The other day we had an exclusive – two prose poems by John Herdman. Today another exclusive, two poems from Gordon Wright’s forthcoming new collection The Book Club for Bitter Hearts & Other Poems (Blackford Glen Books, 2020). Gordon Wright is a man of many talents but I did not know until relatively recently that he is also a poet. He’s perhaps best known as a photographer, specifically a photographer of Scottish arts and culture. He’s the author of one of my favourite books: MacDiarmid: An Illustrated Biography (Gordon Wright Publishing, 1977) and it’s well worth mentioning that as a publisher he brought out Liz Lochhead’s first collection Memo for Spring (Reprographia, 1972) as well as publishing vitally important work by the likes of Helen B Cruickshank, George Campbell Hay, Flora Garry and George Mackay Brown.
Doors and Windows
(For Christopher Murray Grieve)
What did I know about poetry?
I asked you what I should read
And you directed me to the bible
And the book of Proverbs.
I soon discovered many
Scottish writers who held me in thrall.
Your own work transcended borders.
And so, my education began.
Thanks for all that, Christopher.
You opened doors for me to walk in
And windows for me to look out.
(For my cousin, Kelly Hall)
When you, my American cousin,
Brought your two boys,
To visit the city of their forefathers,
I took you to the street where
The family home was perched,
High at the top of a sandstone tenement.
I parked the car opposite the long stair
That made us puff and pant
And we sat in silence – staring at it,
Before you decided to climb and
See that old front door for yourselves.
Did I close my eyes? I can’t remember,
But as I waited alone in the car,
The film started before I could say a word
As three boys burst out the door carrying
A football and ran down the street.
A lady with a baby cradled in one arm,
A toddler at her side,
And a heavy bag of messages,
Struggles up the road.
She rests for a minute to prepare
Herself for the long climb.
I hear the sound of a clarinet playing,
A tune for ballroom dancing.
I hear the sound of a cornet playing,
A marching tune for brass bands.
A slim, attractive young woman
Arrives at the stair door,
On the arm of an American service man.
She rummages for the key in her shoulder bag.
He steals a kiss before they enter.