St Beuno's poems by J. P. Wooding

Published on 29 Mar 2017

To St Beuno’s

Henry Kerr and Mr Bodoano met me at St Asaph, Mr Bacon put scarlet geraniums in my room.

(Journal of Gerard Hopkins, Aug. 28, 1874)


Fall, then, of dregs-from-the-wine-vat

petals; say, blossom aleatory.


The thought (today’s) is this: unique

selling point of religion is (still) holiness.


Petals in blood-spill asymmetry

make it more arduous for sanity.


Stamens sift rich sand in timbre,

shock flakes are tumbled pumpkin.


Count the fallen petals. Sixteen.

The nib of my pen jussive in this affair.


Holy order. How could it be arbitrary otherwise?

And as it happens, four left on one stem.


Now, in this confusion of colour and coloratura

something’s transparent apparent –


(as wine too may only mean one thing in such a case;

it’s indiscriminate after all) –


We shan’t last long. Holiness takes her chances.

She falls in the dreg-petals, drunken.


(J. P. Wooding, St Beuno’s, 2016)



Silent School (at St Beuno’s College)


Biocrats know, don’t they, whether I can speak

of God at all in a disconfigured world?

On Offa’s Dyke path God unpreempts

delivered speeches, withdrawing light

from a single strand

of this wind-flickered spider’s web.


Frost-buds – grey-haired – becoming apple blossom –

(it’s not for me to be original) –

and hail falling on Moel Maenefa;

how to forsake Gerard’s “damn’d subjective rot”

                o, powerless power –

I never get far enough away, as you know.


But delay is play in the labyrinth here – think

simultaneity and separation,

resistance and reassurance –

hieroglyphics and let’s say birdshit

at the centre

and all your eccentric unseen is nó móre.


How I love to take notes (which will never be seen)

on birdshadow’s imprint in memory’s eyes,

on triggered caprices of angry birdsound –

no omniscience out there, checking

on me – tswit, tswit –

Look! shimmying grass blades in an icy wind,


and the way tree roots break the woodland surface there,

bridled and brindled by cone and needle

and last year’s leaf, and the gathering, great

encampment of leaping-dolphin ramson leaves,

of lilies

stinking up the narrowing pathway.


And so, how do you share this silence, Greenleaf Whittier?

Must I share silence

just as vinegar bibles into vineyard,

and the disfiction of God impartially

notes nothing

whatsoever changes God, and vice versa?


(J. P. Wooding, St Beuno’s, 2013)