Two poems by Paul Waring

Today we have a couple of poems by Paul Waring who, in his own words ‘is a retired clinical psychologist from Wirral, UK who once designed menswear and sang in several Liverpool bands. His poems have been published in anthologies, print journals and online magazines, most recently in Prole, Atrium, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Dear Reader and London Grip. He came second in the 2019 Yaffle Prize and was commended in the 2019 Welshpool Poetry Competition. His debut pamphlet Quotidian is published by Yaffle Press.

I’ve read lots of secondary literature about Auden and his partner Chester Kallman over the years, a lot of it gossipy and prurient, but still endlessly fascinating. Paul’s poem is about an imaginary meeting with Auden and Kallman towards the very end of Auden’s life. What particularly struck me was the level of detail about the everyday tastes and foibles of the two men who were clearly amazing bon-vivants…


Lunch On Audenstrasse, 1971

At Kirchstetten station Auden greets, states in assured Oxonian
lunch is at one; face creased into ruts and grooves like a relief
map of the Balkans – but to Chester Kallman he’s 
cutesy poo.

They summer at this two-tone green farmhouse on Audenstrasse,
named in his honour. He smokes, heavily, but only half cigarettes,
as the last half is most dangerous.

Chester fetches Bloody Mary’s and lunch: cold cucumber and spicy
sorrel soup, ham and redcurrant jelly, fresh raspberries, local beer,
oil-thick espresso.

Our loft study talk of Isherwood, Spender and MacNiece; T.S. Eliot,
the influence of dead poets. The many collaborations: forthcoming
book of clerihews; Stravinsky and Mozart librettos.

On the blue and cream express to Vienna I picture Auden on long
summer days in his study; giants like Eliot, Yeats and Housman
looking over his shoulder – breaking bread with the dead.


When All This Is Over

When all this is over I’ll start afresh,
master the art of losing myself,
seek wide open space to stretch
out like a Thomson gazelle, take time
to study, see things in gap-stone stiles,
turn up in gardens unannounced,
observe and practice dance steps
of exotic insects, hear stamen tongues
wag in flowerbeds. I’ll stay up late,
tune into night orchestra; knit neurons
to needleclack beat of unclosed taps,
make ambient fridge belly rumbles,
banshee car and ambulance alarms
the soundtrack to my new life.

Four poems by Eileen Carney Hulme

As promised, today’s offerings come again courtesy of Eileen Carney Hulme. The previous set of poems by Eileen on this site were ‘prompt’ poems and they’ve elicited some of the most views of all entries and poems previously posted on this site. These poems come from Eileen’s upcoming pamphlet of love poems which is due from Indigo Dreams Publishing in 2021.


Come here

And I do
one step
I am leaves
to your branch.
It is summer
a storm
is holding itself
out at sea.
We are silent
this moment
has been long
in the making.
Let’s not move
let’s wait until
we taste rain
on our tongues.



Like island waves
you continue to return
rippling a sideways grin
holding out a hand
come dance with me

I gather pebbles, shells
pocketfuls of sunsets
and when I walk towards
or away
I leave a trail
so you will always know
where to find me

I call your name
out loud and the breeze
carries it to the shore
and like island waves
you continue to return

My heart waits
like sea glass tossed
as my former self.



The swifts came late
from their wintering grounds
keeping secret their routes
searching for dragonflies
building indoor nests.
You and I
blow as thistledown
wandering beachward
seeking the sea
where you tease
with your stone-skimming
skills and spin me
towards incoming tide.
I laugh and scream
repeating your name
you respond with silence,
lips finding the pale
shift of my throat.


In the slip of night

When worlds shift
and I cannot find
myself, I search for you.
In a house with no windows
I walk from room to room
opening doors into empty
I’ve brought no gifts
to tease you from your hiding
place. I call out your name
and the air does not stir.
And this pain, this small thing
I carry in my heart, travels
as the ghost of you.

Three poems by Robert Selby

Today I have the great pleasure of showcasing a trio of excellent poems by Robert Selby, whose debut full collection The Coming-Down Time (Shoestring Press, 2020) is due to be released on the 25th of June. Having had a good look in advance at this book, I can assure you it’s a very finely crafted piece of work. These three poems are consecutive and complementary and are taken from the book’s opening sequence, written in memory of the poet’s late grandfather.

Robert is also the editor of Wild Courta terrific online literary magazine attached to the English Department of the King’s College London. He’s a very active, dynamic and supportive presence on the UK poetry scene and I wish him all the best with this new collection which I implore you all to order from this link.


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New pamphlet from Mariscat

I’m deleriously happy to announce that I have a new pamphlet collection of 26 poems due out very soon from Mariscat Press in Edinburgh. These are all poems written since my return to the UK and to my native Northumberland after four years away in Belgium.

It has been a great pleasure and privilege to work with Hamish Whyte and Diana Hendryon this collection. Robert Dalrymple has done an amazing design job on the pamphelt and I am honoured that the artist Brent Millar has allowed one of his artworks to be used for the cover image. Here it is:

First hare cover

For anyone who might be interested, here’s a flyer about the collection with details of Mariscat Press and how to go about ordering it, which I dearly hope you will:



Richie McCaffery, First Hare


The Duke’s selling off his farmland

to the developers,

and still there’s nowhere

we seem to be able to live.


We move so much I sometimes

think we’re stolen goods.

I helped you spot your first hare.

This fact seems important now.


from ‘Northumbrian’


A new gathering of McCaffery’s pellucid poems of love, life

and family – imbued with a Northumbrian flavour.


Richie McCaffery is a poet, critic and independent scholar of Scottish

literature. He has published two collections with Nine Arches Press

and two pamphlets, including Spinning Plates (HappenStance 2012).

He lives in Alnwick, Northumberland.


MARISCAT PRESS         ISBN 978 1 9160609 5 1               £6.00


Order by post (Mariscat Press, 10 Bell Place, Edinburgh EH3 5HT)

or by email:  (


Pay by cheque (made out to Mariscat Press and sent to the press at above address)

or BACS (Bank of Scotland / Sort code 80 15 59 / Account no. 00413102)


Three poems by Hayden Murphy for Bloomsday

Today is Bloomsday and as promised, we have another small selection of poems to mark this occasion written by Hayden Murphy. Two Bloomsday poemshave already appeared on this site, but these three are of an altogether more personal import. ‘Telemachus’ was written to commemorate Bloomsday 100 in 2004 and has appeared in an eighteen poem sequence relating to Joyce’s Ulysses entitled Modalities (Roncadora Press, 2005). ‘A Modest Proposal’ was for Bloomsday 2008 and ‘Second Sight’ for Bloomsday 2013.

Here Hayden himself explains the poems for Bloomsday project which he has been engaged in for over fifty years:

Since June 16th 1969, in Paris, I have attempted to mark Bloomsday with a “word offering”, in a limited edition (50), for distribution among friends. I have always tried to collaborate with a visual artist in these publications. I have been fortunate since 1992 to work with the Scottish artist and publisher Hugh Bryden. In 2014, to mark the 110 commemoration of the events related in James Joyce’s Ulysses, The Consulate of Ireland to Scotland, in Edinburgh, mounted a retrospective exhibition of our work together and a selection of correspondence with recipients down the years including the poets Brendan Kennelly, Edwin Morgan and Seamus Heaney and the dramatist Brian Friel ( Bloomsdays Abroad: June 16th-21st, ).


Hayden Murphy

Edinburgh: April 2020.





In a bright silent instant

Stephen saw his own image in cheapdusty

Mourning between their gay attires.

–  It’s  a wonderful tale, Haines said,

– Bringing them to a halt again.



Wave shaves wave in the tower shadow. Let

Day begin on this watercolouring trampoline.

Razor sharp summersaulting sentences


Let loose their words. They walk the tight

Rope held by their circus animals half

Tamed. Associate with strangers. Press on.


Recite again.    Stop, be  slow.       Recite

Again until the wordweave’s right. Now

Abandon silence. Sea salmon sirens leap.


Now we are tenderly safe to declare love.




For Frances


Say a few simple words

he could twist how he liked

not acting with precipit

precipitancy with equal candour

the greatest earthly happiness

answer to a gentlemans proposal



Take this hand

To tongue and tell

Its palm to salt

The moment for all


It’s worth. A moment

Of much that stills

The mouth until, word

Wise, abandoned silence


Tells of the taste

Of love’s song

Flavouring the air’s

Rhodendron breath.


Grace note be born.


The watchman going about

serene with his lamp….

Oh and the sea the sea crimson

sometimes like fire

and the glorious sunsets..where

I was a flower of the mountain yes





The kind of understanding that consists in seeing connections.

                                                                                                Ludwig Wittgenstein


Holding fast to the tender contradiction

Between sight and vision. A voyage on water.

Only a heart-beat lies in the eye-blink. The pause.

I hold fast to the words treasured in my tender lies.


Confuse me with brightness, please. Preferably by water.


Now let me leave the Joycewords for another day.

Now let sight associate with sound.


The eyes become curator rather than narrator.


The heart’s perspective, the peripheral slight of echo

In the memory. Nuance’s imperative. The distracting line.

The bird flight heard but unseen. A ship drydocked.

A dream stranded in these nights when eyes are closed.


Sailing towards Ithaca my Third Eye blinked.


The seal cavorting on the seaside of my eyes became

The night’s bat fornicating with the abandoned owl of day.


Holding fast now to the inside vision in this dream

Of this voyage in a returning ship narrated not curated

By my crew composed of my internal bestiary:

Owls, dragons, belfry bats and The Yellow Bittern’s ghost.


I travel only by water.


Now as this poem is ending I am blind

                                      To all but the weight of this poem non-ending.


Two poems by Hayden Murphy

For many years, the Edinburgh-based Irish poet Hayden Murphy has been producing wonderful keepsake poems to mark Bloomsday and since 1992 he has been collaborating with the artist and publisher Hugh Bryden. Hayden himself will no doubt be known to many of you as not only a poet, but a fine critic and man-of-letters as well as the editor of the legendary literary periodical Broadsheet (1967-1978). These two examples of Hayden’s Bloomsday poems are part of a series I will be publishing on this site in the run-up to Bloomsday proper. The first poem here, an elegy for one of Scotland’s greatest poets, Hugh MacDiarmid, hails from 1992 and the second, a birthday celebration for the 80th birthday of another of Scotland’s finest poets, Edwin Morgan, is from 2000. The latter is particularly pertinent now, considering that 2020 marks Morgan’s centenary. In the photo below, taken in 2014 at the Irish consulate in Edinburgh, Hayden Murphy (left) drinks a jar of Guinness with Hugh Bryden, his collaborator.

Scan_H&H 20200605




I.M. Christopher Murray Grieve (1892-1978)


Eel nouns, crowned

Teeth, capped on Riding

Day with sombre headdress.


Handed over the grave,

Blown needle thin

Are tree-drawn wind

Flayed words

Into memory.


Testimony of tribe.

Scribe, chieftain

Of rock-hewn terms

Of agreement. Water

Gently marking



Woven into black

Meeting blue

Flat on the palm

Against the palm

Handing over the grave

A leaf grained feather.


Earthed. Against

Grey skin, the watching

Sky, a white veiled

Rose is worn. Stubborn

As black.


Pale, brave.


Mole verbs, tapped

Tongue , horse-drawn

Freeman crowned.





For Edwin Morgan beyond 80


Grey blue

                                  River laid against

The key stone polishes


Pebbles   sounding   out   an    eddy


              River fluid



Hymns the sentence

                                              Greek blue

River rhetoric

                                  Moves to whisper

Out a liquid line



Recalling crossing journeys

Greek blue

                               Waters tippling over

An untidy tale as two


To cojoin within

                              Loose pages


All memory meandering




                                                Greek blue.


Two poems by Olivia Hodgson

One thing I like about publishing poems on The Lyrical Aye is the chance to educate myself in public. Today it’s a pleasure to bring you two new poems from a poet who, until they kindly sent me some work, I’d not heard of or read before. Olivia Hodgson is completing her MA in Creative Writing at Birmingham City University. In 2016, she won their Mercian Prize for Poetry and is currently on the editorial committee for the annual BCU anthology. Her poetry and short fiction has been published in Strix and The Coffin Bell journals.




The river reaches over its bed like an aching woman.
The tide will persuade a shifting North shore to a slip of sea.
Lighthouse and lover notice a precipice of bodies –
intuition made flesh; gravity grown wakeful.
A sinking city spills into the hearth and over
the anchor of sleeping skin.

What paused in the folds of the water
when a creature the size of a thigh crested
on the sheets of foam, doubled back
in bliss?

Let’s lap at these shores. In a life
lit by what’s lonely and now at the hearth, I wonder
how this stokes, how this tends
to the embers of anxiety; the kick of gravity
sated by the beat of an offshore heart.


Dead weight
After ‘The New Bride’ by Catherine Smith

I tried to evict her: turned down the simpering
of the pilot light. How can I comfort, be sisterly,
to her outside the pains of teeth and hair,
a gum caught on the floss of a late-night
row? I picked the cotton from its loose
roots in percale, boiled clean the rushing world.
I tested what might be forgiven in the milk-thin hours
before a cast-iron honeymoon, hid the ash away.
I lost cuticles in the hardwood and nail,
my arms thinning to needles.

Later, in bed, I tried again
without the polyester slip he bought
lashed with pink. Naked as a crescent moon,
I held, then counted, the bolts of his vertebrae,
the urn in the wardrobe stirring.
The tectonics of the mattress shifted
from the double, split to the single.
I lay talking to the new husband’s nape
when the slip stayed there for a week,
living like coral on the floor.

I felt a bottle swung at the dead weight
of my laced, lingering brow – reached
to seal the breach; my kisses like wax.
That bawling brute, smashing the china
for me to hold, palms-up; its sharp peaks
misaligned, like jawbones spared of a mouth.
White as bile, I feel eyes on the shards of me
behind shower curtains; through fingers
striking matches for no candles, her smile
through a yellowing nylon nothing.

One morning, after the tender blue eggs
had burst before heat, I cradled the sting
at my ribs in their silent, elliptical orbits.
I took fistfuls of the dust of her, enclosed it
like a child’s trembling hand. I dissolved
between the gates at St. Adelaide’s, then lost
her still, like small change in the lining of my coat.
I opened my mouth to call for the lock
through which she must come
but was met by my own dry silence, communing

for something with two open, shattering hands.
Eviction is the harder part, darling – no light
left to spiral down the hallway toward you –
so I leave my bath water level as ice, my bread half eaten.
Often, when the wind has played the dark,
I press my shoulder to the curve of something
not yet sleeping, still blue with pulmonary blood.
Ah, sister – couldn’t you have warned me,
before you existed in the gap between
a funeral and a home?



Three poems by Walter Perrie

It’s a great privilege to have been given Walter Perrie’s consent to share with you three poems from his forthcoming collection The Ages of Water. Under his own imprint, Fras (Gaelic for ‘seed’, ‘a scattering’ and ‘a small shot for a gun’) he has not only published the long-standing and eponymous literary journal Fras but also a wealth of collections and pamphlets of poetry, translations, interviews, memoirs and short stories from an eclectic range of primarily Scottish authors, including Alasdair Gray, John Herdman and Margaret Bennett. Walter is a dynamic force in Scottish letters and, as can be seen from these poems, a first-rate poet with many collections to his name and credit.


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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.

Three poems by Stewart Sanderson

Today we are lucky to have a trio of new, unpublished poems from Stewart Sanderson, a poet born in Glasgow but living in the West Midlands where he works as an Arts Development Officer. He’s had two pamphlets published by Tapsalteerie, the more recent of the two being An Offering. Stewart’s website can be found here. All three of these poems show something of Stewart’s deep linguistic interest in Scots and Scottish history and literature, as well as his technical and formal skill. I think these poems are to a certain extent very symptomatic texts of our corona-virus-addled times – the focus on keeping clean, the looking back to historical outbreaks of disease, and the sudden vividness and otherness of our dreams.


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