervous, and shy. My Cardiff accent still spoked my sentences; my shoes were not as shiny as the other girls’. I knew I couldn’t compete. My heart was melting into pieces inside me. But then an anger burned up from my stomach, and turned those tears into bullets. I wanted to murder that murder of crows. I wanted to drag Gemma Davies by her My Little Pony pony tail and throw her off the stage. I hated that girl, and I hated the teachers, and I hated the world, and it just wasn’t fair.

And that was the moment, age 13, that I knew, that I was never going to fit in with these people. And that was the moment when, in one swift second, I not only saw red but became red, and that chubby teenage me turned into an indignant, sullen, anger-fuelled Socialist.

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