Paul Chambers

Haiku | Sketches of Pill by Paul Chambers

Paul Chambers is an internationally renowned poet and haikuist, who here turns his eye to his much-maligned neighbourhood in Newport, South Wales.

Pillgwenlly, the historic docklands area of Newport, has made national headlines again recently, for a spate of violent, abusive, and destructive incidents that have led to the area being labelled as one of the most notorious wards in Britain. That type of media interest brings with it the inevitably broad journalistic strokes that, however factual, often distort or betray the complexities of a community. Even one in such a desperate hole as Pill seemingly finds itself today.

Though I harbor my own despairs at the failings of the city council and police force, the haiku in this cycle are not poems of blame or damnation. Neither are they poems of nostalgia for how the area used to be – sentimentality has its own way of strangling a community. They are simply sketches of life, some lighter, some darker, in Pill as I know it. Pill is a song that deserves to be sung, and I offer these small poems in the hope that they may encourage others to listen more closely to her truths.


ash on my sleeve
the first shades of dawn
over the docks

dust trembling
in the cobweb
spring night

early sun
the mist pulls away
from the river

pigeons mating
dark water trapped
in the grout lines

a caterwaul
sets off the dogs
spring moon

sun in the ribs
of the old pier
ebb tide

still summer heat
the scent drifts out
of the barber shop

summer dusk
girls chalk their shadows
on the new tar

burnt out car
in the late sun
a gnat swarm

searing heat –
the surveillance camera

evening shadows
a skipping girl’s plait
falling loose

the shadow
of a forgotten doll

in the brown river
they search for a body
hammering rain

autumn wind
a baited worm
becomes still

the uneven click
of the prostitute’s heels
falling leaves

late autumn morning
rain in the hollow
of a punctured ball

church cross –
a crow displaces
a crow

winter sky
the dead child’s clothes still
hanging on the line

park darkening
torn up pages
of a porn mag

shop shutters
rattled by a ball
winter twilight

slack water…
a gull pulls away
from its shadow


Paul Chambers‘ debut collection of haiku, This Single Thread is available now from Alba Publishing.