Monday, September 20, 2010

Carry on Alcaeus

Come, wet thy chest with wine: the dog-star now
Is rising high, the oppressive sultry glow
Of summertime brings parching thirst to all.
Now from the leaves the locust its loud call,
Its sweet shrill song, pours out from 'neath its wings.
The blazing heat, which withereth all things,
O'er all the earth is spread; the blooming thistle
Holds up its head; now womankind doth bristle
With passion most, and man is haggard worn;
For Sirius his head and limbs doth burn.

I always take Alcaeus' advice on drink which is nine times out of ten to get it down your neck, but to forbear if the state is in peril, as in his famous 'Cease Drinking, seize the rudders!" The state has not been in peril this summer and is unlikely to be through the Autumn, so that is jolly good news. The only Greek who gave me serious advice about drink told me to forbear even when the state was not in peril, but I prefer my advice to be of the ancient variety. Alcaeus was a contemporary of course of that frisky 'violet haired, pure, honey-smiling Sappho'. There they are at the top, Alcaeus fiddling as ever with his lyre and Sappho 'bristling with passion most'. They're obviously at some kind of poetry reading: you can tell this from the empty seats and the fact someone's asleep in the back row. That looks like an arts administrator just behind Sappho,too, feigning enthusiasm.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Castle

Smoke on water,
clouds and mirrors,
reeds like drowning arms.
You stir a painted toe in
the loch and light shivers,
last sparks of the summer.
It would be easy to be lost here:
we fall in and out of dreams,
and could die as easily as lose our way.
Night takes everything, you say,
and soon there is just voice, then less,
stars are sewn in gold at last,
and cold's a kiss.

Friday, September 03, 2010


Bad, bad blogger. Don't know why: work, maybe. Been writing lots as well, so that's maybe something to do with it. First of a wee run of appearances on Tuesday at Thomas Tosh in Thornhill, at 7.30 pm, then Glasgow the night after. Here's poem inspired by non-pupil day at school.


The windows frame the blues
that bank to the horizon,
throw up hints of the beauty
welled out there and
displaced by circumstance.

So the internal view too.
Our speakers have a screen
that swims with sentences like eels,
today’s terms of reference,
but words are everywhere

like air, and turn
to dread or desire more readily
than the curriculum:
that way, the sun on old wood like blood,
and there, that girl you could love.

Life is full of ghost measurings,
the gaps between what you pretend,
and what you are,
where you’re sitting now,
and where you really ought to be.