Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Devorgilla's Bridge

Devorgilla’s Bridge

She was an astronaut in stone,
all her building
was meant to span the gap
between earth and our imagining

and this bridge was the same,
connecting us to the green islands,
pilgrims to their inner place.
Even now the bridge seems

to arch above the pizza shacks
and flats that hunch on either bank.
Here I first saw birds on black water,
here I kissed my first cheeseclothed girl.

Sometimes the bridge was less than solid,
a bridge too far, a dreamed of bridge,
a bridge that held at one end
a drifting fleet of moonlit pubs,

more brilliant than any field of stars.
It was a bridge of history,
Kings, bishops, bodysnatchers,
and a million more melted

on either side like ice or smoke,
a bridge of mystery, indeed:
only a hundred yards to walk,
and the infinity of space between.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Postcards from Thornhill

The launch at Thornhill went well in spite of , or perhaps because of, it clashing with the Scotland Macedonia game. A genteel and well educated crowd received the potery well, drinking tea, sipping lemon squash and sampling the delicious haggis canapes. Indeed I had high hopes of a very small wine bill until the doors smashed open to reveal Lexie and his mate carrying between them the half stupefied body of Ansel Broon, the richest man in Penpont. Of course it all came to a hurried conclusion then with matrons fleeing in all directions, plates being upturned and bottle after bottle of vintage Chateau Drumsleet drained. At the centre of it all, of course, was Ansel Broon who-and I have noticed this facet of his character before- in spite of being completely unconscious, managed to drink more than everyone else put together. He also did not buy a book as his wallet is suspended on a silver chain somewhere near his long johns and he claimed to be unable to retrieve it. without undressing completely, a prospect even I was not prepared to countenance for such a small sum.

After the launch we carried Ansel across the road to the Buccleugh where he started on the Black Rum. Ansel is a legend in Penpont and Sanquhar so it was a great honour to me when he turned to me at one point, still completely unconscious, and said "That Poetry was SPOT ON, son."

Ansel Broon is 142.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More of my Scottish poems

My new project is to represent a particular period of Scottish history, with a contemporary flavour of course. You've already had my Oatcake One below. Here are some more:

The Maid

Lydia sits framed against the sun
a wide brimmed hat to shade her eyes.
Behind her the green autumn hills roll like waves
to a distance, the collision of land and cooling sea,
the busy hum and grasp of nations.
Here she is Queen of Cats and Lawns,
her fingers webbed in sugar
and the light through fairy wings is like stained glass.
Each day is dizzy and endless.
Yet her name is known:
they mutter it already, enter it in treaties,
and the corridors she must walk down
are built and scarved in shadow.
Even as she’s an angel, the child’s a ghost.

The Harbour at Caerlaverock

Beyond the brazen red walls
of the postcard castle,
a no-man’s land of mulch
where ground meets sea and sky.
There you’re ambushed,
not by a cat-walk of nobles
in gay pavilions,
their ships riding in Solway regatta,
the re-enactors dream,
but by root and ghost,
shadows come across the black Firth
bound for Wardlaw and the shifting west,
brown men, knotted like wood,
sent to die at the eyelids of the world.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Tynron Doon

Tynron Doon overlooks the village of Tynron and eastwards towards Penpont and Thornhill. It has been describes as the "most important and impressive fortress in Dumfries and Galloway." People lived there from the first Millenium BC up to the 16th Century but most finds date from the period 5th-8th Century AD, including a beautiful gold pendant. Mr and Mrs Shug go up there every August. Superb views. Good natured sheep. Light drizzle. Can of cider or two. You know the kind of thing.