Wednesday, March 28, 2007


The four of them met at the Mount as it was the closest pub to the High Kirkyard. The plan was to have a pint then walk to Ali’s grave, then across the river to where Drew was buried, conveniently close to the Normandie Inn. They had a bottle of Yamikaze 12 year Old Japanese Malt to sprinkle on the ground at each site.

“There’s floaters in it, though”
“They’ll no mind” said Stevie, “they’re deid after all.”

They walked down the hill. It was a bright spring afternoon.

“Remember Kenny Morgan? He died young.”
“He drank, didn’t he?”
“Aye Paraquat” said Stevie, limping into the Kirkyard. Stevie had long suffered from some ailment which kept him intermittently short of breath. 14 pints of Guinness a day probably didn’t help either.

Time wore on. The sun was blazing and the distance between the graveyards was about a mile and a half, but seemed more. They had to stop quite a few times to let Stevie, by this time very red in the face, catch up.
They couldn’t find Drew in the second cemetery.

“Christ You cannae track him down even now. He still owes me a ten spot you know.”

It was a vast necropolis, apparently packed with men called Andrew who’d died before their time. The party split up, reformed, this time with no sign of Stevie.
Finally they gave up and drank what was left of the Yamikaze. It did have floaters. As the shadows lengthened, they set off to the Normandie Inn, then after a few pints, towards town.

“Where do you think Stevie got to?”
They were passing St Mary’s.
“That’s where his Mum’s buried isn’t it?”

They all nodded, noting its convenient proximity to the Fleshers’ Arms.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Legend of the Limping Man. Part One.

My life is a simple one, and I am seldom troubled by flights of fancy. Though not of a particular practical bent, nevertheless the strictures of work and family life leave little time for metaphysical speculation. The only time I permit myself in the week for what may be termed relaxation is the hour or so left between the closure of the school gates and the departure of the evening mail coach for Penpont. I spend this in one of the many tap-rooms in Queensberry Street, swopping convivial tales with many of the jolly fellows who wash up there. It is an easy enough pleasure and one which I anticipate keenly during long afternoons cramming latin grammar with the young denizens of Sandside. Lately, however, this innocent diversion has soured for me. During the dark days of January I began to get the peculiar but yet pervasive notion that I was being followed. By whom, or what, I could not discern. Of course, my first instinct was to dismiss the thought as pure imagination, or perhaps the result of too much pickled herring for lunch, but after a few days had passed with the same cold feeling persisting, in fact growing in intensity, I was forced to give credence to the fact that someone or something was indeed dogging my footsteps. The days of January and February were mournfully dark, the evil winter weather compounded by a thick and unnatural fog that seemed to blow in daily along the mudflats and through the alleyways of Drumsleet. It chilled a man to the very marrow and as I made my painful progress along the cobbled roads each night, I could not release myself from the dread sensation of being shadowed by a being I increasingly knew to be not completely human.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Strange Bamboo

I am currently working on the proofs of 'Strange Bamboo' or 'Strange Bimbo', as my wife rather pointedly calls it. The book contains everything that I think's any good since 'Aphrodite's Anorak', back in the dark days of 1996, with the result that most of the poems have been scuffing around for a decade or even longer, making cameo appearances in pamphlets, anthologies, magazines, booklets and so on. I'm familiar with nearly all of them and can't wait to formally kiss them goodbye. Tim Dowd told me recently that the important thing is to "get poems out" and he's quite right. Now I can start again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Nice Morale Booster in the Nick of Time

Ronnie Fisher

It's funny isn't it that just when you think life is impossible, that your enemies are irresistible and that that tight feeling in your forhead is a sure indication of a fatal thrombosis or at least a massive brain hemorrhage, that something good and cheery occurs?

This morning, for instance, after a long and fevered night thinking of all the ways to spend the 75p I've got to last till next Tuesday, mixed up with the grinning and triumphant face of TIM DOWD celebrating another literary coup, I awoke sweating to find a buzzing on my mobile phone indicating a message from a very close friend. It was from Ronnie Fisher, a well known and highly gifted wildlife painter, and one of these rare and altruistic folk who really make a difference in life, who actually do, by their bearing and consideration for others, lighten the step and share the burden.

I scrolled down the luminous green screen. It read:


Friday, March 09, 2007

The Honours of Scotland

The ‘Honours of Scotland’
School Trip February 2007

Lions, sejant affronte,
tressure flory, counter flory
swans wings and unicorns chained
on tapestry fresh as grass.
Pennants swing, the breeze of battle
pumped from some hidden place

where dark kings wander
from reality to myth and back
to the rasp of sackbuts.
Stand on the right spot, break a robot eye,
and see Bruce crowned by Britney Spears
as the Countess of Fife,

or James IV the glamrock dwarf,
staggering beneath a lifetime’s guilt,
or Mary, Bairn of Broons,
screaming for a dummy, or a husband,
or at least a change of CD.
Then the tin-plate, the filigree,

the stone poked in a corner,
no talk, or touch, or photographs.
More than the three quid poorer,
with the shop’s Braveheart pencils
still to come, the real honours
of Scotland pour downstairs,

career across the black hem of rock,
their country paralysed below,
the past, their future, no
live connection yet.

Monday, March 05, 2007

A Letter to Mr Brent Hodgson, Makar


Dear Mr Hodgson,My client, Mr Hugh McMillan, has instructed me to contact you with a view to winding up your joint correspondence. Having been shortlisted in twentieth place for the Drumsleet Tech College Poetry Prize (special no-cash award category) he now feels that he is too mainstream to bother with you. Whereas once he may have been pleased to idly exchange bitter little fripperies he now clearly has a duty to cement his place in the establishment of POETS and MAKARS, renewing the CULTURAL BLOOD of our nation. As a mark of his meteoric rise he has been invited by MR TIM DOWD to read at a conference in the University of Drumsleet in May in a five minute slot attractively named OTHER LOCAL WRITERS. Similarly when his new book is launched at the end of that month, McMillan has the honour of reading fourteenth on a bill headed by the famous MR TIM DOWD. So you must clearly see, Mr Hodgson, that he cannot have further truck with you, for fear of damaging his newly established status as one of the best poets ever seen in his postcode. He has high hopes of following in the footsteps of TIM DOWD and other famous MAKARS, and being seen to receive your pock-marked and smudged little letters brimming as they are with acrimony and envy can only be detrimental to these ambitions. He wishes to let you know that he will return your correspondence separately, along with the voodoo dolls you made of other regional writers.

Yours Sincerely,Mr Abraham Snitch