September 24, 2022

Wild Theology Poetry Shorts #1 - From the RS Thomas Literary Festival

The Following poems were read at the RS Thomas Literary Festival as part of a competition and open reading on September 18, 2022:

The Learner’s Eisteddfod

 

Siarad Cymraeg?

Ydw, I say. But, it’s barely true

 

One clumsy American. 100,000 Celtic warriors…faces painted blue. Or so I imagined.

But it’s only Taid a Nain and snotty Johnny Bach crying in the rain.

 

Dewi lifts his cup. Baptize the night in Bitters. Rhiannon dons the holy national garb... Wellies and short–shorts. A squabble of pubescent poets whistle and squawk around Rhiannon as she floats on mud and plastic pavements.

 

Despite the chiming of her birds, no one living slept that night.

 

The rains came hard. Sanctified our canvas homes, and everything we owned

was dipped in wind and water. This is my immersion, a festival of song and strange

tongues, far from my home of sun and surf.

 

In the Pavilion, a domesticated rebellion, a dream of crowns and thrones. We clap

the sword of peace. Does Bakhtin observe bemused from heaven as we inaugurate

this formal carnival with robed and solemn clowns?

 

Back at the old Welsh capel, their prayers break upon me, not just for these few hours,

nor for the days, but for the years…for eternity.* This is my home now…my Jerusalem.

 

Yet I will wake tomorrow, still that other, a stranger in this land of song and hwyl

and soft sorrows framed in yr hen iaith hir.

 

Siarad Cymraeg?

Ydw, I say. Leaning in.

 

* paraphrased from RS Thomas ‘The Other’, t. 457

 

Sonnet #5

 

In response to R.S. Thomas ‘The Lesson': “Return migrant, so your listeners arising on some May morning of the spirit may hear you whistling again softly…” 

 

This God unseen, He hides beneath the robes


of cloud and sky and cracking thunderous nights


Behind the starry skies and sun’s stiff light


and winds that blow toward edge of curve of globe

 

He ever moving hides and then disrobes


a ghost who moves from in to out of sight


He hides I seek. I hide He seeks each night


and then upon hope’s door I pierce my lobe

 

I slave my ear to hear, my eye to see,


my mouth to cry in supplicating groans


I go to search, but stay to find my way


in paradox: in slavery I am free


to see, to hear, to cry these baleful moans


which celebrate the loss, the find, each day

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