Poetry Map

We all know poems about Scotland but can the shape and nature of Scotland be drawn entirely in poetry? StAnza has set itself the challenge to see if this is the case. Find out more about the project and how to submit your poem by clicking here, or browse the poems using the map. Latest poems are listed below.

Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 338

Tuesday 28 July 2020, 11:42

A Stone’s Throw from Easdale                                                                     

Crossing the Atlantic Bridge, its south side awash
with fairy foxglove, the call is strong. A lifetime ago
a minibus re-fuelled opposite the Tigh
an Truish. You ate plastic toasties, drank warm lager.
Then, you sought to read the rocks; indigo foliated slates twinkling
with millennia of micrometric mica. Weeks of mapping, skimming
plotting; a bucket of stones, a dusty rock hammer your spoils.
Discarded, one by one, as you grew, moved, changed,
lost, contracted. Just one remains. In your hand, it tells the
human stories of people and place. Formed in
Palaeozoic pressures; split by erupting fault lines,
raging subterranean currents; torn along fragile
grinding tectonic plates; scree wind lashed into silicate
and clay – until Rodinia ruptured. Rains raised Ancient Iapetus;
shores re-shaped by volatile cycles: collisions; divisions; melting;
freezing and melding. Morph in claymation.
Formed, re-formed, bent but not quite
broken.

In ’45, the Campbells, Netherlorn men, came. Not for princes
or crowns, but rock cleavage and silver pounds.
Castles consolidated with borrowed brides and ransom spoils.
They paid for honest toil, modernised and mechanised.
500 men quarried, split, napped; wedged in watery clefts
on denuded crags, creaking joints engorged as they hewed out
five million princess and duchess-cut tiles, roofing castles
and cathedrals in worlds old and new, building communities.
Spoil filled causeways melded island to island.                                                        

One stormy night, its defences breached, core sucked, dreams
submerged, livelihoods cleared by nature’s rage, returns declined,
meagre livings scraped.
A few endured. Heart still beats
to a new tempo.

Now coaches cross the old stone bridge daily. Disgorged tourists
savour tasty fare, buy postcards not petrol, try on the kilt,
giggle in Highland Arts. Plinkety-plink pipes and fiddles
tweed, tartan tat, tablet, warm shortbread and impotent art.
They bounce in fast boats to exhilarating whirlpools, cheer
World Stone Skimming Championships, wheel possessions
in colourful barrows from the tiny quayside.

A bowl of seafood, glass of Chablis, white-washed
holiday lets at your back, you caress the stone one last time
then skim it back into its inky womb.

Carol Shea

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 337

Monday 27 July 2020, 12:52

The Places We Live In Inhabit Us

In this gleaming black city
cut by green and blunted by
the downwind reek of breweries'
sweet malt, a slowing train
clack-clack-clacks
into the low station
insistent as a snare drum
and as harsh on the ear.
In deep back streets,
like the slapping down of
raw sausage after sausage,
car tyres flap-flap-flap
over part-domed cobbles.
A gust draws a finger along
a narrow kerbside puddle,
and bits of paper and torn plastic
become creatures of the wind.

Sam Smith 

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

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All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 336

Sunday 26 July 2020, 11:33

Dumpender

The wounded hill continues its healing,
quarried guts still exposed.

Can a volcanic laccolith
remember dynamite
blasting a precise pie-slice
from its mauve flank?

Does stone ache at all
at the anniversary of its cutting?

Jay Whittaker

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 335

Saturday 25 July 2020, 09:19

Hutton’s Unconformity

The mind seemed to grow giddy by looking
so far back into the abyss of time

—John Playfair

The day feels infinitely long. We’ve come here
for this. To give a greater sense to our finite
moments through glimpsing an abstract mass
of rock. Past the Brittonic dun and ancient
parish chapel falling beyond its second half-life
to a place we’d surely miss but for its present
historical significance. It’s where history begins.
Or, rather, where giddy minds are left to plumb
their deeper misconceptions of deep time.
Either way, the here-and-now proves irrefutably
selfie-worthy. And so we stare into the screen
for a brief stay against mortality. That other
timeline we update with catastrophic regularity.
We’ll be scrolling to this point our whole lives.

Tarn MacArthur

Note: Siccar Point, Berwickshire, is where James Hutton famously found evidence for his theory of uniformitarian geological development, which is considered by some to be the founding moment and location of the concept of deep time.

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

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All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 334

Friday 24 July 2020, 08:57

Balmedie Beach

Go there.
Feel the turbine charging wind
tangle in your hair
its sand shifting
kaleidoscope twist.
The foreshore shines
iridescent mackerel slick
gusts toy with mists of grain.
Free from the marram's grasp
they sweep and bounce
quicken, peak, drop
and the winds rise again
to hold hovering
white winged gulls.

Tease out
the matted knots
at the nape of your neck
ruddy cheeks will fade
but Balmedie's sands stick
in the tread of your boots
sea air held
in the deepest breath
the advancing tide
as you close your eyes
north-westerly wind
urging you back.

Amy Raeburn

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 333

Thursday 23 July 2020, 18:23

Duke Street Rhapsody

steppin off the B* Train round midnight
I’m hip to jive in the downpour intro
spotlightin a backdrop to a slow tempo dance
n s’like all low-key
n ama slippin into a downbeat cloudburst
in the romance of an old sepia-stained
black and white
an ah dig it

I pull my collar, curl into my coat
my mood, upbeat indigo steppn
my steps, a riff, tap…, tap…, tappin
fuse into, drip…., drip…, drippin
a melody in rain follows me up to the top
n am wonderin… who’s playin?

facing me, remnants of the old meat market past
calling and responding to a present
used car sales lot hinting at a future
on a sign that’s been up there
oh.., longer than ah remember

it’s bitter, a hollow night
thick with damp-sound
n ama take a sharp right
into a multi-phonic combo rhythm
…tap, drip.., tap, drip.., tap, drip..,

till the only other passenger disappears
ghostlike in rain-blurred vision
in a squeakin jalopy hissing
whish-sh-sh, whish-sh-sh, whish-sh-sh

easing into her stride
fusing into a dynamic, rhythmic
whispered improvisation:
…tap.., drip.., whish-sh-sh
…tap.., drip.., whish-sh-sh
…tap.., drip.., whish-sh-sh

right again and I hit Duke Street
and the beat’s still with me
hiding like a shadow in the dark
n ama carrying it,
wearing it like a new suit

above me an endless horizon
of black and blue stretches into
unseen women in unison
veiled behind billowing skirt-clouds
sultry and sulking in torch song dreams
bellowing menacing clouds
heard in screams
n me am all mizzle-muddled
cause they’re crying lost love
in verse-scattered puddles

opposite me, diagonally
on a corner, the post office
up above, ahead, jutting out
from sandstone, a brilliant red
T logo, neon-ed to the hilt
like a Greek siren
singing me seductively
into the New Variety Bar
for a cold one
I’m tempted, hold out, to my Orpheus
drown out her song

I pass on through
keep steppin n look ahead
shop-shutters lowered, shushed
like the eyes of babes in slumber
till morning, it’s me n you baby
n rain playin thunder

a dissonance of drizzled
wah-wah-wah’s
hammer a rap on countless surfaces
choralling madrigals into a quartet
merging with a cool duo
foot-steppin rain
as a bus stop’s metal roof strikes
a cadence of clanks..,
clank.., clank.., clank..,
improvised into one clear stroke
the pulse picks up
and the deluge wreaks havoc
n me, am in subdued rainfall
funk-ed all over a tempo
of fused harmonised chaos
n am still diggin it

n am picking up the pace
am struttin, hell, ma legs
thems Jitterbuggin all over the place

across the street, Cafe Tibo
stares back noiseless streaked people
running into water colour
further up, Coia’s, spills more of em
eating and drinking
onto a canvas of water-logged glass
upstairs, top dancer
an open window belts out Billie:         

“Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky
 Stormy weather
 Since my man and I ain’t together
 Keeps rainin all the time”

to a wall-shadowed couple
moon dancin in intimate embrace
two down, next close, three friends
lean out smokin
their high pitched giggles floatin
fall soakin in song
n am not jokin
am in a frenzy
of torrential refrain
dude, am all ovah this rain

am approachin Miller’s Bar
on the corner of Duke and Garfield
n a ‘witches brew’ of folks
pressed sardine-like
bars the doorway
in clouds of hissing
smoky-blue-boned
dripped-dry-gossip

on the other side
Sonny’s Discount Store
Sunset Beach and Super Wok
sit together in a dynamic range
of intonations stretching
beneath bleached blonde tenements
where winking mercury droplets
hang like tears
before kamikazeing
from window ledges
humming an unsung ballad

jeepers creepers n I’m gettin down
on sweet muted chords
leapin all around me
then I hit the D* Train junction
crossways from the Duke
where it all comes together

that bebop rain takes the tune
as I stand looking at rainfall
playing through melody
it slightly flats out
then reaches harmony
as a stray drunk
staggers out on a high note
shape-shiftin and slippin
chords that he forms
into those interval cracks
between drips, he’s swingin
while a heavenly rhythm section
keeps soft time
in hushed drip-drop magic

he moves slowly through
the melodic body of the downpour
then compensates harmonically
moving mode and tempo
up a shot until only rain
can bring it all back down again

its breath-taking listening
and how seamless it all is
cept light and rain play me
cause when I look again
there’s Miles Davis in silhouette
standing in front of the Duke
head slightly bent
trumpet raised

*B Train (Belgrove Street Train Station)
*D Train (Duke Street Train Station)                                   

Ruby McCann

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map