Welcome from Planet Merthyr! See, I'm really getting into this Blogosphere thing. Well, gratifying to note that three people read my last one, that's two more than attended one of my poetry readings, at Llantarnam Grange. Apart from the organisers, one woman turned up and she was there for the 'pottery'!

Thanks Dave Lewis! And to think I believed 'tweeting' was performed by birds. My son ( who amazingly set up this website in half a day) is soon to educate me into the mysterious rituals of Facebook and Twitter, so I'll be able to launch myself into the outer limits of virtual reality.

This week I've been tackling a short story:redrafting it and wondering why I bothered. Thomas Hardy once stated his best friend was his 'waste-paper basket'. When I've repeated that in schools, I've always had strange looks. But he may have been right in the case of this story.It's in Merthyr dialect, has a lot of different voices and could be an utter disaster. Poems are easier to abandon : I write so many that losing a few along the way doesn't seem to matter. But fiction? Stories are an arduous process for me, especially at the start. They take so much toil, I'm reluctant to accept failure.

But on the poetry front, a simple one based on my wife's memory stick, which went missing, only to end up........not in the expected places, such as the fridge or the drain outside our back door.......but, the very depths of her handbag, where a black hole lies. All of which brings us back to Planet Merthyr.

                                          THE MEMORY STICK

She lost her memory stick.
She forgot where she put it.

In the days of floppies
they'd have been at the bottom
of her large bag
under numerous folders
(either that, or used as frisbies
in the school yard).

But this was another matter.
On it was most of her data:
reports,plans and worksheets.
It was like a huge hammer
had struck her head
and her brain had exploded.

What she really needed
was a softer version
to slot into her veins,
with a comforting glow emanating.

Her memory stick could be anywhere:
the car-park, under her desk,
in the corner of the car
where all the wrappers collected
like a convention of waste.

She felt like a file
removed to the bin,
a text never answered,
an e-mail constantly bouncing back.

She lost her memory stick,
no long-tailed mouse could find it.


My very first blog. I'm a virgin blogger. I wonder if anyone out there will even bother to read it. Well, I'm used to that, being a poet! So what is a blog? Is it a series of ramblings or a coherent article. is it a confessional or a grand statement of intent?

Initially, at least, I think I'll be blogging about what is happening with my writing and then give an example of it.

Last week I received an e-mail (new-fangled word for 'pigeon post') from Beaty Smith of Cor Cochion , the Red Choir. I'd met them while doing a reading at the launch of Arthur Scargill's party in Hay. Arthur was on good form, delivered a fine speech, touching on the environment and then drove off in his huge 4 by 4, without listening to anyone else. A few of Cor Cochion asked me then if I had any song lyrics and I did mention 'Chico Mendes' , given a great tune and performance by Riff Williams and his band Little Miracle decades ago.

Anyway, Beaty's e-mail reiterated their need for lyrics and I soon started 'on a roll', writing seven song lyrics in three days, some on the train from Radyr to Merthyr ( makes a change from sonnets!).

I have a long association with Cor Cochion, as do the Red Poets. One particular memory is of the time I almost made it as a songwriter. I was corresponding with Mike Peters of The Alarm when they were Wales's number one band. I sent him words about the Red Choir singing in Merthyr precinct and getting arrested for it ( a true story) , as part of boycotting S.African produce. Peters wanted to put my lyrics to music and also use Cor Cochion on his record ( a large, black object as circular as a CD). Unfortunately,Billy Bragg got there first and did a song with the Red Choir , so Peters lost interest and I never heard from him again! My dreams of a rock career had ended before they began!

Here is the first of the lyrics I wrote last week and maybe I should have stopped at this. If Cor Cochion aren't interested, I wonder if The Alarm are 'doing a Blur' and getting back together?

                          CLOSING    DOWN
They're closing down my town
the shops are put outside
the last factory's gone
like years ago,the last mine.

Where can I go for work?
nobody wants my skills-
never been one to shirk
I'd get a job on the tills.

Nothing but a hole on the hillside
where diggers churn every day -
it is deep and it is wide
and looks like a huge grave.

They're closing down my town
the pubs are shutting all the time -
while money-lenders grow strong
with a legal form of crime.

I'm scared for my children's future -
'What's the point of school?' they say
'when it's not success or failure
but who you know gets you pay.'

I'm scared my marriage will suffer
when we argue about money every day -
sometimes I think it's all over
trying to keep the bank at bay.

They're closing down my town
the weeds and rats are winning -
pride in our past of coal and iron
no longer means a thing.

Maybe, one day, opposite the entrance to Cardiff Indoor Market.........