5 poems by Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon


    Ceinwen previously worked a Probation Officer, a Mental Health Social Worker and a Practice Educator in the NHS. 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, Stepaway,Poets Speak (whilst they still can), Three Drops from the Cauldron, Obsessed with Pipework, Picaroon, Amaryllis, Algebra of Owls and Riggwelter. She has recently completed her MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University. She believes everyone’s voice counts and intends to work with hard to reach groups after graduation. She intends to grow old disgracefully.







    I brush the russet leaves to one side

    as the sun follows its lone path,

    a lowering arc, to set in the west

    of the wood-smoked afternoon sky.

    Burnt-off heather moorland and garden bonfires

    cremate my last hopes of your return.


    Winter nights draw in and I nestle

    caped in cold shadows beneath the tangled oak.

    Old flames die and leave an ashy trace

    iced onto my tear stained face,

    my knotted hair, my shaky limbs.

    My grief stinks and will not hibernate.


    Gravely, I brush the dank leaves to one side

    and kneel to claw a hole in the sodden soil.




    A Sea of Sober Days to Drown In



    The open-wide cave gapes,

    swigs sweeping waves

    that froth and roil.


    My own bilious stomach

    scolds for last night’s waste.


    Booze, screen time,

    browsing, nightcaps –

    I should have gone outside

    to stare at stars or surf the ocean

    with my tired eyes.



    Roused at dawn

    by the screeching cries

    of careless kittiwakes,

    my head split apart

    and I traipsed to the beach

    to gulp fresh air.



    Here outdoors

    the April sunshine stutters

    and lisps jaundiced light

    across the grey churning sea

    as breakers pound my head.


    I hear the dire warnings

    spat out from the depth of the cave

    and face the need for change:

    a sea of sober days to drown in.




    After Playing with Fire




    our house remained stripped bare

    of the warm comforts of home.

    Chilly gusts swirled

    in each fresh-painted room,

    decorated with needlepoint precision.

    No expense was spared and I paid.


    A smoke haze lingered after the fire.

    I smelt of ash and soot inked my pores.

    I scrubbed my grubby skin sore,

    to no avail. My sins remained writ large,

    she craved, she erred, she strayed.



    Refurbished, refurnished

    and redressed by Lenten fasts,

    all to no avail, I give up


    and deep in Kielder Forest,

    as the clear May night chills me,

    I lie down to say goodbye,

    to freeze and die.


    At daybreak, I am woken by starlings,

    plagued by pins-and-needles,

    surprised to feel and yawn,

    to stretch and ache.


    And there you stand      so gentle,

    and in your hand a flask of steaming tea,

    ‘Get up, my love,’ you say.

    ‘And drink with me, for grass-frost does not kill.




    Seeing Things


    My glass of wine slops.

    The tremor in my hand

    isn’t visible   in the dark

    as jumpy nerves spark

    down the length of my arm.


    All this, from seeing a man.

    A man who isn’t you,

    who doesn’t really look like you

    except for the curve of his cheek


    and that springs me right back

    to our last night, long ago,

    when we argued.


    I mop my skirt, embarrassed

    by my hot, wet eyes and red cheeks.

    Declarations, false as it happens,

    that here is an old woman, drunk.

    Later, I may be pissed, but not yet,

    no not yet.


    The stranger leaves the pub.

    I push my glass across the bar

    towards the landlady,

    ‘A large Chardonnay,’ I say.

    ‘Are you sure?’ she grins.

    ‘I think you’ve had enough already.’


    I cringe and scuttle out.

    Hurt by guilt and shame,

    when wrongly accused,

    for once, of my habitual sin.




    I Try Not to Notice


    As he stares at the VDU

    or a cat chasing sparrows

    he squints and wrinkles up his nose,

    to keep his glasses in place.


    He strokes his long, dark eyelashes

    with the length of his index finger

    to soothe amorphous anxieties.

    Clusters of fear he can’t quite smother.


    He taps the keyboard in staccato beats,

    the drum of another rant on Facebook,

    then stuffs cold toast and marmalade

    into his cross mouth. Spent,

    he wipes buttery fingers

    on the knees of his clean jeans.


    This man needs love

    yet his shoulders droop

    almost imperceptibly

    when I ask him to play Scrabble.

    He doesn’t know connecting words


    He talks in fearful, bullish tones,

    determined to override interruptions,

    evidence of disrespect.


    His script, with me, well learnt

    is always ‘Just a minute,’

    whatever I ask/show/say.

    He will not take my gift of words

    in our shared moments

    and honour me or them

    with time or attention.

    Maybe later, when he is ready.

    and I have left the room


    As I turn away, he hurts like hell,

    grins baby-words in a parody of sweetness.






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