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Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 327

Saturday 18 July 2020, 09:37

Davaar Cave – Mull of Kintyre

In this headland cave water drips on multi-marbled rock and here folk
have laid their crosses. Twists of kelp and twine and wood all washed up
on the drift of time. Here someone stretched and scrunched his bones.
Made a stone-bright image for those who trek between the causeway tides.

We’d come to watch the boats, hear the see-saw rasp of oystercatchers’ calls,
find a sleek of seals recline blue-black, sunbathe on a thrust of rocks
laid bare by the out-race of the sea. Asleep with one eye at the ready
for the curiosity of strangers.

Buried deep among the local flyers I had found the name Davaar. So like
the sound of that uniquely Hebrew word Dabar. The complex universal
let there be of biblical creation. An extra spur to see what we could see.

Not some discovery of ancient marks scratched on the endurance of stone.
No. This was recent art invading caverns, folds, the gouges of millennia.
My camera fought the half-light, tried to capture it in vivid pixilation.

How many secret trips it took to execute this crucifixion no-one will ever
know. But it exists as icon, talisman, the painter’s rainbow prayer.
A fare-ye-well at the yawn of the tide that spills folk out past the Mull
into the swell of the Irish Sea. A Fáilte to the homeward bound.

Anne Connolly

Note: In 1887 a local art teacher, Archibald Mckinnon, had a dream which inspired this work, kept secret for many years. Learn more: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/argyll/davaar-island.shtml

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Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 326

Friday 17 July 2020, 10:42

The Barras

This college land is some skin job hallucination.
Bright lights that white was shite,
Glasgow swallowed the red pill
and will cough it up come Sunday.

I trod on floorboards last night.
Counted ceiling stars a twinkling
in the ballroom night.

I shared a roller disco with Rock Gods
and serial killers alike.
Washed them down to Rebel Tunes
in a dying marketplace.

Head held high I think of her.
How she said we shared a cityscape.
How she writes about Mark Twain
while I talk about life, mate.

She chose to be here
when all I can do is stay. 

Victoria McNulty

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Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 325

Thursday 16 July 2020, 17:10

The Falkirk Wheel

For Phillip

Each gondola could carry a herd of a hundred elephants.

They visit in the summer months,
swaying their heads at foreign plains,
the Grangemouth flare unsettling
in the distance, until

there comes a moment
when, together with the sun,
they catch the glinting eye,
of one or other horse’s head. And stop

their muddy wallowing
in the Forth and Clyde canal,
their trumpeting old tales
of umbrella stands and ivory.

They walk in single file,
silent in their padding
of a soft grey line — straight
to the metalled-wild of Kelpies.

There all one hundred of them kneel,
rest their trunks down
on the grass
and pray.

They say the zebras sent them,
ask the spirits for a spell
to make the rain again at home —
bring the water back to their Savannah.

Then, their pilgrimage well done,
the time is theirs —
they climb aboard,
give the wheel a whirl.

Alison Cohen

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Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 324

Thursday 16 July 2020, 10:36

Joan Eardley’s Catterline

Ah’am drawn tae the coastal cliffs
that Joan Eardley wis wedded tae
in her final days,
afore life wis cut short.

Though the sun shines
in the pale ultramarine sky
the wind whips at the waves
that begin way aff at the horizon
an keep comin till they’ve collided
wi the cliffs, sculptin them
into caves an rock formations.
As an efterthoucht it scours ma face.

There’s nae a soul aroon for miles
an ah can sense on a dreich day
as she looked oot fae the Watchie
the seagulls cawin
could become as oppressive

as the poverty o street urchins
in her Glesga slums.

Further on at the edge
o Fowlsheugh’s precipice
the air is thick wi new life.
There are kittiwakes an puffins
an ma favourites the guillemots.
They are perched on tiny ledges
facin inti the scarp,
like they hiv come tae worship,
at the wailin waa.

Ah lean ower tae tak a closer look
hooked in by the shimmer
o the black broon colour
made famous by Van Gogh,
fa Joan wis often likened tae.

Their burnt umber plumage
like oiled velvet
wi the fine white lines
runnin fae aboon their een
tae the tips o their beaks
as if they’ve been drawn on
by a wee quine
jist tae mak them even bonnier.

Like missiles they dive tae the sea
an mak haste their return, tae feed their young
for fear the fulmars will raid their nests,
like the vikings, fa came afore,
pepperin oor tongue wi pagan words
an namin these foul gulls
that fill the air wi stinky spit.

Beyond the urgent din o the birds
the cliffs themselves share
millions o years in the layers
o volcanic rock an reid sandsteen,
wi pitted boulders sandwiched in atween
covered wi emerald green moss
that turns a shade o cadmium
as it sclims up the face
an intae ither centuries

becomin theday, far the rise o the sea
lays mair an mair claim tae its’ history.

As ah mak ma wye back tae Catterline
ah find mysel cairryin a wee prayer
for the coastline
that pressed itsel tae Joan’s hert.

Lesley Benzie

Note: Joan Eardley (18 May 1921 – 16 August 1963) was one of the UK’s most popular 20th century artists. She has been recognised for her portraits of Glasgow street children and landscapes of Catterline, a fishing village on Scotland’s north-east coast. The Watchie was the name of her studio, an old cottage overlooking the sea.

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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. 323

Wednesday 15 July 2020, 17:45

Balquhidder, Blessing of Angus

“Now, ladies and gentlemen, if you look to your left
you’ll see the spot called ‘Beanach Aonghais’
where, they say, St Angus, our patron saint,
first gazed up the valley. And seeing
these fine woods, fertile plains,
steep, shapely braes sloping
to sparkling waters - seeing such loveliness
he knelt and laid
his gentle benediction on the land.
And just round the corner
at Auchtoo farm we come to … ”

A filthy day in dark age Breadalbane. Gales
howl down the glen. A sky all cloud.
White horses on the loch. A clawing downpour.
On a hillock a figure, weighted
by his sodden robes, red face
and bald pate rain-lashed, shakes his crosier,
facing down the storm, and as it grows
he howls the louder,
hurling back at it
his indefatigable obstinacy.

Yes, they were tough buggers, the old tonsured ones,
their curses were brutal, their temper legendary
and when they blessed a place, it stayed blessed.

Donald Goodbrand Saunders

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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. 322

Wednesday 15 July 2020, 11:02

Brodick Old Quay

flood tide
a flash of silver
in the otter’s mouth

Gillian Dawson

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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.

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