Aberfan Voices
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 27 July 2016 19:32



Numbers refer to the photographs of Chuck Rapoport in Aberfan - The Days After, Parthian Books, 2005. Also may be viewed on Chuck's website.


Ready to Fly




One day, when I’m grown up,

I will fly a real aeroplane

From London or Cardiff or America

And we will fly over Wales

And I will look out the window and point and say,


“Down by there is where we lived,

That little village in a valley.


Not that valley, the other one

With the green slopes and the new houses and see –

That new building, the school.”


And the sun will shine on the river Taff,

Clean and silver,

With the children playing and fishing.


And being so high, we will have to imagine

The fish they catch.

But we will know the faces of the children.






Page: cover/22








Bent double under that sack

He could be Hercules carrying the bull,


Atlas holding the whole weight

Of the endless heavens, stars grown dark:


But now I see him as St Christopher the Christ-bearer

Crossing the water,


At every step the load growing heavier.

For now he knows that each lump of coal


Is a child, each one in Christ embodied,

And that the crossing will never be done.








Page: 23













Where I was




Where were you when the old King died?

Walking to the pit-head with my butties.


Where were you for the Peace in Our Time?

In the parlour with Delyth and her mother’s new wireless.


Where were you when the bombers came?

Holding the hand of a Bevin Boy in the shivering dark.


Where were you when the war ended?

In the bath before our fire, hearing the church bells.


Where were you for the Coronation?

A mile underneath her kingdom.


Where were you when they put a dog in space?

Down here.


What about the missiles in Cuba?

We was well out of reach in the Merthyr Vale: already buried.


Where were you when the President was shot?

Checking my lamp and opening my snap.


And where were you when you heard about Aberfan?

Mid-shift, working at the face, blinded with dust that the tears

Began to wash, and the mandrel dropped

As my fists clenched, and I heard

The distant howls of men.






Page: 26 – 32



The Graves




Last night’s snow turning to mush,

Except at the height of the tips

Where nothing as pure and white

Should ever rest again.


This grave was a hard cold slog,

But I am used to the work

And three score years and ten has a rightness.

There’s been too much digging


For the children’s graves where freesias,

Chrysanthemums and lilies were left.

And now in the rain and snow

They curl and brown and wither.


We had extra help in for that. Other firms.

But I still have the memory of their weight in my arms.








Page: 34 - 45









He Being Dead Yet Speaketh


Most of the time his eyes were closed,

His hands were clasped to the pulpit,

Or he held on to the Bible

Like a buoy to keep him afloat.


Was there ever a sermon dug so deep

From the heart of a preacher?

He gave his son….

Loudly, through our tears we sang for all of them.







Page: 48-50















The First Baby




On a bed made up before the fire

In our front room

Our new baby is washed and fed

And put to sleep alongside Mam

In the light of the window.


A bit of sun comes through our nets

And makes funny shadows

And patterns on Mam and baby.


Mam says his eyes are not really open

And he can’t know his brother yet.

Only light and shadows and shapes.

Not the dark houses I can see down our street

Like a ghost street, spooky through the nets.











Page: 103-107










The Macintosh Hotel



The Mac is where we go to get away.

It’s always been at the centre of everything:

The Chapel and the Mac –

One for giving and one for taking away.


The crooner over from Caerphilly

Was pre-booked, but kept it low and sentimental like.

Bottles of stout, Hancock’s bitter, a game

Of darts, the kids fumbling and cuddling.


Keeping it normal, because carrying on is best.


‘Til Geraint tipped one too many down his neck,

Drowning the singer with Men of Harlech

And then gets up to do the Twist.

On his own, eyes closed,


With the whole place watching him.

And then he does a strip-tease

And that’s when we knew something has really changed.

And would never be the same.







Page: 67-85

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 July 2016 19:40

Tony Curtis


Tony Curtis Welsh Poet

Tony Curtis was born in Carmarthen in west Wales in 1946. He studied at Swansea University and Goddard College, Vermont, and is the author of several collections of poetry, including War Voices (1995); The Arches (1998); Heaven's Gate (2001) and Crossing Over (2007).


He has also written books of criticism, including How Poets Work (1996) and Welsh Painters Talking (1997), The Art of Seamus Heaney (1982) and Dannie Abse (1985). He is the editor of several books, including The Poetry of Pembrokeshire (1989); The Poetry of Snowdonia (1989); and Coal: an anthology of mining (1997).


In 2007, he edited the anthology, After the First Death, and published his latest collection of poetry, Crossing Over.


Tony Curtis is Emeritus Professor of Poetry at the University of Glamorgan where he established Creative Writing in the 1980s and directed the M.Phil In Writing for many years. In 2001 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was awarded a D. Litt in 2004.  He has toured extensively giving poetry readings and lectures and won the 1993 Dylan Thomas Award and a Cholmondeley Award in 1997. He lives in Barry, Wales.

Photograph by Jemimah Kuhfeld.

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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 04 December 2014 16:40

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Last Updated on Thursday, 04 December 2014 17:30

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Tony's Guardian workshop on the Villanelle