Two poems by Gordon Wright

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?
Practically nothing!
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.

 

Touching Base
(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.

Two prose poems by John Herdman

It’s a huge honour to be able to showcase two new prose poems from the pen of Scottish writer and novelist John Herdman. I had the good fortune to be able to interview (with Walter Perrie) John recently about his life and work just before the C-19 lockdown. This interview has since been published by Fras Publications as Conversations with Scottish Writers: No. 8.  From John’s isolation in Marchmont, Edinburgh he has begun to write these remarkable short prose pieces and I’m delighted to share two with you now. Here’s a link to John’s website which is well worth visiting as it contains a full bibliography of John’s many and manifold publications over the years.

 

Screen Shot 2020-05-20 at 17.10.35

Screen Shot 2020-05-20 at 17.10.45

 

 

Two poems by Morelle Smith

It’s a pleasure to post two new poems by the Edinburgh-based poet, prose and travel writer Morelle Smith. Morelle also blogs about her adventures and globetrotting. This current lock-down is hard for us all, but it must be especially so for such a weyfaring spirit. These poems were written when travel was still possible and this only adds to their appeal in such straightened circumstances!

 

Station Angels

The train pulls out slowly from the station –
the view is of white lights, brittle, inhospitable,
vast hangars, store-houses, big signs
on corrugated walls with no windows,
Toyota, Asda, Lidl, these familiar names,
but there’s no access here, except for
trucks and fork lifts.
Goods, not people.

Seen from a train these metal barns,
carton-buildings, cartridge roofs – these barns
where no-one lives, from a well-lit carriage,
cushioned seats – are bearable. You’re going home.
You think of darkness falling on the tarmac
of the industrial estate.
The pools of white and silver light.
No rustling sounds of mice or cats
or foxes in the nearby undergrowth.
No birdsong. No owls hooting,
no forests, no trees whispering in wind.

The train pulls in at small stations.
Shy pools of light form puddles on the platform –
shine like stars.

The railway angels lean forward,
on their station lookouts.
These guardians of gable ends and balconies,
their shadows shawl the night,
throw a different light across the platforms.
Nothing surprises them, not glass or steel –
not the coldest light disquiets them –
they cast on dreams
around the fabric of the trains
and raise winged shoulders
that they wrap around the night.

 
On the Beach

A wave curls sideways
and its dark water
folds like a curtain in the wind,
or a manta ray’s fin.

The sand is hard on my bare feet
my heels and toes are wrapped in sand’s solidity
the curve and grip of its damp, sea-salted hand.
There are shells and rocks on sand surface,
and scratches from dogs’ claws. Ropes and seaweed
slither at sea’s edge, slip
those last few inches onto land.
Whose eyes I wonder have I borrowed
and don’t acknowledge, every morning?
The seabird’s, the sandworm’s?
Or just a waterdrop that’s always longing
for the sand – as if I didn’t understand
my destiny is sea.

 

 

A poem by Mario Relich

Today’s poem comes from Mario Relich, a retired lecturer in Film Studies at the Open University and Edinburgh College of Art. Mario lives in Edinburgh and his poetry collection Frisky Ducks and Other Poems (Grace Note Publications) appeared in 2014. Written in in January this year, its ominous atmosphere might well strike the reader as a  prescient one.

 

Winter Solstice

 

I could see nothing,

it was so totally dark,

I could have been blind,

a nightnare, I felt a fog

 

gradually enveloping me,

as I paced the deck

of an ocean liner, alone

and  utterly frozen.

 

I caught a glimpse

of the shore, faint lights

blinking in the distance,

and the ship getting nearer.

 

What I desperately  needed,

as I woke up, my blanket cold,

was the welcoming  safety

of a landfall in the morning.

 

But as luck would have it,

I was dealt an ace of spades,

for  I fell asleep again,

and this was my dream:

 

I stood on the deck,

and felt a shaft of pain,

ambushed by a shadow,

looming like an iceberg.

 

 

 

Two poems by Richard Livermore

Today we have two short poems from the Edinburgh-based poet and writer Richard Livermore who is also the mastermind behind Chanticleer Press which published a print journal Chanticleer and then its digital successor Ol’ Chanty. These are very recent poems that come out of our fractious times but also show Richard’s interest in Surrealism and fractured discourse.

 

Arlecchino

 

Our universe

is one huge

 

killing machine

– which is why

 

we must find

an alternative one

 

where Harlequin

rules and the laws

 

of nature

no longer apply.

 

 

Anything You Say May Be Taken Down

And Used In Evidence Against You

 

Only the moon has the right

to stay silent. The wind has

to whistle for that’s what you do

 

when you’re lost in the dark,

echo-locating moths on the wing

as they fly through the night

 

unaware that their fate

depends on a bounce that only

the bats in the belfry can hear.