22 May Magic landscape


Here's the front and back cover of my new collection, just published by Indigo Dreams, and available on order. To quote the blurb: 

"With Scotland as a background, these poems celebrate diversity. Using both English and Scots, they embrace the ‘glamourie’ – enchantment – to be found in ordinary lives and in poetry. They end with wild bagpipe-led devilry, reminiscent of Robert Burns’s Tam o’Shanter, and an urgent plea for tolerance."

Here's a poem from the collection. Some of you will have seen the monument. 'Ordinary' people, doing their jobs.

On the Beef Tub Road

Crossing from Tweedsmuir to Moffat
the sun's slanting rays
light the first October snow
like wrinkles on the hill's face

or an orthography
of lost language, words of the scattered clans
who first wandered through these Lowland hills
and gave them names.

Today the wind is warm enough
to obliterate
what will be lost, written, lost again
when the real winter snow blankets it out

like a tribe submerged, 
falling like a wave against the shore
of centuries, then gone, asborbed 
among the later ones – my ancestors –

shepherds, drovers, labourers, miners, masons, 
honest folk and thieves: provincial Scots
going the rounds of market, pub and kirk,
people of little note.

Yet as the road winds higher
and nearer that calligraphy of snow
I see where the two Moffat coachmen,
James McGeorge and John Goodfellow,

six miles out from Moffat, with their coach
deep in a snowdrift, carried the mail
on their backs until they had to lie
under that white blanket on the hill.

Here's the Beeftub: brown fields below,
a misty sheet over Moffat town,
zig-zag strokes of a burn as sleet showers 
dissolve to rain.

[Joint 3rd in the 2014 McCash Poetry Competition]

They ask me, whit’s yir gemm,
scrievin a poem in Scots?
Since Ah didnae speak Scots as a wean,
wuidnae hiv deigned
tae speak the wey they spoke (the scruff).
Yit the leid wis aw aboot me,
in the swappin o comics and cowboy annuals,
talk o fechts and fitbaa
and lassies, and makin babies.
It’s different noo, the souns Ah hird then
hiv fauldit thirsels thegither like a cloak,
hapt thirsels intae a shape
at the edge o ma sicht,
stappin lichtly, whooshin alang, a sheddae,
a thrawn, persistent ghaist.
And Ah think, in the back-end
o ma life it’s time
tae look him in the een, greet him as a frien
and say:
Forgie me, but Ah ken yir voice –
vowels strecht tae the point,
consonants as haurd as a haundshake –
and Ah hope ye’ll condescend
tae brek silence
and exchange a word or twae,
comrade-like, on this bit o the road.

Other news

My translations of Eeva Kilpi have now been published by Arc Publications, UK. The collection is called 'A Landscape Blossoms Within Me'.

For more information, and to order a copy go to:


Here is the cover of the book: