Sunday, 8 November 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ Remembrance

On the idle hill of summer,
Sleepy with the flow of streams,
Far I hear the steady drummer
Drumming like a noise in dreams.

Far and near and low and louder
On the roads of earth go by,
Dear to friends and food for powder,
Soldiers marching, all to die.

East and west on fields forgotten
Bleach the bones of comrades slain,
Lovely lads and dead and rotten;
None that go return again.

Far the calling bugles hollo,
High the screaming fife replies,
Gay the files of scarlet follow:
Woman bore me, I will rise.

AE Houseman.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ Smokey The Cat

Smokey the cat came from nowhere;
Just whisped in under some door;
Sniffed quietly around
And knew that she'd found
The best place to stay in Bowmore.

She'd arrived at Bowmore distillery
Where the finest malt whisky is made.
There was no welcome mat
For Smokey the cat
But she liked the place - so she stayed.

They say cats have more than one life
With re-incarnation and that.
Whether it's true
All that cat déja vu,
Smokey's a born again cat.

There's something about her that takes you
Back to the Lords of the Isles
When the cats of Finlaggan
Would go scallywaggin'
For miles and miles and miles.

It's the way she melts into the shadows
Or suddenly creeps up on folk
She'll always find you
Slinking behind you
The cat who was named after smoke.

She sits on the sill of the maltings
On days when the weather is nice
And while one eye sleeps
The other one keeps
A lookout for small birds and mice.

Small birds and mice eat the barley
So Smokey confronts them foursquare
But she pulls in her claws
And quietly ignores
The Angels who come for their share.

Felines don't care for whisky
Everyone understands that
But that peaty odour
Beneath the pagoda
Owes something to Smokey the cat.

On Islay people made whisky
Long before it was chic.
The cat from Bowmore
Is nothing more
Than the ghost of the island's peat-reek

Robin Laing

Sunday, 27 September 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/Love Over Gold

You walk out on the high wire
you're a dancer on thin ice
you pay no heed to the danger
and less to advice
your footsteps are forbidden
but with a knowledge of your sin
you throw your love to all the strangers
and caution to the wind

And you go dancing through doorways
just to see what you will find
leaving nothing to interfere
with the crazy balance of your mind
and when you finally reappear
at the place where you came in
you've thrown your love to all the strangers
and caution to the wind

It takes love over gold
and mind over matter
to do what you do that you must
when the things that you hold
can fall and be shattered
or run through your fingers like dust

Mark Knopfler
Painting: Girl on a Bicycle by Joseph Crawhall.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/The Dolly On The Dustcart

 I'm the dolly on the dustcart,
I can see you're not impressed,
I'm fixed above the driver's cab,
With wire across me chest,
The dustman see, he noticed me,
Going in the grinder,
And he fixed me on the lorry,
I dunno if that was kinder.

This used to be a lovely dress,
In pink and pretty shades,
But it's torn now, being on the cart,
And black as the ace of spades,
There's dirt all round me face,
And all across me rosy cheeks,
Well, I've had me head thrown back,
But we ain't had no rain for weeks.

I used to be a 'Mama' doll,
Tipped forward, I'd say, 'Mum'
But the rain got in me squeaker,
And now I been struck dumb,
I had two lovely blue eyes,
But out in the wind and weather,
One's sunk back in me head like,
And one's gone altogether.

I'm not a soft, flesh coloured dolly,
Modern children like so much,
I'm one of those hard old dollies,
What are very cold to touch,
Modern dolly's underwear,
Leaves me a bit nonplussed,
I haven't got a bra,
But then I haven't got a bust!

But I was happy in that doll's house,
I was happy as a Queen,
I never knew that Tiny Tears,
Was coming on the scene,
I heard of dolls with hair that grew,
And I was quite enthralled,
Until I realised my head
Was hard and pink... and bald.

So I travel with the rubbish,
Out of fashion, out of style,
Out of me environment,
For mile after mile,
No longer prized... dustbinised!
Unfeminine, Untidy,
I'm the dolly on the dustcart,
And there's no collection Friday

Pam Ayres
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ An Australian Sunrise

The Morning Star paled slowly, the Cross hung low to the sea,
And down the shadowy reaches the tide came swirling free,
The lustrous purple blackness of the soft Australian night,
Waned in the grey awakening that heralded the light;
Still in the dying darkness, still in the forest dim,
The pearly dew of the dawning clung to each giant limb,
Till the sun came up from ocean, red with the cold sea mist,
And smote on the limestone ridges, and the shining tree-tops kissed;
Then the fiery Scorpion vanished, the magpie’s note was heard,
And the wind in the sheoak wavered and the honeysuckles stirred;
The airy golden vapour rose from the river breast,
The kingfisher came darting out of his crannied nest,
And the bulrushes and reed-beds put off their sallow grey
And burnt with cloudy crimson at the dawning of the day.

James Lister Cuthbertson

Photo by Alistair.

Meaning of unusual words:
The Cross - The constellation of the Southern Cross, which appears to become lower in the sky towards morning.
The fiery Scorpion - The constellation of Scorpio which contains the first magnitude star Antares, which shines with a reddish light.
sheoak - a tree which is not as heavy and hard as oak (the Englsh settlers declared it weaker than English oak but similar so "She-oak"). It grows primarily in a small area on the south coast of Southwest Western Australia.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ This Bitter Earth

This bitter earth
What fruit it bears
What good is love

That no one shares?
And if my life is like the dust
That hides the glow of a rose
What good am I?
Heaven only knows

This bitter earth
Can it be so cold?
Today you're young
Too soon your old
But while a voice
Within me cries
I'm sure someone
May answer my call
And this bitter earth
May not be so bitter after all

Deborah Cox
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/The Right Honourable Eyelash’s Summer Panic

For readers outside the UK, Andy Burnham is a candidate for the leadership of the British Labour Party. He has a video on Youtube touting his credentials as Mr. Everyman. It is said he is entirely made of plastic, a sort of man for all reasons. There's more info in this article in the Guardian.

Here is Irish poet Kevin Higgins' contribution to the Burnham saga.

This is not the gas
I’d hoped to be passing here today.
I wish I was able to tell you
a government of me

would starve useless
eaters of bacon butties
and deep fried Cadbury’s Cream Eggs
in Dundee and Sunderland
just a little more slowly than this government
is so brutally doing at present;

that under me
every old age pensioner,
like the old lady across the road
who died last year of the winter, will receive
their own personal nuclear submarine.

Sadly, recent polls
have rendered such dreams
politically impossible.
As things stand, for half a vote
I’d happily come around and polish
your baby’s bottom;
play hide and seek
with your pet hippopotamus;
tell you no student should have to pay
for university by going on the game
more than five nights a week;
mow your lawn;
nationalise the railways; or cure 
your husband’s baldness.

Between now and elect-me-day
if you need someone to plant
slobbery kisses on your elderly uncle’s
surprise third buttock,

anything you want, I am it.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ oor Wullie

Fair fa' your rosy-cheekit face,
Your muckle buits, wi' broken lace,
Although you're always in disgrace,
An' get your spanks,
In all our hearts ye have your place,
Despite your pranks.  Your towsy held, your dungarees,
Your wee snub nose, your dirty knees,
Your knack o' seeming tae displease
Your Ma an' Pa.
We dinna care a tuppenny sneeze
We think you're braw.  You're wee, an' nae twa ways aboot it,
You're wise, wi' very few tae doot it,
You're wild, there's nane that wad dispute it,
Around the toon. But maist o a' ye are reputit
A lauchin' loon.  Weel-kent, weel-liked, you're aye the same,
Tae Scots abroad and Scots at hame.
North, south, east, west, your weel-won fame
Shall never sully.
We'll aye salute that couthie name:
Oor Wullie.


lauchin' loon=laughing boy
weel-kent=well known

Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/Linguist

If we lived in a world where bells
truly say 'ding-dong' and where 'moo'
is a rather neat thing
said by a cow,
I could believe you could believe
that these sounds I make in the air
and these shapes with which I blacken white paper
have some reference
to the thoughts in my mind
and the the feelings in the thoughts.

As things are
if I were to gaze in your eyes and say
'bow-wow' or 'quack' you must take that to be
a dispairing anthology of praises'
a concentration of the opposites
of reticence, a capsule
of my meaning of meaning
that I can no more write down
than I could spell the sound of the sigh
I would then utter, before
dingdonging and mooing my way
through all the lexicons and languages
of imprecision.

 Norman MacCaig, October 1964.
Photo by Alistair

Sunday, 19 July 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ The Last To Leave

                                                   Over The Top {Gallipoli 1915}

The guns were silent, and the silent hills
had bowed their grasses to a gentle breeze
I gazed upon the vales and on the rills,
And whispered, “What of these?’ and “What of these?
These long forgotten dead with sunken graves,
Some crossless, with unwritten memories
Their only mourners are the moaning waves,
Their only minstrels are the singing trees
And thus I mused and sorrowed wistfully

I watched the place where they had scaled the height,
The height whereon they bled so bitterly
Throughout each day and through each blistered night
I sat there long, and listened – all things listened too
I heard the epics of a thousand trees,
A thousand waves I heard; and then I knew
The waves were very old, the trees were wise:
The dead would be remembered evermore-
The valiant dead that gazed upon the skies,
And slept in great battalions by the shore.

Leon Gellert, Australian Gallipoli veteran, 1924