Dick Hattaraik and Billy Marshall
are drinking at the bar.
It's blue and carved from a boat
and they are sharing some porky scratchings
smuggled over last night from Holland.
On the bay, the Black Pearl, no Prince,
rocks at anchor, carronades trained
steadily up the Dumfries road.
Outside, in a blaze of grass and yellow vetch,
some of Billy's eighty six children
play with an exciseman's hat,
while the exciseman himself
sits blushing, winding yarn for the daughter
whose beauty like Helen of Troy's
is renowned from coast to coast.
It is June, the start of a brilliant summer,
they are breathing the air of Galloway
and it is rich in love and brandy and revolution.
Boundaries shimmer, shift like haze.
It's mathematically possible, in fact,
for Burns to come in
and put the icing on the cake.
Should I speak?
Tell my tales of a bit of baccy
smuggled in euro lorries,
the angry letters I've written to the Standard,
my hidden fear that in an independent Scotland
my pension might suffer?