Ceinwen Haydon

 Relief

Coming down from high Chew Green,
my legs stretched, my rucksack back-stuck,
I hunger for chips and fresh-baked chicken pie
with ice-cold Guinness,
as my senses sing of hills and sky.
Journey almost done, my feet
slip-slide on greasy flagstones
when suddenly, I hear the gurgling burn
stitched with fretful baas.
I see a wean crying, stuck
knee-deep in oily bog-land mire.
And her dam blait alto-tones,
raucous and resigned
to the muddy loss of her bairn.
My boots stall
sucked down by sludge,
and thistles prick my legs
as I move slowly
to clutch the lamb
by her lanolined, rough-wool coat.
I heave hard.
Her eyes are blank, terror-misted,
and her black, bony hooves
jab sharply on my shins
as she glucks free, wobbles,
sneezes and stumbles to her mam.
Tired and splattered, I mind a time, way back
when my own child returned with a stranger.
 
Notes:
blait: Scots – to bleat
bairn and wean: Scots and Northern English – babies or the young
dam: farming term for livestock – mother
 
 
First published in Atrium March 6th 2018
 
Ease Up, Laddie

Forced affection chafes, Love yearns for away,
relax the ties that bind her heart to you.
If Love’s released, she’ll be inclined to stay.
In spaces free, delighted, Love would play,
yet likely she’ll freeze ’neath a tightened screw.
Forced affection chafes, Love yearns for away.
Doleful demands tempt lusty Love to stray,
but liberated she might lie with you.
If Love’s released, she’ll be inclined to stay.
She’ll stretch out in the bed on which you laid,
leave perfume as a gift, to waft anew.
Forced affection chafes, Love yearns for away.
Love’s wrists, when tied, disdain to stroke or play,
your loving, canny games she will eschew.
If Love’s released, she’ll be inclined to stay.
Learn lessons to lessen your lovelorn dismay,
if you would have your lady, Love, be true.
Forced affection chafes, Love yearns for away.
When Love’s released, she’ll be inclined to stay.
 
 Cursory Sorcery  
                                                                                 
While I wait for you. Late. Again.
I pick blue periwinkles to flower my stew,
a brew of spider’s legs and cobweb broth
to chase away the dusty moths that brave the lamp
then fall dead on our starched linen tablecloth.
Where were you tonight? You. Yes. You.
I don’t know. Should I shut my eyes to all you do?
I try to go steady, but my pulse thumps holes in my chest.
I walk round and round as rage jerks my arms up and down
and works waspy words, venom stung, in my witch’s tongue.
My pointy mind traps me, I imagine what only you can see.
I am poisoned by your X-ray eyes, quick to despise my brain
and the bumpy hummocks of my belly, stretched by three.
You call me witch and crone and, if you’re right,
I’ll cast a lethal spell and set us, all five, free.
 
 Published by Ink, Sweat and Tears 25th January 2018
 
 
Calling Time

Is that right, sir? Football’s not a woman’s game? Nor war neither, but without munitions,
where’d you brave and bonny soldiers be? Left high and dry, I’d say. If I might be so bold.
While you were gone, sir, munitions girls worked skanky shifts. Sulfuric acid turned skin yellow and hair green in toxic factory air. With risk of fire, explosions too; see, you boys weren’t the only ones.
Let outside after our stints, we kicked balls, scored goals and grazed our shameless knees in muddy shorts. Canary Girls, at liberty to play, got bloody good. Some, like Spartan’s Bella Reay, got great.
Our novel female games, sir, they entranced the Toon. Happen our shows raised cash sore needed for wounded and widows, and hungry fatherless children. All of us winners, for one afternoon.
Sir, you lads are back now, some at least. Those blessed with two legs run, arms akimbo, back onto the pitch, don team stripes. Try to forget they’ve ever been in France, in hell.
Now, good Mr Walt has taken stock and queries what positions we working girls should take, with our quick wits and light feet. Good lasses will choose to stay indoors and make their men look great.
Walt and the Board have formed a view: our football’s too professional. Not right for godly women, the British Empire’s daughters, skilled in knitting Army kit, from vests to woollen socks.
So, use of St James’ sacred turf, our green and pleasant ground, will be withdrawn from ladies. We must desist from making exhibitions of ourselves, serve at home, and stick to wearing frocks.
Football’s not a woman’s game, sir, or so you say.
 
NOTES
Frank Walt. Secretary of Newcastle United FC (December 1921): ‘The game of football is not a woman's game and though it was permitted on professional grounds as a novelty arising out of women's participation in war work and as a novelty with charitable motives. The time has come when the novelty has worn off and the charitable motives are being lost sight of, so that the use of the professionals' ground is rightly withdrawn. The women's games have developed into commercial concerns and the expenses they reckon it would cost to play would not have left much for charity.’
Quoted on:
http://spartacus-educational.com/Fdickkerrs.htm
Canary Girls
Women worked in the munitions factories in WW1 (munitionettes). Some were known as the Canary Girls because prolonged exposure to sulfuric acid caused depigmentation, turning their skin bright yellow and their hair green or ginger-coloured. This toxicity was a serious health hazard.
Bella Reay
A star footballer from Cowpen, Northumberland. Bella worked as a munitionette during WW1.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bella_Raey
 
  Previously published in Turbulent Times by the Workers’ Educational Association (2018)
 

Ceinwen Haydon lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. She writes short stories and poetry. She has been widely published in web magazines and print anthologies. She was Highly Commended in the Blue Nib Chapbook Competition [Spring 2018], won the Hedgehog Press Poetry Competition ‘Songs to Learn and Sing’ [August 2018] and was shortlisted for the Neatly Folded Paper Pamphlet Competition, Hedgehog Press [October 2018]She is a winner in the Nicely Folded Paper Pamphlet Competition (July 2019). Her first Chapbook is due to be published shortly, (‘Cerddi Bach’ [Little Poems], a Stickleback by Hedgehog Press. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University (2017) and she is developing practice as a creative writing facilitator with hard to reach groups. She believes everyone’s voice counts.

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