If we were rich

If we were rich, would we still have a table like this?
A table covered in the most recently used bits of shit?
Like scissors and glasses and ashtrays and tips.
Like candles and radios and needles and sticks.

There’s last Thursday’s mailshots and yesterday’s news.
There’s this week’s TV guide and half a pair of shoes.
A table that’s creaking and sagging with clues.
Yes, we’d still have a table like this – it’s the truth.

(This is a poem I just found lurking deep in the entrails of a hard disk – I don’t think it’s been published anywhere (but I may be wrong) – so here it is)

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Autumn’s breath

Hello autumn.
It’s good to see you again. 
We missed your damp blowing.
We need: your field-wide energy;
to breathe your lullaby,
before winter drops
its dark drape
and wraps us safe,
it’s spring.

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Waiting Haiku

Sitting outside the New Conway, a pub in a leafy street in Cardiff, on a Saturday night at the beginning of September, sipping a pint of cider while waiting for some friends to turn up.

I had a blank piece of A4 paper and a pen in my pocket. I’d folded the paper before leaving home; it was meant as a stand-in notebook, since I couldn’t find one with any empty pages.

haiku-paperI decided to write some haikus to pass the time. The paper had been folded three times giving eight rectangles of pure white space on each side – each rectangle the perfect size to accommodate a handwritten haiku. I thought, if, by the time I’d written sixteen haikus, our friends hadn’t turned up, we’d go home,

I managed to write six – here they are, straight from the paper – unedited. Turns out they are a bit of a haiku sequence.

haikus, things to do
when you're bored outside a pub
and friends don't turn up
autumn is delayed
by a burst of summer sun
birds take advantage
near summer's end
yellowing leaves start their trip
to the brown gutter
like a dance they swirl
on the pavements, in the road
then they separate
noisy crows in trees
saying goodbye to the sun
when it's gone, they stop
on the bark of trees
forests of green moss congeal
it's complicated

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This is a poem I wrote about 15 years ago. It is a formal sonnet. As far as I remember I spent a lot of time composing this, unlike most of the poetry I write, where I tend to be a bit sloppy and go with what is virtually the first draft.

Every punctuation mark, every syllable, every word, every sentence, every verse, the relationships between each line with every other line, and with its own beginning and ending, as well as all the bits in between, were crafted meticulously.

It’s about – well, everything really, but if I had to narrow it down, it’s about apples.



Wooden seed contains the tree of life’s
Essential fruit ensuring certain death.
The bite that unsheathed time’s sharp-bladed knife,
Cut off humanity, left us bereft.

To Cox’s, Braeburns, Bramley apple pies,
Genuflecting to scientists’ whims
Alar, phosphates and insect-killing sighs,
Genetic changes, false gods, crazy things.

The end of all we know’s in sight again,
Where, when and then and now and all is past,
When love and death and life come to an end.
There you and I will be as one at last.

– But while we strive to bear the stench of bliss,
– My breath is coruscated by your kiss.


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Where is your song?

An audio recording made 3 years ago of a poem I wrote 15 years ago, there’s a transcript below the picture that was taken 1 year ago. The picture is of a man-made meadow near Llandaff Fields in Pontcanna and it’s just there because people apparently like pictures to illustrate mere words.

I wrote the poem in the canteen/refectory at Trinity College, Carmarthen after arriving early for a session of the MA Creative Writing course I was studying at the time.

I had driven through the wonderful Carmarthenshire countryside with its green green grass and rolling hills and become pissed off at how the beautiful and mystical nature of Wales and its inhabitants have come to be defined by stereotypes involving sheep farming, rugby, chapel and industrial abuse.



Where is Your Song?
What is there to sing about
in the dirty valleys of Wales?
The land of my fathers’ follies,
the land of Mam’s poison cake.
Where sheep flood the green hills
like maggots, munching
to certain slaughter,
and pass their moronic character
to the people, through their plates.
The rivers run cold and collect
the toxic discharge that the Lords left.
The stone-walled slate-roofed mausoleums
of mediocrity, house the bigots
and the hypocrites of fear.
Why allow these demons
to inhabit our beautiful land?
Where is the sleeping Prince
who promised to return?
Wales is not a place of blood and tears.
Wales is not a deposit of dirty rain.
The evil of our history has skewered
our hearts to a red jersey,
the only paltry pride we have left.
Oh Wales, where is your song of joy?

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Three short poems about animals

Black_catBlack Cat
I saw him chew a frog with glee
his yellow eyes assessing me
I saw him die, his kidneys gone
An obligate carnivore done.


Until it falls, burnt out and dead,
it must persist to weave its thread
It’s flimsy body seeks the light,
that’s always somewhere in the night


Little_dogLittle Dog
Behind those eyes a simple soul
Obliged to eat and piss and growl
It needed recognition too
To leave its mark on every shoe.

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Glastonbury 1998

It was 1998, 27 years after my only other visit to the Glastonbury Festival. I’d always wanted to go back to see if it was the magical mystical place that had stayed with me and influenced my life so much.
(There is an account of my experiences at Glastonbury 1971 – here)
I wrote this poem the night before I went back with my family in 1998.

Continue reading

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About the Journey

It’s not finished yet, this journey
that began when the first eyes
opened, to a universe unknown.
When the composition
was a mystery.
When colours melded
into one space-less blur.
Before the images resolved,
and a birth shook the world.

Continue reading

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Passing a Day

I’m a little monnn-key
sitting on a biig-tree

This is what I see
This is what I see Continue reading

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Go on – Try it

Go on – Try it.
A dog
a large brown dog
a large brown dog on a lead
going nowhere
but it doesn’t care
try putting a wolf on a lead
and taking it nowhere
go on
try it. Continue reading

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Old Poems 2

The second instalment from the old poems book dated 1970/1971

Click here for the first instalment

Feeling very good and
knowing what we all should
I smile

Looking all around and listening
to the best sounds
I laugh Continue reading

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Old Poems 1

These poems were typed in from an old book dated 1970 – 71 on December 26, 1993 and re-edited a little bit for blatant typos only during June 2014. They are still a bit raw but I’ve kept them like this because it’s a link back to when I was a teenager and it would be a bit of an imposition to edit them from the perspective of a 62 year old man.

Notes: I used the pen name Del Brennan at that time. From Del – a shortened form of Derek and Brennan – my mother’s maiden name. Continue reading

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Finding a Voice

From The Words in Me

Finding a Voice.

They say find your voice,

these esteemed poets.

So I tried.

I looked on top of the linepost

and there it was,

so I thought.

I crawled under the shed

and the worms cried

so I heard.

I wandered into the kitchen,

turned the tap on,

so I drank.

I looked in the attic, the bedroom, the garden

and the outside loo.

I looked in my shoe.

Then I looked in the mirror

and opened my mouth,

and there it was,

I’d swallowed it.

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Tossers is a surreal pointless play first presented by Michael Kelligan as part of the On the Edge series of script held performances at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff. The play includes three poems one of which is included in the extract below. Continue reading

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there’s a fire on the hilltop

fire on hillThere’s a fire on the hilltop
There’s a fire in my heart
And it’s always been there
Since the very start

There go by the engines
The engines there go by
But they can’t put mine out
So they needn’t try

There they go again now
Racing from the hill
They’ve put out that fire
But mine is burning still

The memory was sparked off by the smell of a grass fire alongside the motorway. I saw the smoke first, smudging the spring-blue sky above the road ahead, I thought it might be mist or fog, but it was too dry and too late in the day for that. Then the sweet-acrid smell of a grass fire seeped into the car through the sun-roof – tilted open to compensate for the non-functioning electric windows. I love the car, it’s an environmental baddie, an old Rover Vitesse Turbo; it drives like a confident oil-baron and swallows a hundred miles of motorway without taking a breath, but it’s done nearly 200,000 miles and it’s disintegrating. Continue reading

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Desk Calendar

There’s a calendar on the desk in this office. One of those ones that show just one day. You’re supposed to rip a page off every day – and display it in a position that can be viewed from all angles. Just in case you forget what day it is. But this one shows yesterday’s day and date which happens to be APRIL 7 WEDNESDAY.  Now there’s a thing it doesn’t show the year. What the fuck year is it?

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Should One Worm?

Should one worm,

stop me eating peaches,

for the rest of my life?

It all started years ago

There is a picture

of me

There is me

and my family

on a summer

The peach was lush

Continue reading

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Everyone should have a cat,
if not their own a borrowed one.
The cat will sit and clean its fur,
wiggle its claws inside its ear,
stare at you from time to time,
sneer at your silly rhyme.

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Different Directions

The days are different. Each day is different than any other day that has gone before – significantly different. Certain things are the same on many days but even those things are different when you zoom in on them. What does this mean? OK – elaborate. You can go into your (or any other) garden, or a park or a field, or I suppose, go and look at a roadside hedge. Choose a leaf. Study it. Go back the next day, at the same time if you like, and it will be different. It will have grown, or decomposed, or become wetter, or drier, or droopier, or perkier – and that’s just one leaf – even a rock – even a diamond will be different from one moment to the next. Some things will require a higher zoom, some things will be obvious, some things will cease to exist between one day and the next, and some things will come into existence. What does that mean? Time is the path through the tangled mess that is the universe – inner and outer (what a fucking cliché – sorry). Life is awareness, life is best when it is simply lived. Age comes to us, we move towards it – we are actually time travellers – we think we can only go in one direction – forward – but how do we know that? Answer – because we remember what has happened before and we can’t see what will happen in the future. But maybe that’s only because of the direction we’re looking in.

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Rolling around – being blown – blowing – blown. I am blown through the universe – buffering – buffeting, being buffeted, blown and buffeted – through a universe of song and colour – everything – all of it, a glimpse, a snap, a snip a flash of breath, a spark, a one of them, too many clichés and the meaning is lost – too many words the same – There is, this is – a Time Space cubicle – it is in this cubicle and in the cube or is it a sphere – a ball, a world – a planet, and there under a blade of grass a chiv of life, light, feeling, and the light, the light the right, it’s all there here round and down and up and spherically shaped – – – – – – there is nothing to wait for to look for to hope for – it is here – now – the time space bubble bauble – inside and everywhere and then and now and then of course it is of course and you know it – you have to – no – should – should will – in the end discover – unearth find it always gleaming dreaming and worlds and planets and galaxies and universes and inside, deep inside – the light – the truth + time to learn and time to be and it is a start to finish / in between. So there so there it is it is there – Look.

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