Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas to all. Here are the weans this morning, surrounded by horses. Hope everyone has a good holiday and a warm time with friends and family.

Anyone wanting to listen to my Chrissie poem from last Sunday's Poetry Please its on I-player till 30th December.


The poem is from Aphrodie's Anorak which is avialable on the sidebar on the right if you've no got one!

2013 soon, eh? How tempus fugit xx

Friday, December 14, 2012

Long absence

Two months: Sorry folks, if any folks are still out there!  Too much work, and too much reliance on Facebook. Nearly Christmas, and it has been a long and weary few months. Hoping to give up my work before too long. 34 years last October since I started. I'm still writing like stink and a few things are happening. I'm on Poetry Please on Radio 4 on 22nd December and I am, most excitingly, writing a libretto for an opera due to be performed in Edinburgh in August. Jekyll and Hyde, I'm both!

Was up north last weekend, lovely. Here's a photo and a recent poem.

In the language of this remote area there are many terms for the feeling
you get when you see a grey mist creeping down a cold hill where some wet sheep are waiting stoically


Drod (n) Dull indefinable feeling of being involved in a scene that prefigures one’s own death, as in ‘This morning my father woke to a peculiar sense of Drod’

Sleugh (n) Psychosomatic, but terrifyingly real, sense of nausea, often experienced in natural surroundings

Drod an sleugh

Fister (verb) To creep sickeningly slowly, like an injured beast, or a disease, as in ‘Uncle Ansel is fistering down the road again’

Fistering drod

Fistering drod an sleugh

Shommers (n) plural (colloquial) a group of things that might be imagined but are very real to the person that experiences them

Shommers o drod

Shommers o drod an fistering sleugh

Dwank (adj) (archaic) Black, sodden, wet, often in relation to a carcass, as in ‘Last night I found a dwank horse’s head under the duvet’.

Dwank shommers o drod

Dwank an fistering shommers o drod

Dwank shommers o fistering drod

Crombled (adj) Crippled, hunched, incapacitated as if by great age or boredom

Crombled wi drod

Flack (verb) To become too weak to move while simultaneously exasperated

Flacking crombled

Flacking crombled wi drod

Flacking crombled wi shommers o drod an fistering sleugh



Thursday, October 04, 2012

Hasppy National Poetry Day

Points Missed

She’s found a star in the park,
a gleaming stone
in the dust and woodchip.
What will we do, Daddy?
I smile absent-mindedly.
Jump up, she shouts, and throw it back!
I am wondering whether
this is the start of winter,
if that pain in my side is worse,
if the money will last,
if the keys are in the car,
while she roots in the here and now,
and turns up star after star after star.

H McMillan

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Readings and conversations with the National Poet of Scotland – Liz Lochhead- and Hugh McMillan

Readings and conversations with the National Poet of Scotland and Hugh Macmillan.
For the benefit of The Ian Wardlaw Drama Trust
Wednesday 10th October at 7.30pm
Brigend Theatre
Market Square, Dumfries, DG2 7AB
Tickets £10 (£5 for students and unwaged)
Tickets available from The Midsteeple Booking Office, High St, Dumfries.
Tel: 01387 253383

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Some events. If you're in the Upper Nith Valley, Darcy and I are not to be missed on the 29th September in Sanquhar! She's a brilliant emerging singer songwriter and not so green in real life!

Also appearing soon- Best British Poems 2012, in which my poem 'Too Big a Part' appears.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bacchus and Ariadne

Bacchus and Ariadne

See Theseus is away then,
wis it the old
couldnae help it a Goddess telt me to routine?
Load o bull.
Better aff wi me,
weel kent roon here,
pimped ma own chariot,
bit showy but ken how tae party.
Dinnae be pit aff by wee Airchie,
goats’ feet run in the family,
wee pun there.
Did you see my Uncle Davy
daein his snake dancing in the X-Factor?
Simon Cowell owes me, hen.
Stick wi me, see your name in lights,
make ye a star.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Yesterday was the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Kirkpatrick McMillan, the inventor of the pedal bicycle. The McMillans went down to the Smiddy where he lived and a wreath was laid at his grave in Keir Mill. In attendance was George, the Clan Chief. Here's a poem for the occasion:

Both Feet off the Ground

What makes the difference is letting go:
whether peddling or dreaming,
letting go of the ground.
I wonder what’s in this landscape
that turns whiskered sons
of the soil or manse into dreamers?
Not far from here are cottages,
yards apart, that in the space of fifty years
turned out an Oxford Don
and an Admiral of the Sultan’s navy;
not posh boys, boys from the village school.
I suppose it’s our imagination that makes
ordinary things marvels,
the Dandy Horse a bicycle,
a road from Carronbridge to Holywood
the runway to infinity.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Reading in Edinburgh

Thursday 16th August 


Cornerstone Bookshop, St John's Church Terrace, Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4BJ
5:30pm - 6:30pm


FREE - donations welcome

Hugh McMillan and Lesley Duncan
Poems about History and Life in general


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hurrah I can write poetry on my blog again! Always thought the Salutation Hotel viewed from across the bridge looks, if you;re drunk enough, like Venice. The brilliant Chrissie Fergusson, as you can see below, agreed.

The Balcony of the Salutation Hotel

There’s a balcony in Dumfries,
between cypresses,
above the black wall of river,
and when the sun’s hung above it,
no doubt at all it’s Venice,
and from Venice isn’t it just a step,
when the light falls on water
like shining pieces of a mirror,
to happiness?
It’s nothing like Venice, you say,
when you’re up there it’s freezing
and unsafe,
but so is dreaming
and there are rats,
rats too, in Venice and in dreaming.
The thing is, you’re thinking
of the Venice in that lagoon,
at the top of the Adriatic,
not the one in my brain where,
lit by electrical impulses
like the Lido at night from Sant‘ Elena,
we will have love and poetry all year long.
Hot on the heels of the celebration of St Iredna who was sucked to death by snails, last week saw the anniversary of the death of Henry V111's Poet Laureate Skelton, whose most moving work was a poem addressed to his sparrow Philip after it had eaten by a cat.

I played with him, tittle-tattle,
And fed him with my spattle,
With his bill between my lips,
It was my pretty Phips.
Many a pretty kusse
Had I off his sweet musse.
And now the cause is thus,
That he is slain me fro,
To my great pain and woe.'

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Thought it would be hard to escape Jubilee madness but forgot for a moment I lived in Scotland where many of us think plastering the house with Union Flags an affront to taste, delicacy and Scottish nationality. I see out of 9,500 street parties in the UK only 60 were in Scotland, and 20 of them were organised by the Orange Order.
Had the BBC on for a few minutes last night and heard the Archbishop of Canterbury describing Elizabeth as an English monarch which about sums it up for me.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Big Lit Day in Gatehouse-of- Fleet this Saturday. Jock Hudson and I both launching books at the Mill on the Fleet at 5 pm. What sensible person would miss that? And a whole day's festival activities on top of that.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

HELP! Doesn't seem to matter how I write things in the blog with linebreaks etc, it all comes out in a complete continuous splurge of prose. No much cop if you're trying to write a poem! Any advice?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Hare is Running!

Dumfries Gracefield Cafe Bar Wednesday 2nd May 7.00pm............. Wigtown Spring Festival Saturday 5th May 4.30pm....................... Thornhill Thomas Tosh Tuesday 8th May 7.00pm...................... Big Literaure Day Gatehouse of Fleet Saturday 26th May 5.00pm........
“To hear Hugh McMillan read his poems is to be in the presence of a comedian of genius, as he delivers line after line of punching humour in a slightly surprised, smiling voice, so that we laugh and laugh but are left well aware that life isn’t funny.”       Tessa Ransford

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thin Slice of Moon

Thin Slice of Moon: Arrival within days, Selected and New Poems. As you can see, you can buy one with a small click on the right hand side of this blog.

Revised list of dates in the Thin Slice Tour-

Dumfries Gracefield Arts Centre Wednesday May 2nd
Wigtown Spring Book Weekend Saturday May 5th
Thornhill Thomas Tosh Tuesday May 8th
The Big Literature Day Gaetehouse Saturday May 26th

Hope to see you at some of these

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Thin Slice

Thin Slice of Moon, published by Roncadora Press April 2012, New and Selected Poems by Hugh McMillan All the best of 25 years, and all the good ones since!

On tour

Poetry at the Ivory, Glasgow----April 11th
Wigtown Spring weekend---------May 5th/6th
Dumfries and Galloway Literature Day, Gatehouse----- 26th May
... Cornerstone Bookshop Edinburgh----------------16th August

Launches to be arranged in Dumfries and Thornhill. Details soon.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Robert Burns

Laid off about this before. Down with the sentimentalisation and trivialisation of one of our greatest radical writers. Down with the once a year Scotsmen who snigger about his drinking and womanising,who

"explode like this once a year.
The rest of the time
these man are sober

rotarians. Unionists. And that apart,
wouldn’t know a poem
if it bit them on the arse."

Hurrah for the bravery of the man himself,risking transportation or death to put forward his views of liberty and equality.

I Murder Hate

I murder hate by flood or field,
Tho' glory's name may screen us;
In wars at home I'll spend my blood-
Life-giving wars of Venus.
The deities that I adore
Are social Peace and Plenty;
I'm better pleas'd to make one more,
Than be the death of twenty.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Ma

The picture doesn't do her justice, don't think, but today would have been my Ma's
91st birthday. The day before Burns'.

My Mother’s Dictionary

The pages curl back from arcane
all the way to chabazite
and a paper black with anagrams,
epsils, sepisle, sleep is, sleep is.
Some words are marked.
Otherness in bold red pen, tutelage.
Near Spring, there’s a parchment of a leaf.
In the margin by violin,
the name O’ Brien,
mysteriously underlined.
Fanning the pages is to breathe her in,
to the point you can imagine her, witchcraft,
by that roaring fire again, smoke curling,
words circling her legs like cats.

Sunday, January 08, 2012


The new year finds me in reflective mood, as the screams of sleepover weans recede into the distance and a long term of wage slavery beckons with the mornings as dark still as the evenings and the wind rattling the windowpanes all down the Glen.

I hope we all have a good year, folks, all the best to you. Here are some christmas downloads and a newish poem.


Every Saturday morning
we meet, my daughter and I,
to study form. She has a plain scone,
sometimes an empire biscuit.
I have coffee. I used to have an egg roll
but she didn’t like the way it ran
yellow onto the napkin.
After a moment or two she’ll
put on her latest pair of glasses
give a slight frown and get to it.
Stars are good, Elektra Star, Mystery Star,
but cats are best, Kenya Cat, Lightning Cat,
Son of Cat. How the pair of us rejoiced
when Starcat was on the card at Ascot,
an alchemy just for us it seemed,
a totemic and irresistible blend
of the cosmic and the cute.
Stars are usually eighth, cats more spry
but still well down the field.
Starcat lost, its life in fact.
I say it has retired and today is eating grass
in the verdant field of our imagining,
a place where people of differing ages come,
to watch horses take wing,
and two bob make a thousand pounds.