Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon has worked as a Probation Officer, a Mental HealthSocial Worker and Practice Educator. She lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been published on web magazines and in print anthologies. These include Fiction on the Web, Literally Stories, Alliterati, Stepaway, Poets Speak (whilst they still can), Three Drops from the Cauldron, Obsessed with Pipework, Picaroon, Amaryllis, Algebra of Owls, Write to be Counted, The Lake and Riggwelter . She completed her MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University in August 2107 and graduated in December 2017.
The Cabinet Maker
He works in his cellar under bright, bare bulbs,
deadlock dropped against disturbance.
His sun starved skin is shrink-wrapped
tight around his bony frame and his red
narrowed eyes focus on fine, forensic
details set to mark each cut and corner.
The air, mugged by paint and varnish
and worst of all by toxic glue, is lethal.
Some days, his throat, his lungs
are throttled in his scrawny chest.
Inflamed tissue workshops his breath
into closed drawers. And still he labours on.
Settling, when he has a choice, on painting
natural greens of grass and leaves and trees
upon his handiwork. The lovely outdoor
world he’s left behind in order to create.
He walks with a lop-sided gait
in his green Wellington boots,
seems as if he’s heading out
someplace. I wonder if he really is?
His checked shirts, black and red
or blue and green, flap open
in all weathers, to reveal
tee-shirts underneath, stark black.
His worn jeans are grubby
in a general sort of way, hems frayed.
His face creases in the headwind,
his ruddy cheeks could tell
of life outdoors or taste for drink.
Or both? His wavy, wiry hair,
thatched straw sheened dirty grey,
brushes bushy eyebrows tinged
dull red. Maybe he is very sad,
or totally content? More so than me?
His eyes, hazel flecked with brown,
shrunk from mine when once
I passed close by, smelt stale fags
and saw stained, encrusted fingers
curl from weather-beaten hands.
The single thing, I know for sure
about this man: he walks for miles and miles.
And one more thing to understand,
I’ve seen this man before, in Birmingham,
Worcester, Edinburgh. In every place
I’ve ever laid my head to dream.
Hong Kong, Day of the Dead
Breezes swathe my father’s tomb,
drape soft wraiths around my shoulders.
Sudden gusts finger-pluck my grief.
Hydraulic drills shuttle from the highway
ripping open clouds of birdsong.
I gag as children’s rhymes choke,
stick in my narrow, wrinkled throat.
I hear his voice
shush, hush, shush, hush
sing lullabies to ease the coming night.
We brush brisk sweeps
throw crackling leaves on spitting fires
that hiss and cast shadows.
My sobs echo other mourners’ sighs
our voices magnet-joined, ripple up
to rattle glass eyed high-rise windows
in the haunted sky.
I Cannot Stay You
After Pablo Neruda: Love Song XIV v 4
slips up through your hands,
leaps along your limbs.
I would not make you still.
Your love blesses
my bold body, rose petals
scent your bed, free sprite.
Your coming flare casts light
on time, before my time.
Gales gust storms, dusky
cries echo around the seething
cauldron skies. Sobs
pour down with rain.
Sky’s veil torn,
her cloud-breasts bare,
leak milk and tears.
Birds flock, dim gloaming air
to jet. Waves swell and break,
and I fall.
No man has bettered me,
as your spells do, my love.
I am vanquished. Unanchored
I cannot stay you.
You stand yet, undiminished
by the tempest or by me.
No-one flushes secrets
from your cloud-scudded eyes.
Squalls passed, at peace,
my lulled senses seek honey-suckle.
Scenting aromas, I nurse at your
sweet lactating breasts.
I kill the urge to bite deep,
to draw scarlet blood.
I wince at my cruelty.
Why do you remain,
ache my brain and brush aside
my spent manhood? Constant
in the dawn, you gaze towards
deathless star-led light and
let my love lyrics make lust and
sanctify your silk soft skin.
Goddess, I surrender, bring
gifts and kisses to your feet.
Cherry ripe, cherry ripe,
burst. I’ll sink my teeth,
squirt juice before the maggots come.
Pablo Neruda: Love Song XIV
Every day you play with the light of the universe.
Subtle visitor, you arrive in the flower and the water.
You are more that this white head that I hold tightly
as a cluster of fruit, every day, between my hands.
You are like nobody since I love you.
Let me spread you out among the yellow garlands.
Who writes your name in letters of smoke among the stars of the south?
Oh let me remember you as you were before you existed.
Suddenly the wind howls and bangs my shut window.
The sky is a net crammed with shadowy fish.
Here all the winds will let go sooner or later, all of them.
The rain takes off her clothes.
The birds go by, fleeing.
The wind. The wind.
I can contend only against the power of men.
The storm whirls dark leaves
and turns loose all the boats that were moored last night to the sky.
You are here. Oh you do not run away.
You will answer me to the last cry.
Cling to me as though you were frightened.
Even so, at one time a strange shadow ran through your eyes.
Now, now too, little one, you bring me honeysuckle,
and even your breasts smell of it.
While the sad wind goes slaughtering butterflies
I love you, and my happiness bites the plum of your mouth.
How you must have suffered against getting accustomed to me,
my savage, solitary soul, my name that sends them all running.
So many times have we seen the morning star burn, kissing our eyes,
and over our heads the grey light unwind in turning fans.
My words rained over you, stroking you.
A long time I have loved the sunned mother-of-pearl of your body.
I go so far as to think you own the universe.
I will bring you happy flowers from the mountains, bluebells,
dark hazels, and rustic baskets of kisses.
to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.