She comes out after sunrise with flowers in her hair
and sits on the rocks overlooking the beach
the Piper's oblivious that she's even sat there
soon the flowers fade as he glides out of reach
'minstrel boy' hangs in the melancholy air
from the barn came the sound of 'Montgomerry's Peggy'
"quit that row, come give me a hand" comes Father's shout
he ploughed the land with but a spade, his hand was steady
they worked on the fields taking the boulders out
in between spinning Mother shouts "porridge is ready"
Danny and Rory grew up on the land
McKenzie boys of Gairloch's ancestral past
both boys dreamed of playing their pipes in a band
crofting life wasn't for them, they knew it wouldn't last
the time soon came for them to make their stand
a chance to play their pipes for such a worthy cause
by now the storm clouds in Europe were gathering
as they went off to fight the war to end all wars
to leave Father at home, his seeds he was scattering
their Piping was legend as could be judged by the applause
no finer boost to the morale could be found
oblivious to danger their young hearts were so glad
bagpipes on the battlefield could be heard all around
the Germans didn't shoot them 'cause they thought they were mad
the only ammunition they had was their sound
the Pipers played all day walking up and down their trench
spirits high as they marched into a blizzard of lead
they played so bravely for the Belgians and the French
but soon half their comrades would be lying there dead
as the rain poured down on Flanders fields of stench
Danny's got scars he doesn't even know are there
he still walks along playing his pipes every day
unrelenting tunes from a fixated stare
that youthful glee vanquished in undulating grey
Rory's not at his side but he knows he can't care
"please wont you write to us" Mother pleads every day
"we miss you on the croft and long for you to come back"
Father's gone quiet as he gathers in the hay
eventually they receive a letter edged in black
they were both lost for words, there was nothing to say
Mum still milked the cows and made butter and cheese
Dad dug new wells and spent time fixing the cart
through tears and pain they prayed on their knees
until Father died of a broken heart
engulfed in a sadness that he couldn't appease
Danny soon returned to his hereditary land
of his rosy past he was only dimly aware
still playing his pipes but with a trembling hand
the lights are on but there's nobody there
discharged from the Army when piping was banned
Danny marches up and down the whole length of the beach
fodder not for the trench but for the raging sea
fond and filial memories his mind can't quite reach
he can't cut through the barbed wire of insanity
his pipes are his only expression of speech
she came out after sunset with flowers in her hair
still sits on the rocks overlooking the beach
the Piper's oblivious that she's even there
the flowers have faded as he's long out of reach
'amazing grace' hangs in the melancholy air
he assumed no one would miss him when he was gone
was it really worth an extra penny a day
on sepia photographs his glory shone
like old crippled birch trees that wont go away
the land and the Mother lament their emptiness as one.
Well that's the anti-war one over with. Let's see if we can lighten the mood with the next one...
A Highland Tale
Peace had started to Lag, Kyle could no longer hold his Tongue and Ben was no longer Loyal to the Hope! Like a sudden Knock on the door the Brawl had begun. It was Erribol.
Harris kicked the Butt of Lewis, William pushed the Back of Kepoch! Through all of this Thurso was at the end of her Wick because she discerned there was a distance between Iona and the Ross of Mull and Apple was Cross with Totaig. Notwithstanding Nedd had Egg on his face, he was a Rum lad.
Rassay who had his head in the Skye, interrupted " I Canna carry on much Longa". Just then the Goat Fell as Glen Golly appeared - it was a Strontian moment. Glen was a Ladd with his head in Gigha, he wasn't Dull. With a Swordly look in his eye he reproved them with a Yell..
" good Crief! This is Morvern I can stand, can't you see it's gone too Farr? You'll end up Killin each other. This musn't go on any Lunga. Stop rolling round in the Muck before Rogie Falls and hurts his Shin. Give it a Breac."
After this peace began to Nostle like the Spittal of Glenshee. Carron began Crowlin in repentance, Maree refused to Loch Hourns - just as well because Rannoch couldn't take any Moor.
So they Laide their Letters out on Macleods tables and as one raised a Glass to the Great Glen and cried I love you, I love you, Isle of Ewe.
some liked this one some didn't, I thought it was a real Bute! Aaagh.. enough!
|Isle of Ewe (I love you!)|
Harris on a Spring morning
Winter held it's presence without making a sound
there's a crackle in the air as frost grips the ground
the cold air sprinkled it's silver over the rock
as the school bell rang for the Moorhens on the loch
tide lines on the hills of this whimsical retreat
a green sparkling carpet on which to place my feet
fragile as a rainbow was that soft peachy light
unparalleled vision, like an Eagle in flight
as the Islands unfurled their petals one by one
until the tweed of the hills full glory was spun
colour's pigment heralds the golden sun above
sequestered art by an eternity of love.
I'm not normally syllable conscious, on the contrary, but I thought twelve lines of twelve syllables gave it a kind of neatness.
|this is actually Lower Diabaig in the Torridons|
Barbs (1934 - 2019)
Though life's uncertain pathways did wind and wend
she carried inner strength right down to the end
decades of sparkle surrounded by grey
those cairns of truth always showed her the way
Barbs was approachable, benevolent and kind
she made many friends and had no axe to grind
a beautiful faith, as old as it was new
like a spiders web studded with beads of fresh dew
she left us a legacy we will never forget
recalling her love we're forever in her debt
soon her Heavenly Father will look down from above
and bring her back home to a new world of love.
Minutiae iv ( intransigence )
i.) you can't go to nature
nature has to come to you
but the ploy of sitting quietly
embalms you in it's parallel world
ii) mirror surface of a sea loch's perfection
is punctured by an inquisitive seal
then it disappears asunder
and everything is quieter than before
iii) the Highlands will not be reigned in
midges clench their teeth
the weather refuses to cooperate -
beyond the clumsy grasp of commercialism
iv) All it's hills can be done in a single day
never imposed on the world's stage
memories of family and friends
each one like a chapter in a book
v) harsh rigidity of a mountain ridge
soft philosophy of a rolling glen
the tinkling prose of a Sutherland stream
and a dram of the land around the fire.
Shredded clouds smother the moon's searching beams
as we relive the secrets of our innermost dreams
Owls and Hedgehogs lie in emphatic resound
woven in a soporific tapestry of sound
water lillies burst forth on their tablets of green
in seaweed splattered rocks Otters cannot be seen
a Curlew's sad notes float in time with the burn
a soothing counterpoint in the morning's nocturne
before innocent felicity begins to exude
before the sun bursts forth in a fine beatitude.
Pause and reset
This particular day I had a great privilege,
the Great Artist allowed me to walk in one of his paintings!
He spread the colour of life with the touch of his brush
some hills he thrust up like jolly green giants
others he connected by means of long dancing ridges,
I noticed he chose a pale quartzite looking colour for some of these.
I marvelled as his pallet knife spread trees into the glen.
Next he went to work on the mountains on the horizon,
across the whole mural was a relentless mass of geometry
with charcoal he penciled all of these in perfectly.
All these rectilinear shapes had a seal grey finish.
The sky was biscuit tin blue,
giving things a Mediterranean feel and a toothpaste advert freshness
he chose to put no clouds into this picture -
that wasn't a problem for me.
Now he has his mop brush and dabs in a jumble of jigsaw lochans ,
on his pallet he uses colour to good effect -
some of the lochans have a greenish hue, some turquoise some Wedgwood blue.
As I walk further into the painting I realise the hills are as contented as sleeping lions.
His artwork on the corries is beyond any artist or photographer,
they are like perfect sweeping bowls as green as snooker tables.
I climbed one of the hills in the painting
looking in every direction from the summit
I was amazed at the magnificent scale of it all
it was a tone poem of a view with a delicate sense of beauty.
He even used his rigger brush to procure a quaint little village.
Nothing could prepare me for the way he painted the big loch,
with dynamic grace he cut around the contours of the hills
the loch was cobalt blue with a few little islands painted in that looked like snoozing curled up cats,
with his fan brush he gave certain sections of the loch a light corduroy effect
then he began to connect some of the lochs together
it looked like blue tumbling thread from a cotton reel.
I couldn't resist walking alongside the big loch
towards the end of the track I thanked the Great Artist for this immense privilege
just then the voice of Wisdom came to me from the trees -
the painting wasn't just for me but for anybody
all we have to do is appreciate it and be grateful
because gratitude nullifies negativity
therefore when we feel a little glum
or succumb to negative thinking
we can stop the negative spiral in it's tracks
and adjust our thinking
PAUSE take some time out
observe the wonderment that bejewells our world
appreciate the gift
RESET get things in perspective.
Refresh our soul and start again.
The Great Artist has painted many works of art
We are all invited to walk in them.
someone said that no two sunrises are the same
we choose what we play but life is not a game
yet what is man compared to mountains and rocks
do not the Pawn and the Queen go back in the same box?
Our lives are like fluorescent lines in the sea
bridled to our innermost uncertainty
fleeting moments of beauty in grand exultation
though someone said life is glutted with agitation
all the same arrows but with a different aim
because someone said that no two sunsets are the same.
reflecting on that moonlit era of your misspent youth
when the dots didn't join, before you got the truth
an ordinance survey of your youthful years
when failed romances ended up in tears
you were only 19
friends walked down the glens , you were never alone
but when the contours bunched up you were all on your own
you tackled mountains by an impenetrable route
when you were shown the right path it just didn't suit
you were only 19
your pal slept on your floor when he was kicked out his flat
he wants to borrow money but you can't be done with that
he pleads with you some more 'just to take up the slack'
so you lend him a fiver knowing you wont get it back
you were only 19
that was the friend who stuck with you through school
sometimes the intellect sometimes the fool
saved you from drowning when you were just 19
but the rain erased the tracks from where he had been
he was only 19.
gentle soft thoughts float on by like dandelions
shimmering colours entrance your mind
colours collide on the canvass
cloudy intoxication of a watercolour
immortalized in its frame
but as the tide gradually retreats
you can still see some pencil lines -
that haven't been completely erased
some experiences in life are underlying
underpinning the very essence of our being
yet they make up the whole painting
shaping what we are inside
but the cobalt blue river is still clear and flowing
the sun will always shine through the rain
even the biggest puddles will evaporate
the pencil lines will always be there
but only you know where they are.
Gold - On returning to Red Point (prose)
When our children were young
we went panning for gold at Red Point.
Spiralling rivers of silt and sway
did obeisance under the ever watchful eye
of drowsy sea faring paraphernalia.
Like awful secrets condemned to keep -
they lay anchored to lost pages of nautical woes.
As you pressed the sustain pedal a little longer...
silky images of peace and beauty keep coming back
relishing snapshots of a precious pilgrimage.
We trod the dunes of happy times
but we didn't find any gold.
Over the moorland lies antiquated farming implements
scattered about like children's toys
abandoned where it belongs!
A silent witness to the struggle of life.
Spray painted sheep wander aimlessly
in an indifferent Autumn breeze,
maybe the farm is prospering now.
On the beach Mahlerian waves break on the shore with esoteric exactitude.
An old Salmon fishing station looks on with bold audacity.
It has long fallen into desuetude,
the nets have long gone but the weather battered posts remain,
like epitaphs that failed to keep their promises.
The weather continued to argue with itself
until a rainbow chased away the grumbling rain
the heavens were on fire with a rapturous applause
we did our best in life's struggle
the bold sun will rise and with it hope.
We walked arm in arm over the moorland back to the car -
in the GOLD of the evening.
If we met in unfamiliar places
would we recognise each others faces
if we could live those early years again
I'm sure we'd recognise each other then
you might come back one day or maybe you wont
you maybe think of us now or maybe you don't
our pain is maybe a tribute to your pride
or a refuge in a moment of weakness to hide
maybe one day calm waves will lap our feet
when I see you I know my heart will miss a beat
maybe some things you'll never understand
maybe we'll be together in the promised land...maybe.
scribblings on the shore of Loch Maree
There's a road over on the other side of the loch
on this side there's remains of a drystone broch
see the bold rocky ridges air their grievances
like the people who lived here before the clearances
as I run my fingers through the sands of time
and wander in the ruins of a forgotten crime
to spend some time here and reflect on the past
and wonder why their happy little world didn't last
minding their own business away from society
till their lives were fraught with the greatest anxiety
thrown about like luggage on someone elses train
poor souls didn't even have the heart to complain
now gentle waves break peacefully upon the shore
there aren't even any sheep around here anymore
some made their homes dotted around the coast
they were the fortunate, they fared better than most
shunted off to Canada and who knows where
many never made it but the gentry didn't care
I procure a notebook plus time space and ink
with silence and fortitude to come here and think
that way of life vanished in a blue ribband fate
are we too aware of our expiry date?
So to disillusioned mankind from fragmented stock
I must resume life on the other side of the loch.
when the village lantern dies and the lights have all gone out
after the party's finished and there's no-one about
as the eddies foam up where the river narrows
and the saplings bend under morning sparrows
let the Author become truly taciturn
see the Shepherd, he never strays far from his home
yet across hills of eternity he will freely roam
walking into the fragrance of a gorse wind perfume
bringing yesterday into his bare sitting room
let the Artist become truly taciturn
the keepers of time think they've endured the fall
though the sprawling township mocks their mute call
as if ripening fruit appears all around
but in reality it falls and rots in the ground
let the Poet become truly taciturn.
Man pulls his phone out of his pocket
simultaneously a twenty pound note falls on the path
on returning the phone to his pocket
he realises what has happened
in the distance a Hoody speeds off on his bike
the man doesn't give chase.
|Loch Maree narrows down into Kinlochewe River|
The Nature Table
back in infant school
there was a nature table
we were very young
each piece was a jewel
every child was able
to bring things along
but then came the fool
who said it was a fable
and sang a strange song
his theories were cruel
with as much sense as Nabal
he was so headstrong
an unhappy rule
with a different label
see the masses throng
back in infant school
there's still a nature table
tho now we're not young.
never shows his weaknesses and hides his pain
as he glides and dances all over the floor
lived for the moment of life in the fast lane
an eye for beauty even on a foreign shore
on your cheek there would be carefully placed kisses
and words of love will be whispered down the phone
leaving you to contemplate marital blisses
while he's out gallivanting all on his own
charm and deceit was the pride of his beguile
as he continued to drag mud through your life
they didn't see the sharp teeth behind the smile
whatever he touched turned to trouble and strife
we tried to track down your lingering scent
but the Fox had covered its tracks with his tail
the bedside manner of an impeccable gent
to catch him in his cunning was your holy grail
as he became tame he could not conceal his sin
a mountain of falsehood he could not engulf
the greater one will pounce to mock his awkward grin
because a Fox is never smarter than a Wolf!
I was requested to write a poem about a Fox. One of the things I tend to do is compare animals to humans. It isn't about anyone in particular.
|Poolewe in Wester Ross|
From the land came a poem
an unbreakable bond between fabric and land
intrinsically linked between beauty and truth
a rusty old shed overlooks Taransay sand
where an aged Weaver has worked since his youth
and the beams and bobbins go 'clickety clack, clickety clack'
on this old tin hut hangs a weather battered sign
but behind white harled walls log fires are burning
soft whispers of purple adorn the skyline
the cloth sells well, Donald's world is still turning
and his beams and bobbins go 'clickety clack, clickety clack'
in the river of time his past keeps on calling
like Blackface Sheep dotted round eternal lochans
that tangerine orb keeps irresistibly falling
like forgotten dreams drawn with childrens crayons
and the beams and bobbins still go 'clickety clack, clickety clack'
wending our own way back through the tweed of time
we all had a choice in the pathways that we spun
we must stick to it even if it's an uphill climb
until that large curtain closes and our day is done
and the beams and bobbins no longer go 'clickety clack, clickety clack'
Humility met the 'know all' on the edge of belief
just too late to halt the large wheels of grief
"on this side we're happy and life is care free
you've too many constraints, that's not the life for me"
he was full to the brim of what he had learned
the bridges of truth he had stealthily burned
the 'know all' consumed every book he'd ever read
and lived in the confines filed away in his head
his faith flew away on a wing and a prayer
he even sat for a while on a fence that wasn't there
but the ground was solid that Humility walked on
for the 'know all', pride and uncertainty were one
little children work hard before the final bell
whether the black clouds disperse only time will tell.
The ones who knew nothing raise their heads in pride
because the one who knew it all, to himself he had lied.
purple floating columns of the past,
merge with grey veils of melancholy.
Chasing shadows of time through moments of discord.
Searching for scattered symphonies now lost.
Cataracts of white quilted stones
lay above a sheet of blue,
anchored to the bottom of the sea bed.
Plunging clouds are parted by steel beams.
Secrets are concealed within the truth of light,
music is painted in unknown colours,
marching platoons of dead trees surge up the green crumpled zone.
Climbing down broken steps on the pier
children throw stones that sink without a trace -
as our life flashes before us like a single syllable
do we really know what lies on the ocean floor?
"as the hour ends the day, the Poet ends his work"
one love, Markles x.