Thoughts from an early morning train

Thoughts

 

Thoughts from an early morning train

 

Strange how certain things – whilst falling apart –

take on shapes that almost seem deliberate,

as though planned that way, as though this

were merely a truer angle to see them from.

A reassembly of ideas. A reversal of mirrors.

So you become the terrified hare cowering in

the tractor wheel ruts as the carriage spears by,

not the owner of the jaded eyes witnessing it.

You always have been. You see holes now

where once there were pegs, an illusion of

opportunity created by yourself, by your own

shadow sweeping across the picture as you pass.

 

first published in Across The Margin, 2017

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Hinterland

Hinterland

Hinterland

 

They say it doesn’t rain here much, often, but

when it does, canopies of merciless cloud snuff out

 

every last square of the sky, hanging about the fields

like a quarrel, forgotten without ever being resolved,

 

and empty themselves in angled swipes that paste

both barley and nettles to the red earth, bleeding into

 

the leather boots and loafers of commuters on trains,

who steam coolly in their seats all the way into Waverley.

 

 

first published in Southlight Magazine, 2017

Poems published in Issue #6 of Neologism Poetry Journal

LeanMy thanks to editor Christopher Fields for taking a punt on four of my poems for the latest issue of Neologism Poetry Journal. This issue is – in Christopher’s words – “a little lean”, which I’m guessing could be a reference to the fact that it contains the work of only two poets. Alongside some fine work by Megan Mealor, you can find my wee quartet – Philadelphia Skyline, Your country, Crows and The quietening down – by clicking here.

Image: JimboChan

Three poems at Across The Margin

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I’m delighted to have had three of my poems published in the online magazine, Across The Margin. You can read “Thoughts from an early morning train”, “Afternoon, hillside above town” and “Bookmarked” by clicking here.

I’m really grateful to ATM’s poetry editor, Richard Roundy, for choosing my poems.

Leningrad, 1990

Leningrad


Leningrad, 1990

 
Even with only seven mutually-intelligible phrases,

we partied on the overnight express north like it was

everybody’s birthday, making a loaf out of crumbs.

Come morning, the train lurched in, to a metropolis with

two heads, neither of them facing in the right direction.

 

Then it rained three days, in bands of withering judgment,

from a sky heavy with itself and a marathon of history.

Ageing boulevards, redundant with missing teeth, became

tributaries. Palaces gleamed, and naked-headed citizens

in zip-up jackets, streamed along Nevsky Prospect wearing

 

identical tennis shoes, unaware that another revolution

was rearing like a rodeo bull, in a future already

out of touch with the present. They would soon be

renaming the city again. Back at our hotel, the lights

flickered. They warned us against drinking the water.

 

 

first published in Clear Poetry, 2017

Kearvaig – National Poetry Day 2017

Kearvaig

It’s National Poetry Day in the UK, so it would be rude not to mark the occasion somehow! After all, I’ve been writing poetry ever since I could write (just about). And I’m still struggling to move on…

This is a reposting of the first ever post I made here nearly eighteen months back. The poem was written many years ago, and belongs to a time when I first began submitting to magazines seeking publication. It didn’t last very long! And it was followed by a much lengthier hiatus.

The theme of this year’s National Poetry Day is “Freedom”. I’m not sure if this is necessarily a poem about freedom, but it’s certainly written about a time and a place where I felt a genuine sense of peace.

Whatever you’ve been doing to mark the day, I hope it’s been a great one.

Kearvaig

Tonight the sun just bluntly refuses to set,

yet I can squeeze no more minutes from the moment,

no more dry wood from the crashed crates scattered

between the docile rocks. It’s wet again.

I’m missing nothing, no-one.

 

I was sure that I saw whales in the bay,

slowly taking in the cliffs that look like

a church in resolute light.

I could be mistaken. They say that

tankers often come this way.

The deeper, wider ocean isn’t so far,

and I will still be here tomorrow.

 

First published in Poetry Nottingham 1997

Launch of Southlight 22 at the Wigtown Book Festival

Issue 22 of Southlight Magazine will be launched this coming Saturday, 23rd September, at the Wigtown Book Festival, a 10-day literary celebration in Scotland’s National Book Town.

This issue includes four of my poems: Planting cyclamen; Hinterland; Flood and Arran Victory. My thanks go to Southlight’s editorial team of John Burns, Vivien Jones and Angus Macmillan for choosing my poems. Best wishes for a successful launch – wish I could be there!

July night with crickets

July night with crickets

July night with crickets

Heat is supposed to rise, but in the gnawed, unslept hours
of horse latitude stillness, I feel it pressing down instead
like a steam iron, flattening the dark crumpled collar
of the night, squeezing out the comfortable creases,
making tiny bubbles simmer deliriously in the blood.

In the hall of leaves beyond the mosquito screen,
a hundred thousand invisible percussionists
rehearse their moment of moonstruck definition,
announcing themselves in ascending rattles of friction,
a clamour of legs and feet, answering the imprinted call.

We lie mutely, speckled with sweat, between the
top sheet of an unfamiliar bed and a drunken ceiling fan,
its blades flicking their way through uneven circles.
Before they even arrive, I can feel your fingertips
reaching out to bridge the narrow space separating us.

first published in Gyroscope Review, issue 16-3, 2016

Metro

Danger of death

Metro

 

A life’s script runs abruptly out of lines. No need to worry.

Neither dropped bottle nor platform smash as they collide.

The broken man has drained away in overlapping episodes.

 

A final seizure rattles the jawbones, breaks two teeth,

and the sorry bladderful seeps down the shapeless trousers,

painting its temporary stain across the concrete.

 

Only God hears the silent, glacial cry. This and other things

are and will be over. Turn your head. No need to look.

Life has eaten dignity all away, leaving death to go hungry.

 

With the night’s invasion complete, the men who come

from nowhere will come, scrape up the flaccid corpse,

leaving bottle and platform behind, and disappear back

 

into the unspoken shadows. The collective memory is reset.

No need to dwell. Our Metro is still warm and efficient.

‘Attention,’ says the sober voice. ‘The doors are closing.

 

first published in Here Comes Everyone (Transition Issue), 2016