Phil Wood



Dowd's Wharf


The mud's a grey unhealthy skin

where the neap tide lingers. This Usk

is never clean, but its mud gleams

as if the stars have found their nest

along with trolleys and rusted drums.

This river wharf is colder than home.


He calls it kedging, turning the ship

around. It's brimming with scab coal.

He says there is a pretty Usk

frothing with healthy trout. There's mud

in Birmingham, but not like this.

Where's the sea of tranquillity? I ask.


He shrugs.

He has mud hands like mine.





A mistle thrush pecking a stone

that is bone white. The river's drought

a blistered thirst that mirrors mine.


The Welsh dresser displays the dust

of Portmeirion plates and there's Gran

cutting a slab of marble cake.


The Oakdale mine is hacking black lungs

to rags. All hear that rasp and know,

but still the kettle steams for tea.


Grandad, whiskered, mouthing air

as if a fish with pulsing gills.

I want to share my slice of cake.




Phil Wood © 2015