Chartist Mural, John Frost Square, Newport


 (Written before demolition, inspired by memories of taking part in a primary school re-enactment of the Chartist march to Newport)


This tunnel is the way from one place

to another: short-cutting from the station,

you pass these men, flattened by history

to a buskers’ backdrop, marching for centuries

towards a Westgate they will never reach;

and bottom right, these three, forever dying,

are bleeding from their mouths, their hearts, red tiles.


This tunnel is the way from one time

to another: the school-trip boy who stares

for a morning at the unmoving men,

their fault-line features and their jigsaw jaws,

makes sketches in his head he’ll never finish –

king’s men firing the slowest bullets in the world

at those whose screams shatter their faces into pieces.


This tunnel traps the wind, makes catwalk models

of the men chasing Monday morning through it –

bank workers, weekend deserters, with long memories

in their laptops. Now this tramp, his duvet

growing from his chin, wondering how he got here,

wakes face-to-face with a universal manhood suffrage banner.

These bits-and-pieces men look at each other.


Jonathan Edwards


from "My Family and Other Superheroes" (Seren Books 2014)

“a vibrant and unique new voice from Wales”.

Winner of the Costa Poetry Prize 2014

Shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2014.


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