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.

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.



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


Fe Godwn Ni Eto! We Will Rise Again!
Sunday, 28 February 2016 11:54

Fe Godwn Ni Eto! We Will Rise Again!

Published in Festivals/ Events

Dw i’n Cymro pob dydd/ I’m a Welshman every day, says Mike Jenkins, outlining an atheist, socialist and republican take on St. David's Day, the annual celebration of the sixth century Welsh communist monk.

Ten years ago, on March 1st 2006, Mrs. Windsor opened the third Welsh Assembly in Cardiff Bay. The whole area was teeming with armed police and Special Branch. Machine-gunned troops were perched on rooftops to protect a monarch who epitomises British rule in Cymru : the ascendancy of wealth, privilege, and political power of an unelected Head of State.

I was doing a reading at the Glanfa (or foyer) of the Millennium Centre and began by commenting that Cardiff had been turned into a police state to accommodate the visit of a foreign monarch. Half the audience – expecting odes to Welsh cakes, rugby and male voice choirs – upped and walked out.

As an ardent atheist, socialist and republican, my attitude towards Dydd Gwyl Dewi (St. David’s Day) has always been ambiguous. Yes, I do relish a national day when we can express everything that’s great about Cymru. But no, I don’t want to laud a Christian saint and I loathe the way it’s been hi-jacked by the armed forces who parade through our capital city.

St. David's saintliness, for me, lies in his communist vision, as expressed in his Monastic Rule. The Rule forbids all forms of private property, and also exploitative and oppressive behaviour, not only between humans but between species: monks were obliged to pull ploughs rather than using animals.

I never wear a daff or eat a raw leek, I don’t worship at the shrine of namesakes Karl and Katherine, but prefer to praise our excellent and undervalued bands like The Joy Formidable and singer-songwriters such as Meic Stevens, who should be up there with Dylan and Cohen. Dw i’n Cymro pob dydd/ I’m a Welshman every day.
I love the way our festivals (Eisteddfodau) crown bards as queens or kings, yet live and thrive in a world of poetry which is far more about co-operation and support than competitions. I rile many Welsh nationalist romantics with a view of history which highlights the vital role of the working class, rather than King Llewelyn or Prince Glyndwr; workers who rose up in my home town of Merthyr in 1831, to raise the red flag for the first time in these Isles.

Dydd Gwyl Dewi is a time to celebrate our language and culture, but for me another festival – the Merthyr Rising one in June - will be so much closer to my ideals. Rock, poetry, theatre, debates and film all in one town, where I so much hope that…….
Fe Godwn Ni Eto! We Will Rise Again!
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.