Issue 25: David Greenslade

Tonypandy Ciao! (for James Green)

Handshakes go around

kisses on both cheeks

but you’ve never learned

to say goodbye

until you’ve heard

the Tonypandy ciao!

Shop doorbell rattle/jingles

and the head waiter bows

we’ve had one last drink

in the barnyard

pledged our souls

complimented dogs and cows

but you’ve never learned

to say goodbye

until you’ve heard

the Tonypandy caio!

Ciao Vasile!  Ciao Iestyn!

Ciao Ahmed! Ciao Miguel!

Ciao Nino!  Ciao, ciao, ciao!


Just before opening my eyes I receive

a letter from Desmond Morris.

Idle, living in a lighthouse,

I write to people I admire

and wait for a reply – Bobi Jones

replied, Robert Bly, Gerallt Lloyd

Owen, David Ignatow, Lopez Pedraza,

Russell Edson, Ron Padgett,

Marie Louise von France, Norman

Wisdom & more.  Desmond

writes in large loops

using a broad felt-tip pen,

squeezing an extra message

along the franking

waves, between the postage stamps

and top of the envelope –

Surrealism is Alive and Well

in Wales.

Pembroke Potatoes

I love buying potatoes

and today I had a real choice –

spuds from Pembroke, Cornwall

Cyprus, Egypt and . . . unexpectedly,


I choose Cyprus. Complicated.

Some mainland shippers wash potatoes

in red mud to pass them off as Cyprus. And

if I so much as whisper the word Armenia

this could release a potato fatwah

while dissident Turkish writers

study fish and chips in Cardiff.

I can show you photographs of exiled

poet Nazim Hikmet with Mihai

Sadoveanu (and Pablo Neruda) in Falticeni, Romania.

Potatoes still seem generally relaxed

despite being asked to join

some hefty, poetry inspectors

in an ominously opulent ‘therapy’ room.

Even in a Country (for LR)

Even in a country

as small as this

there’s room for an ego

as damaging as yours.

Our agents spotted you

dusting spiders’

webs from inside

your mutton knees

designed to trap

and sabotage

until the last,

the very last

when you returned

to Luton (Exeter, Los Angeles, Oxford etc)

having well and truly

screwed things up

down Cardiff way.


This dry, relentless

Baltic wind

scorches when what

we’re used to in Tir Iarll

are misty cardigans at twilight,

morning cloud inversions between

Blaenau and Bro.

Gardens withered

and the fields crave driven

moisture up from Swansea Bay,

Atlantic needles blown

through clothes and skin

add white to hawthorn

green to ivy, blue shrimp

our shingled lips

whenever welcome rain

hydrates the thirsty hills.

Tir Iarll, Blaenau, Bro – areas in south Wales

Twins / Efeilliaid

Searching for the right word

in an awkward situation – Welsh

linguistic buffers come in handy – especially

faces I’ve known since school,

but their names are just forgotten.

After all these years

I can hardly greet the village

twins with a vacant stare. This

is where, swivelling between

poles of the dizzy past,

plural ‘you’ must do, because I’m

impressed how enthusiastically

they remember mine. I’m sure

that as soon as we say goodbye

one will finish the sentence

of the other, “He’s

forgotten who


. . . ”

David Greenslade (b. 1952) was born and still lives in Cefn Cribbwr, a village near Bridgend. Bilingual, he has travelled widely and worked in the USA, Japan, and Oman as a teacher of English. He is a prolific and versatile writer with a marked interest both in used and usable material objects (diagrams, tools, vegetables, signs) and surrealism. He is committed to collaboration, and often works with filmmakers, performers and visual artists.

His many books include Each Broken Object (2000, Two Rivers Press), Adventure Holiday (2007, Parthian), Lyrical Diagrams (2012, Shearsman), Signs Like These (2015, Aquifer), and Objects from the Footcopier (2017, Red Ceilings). His most recent publication is Imagined Invited (2020, Hafan), an anthology of poems describing imaginary meals illustrated with surrealist collages by Mark Sanders. He is currently preparing a new collection titled Full Pareidolia which ‘takes visual and aural pareidolia [creative misperceptions] as an opportunity for adding grease and soap to already slippery words.’

Copyright © 2021 by David Greenslade, 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.