Michael Witts: Three Poems

RETURN TO CAERYDD
After Dannie Abse

that miscellany of lost things
a pint of Brains at Cardiff Arms Park
donkey rides at Porthcawl
tickets to the eisteddfod
Sully TB hospital Penarth
the lonely gum in Roath Park
planted in our dad’s memory
without approval

the pull to return
banished with the 50 foot tides
by the Cardiff Bay barrage
the stink of mud flats
speckled with boats
no more now the harbour’s neutered
gone with GKN’s steelworks at East Moors
along with most of the jobs in town
our dad’s first job post war

Sunday drives in the Vauxhall
windows fogged
the stench of the works and the docks
by Tiger Bay
that old family game who farted
now glass and shiny surfaces
flash boats moored in the bathtub
travellers moved on from their wasteland

all gone until the satellite map
closes on our Llanrumny street unvisited
and then the fence I remember running past
blurred as on my first day at school

** **

STOPPING AT ADLESTROP

I could (I suppose) have been there
but unlikely the station was demolished
in 1966 comprehensively and insensitively
intones a history written by train buffs

I have visited the area many times
on my first the ground crunched
under my step in winter
through the fence across the hoar
on the way to a country pub for lunch

I read those Dannie Abse poems readily available
casually passing through a familiar landscape
then later in the novel I was re-reading *
a character takes his lover in hand
to that poem where nothing happens Adlestrop
I think he’s got his Welsh poets mixed
not Edward Thomas but Abse
Not Adlestrop as I remember

then I see the linkage expressed
but not acknowledged and it all becomes clear
speeding down the Cotswold Line
from Oxfordshire to Gloucestershire

*Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

** **

ALPHABET SOUP

staccato conversation on
our walk to preschool

first observe the dead rat
laid out in the gutter
long tail ribbed like worm skin

next pass the bat
pinned to the ground
by gravity’s inevitability

then the carcass of a cat
and the howl of a man crumpled in the gutter
his lover hovering unable to cross grief’s divide

return to the rattatattat of our conversation
rat bat cat rat cat bat

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Michael Witts was born in Wales and now lives in Sydney. He has been publishing poetry since the early 1970s. He was a founding editor of DODO magazine and the Fling poetry series. His three volumes of poetry are Sirens, South and Dumb Music. His poetry can be accessed through michaelwitts.com

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