I’m Here! CillRialaig Artists Retreat

And this is my fabulous view!

It’s incredibly remote, wild, wet and windy. But I am cosy in my cottage studio with a roaring fire in the stove and mugs of tea constantly on the go.

There are lovely friendly artists staying in the other cottages, so far I’ve made two new friends.

I will post some images of work in progress once I get properly started. Lots of painting ideas and maybe a few poems to write too.

Old Goose

So excited to be heading down to CillRialaig (County Kerry retreat centre) again tomorrow! A long train journey, and an overnight in Killarney on the way

Old Goose

Standing at the open window

Of the train rushing through new terrain

Listening to the rhythmic pounding

Of the wheels on the shiny rails

~

Yes, I will, I do, I can

I see, I make, with love

Yes, I choose, I go, I try

To fly. I make a leap

~

Choosing the forward momentum

Denying the steel bars

In that cold and hungry

Prison cell of fear

~

No, to halting fearful saying

You’ve had your fill. It’s too late

No, to thinking it can’t work out

You’re too old, just be still

~

Even the old goose still makes

The journey South

She doesn’t wait

To grace your Christmas plate

~~~

St Stephen’s Day

Watching the sky from our ‘sun room’ where we overwinter our geraniums. Nursing a sore back.

sudden gusts

of black dust

motes of

starlings

or small

songbirds

burst forth

from spidery

sycamore skeletons

waving bony

branch fingers

across the

gentle soft

grey sky

with luminous

liminal spaces

watched from

inside a

hazy cloud

of codeine

and caffeine

by bright globes

of whitest

geraniums

startling

against

these winter

hibernating

greens

Perpendicular

These are ‘breastworks’ (uprights along the sea wall) and ‘groynes’ (at right angles )

This is a a new (first draft) poem:

‘Perpendicular ‘

For forty years the sea defences have protected

the front. At Borth and Ynyslas.

The old familiar way was shoring up

with strong timber upright breastworks

and jutting joists and great beamed groynes.

Bleached now by summer’s gold.

Old oak silvered and smoothed to salty sinews

Gravel and grit erosion pebble dashing

the frontages. Wrack draped and clasped

in rust. Scarred and scarified

by four decades force. Bearing up

against lifelong accretion. Pileup

of crashing drift and tide.

Perpendicular props. Familial forces

trying vainly to combine their strength

against dying under life’s attack.

Cold stone proposed along this ancient front

now sinking against an unquiet sea.

Forces of opposition with steely knives

and cranes and engineering.

Of a concrete will. Defying the tide like Canute.

Tempting Fate. Or perhaps too late

On my way again

On the train from Abergavenny to Machynlleth

writing on the train

Two more poems, ‘Buddleia’ from another train journey

And ‘Pwll y wrach’ ( which means ‘witch’s pool)

View from the train, no Buddleia here

Buddleia

bursting out bravely from crevices and chimney pots
round the rough edges of abandoned plots
of land behind razor wire and barbed wire
on bomb sites

round broken concrete bunkers and crumbling
wartime airstrips, army camps and waste dumps
sooty spaces and looted places

into all these the grey green leaves reach their arms
of new growth and so the buddleia bush embraces
debris and decay and deathly ancient traces

and stretches up her waving arms towards the blue blue sky
and without help or nurture or encouragement
attracts with her nectar the humble hope filled butterfly

Pwll y Wrach

Cover image by Marc Jennings

‘pwll y wrach’

I read it in my book just now
‘Witch’s pool’
How evocative
Did she drown?
Herself
Or her cat
Perhaps
Or did she use
The glassy surface
To reflect
Her face
Or read her future
Or just wash her tired feet

I wrote this short piece when I read the place name ‘Pwll y wrach’ in Richard Gwyn’s marvelous book, ‘The Blue Tent’

(Cover image by Marc Jennings above)

The book is published by Parthian Books