Saturday, 2 July 2016

He Recalls the Inventor of the Death Ray



i
Some time later, I would see the footage
Of Harry Grindell Matthews and the Death Ray.
He flickered, silent, moving newsreel-fast
Pressing switches, checking dials on his device.
A lightbulb flashed. An object fell from the sky.

ii
He told me, as a boy in wartime
He played in Clydach on the hill
Near the aging inventor’s home.
He wondered at the powered fences
Soaked up all the stories,
Imagined a world the man had designed:
Beams of flashgordon light
Swatting bombers from the night,
Skywritten warnings and news of war.
British Tommies in Welsh-built rocketpacks
Swooping into Berlin and abducting
Werner Von Braun from his home before
The Yanks and the Russians even get involved.
By the time the time the Japanese capitulate
To rayguns and riveted rocketships
Built of Port Talbot steel and Swansea copper
We have already built fleets with dragons inside them
Breathing blackandwhite trails of sparks and smoke and fire,
En route to the Moon, or Venus, or Pluto,
Englishmen at the helm, but made in the Valleys.
This boy’s own promise of a golden age
Made in Wales.

(Thanks to Dr Rhys Jones for reading this poem so beautifully.)

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