Friday, 21 September 2018

Memorial stones

Soon we will be doing that annual remembrance day thing... laying poppies and thinking of those who lost their lives in war. This year, 100 years since the end of World War One, I guess the dead of that war will be especially commemorated.
I wrote this poem after a recent walk with a local writing group around St Dogmaels, a lovely riverside village not far from where I live. I was struck by the stones around the village, on the banks of the river, at the mill, in the graveyard, and the Abbey ruins -- all of them part of the lives of all who live, or have ever lived there. For me, these stones that we live with daily are as much a part of remembrance as the village war memorial.
All the names in the poem are recorded on that memorial for the years 1914-1918.

Memorial stones

Did they play together as boys,
diving and dipping in fantasy  battles
among headstones in the churchyard,
sniping with make-believe rifles.
Bang bang. Who died first?
Craig, Davies, Dunstan or Evans

Did they spin flat pebbles over rippling water
there by the Degwel stream
where the Teifi bends wide towards the sea.
Who scored most hits?
Gibbons, Green, Griffiths, Harper

Did they race along muddy banks,
boots sucked into silt
(who got stuck, who pulled him out?)
Isaac, James, Jenkins, John

At the Blessing Stone did they stand atop
to play the shouting game,
hear the magic echo come straight back
across brown water. Whose cry was loudest?
Jones, Ladd, Lloyd, McFadden

Did they help each other clamber over
crumbling Abbey walls
to play their throwing games,
chucking  ancient rocks to the ground.
Who hit most targets?
Morris, Owen, Niles, Phillips

Did they shoot pebbles from catapults
at rats running for the drains.
Who bagged most tails?
Pope, Protheroe, Rees, Richards

As they leant against the old millstones
in the setting sun
feeling the furrows and lands
rough against their palms,
their too-soft hands,
did they idly wonder about war,
predict possible postings.
Roberts, Thomas, Williams

Did they walk with their girls
on their last nights at home,
hide behind ruined walls,
make heartfelt  trysts,
promises of sweet futures

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

I am made of stone/I am water

The poem below is the result of an exercise rather boldly called 'coupling' in poetry workshopping circles!
I have taken a poem, which is one of my favourites written by my Rockhopper poetry performance colleague Mel Perry, and I have used it to create a new piece of work.
Mel's poem 'I am made of stone', which appears in her collection Rum Dark Nights, always makes the hairs on my neck stand to attention when I read it, especially so when I read it aloud.
When The Poetry School suggested 'coupling' as an exercise as part of this year's Write a Poem a Day for a Month project,  #NaPoWriMo, I chose 'I am Made of Stone' as my starting point.
You take a favourite piece of work -- poetry or prose -- and intertwine it with new lines of your own to make a new poem.
More info about this technique can be found in
 the links below.
Here's the result of that first experiment:

I am made of stone/I am water

A coupling after ‘I am made of stone’, by Mel Perry (from Rum Dark Nights)

I am made of stone.
                I am water.
Blue dolerite with feldspar
                aquamarine with hammered pewter
shards from Pembrokeshire hills,
                rushing from Plynlimon
indigo slate from Conwy quarries,
                streaming shingle in Cilgerran gorge
black anthracite, hand-hewn.
                coursing over granite in Cwm Gwesyn

I am made of stone.
                I am water.
Burren limestone, its grikes
                holding drops of rain
harbouring jewel plants,
                magnified in pools
letting water seep, cry
                weeping from the inner core
tears through fissures
                squeezing through fractures
that drip, drip, stalactiting
                forming bead by bead
down, catching minerals
                in moisture of air
like letters, that flavour
                fluid carvings
words on the page
                reflected on rock
colour poems in the dark.

                I am water.
I am made of stone.
                flowing, fluent
Not to be rolled, not cold
                not to be impeded
part of the Fennoscandian shield
                perpetual, unbroken
crystalline, metamorphosed.
©Mel Perry and Jackie Biggs 2018

Rum Dark Nights, by Mel Perry, is published by Three Throated Press:
The original prompt for this piece of work came from the Poetry School’s 2018 #NaPoWriMo prompts:
... which referenced this helpful article:

 Photos: ©JackieBiggs2018

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Gone swimmin'

Penbryn beach
 Another look at my relationship with water.

How she calls

She thirsts for me
and she calls,

whispers my name -
                come dance,

sometimes loud -
                come dive,

sometimes soft -
                come breathe.

Lapping with little slappings
to suggest, persuade,

she draws the undertow
so I feel the overthrow

arriving and departing
leaving and returning,

spreading her susurration
far away and close by

turn by turn
tide by tide

surge and suck,
pull in, come swim,

                dance in me,
so calls mother sea.

This poem was first published (Oct 2017) here: