Thursday 27 March 2014


In memory of Mark McManus...

When snow fell on the banks of the Clyde
you stood, shivering, and watched

the forensics team working hard to determine
the time and cause of death

of the mud-caked victim you'd managed to trace
to the murky depths below.

But you knew all the while it was make believe
to be screened for those who would scoff

at the broad Glaswegian dialect
of the man who brought Taggart to life.

To those "cultured" southerners you were rough and ready -
the archetypal working class Scot:

a heavy drinker and chain smoker, devoid
of the most basic social skills.

And yet you had risen from your Hamilton roots
to achieve more than these ever would:

for twenty years on, we still have Taggart -
that old grouch is a cult hero now...

but no-one noticed a widowed and grief stricken Mark
slowly drinking himself to death,

nor a deceased actor edited out. But your legacy
still defines the spirit of Strathclyde.

Monday 17 March 2014


The landscape merges into off-whiteness.
People and cars
quickly dissolve, vision is lost.

Metamorphosis of the World
into vapour.
Disorientation of the senses.

Sounds muffled, clammy dampness:
morning could be
evening's gathering dusk.

Spiderwebs on evergreen hedges
hung heavy
with fog dew, becoming gateways

to the Underworld,
where I slip between glistening spokes
into never ending twilight...

Thursday 13 March 2014


There's someone still in residence
in my Mother's house
with it's comfy cushions
and daffodils in a vase
and it's wardrobes crammed full
of clothes she has never worn.

Someone who resembles my Father
is often there too.
He shares my recurring dream:
the two of us, walking the dogs
beneath lofty pines and copper beeches.
I stop to tell him how much I love him,
but he's gone.
I am frantic.
Then I see his war medals
lying in the mud,
grey and lifeless,
like his ashes.

I rush back to the house.
The windows are open.
The radio is playing
an old fashioned tune,
and the tempting aroma
of rhubarb crumble
permeates the garden.
They are both here, my parents,
in the rose garden
holding hands.

And their love
is pulsing through me too.
I want to sleep forever,
because I know that if I awaken
I will find the house gone
and in it's place
two stark modern dwellings:
cold and soulless...
and I will again be an orphan.

Friday 7 March 2014

BENJI, circa 1990

Hey girls, let's rave tonight.
The spotlight's hitting Benji
and all that black leather.
Our inhibitions die tonight
in bottomless glasses
of white rum and ecstasy,
and a solid sphere of sound.

Is this your first time?
He'll space you out with his crazy beat
and blatant sexuality.
Oh Benji, we'll tear each other's eyes out
to win that coveted status:
to wear you like a second skin
and wake up on your pillow -
the ultimate claim to fame.

Hey girls, let's dive into his aura,
lose sight of parental boundaries
and just live for this moment
of  backstage hedonism...
but be sure not to dream of Benji
in delicate tints of rose,

cos tomorrow he's moving on...

Saturday 1 March 2014


For Ayrton...with love

Prunus branches curl like protective Angel's wings
around a garden path's end.
Beneath the surrounding hedge, robins and blackbirds
have scratched decaying leaves into rough heaps
in their tireless quest for twigs and grass stalks
to weave into spring nests,
along with any other suitable detritus
bequeathed by the dying winter.
But these fascinating rituals barely register today.
Instead, my attention is focused on a small hand print
set into the aged concrete.
This poignant relic is usually well obscured,
but over zealous pruning on the part of a gardener
has exposed it once more to common sight.
Still, this remote edge of the garden is rarely visited,
it's quietness holding vigil over memory's final stronghold.

It was a powerful yearning that brought me here today,
a compulsion to hold on to what threatens to fade
into gradual forgetfulness, then eventual loss.
That such a day would dawn never entered my head then,
when I lived in perpetual idyllic now.
I foolishly believed my little boy
would remain that small and close to me forever.
But in retrospect, that was no more
than motherhood's wishful dream, because today
all I have left of that naive Utopia
is this simple imprint, it's edges
time-worn and crumbling, like some absurd
artistic representation of a crushing nostalgia
that disguises a much deeper
yet nameless emotion.
How my heart aches to reach out to that child once more
and hug him close to me.
But he no longer exists,
so all I can do is grieve.
Yet for what?

This adult I see daily is someone else,
a stranger who seems oblivious to my existence.
It appears time has played the dirtiest trick:
has severed the bond that cannot be severed,
that of mother and child.
Gone is the fun and laughter we shared,
and in it's place is a cool aloofness.
It is as if I never carried him in my womb,
connected Soul-to-Soul by unconditional love.
Oh how did we come to this:
exchanging only curt civilities with distant mutual respect?
As I run my fingers over these rough stony edges,
I am painfully aware of a gaping hollow deep inside
that will never again be filled.
And the tears begin to well up...

48 hours later:
A tall, athletic young man approaches
from the direction of the race track.
Removing his helmet and gloves,
"Yesss," he yells, raising a fist in the air,
"Fastest lap time again!"
And that beaming smile almost stops my heart.
I think it is the eyes...still the same,
soft and brown - my long lost child's eyes.
But now, as he holds out his arms to hug me,
I notice his hands - really notice:
the slight curve of his right index finger,
the position of the thumb,
and a surge of elation almost chokes me.
This is the same hand that made my precious imprint,
only now grown larger!
Reaching through the parenthesis of wet cement,
I grasp that hand now
and I feel our shared history
flowing through today
and on into the future...

Two Souls on separate life journeys?
We never were.