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.
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.