Poetry Blog by Chris Armstrong

Danse Macabre

Too much was lost in silence

too long the time that winds

between our words of love and passion

with communion only in our minds


Too much assumed in union

of our two souls' mute desires

but I did not see her inmost needs

or hear how quietly pain suspires


I should have peeped inside

while she nightly dreamed in peace

to glimpse her mind's apparel

as it dan...

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Winter from a Window

The empty stems of the fennel

Under umbrella heads of raindrops

Are perches for the waiting birds


The grey green sage leaves

Glow crystal white in the frost


Moss grows where the branch

Leaves the trunk of the bonsai

Its ruddy leaves falling


Amongst the yellowing leaves

A single crimson rose bud perishes


Yellow leaves have fallen from the dogwood


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Parallel Echoes of Love

In the long small hours of dark                 Through the later time of darkness

I pause and gaze out at the stars              As we lay entwined beneath the moon


Somehow the frosted ground                    The nightly scene now sacred

Sharpens the air and the starlight             Welcomes the soft moonglow


Which lights my very soul:                        Entering both...

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Am I to speak for your past?

                May I?

                Should I intrude?

For I am the spectre of your years: I was there beside you

In your cot and at your play


I am all that is left

                I am the breath of your childhood

                I am the oxygen of your life

                There is no limit to my presence in your life


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ancestorsgenetic memorymemoryrace memoryspectrewisdom

Three Haiku

Where sea and sky meet

                a green flash from the set sun

Lighting distant shores



In Spring my compass

                navigated the world round

Now Autumn tides ebb



In the Winter storms

                my old life invades the new

Waves crash past the strand

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entry picture

They come together

                in this place outside

yet at the centre of our world.

We have asked of them

                our destiny

Have demanded nothing of them

                except our future.

Who are these gods in whom we place our trust?

Who are these gods that we have selected?

                These are the senate that we once elected:

The senators that ...

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Zen Reflexions

To discern

                our place

To commune

To see

                beyond our close shadow of death

To focus

                my poet mind

I need direction

                a qibla

Or some beads to tell

                to take refuge from my life:

A candle flame

Only the candle



A journey into quietude



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Above the Valley

As we pass through this Autumn realm,

See the valley bound wraiths of mist

Withdrawing like a tide from the willow

Islands of the marshland

With their starkly black boughed trees

Damply dripping with the mist's remains,

Chill air swirls in the rising breeze, and

Black starlings line the wires beyond a barn

But the red kite in his higher flight

Is lost to sight


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AutumnCaradogCeredigionffriddhillshillsidekitesmountainsred kitesuplandsWaleswalking

The Traveller

Alf Smith was his name, though, we should remember him

As more than the labourer on a small Welsh farm

Who milked the cows and tended every farmer whim;

Twice daily fitting clusters onto teats and pouring milk to churns,

Taken for collection to stand beside the lane between the ferns.

Twice daily, too, he cleaned the shed with hose and broom

And waited to hear what chores would f...

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FarmLabourerlifelife storyTravellerWales

The messages

What words have passed

What said

What read

What meaning cast?


What recall flows

What thought

What tort

What grievance shows?


What edge is crossed

What line

What sign

What friendship lost?


What nightmare grown

What meme

What seam

What darkness sown?


What text is read

What hyped

What typed

What despair fed?


What lov...

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Earth Treasure

What is that glint

                as the sod breaks and crumbles:

a sparkling hint

                of discovery

                as I dig the dusty summer soil?

This old garden has gained lost treasures

                of man, woman and child for centuries -

                What lies uncovered?


Teased from the clod

                I find a tiny glass heart and this ...

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And then, suddenly, it was calm - the morning wind which threw

rain hard against the window panes and sent beech leaves rushing

across the grass to pile gold-brown against all that the borders grew,

all slowly dulling their greens to wet, muted browns, brushing

the soil as their leaves curl and droop - vibrant Spring-strength gone,

fading sadly.

                         The wind ...

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MAN:          In so short a time

I saw a future



From the formless waters


From the darkness

The way begins

All words are water



GAIA:             From my innermost being

       I gave abundance!

My words flow from the mountain top

My words give succour to the land

My words are the waters of the sea


PRIEST:          The ...

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I,  Ffynnon Drewi of Mynydd Bach

From the mountain

I pour forth

I give you my waters

                to drink

                and the many words

                                of my waters

                                to hear.


My waters have seen

the gathering

on the hill

above the lake

My waters have heard

the prayers

on the grass bank

My waters have known

the worship

in t...

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blessingCeredigionffynnonhillsMynydd Bachspring watersspringsWaleswaterswells

No one hears

Though they are mine

I have no wisdom

Though they know me

They are deaf


                In their mind

I am a man apart

I am all that is left

I am the helix of their birth and death and being

                Knowing one, I know all

I am a voice

I seek nothing I seek peace

I hear all and I reflect

I see words and I grieve

I sense pain and I weep

I feel ...

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            no man should know

            or say


            no child should hear:

            parent, pray

            to be spared.

as he sat with his sons at home

and struggled to find


he knew

            she will never return to us

he knew

            she is too ill


In a time when she was strong

for them

as her body weake...

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     he met a force


            it held him



... and wonder drained the world of substance

            re-arranged the pages of his book to give more radiant a reading.


The light of new possibilities

pressed down on time.

The girl sang to him "You can hear the boats go by". He


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AutobiographyCeredigioncommitmentfamilyfarmjoylifelong poemslovemarriagememoriesmythologynavigationoceansseatravelWales

Cottage Garden

Much more than half my life ago

Some chance led us to this place;

Now, my heart is caught and held

By the peace of its earth and space.


Some while past, when first she left me

I could not make my soul adjust

But cached it safe within the plot

Beside her memory and her mortal dust.


And as the family aged and spread

My lonely tenancy grew content

Past spectres...

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And then


            at my source

I was lost to your ocean.


Flowing... your endless bounty stole my direction

            your depths embraced

            your corals welcomed my load

I drowned in your currents.


My hands caressed

your waves

My body plumbed

your deepest sounds

Your pools



Your tides were constant

            I sw...

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Restless: my body is your ocean; my limbs the currents of the sea

You float on my waves - sink only a little

I hold your sacred vessel safe - we become one:

A perfect balance of forces

Your body runs its course through my being

I feel you cleave my waves

I know you as we sink

Black waters closing

And I know you as we rise

I hold you to float above the tide as we burst th...

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Ah! I loved you!


Lost to your soul,

            I bared my heart


Within your mind

            I held my heart...


            as if all hearts sang with mine

                        as if all lips knew


I felt your blood pulse

            and heat my soul

            as your hair scourged my body


                        (Ah! I loved your hair!)


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bodydesirelovelove poemobsessionpassionromanceworship

Beyond Death

I find that I must live in a world

Where, between that desperate dusk and a new dawn,

And between many a dawn and its dusk,

The only reality lies in love.


To be in love in that first dawn

And in the dusk, was to feel the sun

Warm our very passion every minute of every hour,

Reality lay only in the other.

And beyond that dreadful dusk, nothing

but dawns and dusk and ...

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Time stretched as she faded;

Lengthened, folded in on time

Extended, never ended.


Eternity must have seemed

An earthly hell

Peopled intermittently by friends:

A nightmare dream of pain and daemons


What superhuman will

Kept her through those summer months

What need, desire or wish

Held death's sad end at bay?


In the end, fading faded

Light left, sy...

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Wilderness 2001, 2021

You see

            a land wraithed in smoke and the stink of death

You feel

            man's determination dulled by desperation and

            the hollow, guilty hope that the creeping fate might end

            at a neighbour's door.

You cannot farm in the present

At least not in Wales.

The hills were silent memorials to herds brought low,

Uncropped: a tragedy of gr...

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BrexitCattleCymruEUEuropeFarmingfoot-and-mouthHill farminghillsLandSheepWales

The Consultant (Revelation, first draft)

First, the over-quiet room where we sat together

Waiting, quiet as all the others – waiting

Until she left me for the first time…

Then I was called


As he spoke the shock hit, solid as a punch;

Left me breathless, faint, unmanned;

So obviously lost that chair and water came

And briefly the patient was I – not her.


Then my mind began to grasp the truth it had shunne...

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The shock was solid as a punch

That left me breathless, faint, unmanned;

So obviously lost that chair and water came

And it was I – so very briefly – nursed

Until my mind began to grasp the truth it had shunned.


How could I not have guessed or known

The woe, the pain, the destruction?

After all these many years, my failure to feel –

My hiding from the very possibility ...

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I find that I must live in a world

Where, between that desperate dusk and a new dawn,

And between many a dawn and its dusk,

The only reality lies in love.


To be in love in that first dawn

And in the dusk, was to feel the sun

Warm our very passion every minute of every hour,

Reality lay only in the other.

And beyond that dreadful dusk, nothing

but dawns and dusk and ...

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harsh realityhopeloverenewaltime


The sound of one hand clapping

Who said that?

But I know what it means, now:

It is the lost beat of one heart loving


Not waving but drowning

I know that one:

Both origin and relevance now:

It is no pleasure, but one soul's need


No man is an island, entire of itself

Sung, used, re-used

The obvious is no less poignant

Now that I've found and lost my land


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Druid Lane

We came upon

A mystic way leading nowhere but the hills.

Floored in leaves, tree roofed, bank-bound

Untrodden but by wanderers for centuries past.

What lay beyond, worthy of such industry?

Perhaps a long forgotten hearth tenured by shepherd or crone.

Or did this tended track pass on to a hilltop way:

Miles now lost to grass and sheep,

A one-time druidic path to some time-er...

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                                    After Ezra Pound and Giacomo Leopardi


And so you were

everything to me, that is now less than dust –

                        lost, captive of the soil

That surrounds and nourishes my soul.


And so now I –

still stranded, umbral shade of past desire – 

                        left, am guardian of sad recall

watching branch and blo...

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A word of the heart

Born deep in the being,

            resonant with the land's love  



A word for the soul

Harmonic with soft timbre,

            warmed on heart's ember



A word from the deep

Breathed only in love -

            impossible to deny



A word never of the brain

Soft spoke; heart's heat


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In those darkest, darkling months

when both belief and hope were lost

when love was stretched taught beyond endurance

when pain and understanding spiralled


There was some doubt of destiny:

could love be snatched away;

and child a mother lose?

A new reality to supplant all we knew

                                                                        and dreamt.


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Yesterday, the sun shone black upon my soul

Depth's depth deep beneath my heart.

Lumined ne'er by hope

Thoughts sank weighted low


Today, dawn'd, in heaven's mantle rais'd,

Glims golden future in my mind.

Light lightened all by future faith

Heart, mind and soul exalting up


Her voice love levered up, returned it from the depths

Dark voids where happiness was stra...

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Nant Lluest-Fach

Walking, I discover

Hills I never knew in thirty years of passing;

Valleys, deserted, hidden in folds and time:

Mair says once there was a community here

Self contained, sufficient unto itself


Walking, I find

Landscapes we could have seen before, perhaps shared

Their riches, dreamed their past, known their present:

I'm told these Druid hills sing history itself


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hillshistorypeacetimes pastWaleswalking

Suicide’s Beck

                                    To a friend

There is a small and unremarkable bridge I often cross

That now stands guardian to the memory of a friend.

When your burden became too much, it held you in its thrall

And gave passage across your own imagin’d Styx.

And on that very day and hour your demon choice was made

What base chance made me bypass the bridge, and you?

This i...

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There is no meaning

            and no sense,

            only clarity


I loved you and my heart began -

            past years unknown

            past pulse forgot


            Love created  

            our heart defined

            our lips sang

            our hands mapped



I loved you with my eyes          ...

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On leaving a hospital room

The sky in front of me is pink, as I drive home‚

there will be a frost tonight.

Beneath it the brackened hills lie pinkly rust

And trees stand starkly laced in contrast

I see every distant twig defined, sharp against the pearlescent sky.


Not much later, I sit over tea and look west

to where the sky is left creamily gold.

Above, the darkling blue is split by a fading pink ...

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