New Poetry, Fiction, Essays

5 poems by Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon

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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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