Issue 25: David Annwn

Arcs in bold

and sets of cyclones that whirl around the planet's north and south poles like dancers around a maypole

flowers of Saturn, Capricorn's planet, are the heartsease, or pansy

Solomon’s seal

and Red Valerian

a cheerful and blowzy plant

Jupiter’s beard

kiss-me-quick, fox’s brush, spur valerian

seen on stone wall at Embsay Beck

Jupiter’s stormy winds churn Deep into the planet

Newton’s telescope was erected

upon the last

maypole resurrected

of Mary le Strand

to reckon the orbits of Saturn’s moons

and Jupiter’s.

This month-end

they combine

in closeness not seen

for eight hundred years

                                   trees in our

kitchen reflection, cooker on 50

warming up

for farm-reared Lasagna, 

to see all in a crepuscular

moment as unseen moth

warmth-seeking abdomen

inverted, sees this shape

identifies as me,

                              or sees self

seeing it, or not. Ornette

Coleman would be a refreshing 

of the palette after such fare

but Bob James’ Fanfarinette’s Rameau

kitschified like suede hammers

in wooden silhouettes

                                                                                                         we should go back before

the beginning: it was a car

with radio, and the lake still

in mid-consciousness, the

occasional rook, and a visit

to ourselves between lights 

in the oncoming evening lane


                              Newton used his observations of the moons’ orbits

measuring a celestial dance around the maypole

moons of Jupiter and Saturn

like a red rag to Arcimboldo

those vegetal heads, those four seasons

or elements presented in human form

Rise; and put on your foliage,

and be seene

wonder incessantly

Di            a       monde        d                

harle-quinned and quinced

it     cannot      sit      still     




with whippoorwill and Peacock’s antennae

at May’s ninth gate

antic hay

plush jewels of a

pomegranate’s compartments

of no clear line

or no clear object

clearly itself

but clusters of

others, receding composures


Baroque in cabinets bristling

stemmed diadems, corals

ids of crystalline

heads of lettuces



of a


Logarithms were foreseen

in the stem serrations

of horsetail fern’s

ratios growing

every man every woman

                                                                                                            at vanishing’s          

                                                                                                                             an imploding planet

sucking a universe

in with it

with a black hole’s

vacuum to another side

of silence which is why

Ernst set his standards at

the borders of dream

intuition that far out

is escape


Max Ernst had seen

humans de-anatomised


conturbat me

waymarkers across the ways that no mind knows,

totems, bird-heads,

across the limits

We have always looked at the sky seeking out secrets,

wondering about planets and stars. The Specola Tower was built

for this very

as a place from which to observe the movements and study astronomy.

In its rooms, including the Meridian Room, you will see

instruments used by astronomers, armillary spheres, orreries

wooden telescopes.


James Watson


of the structure of DNA

 remembered stumbling

on the double helix

image for the chain

through a dream

of a spiral staircase


and Newton’s telescope on a pole of May

sophisticated Huygens’ lens

high on dancers’ circuits

drummed deep

with feet

Yea all which it inherit

and sets of cyclones that whirl around the planet's

abyssal silences forever each way timelessness

covered by fern and glossy earth

heartsease, or pansy & Red Valerian

outcrop grit sandstone quartz


                                                                     diamo a visit

                           to ourselves between lights 


a handful

of earth

dream seeds


sails drapes slack


                            rowers revolt



fog rain courtesy veers.

coastline sinking south

                                 these temperatures

are towns and cities

                                 cloud romps

gradient in barometers

highland snow

low pressure taking charge

       this stuff               heavier bursts

is snow

Striae Across Preiddau

Golychaf wledic pendeuic gwlat ri

traeth mundi in a different hand, the ‘r’

of Preiddau, the long insular

crashes glass off the words,

ice-bar Brits jabber like jays

at Havneterminalen

dot commers 

singsing of Pwyll and Pryderi

No neb kin noctis in go innit

yr gadwyn trom las kywirwas ae ketwi

sea-blue chains

inlink all


bifurcating like split-ends:

y brawd



three roads the laws of three

spooled seven words slew the seven in me

yn freuddwyd gwrach y Freud

on Trollfjord

fullblood Apache Gil

weighs blue chains

of 70s/80s perpetual music

singing before the spoils

      ’s melting in McDark

                 and that man which gave rise to me

                                my Da on the Bofor’s gun

                                              on the track of PQ17

a raid on the inART/ HUR/tig

u late

‘traeth mundi’ in a different hand

where sky’s sea

meets breath-strand

imagining gogledd Cymric colonial

stash Annwn,

HE was brusque sudden


underdeck-shadow by welded door

stood bras y penrwy

pissed as twenty Linie Aquavit

saying in suspect sais: “I used to be with

the Norwegian army

now run an ox-farm (Ovibos moschatus)”,


as a holdful of ‘brindled ox’

Is that my worth--God’s little scribblers –

post-camp post-bastion

never saw Arthur cutting it

in Vardøhus fort the


hard by Russ,

Nazi motorbike

frost-blebbed Messenger:

Schlaff ein Todesschlaf

Noire am pearl groomish rimmer

 a ninja watchman no-go stand-off

scoping scavenger-bling

to unimagined inlet

the leather-jacketed frieze-painter

for on-board nursery,

falling distraught, denimed lap

“I was Olav Hauge’s lover!’

come this far norte, niver ferget:

dette er walismanens bytte

Ar (assent) thurt (thirst) tigru (tiger) grut (dim.) en (high priest)

                                                                               singsong whoa bitter


‘Striae Across Preiddau’ scrapes multi-lingual striations or glacier-riffs across The Spoils of Annwn / Preiddeu Annwn (c. 9-12 C.E.)  and tells of a sea-borne raid northwards. ‘Golychaf wledic’: I praise the Lord, Prince and King of the realm’. Uncanny echoes occur in the ‘brindled ox’ and the ice fortress of the Preiddeu and modern encounters with an ox-farmer and an ice drinks bar at Havneterminalen on a Hurtigruten cruise. There are references to the writer’s Welsh father’s experiences as a gunner on WWII convoys to Russia, the native American pianist Gil Silverbird and the Norwegian poet Olav Hauge.


Of writing and dreaming writing under the writing

and working in the Vatican library,

Angelo Mai discovering under a common copy

of Augustine’s psalms

a work thought missing for eighteen centuries,

surfacing minutely: Cicero’s Republica containing

The Dream of Scipio, where he,

a young man visiting Africa

was visited by his deceased grandfather

in dream,

who lifted him up so that he looked down

‘from a high place full of stars, shining

and splendid’ where Carthage and Rome

were as nothing beside the blazing stars,

the vast universe and celestial spheres

and, as he stares in wonder, he begins to hear

a music ‘tantus et tam dulcis,’ so burgeoning

loud and sweet, it ravishes him

this ‘musica universalis’, and earth

he observes from snow fields to the deserts


as if the soul were circle in circle conducive

to the whole, protected

within this far, high sound

rising from words eighteen centuries old

hidden beneath the rounds of psalms

so that the dream not be forgotten

rising beyond and towards us

as if the forgotten writing

were dreaming, mind through mind

of writing dreaming writing under the writing.

David Annwn (b. 1953) is a poet, playwright, critic, and authority on the phantasmagoria picture show. Great-nephew of the Welsh bard Ap Hefin (‘Son of the Summer Solstice’), he grew up in Cheshire, studied under Jeremy Hooker at Aberystwyth University, and now lives in Wakefield. He worked for the Open University in Manchester and Leeds and was the founder of the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE).

His early poetry, selected in the spirit / that kiss (1993, North and South), shows the influence of Geoffrey Hill and his namesake David Jones, inflected by a love of jazz and Welsh origins. From the 1990s his work took a more radical turn, becoming increasingly virtuosic and multi-generic, with a penchant for wordplay, shapeshifting and performance in Bela Fawr’s Cabaret (2008, West House) and Disco Occident (2013, Knives Forks and Spoons).

David’s recent publications include Re-Envisaging the First Age of Cinematic Horror 1896-1934 (2018, University of Wales Press), Red Bank (2018, Knives Forks and Spoons) and Resonance Field (2020, Aquifer), which includes images from his collaborations with the master-calligrapher Thomas Ingmire and innovative filmmaker Howard Munson.

Copyright © 2021 by David Annwn, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.