Exile in his Own Country was published by Bluechrome in 2006, hot on the heels of my 3 slim volumes in one year 2004. Exile was definitely a not-so-slim-as-it-used-to-be volume, a bumper and 'variegated' (as the review had it) harvest in too many sections (8) of all the other published volumes to date, starting 1991, and the last I published while I still had a day job. It and the tour of the same name I did to promote it effectively finished my teaching career and quite possibly the publishing house as well.
'Exile' includes pretty much every facet of my life and versewriting, from 'The Beautiful Game' football sonnets through 'Marked For Life' poems about schooldays/ teaching and paeans to Frank Sinatra and the Beatles and from its beginnings inWest Country/Welsh verse-bildungsromans to belter skelters through Norfolk to India, in lots of different verse forms including a fair bit of free verse and even some prose. Worth a dip.
Also by Gareth Calway:
Was convicted today,
He was hanged by the neck
Till the crime passed away.
A man who killed his mummy
Was convicted by that jury,
He was sent straight to bed
Without his supper, or a story.
The soil a cemetery of summer's yields,
A brief grey day of mud on lanes and fields
And everywhere the fragrance of decay
And on some field ten thousand miles away
The other side of Earth, a gritty heaven builds
That's made of sweat and English dreams, and gilds
An hour to last as long as England may.
fromNorfolk Carol, 1996.
From iced fingers
Snowing the bulb
So the batteries don't connect
To its heart-warming glow
And we can't see the carol sheet...
But the wagon is hung with fairy lights
Frosted with moonshine
And we look like a Christmas card.
And we finally get
With a vision of angels
If not of the road;
Like texts of mediaeval Latin)
(With a "lily-white"
King Herod of Sleaze
Biting her back,
Her face pure as Venus,
Her faithful Joe
Not quite the winner
Her parents had hoped for)
Behind a bottle bank -
A babe in a crib.
None too bright
As I lift our broken lamp
And the brass strikes off
And my voice stumbles in flight
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light,
The hopes and fears
Of all the years
September 12 2005
The Tribe That Never Was
The main feeling is of being a complete fraud.
It's not that the team doesn't matter to me:
It matters enough to give me a heart attack.
It's just that, with only distant memories of 2-3-5 to fall back on,
I never really understand what's going on.
There are fifty blokes with a view I could ask from anywhere around
But they each seem to be commentating on a different match.
And I live five hours from Bristol so it's hard to stay in touch.
And, however you market it, the match atmosphere is just like you get
Oily, reductive, ferociously competitive about everything and nothing-
Aggravated by six pints of booze and ten thousand men-brains,
The kind of thing I went to University to get away from.
If it weren't for the tightening in the stomach every match day,
The inferno of baying noise - purged by love and loyalty
(And comradeship and chantorion and cheer,)
The shiver of the perfectly pitched pass,
The tantalising tactical one twos, the toothsome tingling tackles,
The faith-affirming final ball through the box,
The frantic flash of foot through frenzied ball
The fluent flight of ball through air into flapping net,
The fabulous tapestry of red against blue over green,
The red knights tilting at perfection,
The pavilions of banners, pennants and scarves,
The child’s red and white Christmas of the goal consummations -
Then I probably wouldn't bother.
fromThe Beautiful Game
Football is balls: needs pumped up balls to play
And all the hype comes down at last to balls
And as that US star Reveals Her All
(Well, sponsor-labelled sportsbra anyway)
To breathless world photographers, to say
WE’VE WON THE WOMEN’S FIRST WORLD CUP! it’s all
The culture of the male, sharp market stalls
Of bluff and thrust, done derring deals, wha-hae!
He’d failed to hit in World Cup Italy
(His name in running blood on England’s walls)
And flew across the Wembley turf and shot,
A nation’s trembling heart in mouth, to see
The world he kicked thump in, what - massive- balls!
Down the crowd’s throat - having opened his account
With England - (with Campbell about to mount
Him behind) and swivelled his hips like a lech
Because he’d scored with a country, no less,
The earth was moving for us all (the doubts
Stripped off, the World’s Cups in our grasp like founts
Of milk and honey) and joined our nakedness.
But love, or God, without the permanence,
A crude attempt at ending loneliness?
And what is football but a lonely crowd
Trying to score, a fallen Man, united,
Icarus over the moon and standing proud ?
Whitehead’s promotion goal,
Stuffing the Rovers – so often (!) -
American Football, and Cole,
fromGwenefore 539 AD.
fromThe Road to Walsingham
Down by the river
I'm tugging at Sian Davies's bra fastener.
Her eyes boring I want youinto mine
So candidly even I believe it.
And wondering what I'm supposed to do next.
But I stopped being nakedly honest like that
Since it made me appear the only male virgin in the Year group.
I listen to the river roaring by
And tug at Sian Davies's bra fastener.
Still pretending I know what I'm doing.
I've been pretending that for thirty years.
Down by the river Afon Lwyd
Tugging at Sian Davies's bra fastener.
fromThe House on the River
And the river dreamed the city but was never the dream
And the river was its mirror but never the reflection
And the river gave it birth but only for an era
And the river was a channel and a conduit for the city
And the river served and cooked, the river fished and gathered,
And the river drained and watered, the river washed and freshened,
And the river was a trade-route and its shore a foundation
For the girl-child on the mudbank and the distant founding father,
For the hunter and the fisher and the merchant and the banker,
For the farmer and the shipman and the grocer and the builder
And the river's liquid softness has a face of blackened flint
For the river is itself and the city is a shadow,
A trumpet-blaring litterer with traffic and lights,
And the river is its alpha and is also its omega,
Its creator and its contrary, the nature of its nurture,
It flows beyond its ending and before its beginning,
It is where the city came from and where it is going.
To rephrase the maze of your gaze.
Have seen much better todays.