Ceinwen Haydon

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.

Ekphrastic Poems after Georgio de Chirico

The Uncertainty of the Poet

 headless torso   amputated limbs
 bananas bunch and burst from your groin
 thrust from muscular buttocks
 and twisted waist

 a flat lucent circle mark
 a gash where your head was severed
 absence imprints on my eyes
 reminds me of life

 stone torso   headless   amputated
 what words what clumsy conjugations
 phrase priapic bananas in indigenous brush strokes
 mark your virile groin 

The Song of Love

 dead-eyed olive ball
 alabaster Byron dreams
 pinned red glove dangles 

My father said

 in old Caernarvon’s fine oak woods,
 mired in bog and flashed with butterwort
 Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffydd hunted 
 aided by his bloodhound, Gelert. 

 One autumn day, Llywelynleapt
 astride his best horse, pungent
 and slicked with embrocation 
 and he galloped off, rode far 
 from home, forgetting Gelert. 

 Why would the Prince do that,
 I wondered. Surely, he’d have whistled,
 called his dog to heel, to join him in the chase.

 Rampaging off to raid musked lairs, kill
 vixens and their cubs, he omitted to tell
 his servant-maid who cared for his princeling heir.

 Prince Llywelyn returned at dusk,
 corpses stiffened in leather saddlebags.
 Bats flitted to catch insects
 under canopies of trees. 
 A barn owl ghosted 
 past his face 
 
 and screeched a warning.
 Gelert, barked and bound into view
 blood dripping from his teeth and jaws.

 The prince felt palpitations. Knew 
 terror. He leapt from his mount, rushed 
 indoors, to find his infant son. 

 The babe’s coverlet was soaked
 bright scarlet. There was no sign 
 of the light of his life. His thoughts misted red
 and he jumped ahead. Bent on revenge, 
 he knifed true Gelert dead.

 Llywelyn howled, 
 then heard a whimper
 followed on by a lassie’s cry. 

 Behind a heavy tapestry 
 cowered the nurse and her tiny charge:
 both frightened but unharmed. Seconds passed
 he checked his senses, as he held his baby tight.

 It was then he saw a wolf, sprawled wide, 
 laid out on the nursery floor. Its fangs were sharp,
 its cruel eyes red. Gelert’s bite marks
 were necklaced round his throat. 
 All in all, quite dead.

 It is said Llywelyn suffered and wept 
 for years: to know he had slain Gelert
 was more than he could bear. Gelert, the dog, 
 who’d risked life, so his heir might survive.

 My father swore this tale was true, 
 for years, I believed it too,
 told it to kids of my own
 as God’s own truth.

 Until that is, a broadsheet 
 exposed one David Pritchard,
 host of the Old Goat Inn.

 He’d told Gelert’s tale to pull in drinkers,
 draw many pints, win wealth.
 Davy Pritchard, he even marked a plot,
 engraved it as Beddgelert. This false tomb, 
 where no hound is lain, both truth and fiction subverts. 

Breaking Out in Lockdown

 Night-time dreams stir demons and despair,
 drawn from funds of fearful, waking days.
 Grey dawn breaks late in December –
 dark hours prolong fevered hauntings,
 until skimmed-milk sunshine parts
 consciousness, peeps between limp drapes.
 Life feels like waiting for death. Time
 a heavy, prickly holly wreath 
 scratching round my neck.
 Today, more overcast than ever,
 rains tears. Oppressed by four walls, I dress
 for stormy weather. Ignore news flashes,
 and walk towards the flooded beck,
 careless and untethered.
 I skirt a puddle, slip in mud, jolt.
 Halt. Look up, and see a radiant goddess –
 Rainbow. She arcs across the moors
 and blesses me: colours grey with love. 
 Treading home I notice
 skeleton beech trees winsomely curved
 and strong / spy buzzards wheeling high /
 hear song-thrushes carol, hidden in hedgerows 
 almost next to me. Incredibly, I believe 
 all moments are eternities, and life
 though flawed and risky 
 lifts with raw beauty.

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