Sunday, 26 December 2010

Violet Grove

The morning sounds of Maxwell Street enter the room,
and join the clock ticking on the bedroom mantle piece,
the wood pigeons in the Convent's trees,
and the distance rumble of traffic on the Sands,
Voices pass the time of day
with obituaries in the morning sun.
On cloudy summers, beneath the fruit trees,
and round the cloths poles, we used to run.

In a boxroom of delights,we searched among
the musty refugees of a fifties childhood.
The Scots magazine and the willow pattern vase
have become my anchors.
In the constant world of the weekend house,
my heart lived, not I.
Where the clock marked every hour of my infancy,
even now as the world speeds by.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Catching my Eye on the Train

She sits opposite,
Automatic eyes
looking through the departing platform.

Kitchen lights are on in the towerblocks.
In twilight yards,
the orange jacketed
knock off.
An abandoned bicycle,
two boys smoking in the park,
and always, optimistic washing lines
defy the season.

Then there's only me in the window,
and you.
The silver ball on your ear
swinging with your jaw,
Automatic eyes
looking through my reflection,
into the night.


The clock ticks
and every five minutes
a finger separates this page
from the next,
sweeps down the new words to be read
and smoothes them
into pages past tense.
Gazing through the letters,
a pallet knife
smears gold across the ocean.
a breaking wave
disturbs a gull
and betrays the silence.

I've read every word,
without understanding
and read their shape,
their sound,
and listened to the turning page
against the passing seconds.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

A hand of wind

A hand of wind
sweeps across the barley
and presses a cold shirt against my chest.
On my cheek
a drop of rain from a lonely cloud
came to nothing.
But your hand is still warm my love
and in the silence,
a bird  sings.
I reach for a pen in the night
to record a church bell
striking two.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Lines at Seven Thirty

In a curtained morning twilight,
dull fingerprinted crystal from the night before.
Evaporated wine,
thick crimson painted on a finger,
then sweet on the tongue.

Out here, surveying a semi-detached estate,
mug of tea in hand, stretch aching limbs.
A blackbird catches the sun’s first rays
over the six foot fence,
and in another street a car pulls off.

While America sleeps,
there’s lunch in Moscow.
Balkan mines lie waiting for a child at play,
death on the Serengeti,
as a man steps off a platform in Japan,
and a bottle is uncorked to welcome the antipodean night.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Just Dali and I
know the gallery assistant
is dropping off


The music stopped.
I’ve no idea what it was,
but it stopped.

Four a.m.

Wandering through the house,
I step out of the street light on the wall,
and listen.
Behind a closed door,
unconscious mutterings
and a shift in the balance of the duvet.

An open window brings in the night,
no longer soft with woodsmoke
but hard.
A silent shadow from the trees
tears a life from the grass.
I close the window.

Brass peddles are cold on bare feet
and the keys edges are rough on the fingers.
pushing up through the grain of ancient ivory,
The key depresses
to that half way point,
the point of resistance,

On the stand
that piece that caused so much trouble during the day.
Fingers find their shape,
rattle the felt hammers
and in my head

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

trawled from the seabed -
a granite pebble.
Gone to seed now
bluebells under towering ferns - -
oak leaf shadows
In the trees shade
Irises gather and wait - -
the bees visit

Triangulation Points


The sun and I
looked down upon the Muckle Toon
and over the hill
to a plain of trees and fields.
Beyond that,
Criffle and the Solway,
then, at the edge of the day,
a haze,
where the map makers wrote,
“here be monsters.”

How quick the cloud set in,
that, by the time we were out of the heather,
the first great drop had fallen
and the race was lost,
so we walked
and skimmed a few stones in the river
before tea.


The Buddhists on our hill
billow saffron on the air.
Grinning as the Nikon snaps
and records a day from meditation.
Below the relentless city
marks each hour and station of the day
with angry horns at junctions
and deliveries to shops.

Newly hand in hand
we turn our backs upon the ageless faces
and descend through the grass and heather,
to the future on the wind.


She never sat on my shoulders
like her little brother,
for in her fear,
she covered my eyes.
So she held my hand,
and we walked,
and looked at the sea,
and talked about why the sky is blue.

We saw it once,
small, triangular,
a shadow on the horizon,
but that was it,
the Ailsa Craig,
cold reminder of our volcanic past
lurking, inaccessible
in our periphery vision.

So she held my hand,
and while the grip was unblighted,
we walked
and overturned a stone.


Here, beneath the castle walls,
the wind brings brambles and snowdrops
in strict rotation.
Never a Gallovidean –
an onlooker, an outsider,
directing from the sidelines.
From the chrysalis of remote fatherhood,
watching the sun grow higher
day by day
over the triangulation points,
warming a woody old clematis
and shortening shadows.

Monday, 8 November 2010

A line of trees
mark an ancient boundary - -
grazing cows
Outside the sun shines
as I walk in bare feet - -
wooden floor.
The first bramble
black but still bitter --
sunlit butterfly

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Looking through
the space between two hands
a chrysalis
Second hand book
spine creased to the midpoint
bus ticket bookmark
Boarding the train
from the platform shelter
stepping through rain

Sunday, 11 July 2010

in the half light
the lightening tree

The lightening tree
in the half light
flute playing

by the lightening tree

Friday, 9 July 2010

Reflecting sunlight
blue dragonflys on the banks--
the line pulls, a perch!

Return to the woods - Haibun

After two weeks of steel and pipework, the beauty of the sea can wear a little thin. How good it is to be back in the real world: to wake at leisure and drink tea from a real mug with real milk. Looking out of the open window, green predominates

Woodpigeons cry
as a light rain falls
beneath the oak tree - sheep

While I’ve been away the path through the woods has become overgrown. Ferns grow shoulder high between the well-spaced trees. Rhododendrons abound. The woods are awash with sound: birds of many varieties, mostly unidentified, singing beautiful songs of violence and lust, insects busy themselves with the task of survival and all this underpinned by the gentle base note of a distant motorway. For a moment, two crows kick up and put an end to this backdrop of sound.

Hear the river now
and rain on the leaves above
and my footsteps.

The Annan is fast and wide where it passes the grassy islands and today, like any other, a heron glides silently near the far bank..

On the windowsill
steam from my tea wafts gently
on the breeze.
In shade, incense smoke
sways by the open window --
me, seated, asleep
By harvested fields
the ancient burnt out building
is scaffolded now
Old masters
silent against silk wallpaper
distant teacups clink

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The cast iron pot
who'd have thought when it was dropped
it would break
Late morning rain
awakens me in my chair
the book on my chest
One leaf falling
in the middle of the night
by sodium light.