Silver Branch series:
Miles Hovey was a builder for 35 years in and about Pembrokeshire, a career ended by arthritis. He then gained a BA in Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and is now a Pushcart nominated writer and poet. In 2020 he won a place, along with six other poets, on a masterclass under the tutelage of Gillian Clarke, organised by Literature Wales. His work has appeared in The New Croton Review, Collide Zine, Literature Wales, The Aberystwyth MA Students Anthology, and Black Bough Poetry.
Miles enjoys writing memoir, including the ‘Song of White Van, Builder Man’, a 6,000-word poetic prose piece about the renovation of a chapel near Whitland, Carmarthenshire. He also writes short stories, is working on a novella and has a novel somewhere inside his head. His first collection, covering some forty years of work will be available towards the end of 2024.
Twitter@ @Milesqhovey Insta: @mq_hovey_poet
FB: Miles Hovey Poet/ Builder
Forest, a cathedral of columns
That struggle towards light,
An earth fugue, music struck
In tubes of transformation.
Taproots suck, thirsty proboscis
Seek routes through rock. Their tongues
wedge open fissures, sip dark liquids
from the stones cold lips.
Published by Black Bough Poetry in Deep Time: Volume 2
The rustle of retreating linen, bare feet on
stone, trowels slicing through mortar,
the plop as it drops as the tomb is sealed.
Anubis laughing, ushes in the soundless dark
Beyond lamplight, gold glints its responses.
Rebirth might end this tunnel of centuries,
between Carter’s gasp and Tut’s masked silence-
we seek our passage from oblivion.
Outside the tomb: eternity’s debris.
Scree-slopes that cling to the valley’s cliffs-
here, time lingers, caged by rib and cranium.
Dust in the skull’s cup struggles to remember.
But only in the making of King Tut’s mask
is the true human soul preserved?
This poem, published by Black Bough Poetry in Tutankhamun: Wonderful Things and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Counting Christmas Trees
Wrapped in city traffic, my mother drove
the Plymouth: an American saloon
in 1950’s green, down Oxford Street.
Wave after wave of festive lights above,
an incoming tide of human desires
mirrored in the rained-on river road.
Behind the steering wheel mum seemed so small,
though from those slender shoulders, those sinuous arms,
vast symphonies could fall.
In the back, we used our sleeves
to clean the fog from windows,
Conned by mum we counted Christmas trees,
we forgot to be carsick. We totalled ninety-nine.
The hundredth tree, topped by its battered angel
spiked deep-forest magic through our hall.
Published by Black Bough Poetry in the Christmas & Winter Anthology Volume 4
Brown leaves beneath feet.
Spring’s birdsong - long departed -
soon I will see my breath..
Published by Black Bough Poetry in: Christmas – Winter vol. 111
The Poet Reflects on his Life for 12 Stanzas..
Night’s curtain draws open.
Light dresses the edges
of fog banks, candy flossed
coverlets float over waves,
from a skull that lingers on the shore.
A slow swell lifts its limbs,
stretches, sparkles, carries
sun on its back. A new,
swift tide flows, a broad smile,
white and wide, foams towards
a skull’s indifference, on this lip of land.
Like wind swirled leaves, ripples
mark a squall, mounting breezes
roll fog banks back, clouds are
faces of fancy, or dragons
in disguise. They cast shadows,
like the skull casts on its shore.
Surf’s repetition breaks on me,
retreats, revolves, returns.
Slabs green, crests white, darts up
and over in its drift towards
those bones which can’t lookout,
that eyeless skull, grown sad, ashore.
A dull sea doesn't smile,
it mirrors dullness.
The sentences it sends
mean nothing to this space.
My own intelligence -
an empty skull rolling on this shore.
Beneath this sea sink piles
of refracted light, transformed,
by depth, to darker tones.
Here, morphine weeps
through tangled sleeps, where dreams
weave webs within this salt jewelled skull.
The midday tide is high.
Children leap lines of groynes.
‘No, no, no,’ cry angular
‘gulls, hung from their sky hooks.
The sun turns metallic the
pools of water, deep in skull’s sockets.
A storm’s turntable. The sun
winds the sea’s grooved surface.
Builds pressure, builds vacuum.
Adds hipsters and horns-men,
whose sound is their master-
loud in the jaw of the skull that sings.
Storm opens wide its mouth
to swallow continents.
Breaks white its teeth at base
of cliffs, blasts without cease
as if to bury deep in sand
all skulls tumbling on this land.
Is this my Guernica?
A disembodied head
of Cretan bull that roars
beyond horizon lines,
echoing in that space,
that vaulted skull, reckless on the shore.
The wind begins to wheeze,
calms to a hollow chest,
asthmatic, or little more.
Low pressure is filled, a
high blue sky wins out.
The skull lies still, careless on the shore.
Soft castellations of sea
catch thoughts like silver fry.
They swim in the ebb of
the evening tide. The
kind dark beckons. Time’s long
fingers, linger, then the skull is cupped.
Searching for fossils in winter.
I crack open this rock,
the flat of my chisel
twists, a key in a lock.
I search for what our
ancestors saw, but
had no words to name.
Inside is a nodule of stone-
times neat fist- I try to prise
its fingers open, to uncurl this
knuckle of frozen bone.
Published by Black Bough Poetry in Christmas – Winter vol. 111
Fox-cub, curious amongst roots, sniffs the air,
pauses, his foreleg poised, a child of caution.
Exile at eight, he sips meltwater from language,
takes his path towards the wood’s dark centre.
A psychedelic prankster, a foxy lady lover,
he consumes sorrow, plays with powdered joy.
Then, as a soldier, Foxman rides the M4 west,
tilts at hilltop windmills, with his lance of verse.
He finds trowels, bends his back to labour.
He digs, builds, creates meaning in his lair.
He loves, has cubs, is often found in pubs,
first his Father, then his Mother, die.
Pain burns in his joints; makes him want to retch.
He quits, now sits, writes, though never enough.
Fox-curious still, he leaves his lance on a hill,
and walks alone to the wood’s dark centre.
I think that I am mostly an observer in my writing. I have tried to portray the extraordinary that is present within the everyday lives of those I have worked with. For me there is a fascination for what lies hidden and waits to be unearthed and given a voice, be it sentient or not. All spaces we pass through contain epochs of history, and every place we walk through will fade. I wish to lock into the now and freeze it in words.
Miles Hovey, January, 2024.