Counties                                                                                                    

These are my ancestors' counties.
Here they docked swedes, made bricks, dug coal.
Praising the invisible gods
and making love under hedgerows.
Did her lips taste of rich cider?
The kiss sweeter being stolen.
Time measured by the passing sun.

Sun strikes silver on Severn's shore
the bore tide heavy with water.
Here Romans had a bloody nose.
Caradoc that weaver of tales
With silken tongue held Senators
enthralled. Spun them a druid's line.

Chapel Sunday ended all that.
Pew strutting priests with black bile words,
the Devil in a coloured shawl.
Where is the promised land? Christ spat.
Where is the land fit for heroes?
Lie upon lie they built their house
rows of English and Flemish bond.

Back from the front. Gassed. The grey men
gasping. Stairs too steep to climb now.
Hear the whistle blow. Check the wind.
Shell shock. Shadow Silurians.
Had the wind knocked right out of them.
Mametz Wood. The Borderers fell.
Betrayed by an uncaring King.

Twenty one was the start. Lockout.
The big wheel still. Good men idle.
Lord Bute gave nothing back just took.
Five years later the railway men
turned their backs. Broke the alliance.
Miners scavenged slag heaps for coal
and watched as their children grew ill.

Spain became a rallying call
for all but the Establishment.
The Duke with his fascist salute
feared the Russians would smash his throne.
Hitler promised to restore him
a puppet on a gilded chair.
Instead he died while far from home.

Rationing and austerity
marked the post-war years.
Yet, from the cradle to the grave
was shouted loud from soldier courts
and gave birth to the Welfare State.
Nye had to buy Consultants off
with pieces of Judas silver.

The Sixties offered a new hope
but tired and frightened we lost faith
and so began the long decline
to where we find ourselves today.
No such thing as society
masks individual greed. Thatcher,
destroyer of communities.

These are my ancestors' counties.
Would they know them? Feel their sorrow?
Would their pagan gods be angered
at the destruction of the soil,
the ripping up of the hedgerows?
Time measured by the passing sun
will surely judge and let us know.