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>Witch Boy

>Text Book


>Ready for the


by A. O. Griffiths


by Pete Crowther





Bedeviled, they said,

Had the witch's crying in his clear eye.

Stoned him, and his mother,

Rattle, rattle, out of the village,

And left them for dead, carrion,

Blasphemous flesh for the devil.


That day it was, dusk,

When I passed by in the fog of spring-time,

I and my mule

Scuttling down the mountain with sacks of grain,

When I heard a crying in the twilight.


Closer I moved

Until whimpering brushed the boughs by my head

And I saw him, Witch-Boy,

Cut into pieces by rock,

Sobbing in a pool of stones,

Limbs askew and sticky with blood.


I raised my spade and finished him;

Then devil silent.


Nothing in a pile of stones.





A Textbook Murder


I have just murdered a man:

Walked in, western-style,

And watched the bar clear

As if the men were thrown confetti.


Seconds, only, pass until the place is empty

But for my prey

Who shifts before my steady forehead.

Seconds later he is dead;

A ramshackle skull and a fallen barstool,

Bullet between the eyes.


I turn and stroll sedately out,

Capture a glimpse of the frigid street

Before my automatic movements

Whisk me to a city bed-sit:


A textbook murder,

Perfection and it's warming gloat

As I clean my gun

And slip it safely in my overcoat,

Close to the heart,

A job well done.




Ready for the Beating


He falls out drunk from The Jolly Sailor ,

The hoary bitch still in his nostrils,

Still the smell of indignation

Throttling the sea-air

With hairy arms desiring reparation.


Full with booze,

His anger even permeates the falcon-like tattoos

Upon his wrists,

His fists, snarled in a battle-group,

Are ready for the beating of the door.


“I'll kill you, whore!” he mutters to the night,

Fighting off the gutter as he trips

And feels his flesh rip nimbly

On the caustic angle

Of a bicycle abandoned on the kerb.


Seen and not heard for half-an-hour,

He leans with a punctured spleen,

And ruptured abdomen,

His heart become a silent drum,

His fists and fingers powerless among the spokes.



by Pete Crowther

  Beneath the clouds the rocky cliff
Rose up a thousand feet at least
And seemed to dominate the vale
Like some enormous castle wall
By giants built to subjugate
All lesser races such as we.

The climb was classed as ‘very severe'
Far harder than I'd done before
But nonetheless the time had come
To kit ourselves with ropes and slings
With cramponed boots and carabiners
And all the tackle that climbers use.

The rock felt good both hard and sound
As reaching up I slowly groped
And found a lovely ‘jug' to grasp.
No other thought had I beyond
Where next to place my hands and feet
No time for fear to take a hold.

At last I reached my fellow climber
And found myself an anchorage
My back to rock on a narrow ledge.
It was a shock to see below
Between my feet like tiny flies
A flock of jackdaws wheeling there
In miles and miles of empty air.

And on the snaking valley road
A car and bus in slow procession
Unreal they seemed, like children's toys,
So far away they made no noise.
Alas I had forgot the rule
That tyro climbers don't look down!

Exposure hit me like a fist.
The ledge now shrank to inches only
And all my limbs had turned to water.
I could not move or think at all
Stuck half-way up a vertical cliff
One step away from certain death.

How long the fit of panic lasted
I cannot say, it seemed an age
But very slowly strength returned
And by the time I had to start
My feet could move to face the rock,
My thoughts return to concentrate
Where next to place my hand and foot.

We carried on that afternoon
Up chimneys, overhangs and cracks
Until at last the final pitch
And then what joy to reach the summit.
This climb is known as ‘Avalanche'
It is the longest route in Wales .

All day we'd climbed without a rest
And lying on the springy turf
I realized I'd passed a test
And learnt something about myself
To help me fight the demon Fear.
Whenever now it shows its face
I simply murmur ‘Avalanche!.