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Wales 2000

By Herbert Williams (from Issue 7)


       A shape that's strangely like a person pointing.
       The head an island once with sacred groves.
       The feet a county kicking out to sea.
       One arm outstretched; the waist tucked in.
       The body attached to something big
                                   that holds it back?
                                   or makes it what it is?

       A sense of new beginnings.
       Not just a new century; or a millennium;
       but an awakening of self.

       Awareness comes in many ways.
       Through words, or bared
       experiences. Or insult.

       Taffy is
       a thief,
       an ugly troll;
       fit just (just)
       for rugby,
       shagging sheep
       and male voice choirs
       singing flat.

       The mines are sealed,
       the steelworks rust,
       where hope's congealed
       the last is first,
       and youth is old
       with kicking heels,
       and healing kicks
       land you in gaol.

       'We were a people taut for war,'
       too many wars though not our own,
       the campaign flags hang tattered now,
       the winds of loss are always raw,
       the Veldt, the Somme and Alamein,
       the Falkland Islands and the rest.
       Too many wars, too little peace.
       The dead cry out their silent curse.

       The echoes of a cold refrain
       quake in the halls of the insane:
       Think No! Drink No! Quote No! Vote No!
       Be No in all you do and say!
       For No is all we want to be
       and being No's the only way!
       Say No for Yes is dangerous
       and recklessness and amorous
       and means we're saying boo to goose
       and up yours Jack and lay off us.
       and Yes is wicked as can be
       and No is safe I'll guarantee!

       And behold! quoth the scribes
       Wales is too Welsh
       their stadium's too good
       we want it ourselves

         Bryn Tur-fell is ours
       and Shirley is Bassey
       we'll make her a dame
       to show that she's classy.


       still keens the wind
       still grinds the frost
       in mountains where
       the best are cursed

       the rocks won't tell
       who gained or lost
       and every hero
       runs to dust

       Welcome to Wales
       Croeso i Gymru
       stay as long as you like
       the Welsh are so chummy
       enjoy our toy railways
       and swim in our pools
       but don't come to live here
       you won't like our schools.

       You MUST go to Cardiff
       It's all so inviting
       the shopping's terrific
       the bars are exciting
       the docks are upmarket
       with yuppies and so on
       and what was a full-stop
       is now semi-colon.

       And grandest of all, the Millennium Stadium.
       It's awesome. Stand
       the far side of the Taff, take in
       the sheer majesty of it.
       Some call it the new
       cathedral, but it is more
       than that. It is not for
       the worship of something
       but Something itself.
       Bow the knee and pray
       'O Stadium, O mighty
       Stadium, how great thou art
       a good and merciful Stadium,
       look with favour on our unworthy selves
       and grant us eternal rest, O Stadium,
       but not too soon, at least not until
       we've beaten bastard England
       and won the Six Nations, Amen.'


       In nursing homes, the old
       are kindly cared for.
       They have regular meals, TV,
       and marmalade on their toast.
       The crematorium
       is just up the hill.
       So very convenient.
       They go very quietly,
       not saying a word.

       The kids
       swarm out of school,
       yelling, squalling,
       biting, brawling.
       Older ones slouch
       into adolescence,
       surly, with-it,

       Careful now. They might be watching.
       Swift exchange. A passport to
       spaced-out joy, hallucinations,
       mind-exploding cosmic thrust.
       Then it's methadone. Oh bollocks.
       Stick to rollies for a bit.

       This is the news of Wales
       and I'm Jamie Owen
       Sara Edwards
       Lucy Cohen
       Jonathan Hill.

       The news of Wales is
       it just bloody well is.

       The Millennium Experience.
       New space to expand in.
       New worlds to discover.
       New papers to hand in.
       Look ahead! To the future!
       Don't look back! For that's fatal.
       Because you may find
       what's behind is the total.

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