Mike Jenkins

Mike Jenkins

Mike Jenkins is an award-winning Welsh poet and author and unofficial poet for Cardiff City FC. His new book of political poetry, Nobody's Subject, is published in Summer 2016.

To A Different Country
Wednesday, 06 November 2019 09:47

To A Different Country

Published in Poetry

To A Different Country

by Mike Jenkins

We were selling tickets
for a journey to a different country
(our own, yet changed totally).
At the station our flags flapped
in a strange wind
stirring from valley to mountain
despite the frosty stillness
of another Monday morning.

‘But it’s the same old train!’
moaned the half-asleep
commuters heading for the city
as they took our leaflets
which explained the way.
‘They’ve only painted it up,
it still runs late
or over-crowded too often.’

The train followed the river down valley
and high up on the stonework
of an old viaduct plinth
someone had painted ‘Cofiwch Dryweryn’;
was it the ghost of Meic Stephens
suspended on dragon’s breath?

‘You will arrive on time.
We will build it together.
There is no guarantee,
no money back or return;
but watch it emerge
at the end of the line:
our hands, our imaginations.’

Notes                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    'Cofiwch Dryweryn' means 'Remember Tryweryn'. Over the past year in Wales many people have graffitied this: on walls , rocks, bridges and most recently on an old railway viaduct plinth in the Taff valley. It follows the vandalism of the original one on a rock near Aberystwyth, originally painted by poet and editor Meic Stephens in the 1960s referring to the drowning of a valley and clearance of the village of Capel Celyn, in the Tryweryn valley. See here

Two poems for St. David's Day
Thursday, 28 February 2019 20:07

Two poems for St. David's Day

Published in Poetry

The Dai Caps

by Mike Jenkins

Ave yew yeard
there's Welsh people
takin t the streets
an they int wearin
them yellow vests like in France,
but traditional dress?

Nah, not them tall black ats,
not even trackies or shell-suits,
but all of em
are sportin caps.

Women an men, teens an kids
sayin no way austerity,
sayin yes way indie,
sayin we've ad enough,
ower time ave come.

We int copyin nobuddy,
an leave them surveyors alone!
In ev'ry city, village an town
the Dai Caps 're comin!

 

TOO small, see

by Mike Jenkins

We’re too small,see
an we’re too pooer,
we aven even got a tidee road
between the south an north -
gotta travel by train t Englan’
jest t get t west Wales.

What would we do without
all tha money in London
an ow could we possibly
survive without the Queen
visitin ev’ry few years?

We don’ produce nothin
now ower mines ave gone,
we got loadsa mountains
but they’re ewseless, in ’ey?
We should look t Westminster...
well, maybe not today!

I’m Welsh as yew are,
nobuddy cheers louder
when we score an win,
but goin it alone’s beyond.

We’ll end up ev’ryone divided,
the whool countree arguin
an no bloody solutions.

Those Hands
Tuesday, 27 March 2018 10:42

Those Hands

Published in Poetry

Mike Jenkins offers a prose-poem inspired by Martin Hayes’ book of poetry ‘The things our hands once stood for’ 

Those Hands

for Martin Hayes                                    

   I’ll never forget those hands resting on his lap like two sleeping cats till his body was wracked by a coughing fit and they woke and shook disturbed by dreams of slobbering, snarling jaws.

   Those hands knew deep down what I had acquired in studies, courses of rivers and streams black on his palms; while I had merely drawn a map of the Valleys with a shaded area to mean coalfield, like a tainted lung.

   Those hands – the pick ‘n’ shovel of them – had known the obdurate seams, blind tunnels and a dust so dense it seemed a swarm, a plague.

   As he talked they opened up and shone, glowed with his up-down tones which followed the streets down to the nearby park and Nye Bevan museum and back uphill sucking at precious breath.

   As he talked, they played like the kids he’d never had; cats scampering along fence-tops and clawing up bark.

   Such hands you’ll never see again, engrained with stories of his butties, of desperate rescues, of pit-ponies born into dark galleries.

   Those hands had been buried, were a print of carbon; had risen to rub the gentle flames of skin, to a hearth where he sat with his missis coaxing the fire to a high burning.    

Graffiti art, Herne Hill
Tuesday, 25 April 2017 21:10

May in Dolgellau

Published in Poetry

May in Dolgellau

by Mike Jenkins

Croeso i Gymru!
Come to Wales
if you want to make decisions,
ramble on Yr Eryri
just like the PM Theresa May.

Not only between lovespoons
with two balls in cages
and a slate plaque
inscribed in inspiring Welsh –
‘Crach wedi codi o’r cachu’.

Come to Dolgellau,
new capital of ‘penderfyniadau’ –
let the Mawddach soothe
and the crags enlighten
before you bring down the country.

Let the giant of poetry Idris
sit you down in his chair
before you unleash chaos
and the howling of Cwn Annwn
take us who knows where.

 

Notes 

Croeso i Gymru – welcome to Wales
Yr Eryri - Snowdon
Crach wedi codi o’r cachu – wealth comes out of shit
Penderfyniadau – decisions
Cwn Annwn – the howling of these mythical hounds foretold death

 

Ewsed T Be Ooverville
Monday, 01 February 2016 17:20

Ewsed T Be Ooverville

Published in Poetry

Em’tiness. Them factree sheds.
The las shift leaves
an ev’ry machine stops.

We ewsed t be Ooverville,
ower washin-machines
sent all over
like rails an cannons
from them ol ironworks.

We could even afford t larf
bout Sinclair an is C5,
puttin it in-a window
as a crazee failure.

Now, we drive away
f’r the las time
with nowhere t go :
the toy factree’s gone
an we ardly make nothin.

It’s all retail an ousin
in this once great town :
but oo cun spend
an nobuddy’s buildin.

All them yers, all them skills
wasted like my son
with his degree, signin on.

Em’tiness. Rot an rats move in
an on’y the diggers o Ffos-y-fran
never stoppin like the lines
we left be’ind: the memrees
o frens stay welded,
as joints break an roof’s collapsin.