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We bring you gifts of skimmed stones,

cigarette ends, plastic bottles and bags.

You give us the ruin of shells,

vomit a brown yeasty froth,

spit out bodies of the drowned.


           from Something Lurks by Annest Gwilym 






 My First Disgrace

The Shady House

Last Night I Became an Emperor Moth

my breakfast table awaits his return

Something Lurks

Beach pottery mosaic


Seasons in the Sun

Days like this to be read as honey

The Moon Hedgehog




1 – BIOGRAPHY:  Annest Gwilym


Annest Gwilym’s writing has been published in a number of online and print literary magazines and anthologies including: Amaryllis, Ariadne’s Thread, The Cannon’s Mouth, The Journal, Clear Poetry, Poetry Space, Reach Poetry, Strange Poetry, The Dawntreader, Visual Verse, The Ekphrastic Review, Optimum Poetry Zine, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Sarasvati, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, The Projectionist’s Playground, Ink Sweat & Tears, the Templar competition anthology Mill (2015), the University of Chester’s competition anthology Patches of Light (2016), the Clear Poetry anthologies 2016 and 2017, Disability Arts Cymru’s anthology Out of Sight (2018), Indigo Dreams Publishing’s anthology For the Silent (2019) and the University of Chester’s anthology Island Chain: Short Stories from the Cheshire Prize for Literature 2018 (July 2019). She was also included in the Poetry Kit’s e-books/anthologies in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

She has received four Special Commendations and three Shortlisteds in writing competitions in recent years. She also received a Special Mention in Sentinel Literary Quarterly’s poetry competition (May 2018). She was joint runner-up in the Cheshire Prize for Literature 2015, for short fiction, and shortlisted in 2018. She was the winner of firstwriter.com’s Fifteenth International Poetry Competition 2016/17.

Annest is the author of two books of poetry: Surfacing (2018) and What the Owl Taught Me (2020), both published by Lapwing Poetry. Twitter: @AnnestGwilym





My First Disgrace


The bride inches quivering up the aisle

Despite the valium and whisky breakfast.                                                                             

Metallic blue eye-shadow, half-baked smile,

Fawn acrylic factory dress, not made to last.

A vintage harvest of uncles and sideburns,                                                                 

Mullets, feather-cuts, chest-hair and curls,

Strut their stuff as the glitter-ball turns.

Cousins running wild, boys and girls

Play minesweeper with half-drunk glasses.

I win every raid, hole-in-one all the loot,

Whether Babycham, beer, sherry or Martinis.

A Dancing Queen, sick on her own suit;

Twelve years old, angelic in the face,

Sowing the seeds of her first disgrace.



The Shady House


In a shady house by Bangor Pier,

you are forever picking up dust.

On a diet of tobacco, herbs and beer,

you live as you know you must.


You are forever picking up dust,

as flies thumb window panes.

You live as you know you must,

in the pall of old people’s homes.


As flies thumb window panes,

you rustle up your spliff.

In the pall of old people’s homes,

the Brylcreem perfects your quiff.


You rustle up your spliff,

as the sea slides slowly past.

The Brylcreem perfects your quiff,

you see the top of a mast.


The sea slides slowly past,

you are starting to get high.

You see the top of a mast,

as a ghost-ship slithers by.


You are starting to get high –

the guitar is your curvy girl!

A ghost-ship slithers by,

sails of sand, decks of pearl.


The guitar is your curvy girl –

she never answers back!

Sails of sand, decks of pearl,

who said you had a lack?


She never answers back,

with hips like froth on beer.

Who said you had a lack,

in a shady house by Bangor Pier?



Last Night I Became an Emperor Moth


I rode through the liquid night,

as a melon-slice moon crested a bank of cloud.

Part of the hush and curve of the universe;

Pleiades above me a diamond cluster ring.

Clothed in starlight, wings powdered,

furry belly glossy and plump.


Left the moor for a jaunt to the seaside,

over towns with flickering lights and strange smells.

Saw the sea corrugated by waves,

tang of salt quickening my senses.

Shimmied and played chase with the ladies,

rested with them on marram grass.


Birdsong ushered in the return of the sun;

drowsy, went home to sleep in the heather.

There to wait for my lover; my musk strong,

it will draw him from miles. He will come,

wings taut with blood. Antennae fresh as ferns.

Owl eyes pulsing with life like coals.



my breakfast table awaits his return


(inspired by Mrs Mounter at the Breakfast Table by Harold Gilman, 1916-17)


my home is small and dark in a dirty street

of this city full of widows


the table is set for my son’s return from Ypres

he said it would be soon


so I fill this house with patches of bright colour

I polish the teapot


until it is a mirror reflecting light from three windows

and the lustreware milk jug


dances with copper, red and blue scintillations

on the spotless white tablecloth


none of my crockery matches but cleaner and shinier

you will not find in all London


the turquoise and gold patterned wallpaper matches

the forget-me-not blue of his eyes


I brighten myself too with a poppy-red scarf

a dress with splashes of scarlet


my breakfast table awaits his return



Something Lurks


(Inspired by Helen Dunmore’s Hungry Thames)


We walk by your side in the silence of crabs

as your mocking laughter ripples

the sea’s crypt. Too close, your mud-flesh

sucks at our feet, sinks them

with sly sips, sucks and swallows.


Your distilled Cretaceous soup is home

to one who drums his fingers in the dark,

jaws snapping in the tunnelling depths.

Long reachings taste children’s legs,

unaware of a huge digestion in the deep.


We bring you gifts of skimmed stones,

cigarette ends, plastic bottles and bags.

You give us the ruin of shells,

vomit a brown yeasty froth,

spit out bodies of the drowned.


During high tides and storms

your fingers reach up our garden paths,

sneak under doors into our houses.

And at night your tentacles whittle down

the star-draped heavens.



Beach pottery mosaic


Storm-washed sand-stormed jigsaw,

            your voices sing

as the tide comes in.

            High-tide the moon rides

the waves a ragged hag,


the sea’s mirror.

            I’m in a million

pieces on the beach;

            nothing aches like

the static of tides.

            You chafe my sharp edges,

silky stories in your hand.

            I gather my broken pieces

and send them spinning

            into Andromeda,

Whirlpool, Sombrero.

            The hurt breakwater

and Via Lactea


whisper that even

            my broken glass

can become sea treasure.





summer streams from their tail-flags
in the stillness of stones and meadowsweet
they weigh their joy by the gram and wear it
silver the sky   swung by horizons
out-ghost the moon   swerve past drifting trees
fork-tailed surfers of air currents   skywriters
skim the barn door   pluck insects on the wing
swirl   swoop   twist   turn   twirl
glide   scoop   flare   wheel   whirl
quick as a flicker of light in a puddle
seraphim of the sky   bubble their song
chitter-chatter gibber on telephone wires
make soft butterflies bloom in my mouth



Seasons in the Sun


She lived in a net-curtained house

with anaemic pot plants and china figurines

of big-eyed animals and ladies in long dresses.

There was always the smell

of stale sponge cake and a scattering

of doilies, a brown flowered carpet,

drab furniture with crochet antimacassars.


She only spoke the island Welsh,

always with a twinkle in her eye.

We were no angels: girls that slipped

melting ice lollies through the dark mouths

of post boxes, stuck out our Black Jack tongues

at strangers, danced the can-can

in her bloomers and best chapel hat

rummaged from her bedroom

while she spoke to our mother.


In a hot summer that reverberated to the sound

of roller skates tearing up concrete

she took us in her shiny black Morris Minor,

speeding past farms and fields of potatoes,

to the candy floss paradise of Benllech

with its wide apron of sand and donkeys.

Me in my beloved yellow towelling hot pants,

while Seasons in the Sun played

from everyone’s open door.



Days like this to be read as honey


I would give you:

the honeydrip of low sun on the horizon;

a cold that sugar-coats mountain tops,

collides cells and atoms;

all the tree-lined hours of your dreams;

a moonsuck and sunstruck

clock stuck at youth;

four seasons in a day.


In my witchery I would

line up jars of bright starshine

on your windowsill;

conjure Caravaggio days,

raining pomegranate seeds;

trap it all in amber.


And if you ever lived,

you could live it too.



The Moon Hedgehog


One night the moon cracked open

and out he tumbled, with newborn spines

that pricked the air in their fire-beauty,

while the constellations sang.


Golden-tipped sea urchin, he fled

through looms of leaves fingered by spiders

and night-crackling grass while the moon,

tangled in branches, smiled her lamp.


Hedgepig, he sucked milk from drowsy cows

as his black-star eyes bored holes in the night.

In spotlit hedgerows he snuffed for snails,

while a fox bark thrilled the slumbering wood.


A barn owl chafed the caverns of sleep;

all night he snuffled, snaffled slugs and worms,

blackened his lips with soft blackberries,

fell asleep at dawn drunk on moon-juice.




My First Disgrace – the Templar competition anthology Mill (2015).

The Shady House – The Journal (2015).

Last Night I Became an Emperor Moth – A Compendium of Beasts – A PK Project (2016). Winner of firstwriter.com’s Fifteenth International Poetry Competition 2016/17. Also published in Three Drops from a Cauldron (25 May 2018).

my breakfast table awaits his return – The Ekphrastic Review (2017).

Something Lurks – Special Mention in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly poetry competition (May 2018).

Beach pottery mosaic – Out of Sight, an anthology of poetry about mental illness by Disability Arts Cymru (2018).

Swallows – Optimum Poetry Zine (2018).

Seasons in the Sun – Amaryllis (2018).

Days like this to be read as honey – Quixotic travellers (A PK Project for December 2018).

The Moon Hedgehog – Three Drops from a Cauldron (2019).


4 - Afterword

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