The Stone of Sacrifice

The stone is grey as any day but today we notice because today is the end of days —

Some great god of a machine from the lost-yet-Roaring Twenties laid it down long ago to Eisteddfod. It prostrates itself at the feet of faux-Celtic stone pillars;they cry in delusional unison:

Once we were Druids!

Now tourists lounge in their picnic-spread shade. Once we were all Druids. We sold ourselves for lumps of rock and summer trade. We exhume our dragon carcass of a castle shamelessly. We sell postcards which proclaim

COFIWCH DRYWERYN

famously. 

Ours is a town wandering aimlessly through the years. In the end we arrive nowhere. Under the ghost of the lemon-dawn centuries someone lost heaps high flowers on our stone of sacrifice. The wind of midday blows them away. Wild flowers tumble amongst the picnic debris and down into the sea where the bell still tolls for Cantre’r Gwalod. 

The sea blooms: the end of days always leads to the beginning of days.  
— HJ

 

Green and Golden

Yester-night I had the pleasure of receiving a drunken phone call from Cambridge students Hope Doherty and Paige Smeaton. They had decided it was a good idea to set up a magazine, “LITERARY” in quotation marks, and being somewhat inebriated myself I agreed to join them.

https://timeheldmegreenanddying.wordpress.com/

Please enjoy and submit if inspired. Born of wine and night-time, write against the time.

They also have a Facebook page, if that’s your thing.

–HJ

=Untitled=

The crow opens its first eye. It cries in the darkness and the darkness answers back:

The birds are singing – they chirrup and cwrw, they warble silver streams to tumble through the fog of morning. Their wild babel is ringing the trees; they chime through the twilight like Sunday bells. With heavy boots the farmer tramples the chorus. He whistles his own tune: it is not tuneful.

He has come to meet the devil; his wife is still in bed. She snores loudly and rattles the pans and unsettles the pots.

He has come to make an offering. Ahead the devil stands in the field and beckons. The devil’s hand rests on a cow; it is the farmer’s last cow. She is pregnant.

This devil is black and he has red eyes like a story-book devil. He shakes the farmer’s hand to seal their deal. The farmer returns to his empty, silent home whilst the devil carries away the snoring soul of his wife. The farmer is promised the delivery of twin calves. One for money and one for meat.

It comes instead with one body and two heads.

 

The crow carries the night in its wings. It cracks from a frosted branch and flies into the dawn-lemon sun –

And the calf died, of course.

(in Ceredigion Museum there is a calve with two heads reserved for freakish sideshows and morbid curiosity. Its nose has been eaten by moths.)

— HJ

Pronunciation Index

For those who are hard of tongue –

 

Death – the opposite of life.

Dan de Wolf – Dandy Wolf.

Hewyll Penenaid – Hue or Hugh / Wych (together fastly) Pen (to write with) I (ee) Naid (rhymes with Made).

Lowry Jones – small, like a mouse.

Seath Penenaid – Rhymes with Death (for pronunciation of Death see Life).

Hannah Layton – the same backwards and forwards. Not Layton, unless illiterate.

Oscar Penniman – unfortunate.

Sam – no one likes a Sam. Don’t pronounce.

Maria Carter – Not Welsh.

Simon Carter – Not French.

Howell Jones (myself) – How/well. Not a wolf. Jones.

— Howell Jones

*extract* – Hewyll Penenaid –

Hewyll Penenaid smokes to himself sitting in the dark decaying, spreading his atoms into the morning. With effort he congeals and rises as the sun dissolves through the smoke-stained fabric of the curtains. Throwing them open he watches morning stagger over the hills and recites:

I drink to Old Town. I drink to the hearts as they beat, the feet as they walk, the talk of a hundred tongues. I drink to the lungs and the chests, I drink to the guts.

He cracks open his lips:

‘I breathe souls like water. I will survive to consume them all. With my hanged man and tower and Fool I sit and I wait. I eat souls like éclairs and caviar. The phone is on the hook: perhaps a woman will call. I sit and I wait. I wait for the feast.’

Memories of Necessity

I found something I wrote whilst happily slightly intoxicated, which is the natural state of someone returning to Drunk Wales*. I have not drafted this but am instead allowing you the full state of things: for your own amusement…..

 

The Aftermath of Being an Owl

The memory of wood carves my feet.

The air falls heavy with feathers and plant matter.

The people are silent. The noise is silent.

This is the space of the past.

Above our heads –

Above the door –

We dressed our entrance in ivy and willow. Chains fell from snaked ropes and empty masks, wild synthetic appliqué. It falls before my eyes like a veil. It heaves with the cliché.

Impossible people are falling from my head. Now our simple black room looks a mess. The leaves are trampled to nothing, danced to pieces, the floor is shattered to wood. Together we breathe the silence, transformed, and together we agree it feels as though nothing ever happened.

Gwydion has dissolved into the colours of holi and dance. His ancient words have vanished to music in memory. Math is to join the deer up on high Scottish hills filling our black whipped space with disparate rhythm. Everyone falls into another and fits neatly into a box rotting. I call this box memory. It is full of pomegranates. They fall on the piano keys and –

(I call this memory a lie. It took place in another universe, I lie, it can’t have happened here. Without my owl face I try to perch on my wooden tree trunk plinth and fall. Everything is broken and everything has passed to past –)

The note is dis-

Cord-

Ant.

I hand the pomegranates to Persephone, I crush them into her palm. This happened in the past.

Alone I am. I stand like a vase in the mirror, my face is painted, I have lost my owl’s feathers.

*Wales has been drunkening since the ‘80s, or perhaps even before. The towns are like livers failing to rejuvenate, falling into decay. We continue to sing along into the night and through to day, in the face of flooding and destruction and the money falling away.

– HJ

F/R/A/G/M/E/N/T

When I was little and before I knew what life was I lived in a farmhouse destroyed by the years.

We were ringed in by woodland woven with flowers –

Campions and bluebells rang loud red and lilac. Daffodils wept for vanity and snowdrops sang attention from the mosses. The ferns smelt unmentionable; their hard spines could rip the flesh of your palm –

Above, rogue buzzards cradled skies with their cries as the sun broke down into firs.

Here we lived against the years. The land lent us water: it ran down from the sheep fields and froze in winter. It ran down and through the worming soil to creep from our taps. We would eat squirrel pie and pigeon casserole. When it rained heavily our bins would drown with rats.

Before we lived against the years we lived in a rough and tumble grey-bricked damp-licked council estate. Here lived at least a thousand children like me: we would run in and out the houses and fight together until the sun bled away into the sea –

I have forgotten all their names.

In Craig y Bwch, my farmhouse rotting against the years, I had no one. I invented away my loneliness, hunting grasshoppers and crickets behind the house. Behind the house was an old gypsy caravan full of cuckoo clocks chiming the hour. I became a squirrel, polecat, vole, rat and hunted in the field. On my own I became a thousand friends. On my own I grew.

(and there the story ends — distractions)

– HJ