Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tanya's Secret Garden

Tanya’s secret garden,
where she’ll fill the years with hours,
hides in plain sight by the Mersey.
Asking names of plants & flowers

she hunkers captivated, squints
at faded labels, slowly reads
out Araucaria araucana
whispered, worshipful, and freed

from the hammered rapid language
life has taught her by degrees,
muted here by arboretum, pool
and rock and root simplicities.

A weary mile away is brick
and wall and views unseen
through windows smeared to grime
of choking weeds too dark a green.

Here, for now and always,
windows open day on day,
where Tanya, on her crumbling ledge,
watches them unfold away

to futures blooming distantly,
perenially, and bright.
And I can only stand,
watch and will her into flight.

Scotland's Makar

Now that Edwin Morgan's gone, who would wear the shining crown of Scotland's Makar? I've been away 12 years, & my memory's slightly rustier, but a few candidates & strong contenders spring to mind. Douglas Dunn, Kenneth White & Stewart Conn stand out for me from the 'older' set. Maybe a 'younger' face, such as Don Paterson, Kathleen Jamie, Matthew Fitt, James Robertson or Robert Alan Jamieson. A Gaelic poet would no doubt be controversial but perfectly apt, & maybe a better idea, in my opinion, someone like Aonghas MacNeacail, Crisdean MhicIlleBhain, Meg Bateman or Aonghas Phàdraig Caimbeul. A lot of it's down, of course, to face-fitting (an unusual but not unheard-of skill in some French hospitals), politics, media-savviness, personal promotion & actual location - some of the above don't live in Scotland, or even the UK. If Morgan's a good early example, then a high talent ought to be an obvious pre-requisite, & gender, sexuality & a remote location ought not to be barriers.

We'll all have our favourites, of course, & better poets won't come into consideration for this reason or that dressed up as something else. Me? I'd have Dunn. I rank some of his poetry among the finest written by a Scottish poet in the last half century. Oh, & he's a decent bloke too.


Day by nomadic day
Our anniversaries go by,
Dates anchored in an inner sky,
To utmost ground, interior clay.
It was September blue
When I walked with you first, my love,
In Roukenglen and Kelvingrove,
Inchinnan's beech-wood avenue.
That day will still exist
Long after I have joined you where
Rings radiate the dusty air
And bangles bind each powdered wrist.
Here comes that day again.
What shall I do? Instruct me, dear,
Longanimous encourager,
Sweet soul in the athletic rain
And wife now to the weather.

Saturday, February 06, 2010



The house is not a home that lies bereft
of care or love when love and care have left.
Best lock the door, but leave the key behind
for others less bereft of heart to find.

Bright echoes fade into the toneless drone
of self-perpetuation. No-one's home,
that's clear, though lights shine hopefully behind
dull windows curtained carelessly by time.

This house is empty, long unoccupied,
not cleaned nor taken care of, and inside
lie artifacts left crumbling and unclaimed
by blameless occupants long gone, yet named

devotedly in dust which carpets them
protectively, a love that need condemns.
How, then, to ascertain time's rightful dues
to what today may keep or daily lose?

Dull memory thuds hopelessly against
the ever-lessening chains of future tense
near frayed now. Daylight, real light, through a door,
come burst asunder this forever more,

spark flames of now, light fires of the soon,
set well ablaze the pyres built high, consume
the very life of death and leave a way
that leads not to the past but to today.

The house is not a home that lies bereft
of care or love when love and care have left.
Best lock the door, but leave the key behind
for others less bereft of heart to find.