A Poet’s Book

Dandelion, in charcoal

My latest project has been to make a hand-made collection of a short sequence of poems, illustrated with black and white drawings. I took ‘flowers’ as my subject and chose four particular plants to draw and write about. The picture above is a charcoal rubout of a dandelion, with a poem called ‘Dandelion Wine’ which I printed onto the picture afterwards.

What Does Nicola Sturgeon Dream About?

My very first ‘political’ poem – in that it’s about a politician – has been published by the exciting New Boots and Pantisocracies blog. Check them out – a poem a day for 100 days – telling it like it is, in these strange post-GE2015 days.

Here’s the opening of my poem. For the rest, click here and support this brilliant endeavour.

WHAT NICOLA KNOWS

Worrying about Nicola Sturgeon’s sleep
keeps me awake the night before the general election.
Three to four hours a night, she tells us on the radio.
I wake at three, wondering if she’s up.

I get her sorted: Vote first thing, then pep talks
for candidates. The afternoon’s for sleep.
She slips off her stilettos, lies fully clothed
on the bed’s shiny cover. Her tights crackle with static.

Catching Up with Fergus

CATCHING UP WITH FERGUS

I was nineteen when you were born.
Waiting for you shortened that first scary
winter term away from home.
I saw you only hours old, little brother,
two weeks late; wrinkled skin, big feet.

Now it’s me that’s running late. I catch up
with you at six, but find you’ve just turned eight.
I’ve tracked your growing up, but not come close
to making out your boy things, your reserve.
Just the other day you caught me watching.
‘What?’ you growled. And to my questions
answered ‘stuff’, ‘dunno’ and ‘s’alright’.
I sneaked around your room in school time
compiled a list, to find you in the way your ‘stuff’
fits together. But I’m no nearer.

I nose through memories, make another list:
At two you pulled off all my castor-oil plant’s leaves.
At five I taught you ‘Three Blind Mice’ on lettered piano keys.
(Now one finger drums the tune to ‘Mission Impossible’).
I’ve brushed your teeth, had baths with you. Read you stories.
Pushed you in your pram, on the swing, on your bike.
Carried you on my shoulders, on my back, in my arms.
I’ve written four poems about you
and known you for ten years.
When I visit, you say (but not to me) you want me to stay.
Goodbye is standing on each other’s feet.

Published in Kin: Scottish Poems about Family, ed. Hamish Whyte (Polygon: 2009)