My first degree was in zoology and I’ve always felt an attraction to the natural world but since re-training as a software engineer back in the mid-90s I’ve found myself, and many others around me, move away from what I feel is really important while slowly adopting a dependence on technology and its negative influence on our sanity.
And so I have tried to write a modern collection that focuses on digital capitalism, the negative influence of big tech and our addiction to data. I’m deeply concerned with the negative direction mankind is taking and feel we all need to steer ourselves back to a far simpler, happier place in the far more important offline world. Death and depression, as well as love and nature, are also ever-present themes in this collection and I’ve also tried to package the message up by including some very subtle, yet haunting, photographs.
“An epic tour de force of modern poetry. The opening poem, (Diet), is reminiscent of T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ and this author’s ‘Roadkill’, but this time focuses on digital capitalism. Lewis is primarily concerned with the madness and addiction pervading our online worlds while we neglect the more important offline. The title is a hope rather than a statement.
“The book includes a handful of vignettes and reflections of the author’s immediate locale, edited in the style of Julia Margaret Cameron that provide an added texture and insight to the text. Another piece of top drawer writing by one of Wales’s best poets.” – Andrew Davies
Historical crooner, troll-like in burrows
your eerie cries are supernatural.
Lacking red, yellow and orange
but you shear the air to make up for it.
I walked a few steps around your island once. Got
so tired in a day with sandwiches and pop.
Marvelled at your fifty million mile journey
from Bardsey, (just down the road really) to Brazil, Argentina
and Southern Africa.
You hang on the gale like the washing on my line
and use your super powers to trace the planet.
Crystals of magnetites within the eye
you navigate better than Shackleton.
Ginsberg’s puffin, who cries at the moonlight
come home to me at night.
And you connect for life
and say hello with a kiss.
As old as me
but much wiser I see.
(After hearing news of another ‘Royal’ engagement)
I’m flicking through the channels on the TV
trying to escape the news of a future princess
when the memory of another comes to mind.
Correct me if I’m wrong but
isn’t the daughter of a king supposed to be a princess too?
Even small children know this to be true
but the bastards keep it from our memories
like Longshanks kept it from you,
after he betrayed your father – the father of us all.
Your mother died to bring you into that cruel world,
your cousins slaughtered like pigs in blankets
as the last stars were blotted out.
Today they call it genocide or ethnic cleansing
when he tied your uncle to a horse’s tail, made him become four
but you never knew, perhaps a blessing in disguise.
And they continue to uproot our oaks,
the withered branches of our tribe
slashed away by ruthless hands.
Such a hero, safe within his ring of steel
dripping blood from babies
to write his foreign history books.
He tried to kill the bards – the Bob Dylans of their day,
so scared he was of a precious girl
a tiny, helpless female heir.
But brave poets sang around campfires for over six hundred
about a prisoner no-one saw
in flat, saucer-like Lincolnshire.
They say you never knew your language,
you never knew the mountains,
you never ran through meadows,
picked flowers from your lands,
or sat by babbling brooks
in a free-flowing, Celtic summer dress.
fight them, make them see,
force the unpalatable words within them,
until they see their evil deeds
and let those white-robed voices pray to pay us back
at the crippled priest priory.
I watch the heart-red sun –
a closed door on this short winter’s day
of an unknown village
where you deprived a child a motherland’s love
just to hunt the bloodline
and crush the resistance with heads on spikes
but down an uneven cart track to wind-blown ruins
where fire becomes a scent I will not forget
in waking dreams I can still run my fingers over a pile of ever-
Cardiff, rush hour
He swishes an unwashed hand across Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3
as I marvel at the bespoke dirt under his fingernails.
‘On the bus buttie boy, headin’ down to the city now,’ he shouts,
all workmanlike to a friend who is off to get his piss tested.
‘Shld be there in twenty mun, got ta git the best spot see, before
the skanks wake up and stink the place out.’
I can’t help smiling to myself and quickly survey the other
there’s a pouting office girl with eyebrows like thick garden slugs,
there’s a frightened lad, probably his first day, all spotty, cheap
tie, nervous hands.
I glance across at the old dear with the trolley full of cat food and
wonder how small she is under the three coats.
Then I spy the expensive suit with the FT all neatly folded,
unaware of the looming crash that will never bother our
I’m suddenly sucked back in to the one-sided conversation,
‘Pick me up some skunk in reception will ya? I’ll settle later man.’
I watch as he messes up his hair, checks the rips in his t-shirt,
spits a few more stains for good luck.
I know where he’s heading – everyone back in town knows!
The bus drops him off by the multi-storey and I watch him sprint
across the road on well-fed, muscular legs,
unfolding his well-worn cardboard sign – a Picasso of austerity
Then he slows down, starts to limp, he’s the ‘Usual Suspect’ in
plonks down on the widest pavement, becomes ragged, instantly
He’ll do the morning shift, even accept coffee and sandwiches –
he’s not proud you know.
Then by midday he’ll pack up his work tools, catch the X4 north,
flash his travel warrant, paid for by the dole.
He’ll pop in ‘The Wonky’ for a couple, count his takings on the
bar and then debate the state of the economy with the other
Then he’ll head home with an Iceland bag full of goodies for his
His mam who got sanctioned last month for spending the week
down at Trecco instead of filling out application forms for non-
“Dave Lewis’ quest to go off grid, escape the tyranny of a technological age where ‘Gaia has gone AWOL’ takes us through angry rants against injustice, racism and the destruction of our planet, through a whirlwind of references from Tolstoy to Bob Dylan, Cheltenham Races to ASBOS to lyrical reflections on love and a natural world closely observed. Terrific photographs of landscapes he so clearly loves counterpoint his collection which perfectly captures the conundrum of escaping the world we’ve made to finding the magic we’ve lost.” – Chrys Salt MBE
“Dave Lewis’ latest poetry collection, ‘Going Off Grid’ is a magnificent and timely achievement. From ‘(Diet)’ to ‘All of you’, his poems are alive with energy, coupled with a forensic eye on many aspects of our existence, past and present. There is tenderness too, and all this together with Lewis’ own haunting photographs reveal his big heart and sharp intelligence. This collection, ending with a section of illuminating Notes, should be required reading for the young, for Millennials and those of later years who have finally come to wonder is this all there is?” – Sally Spedding