Cycling Across t’Bridge by Ieuan ap Hywel

Cycling Across t’Bridge

Wending my way agin wind and wet weather
wearing oilproofs and yellow sou’wester.
Astonished to see Nona waiting for me,
straddling the bar of her dad’s rusty bike.

Oilproofs flapping I look up to see
wind whipping water up from the weir.
Her dress draping over her boneshaker bike,
spray splashing onto her long chestnut hair.

The wind whipping water up from the weir.
Proud, standing tall, red-knitted cardigan.
Fizzing white foam spraying onto her hair.
Standing sedate, top button undone.

Proud, standing tall, tight-fitting cardigan.
Weaving my way agin wind and wet weather.
Statuesque, standing tall, top button undone.
Non at the bridge, wistful, waiting for me.

by Ieuan ap Hywel

Editor’s Note: This pantoum sounds so beautiful in the mouth that it’s quite easy to miss the wistful emotional thread that winds through the stanzas.

Poet’s Note: First Place Winner I.B.P.C. November 2021 (The Writer’s Block), Judged by Terence Culleton

A key to the sureness with which this poem realizes the musical structure of the pantoum form is the fact that there is only one main verb in the entire piece. The poet cycles a single remembered image through carefully crafted quatrains in such a way that, with each return of any given detail of the scene, there is not just a recognition, but a re-realization. The language is always fresh and musical, filled with assonantal and consonantal textures, and it’s often surprisingly inventive, as in the second quatrain’s reference to “her boneshaker bike.” Every quatrain of this poem resonates with both loss and recovery. The charged moment is fixed in the past but brought back into the present again through the offices of the poetic imagination. The merging of past and present, memory and desire, loss and recoupment is the exact remit of the lyric mode and the key to its hypnotic power. I could read this one again and again—and will. —Terence Culleton

Wakeup Call by Ieuan ap Hywel

Wakeup Call

An absence of sound, nothing to be seen
There is neither heat nor cold to afflict
No array of colours from black to white
no consciousness, no symbol, no throb
of blood. Not asleep nor awake
A trill – blanking – illion miles of darkness
No light, no twinkle from a star
No passing spaceship from afar
But listen: a voice penetrates
“Come forth.”
An angel with a wakeup call.
I amble out of the darkness
The light so bright, what are these bandages
Why are all these people gawking

by Ieuan ap Hywel

Editor’s Note: The uncertain punctuation, enjambment, and broken words contribute to an atmosphere of confusion in this poem, and it isn’t until the last two lines that the truth is understood.

Frosted Garden by Ieuan ap Hywel

Frosted Garden

Your dwarf Tangelo
is frostbitten,
rigor bristles the pulp — Bernard Henrie, Winterset, 2007

Frost has struck and the garden rests
in a white dust, the lily frond has withstood
the worst and the cotoneaster has dropped
its leaves. A robin pecks at blackened berries.

Twelvetide is over, the fir tree
removed, cards bundled away,
the star taken down,
Epiphany is here.

We sit in the dining room
and drink coffee as the Dutch do
at ten. I drank to please her,
and now the ritual is part of me too.

A half finger of Almond cake
rests by my cup, my post-fest diet
has begun. She measures my days
like petite fours.

The hall keeps at 65 degrees,
the lounge stays at 70.
The south facing dining room basks
in the sun all day.

We settle into retirement
enjoying this late season of our lives,
we have time to watch
our robin peck at faded glories.

by Ieuan ap Hywel. This poem won IBPC Webdesol for June 2017.

Editor’s Note: Delicate imagery introduces two kinds of changing seasons in this poem (apt for the first day of September).

De Aardappeleters (1885) by Ieuan ap Hywel

De Aardappeleters (1885)

Five figures from three generation, out of the three females
a girl sits, her back towards the artist. Two small windows
display the darkness of evening. Eight rafters run from back

to front. The ouders sit on high backed chairs with raffia woven
seats. Oma schenkt koffie in – Grandma pours coffee. Opa holds
out his cup over a table worn rough at the edges. A lamp shines

on vapour rising from a meal of aardappelen. The family scoop,
from a common bowl, towards themselves, with spoons turned
upside down. Mevrouw stares past her man, an arbeider with cap;

wide eyed she ponders why the artist finds interest enough to paint.
Hands presented as lumpy, an accent on the joints; faces, and noses
scribed with a bulbous characterisation. Two small luxuries evident

in light and ersatz coffee; such poverty: no piano, no colour, no caged
bird to sing, no literature to enthral, no Bible to comfort, lone painting
on the wall. He records their small food reserves: dried herbs and ham

hocks curing from the ceiling. They pose awkwardly for their pastor,
He captures the roughness of their home spun clothes. We presume
their clothing clean, washed in a brook, we can almost smell the lye

soap. Later in his short life he changes to primary colours,
worked with abandon, with whirls and daring strokes until
entrance of those crows that cross his wheat field sky.

by Ieuan ap Hywel. An earlier version of this poem won the May 2016 IBPC.

Editor’s Note: This ekphrastic poems carefully conveys not just the painted scene, but the intent behind the picture. Van Gogh’s fascination with this particular painting is nearly as fascinating as the work itself. Click here to see the painting.