Dear Scotland

Dear Scotland. . . Three Poems

 

John Glenday was born in Broughty Ferry in 1952. His most recent book of poetry is the brilliant Grain (Picador Poetry), his third collection, published a massive twenty years after his début. A fourth collection is due out in 2015. Until then, enjoy this new poem, ‘A Farewell to Stromness’, which embodies his signature venture into the gloom, where the harsh beauty of Scotland is delivered generously, then cast aside in search of the truth behind man, the truth beyond location.

Eoghan Walls was born in Derry, Northern Ireland. He currently lives in a village just north of Dundee. His second collection, The Dance of Ararat, is scheduled for release soon. His poem ‘Jubilate Columbidae’ brings a vibration in the narrator’s lungs to life, in the form of a pigeon. In twelve long couplets, all sharing the same almost-rhyme, we take flight ourselves in one long clarion-call a sentence.

Angela Cleland was born in Inverness in 1977 and grew up in Dingwall by the Cromarty Firth. Her second collection, says Cleland, has come together over the past few years against a backdrop of getting married, moving away from London, travelling to Peru and becoming a parent. In ‘At two weeks past conception’ we get an insight into a part of that. This poem focuses on the eyes of the unborn baby, and comes armed with the finest closing couplet I have read all year, two lines which prove we are never quite sure of ourselves, intimidated by the magnitude of even the smallest things.

 

 

A Farewell to Stromness

by John Glenday

 

and even if this should be
a land
of quick stone and showers
 
the slate of its streets
narrowing
gullied,
 
it promises to open
as in the end
the heart always does
 
to the grey hush of harbour and beyond
its welcoming
restlessness
 
shuttered in you
there is a place of dew
and flowers,
 
where the world
reels like an old man,
drunken
 
happily, slowly dancing
with no one
and himself

 

 

Jubilate Columbidae

by Eoghan Walls

 

I woke this morning with a vibration in my lungs
as if my chest were a dome of murmuring pigeons
 
and one cut through the edges of my concentration
and I found my throat swelling to her soft clarion,
 
for she is grey as smoke and bothers the garrisons
but too light of bone for more than vital information,
 
for she breeds on any surface she finds purchase on,
and there is no city she has not found a purchase on,
 
turning half her face upon every fresh commotion,
while her other eye makes sure her getaway is open,
 
for she startles from the eaves without provocation,
flapping like the hymnals of an eager congregation
 
and she eavesdrops in the church and the train station,
and her shit is a reminder of all that comes unbidden,
 
warning pedestrians to turn their gaze to the heavens;
for she tempers the pomp of statues, which is wisdom,
 
and she kisses out of hunger, prudent in her affections;
for she expresses in the palm the delicacy of engines
 
for she flurries without panic as the traps are sprung
rotating on her axis to find one point on the horizon
 
for in her sinuses she bears a mote of magnetic iron,
to bring her home, for she will come home.
 

 

 

At two weeks past conception

by Angela Cleland

 

you are already building your eyes – I panic –
what do I know about eyes? How the picture
is upside-down when it hits your retina;
that women see better in the dark than men;
that a flash of their whites is as good as a rabbit’s tail
to send us scampering for our burrows.

But to build one, never mind a pair, from
what have you got? I don’t even know
the ingredients – proteins? amino acids?
I place a hand over my belly and concentrate
on your behalf. Every single division
is a potential slip-up: I am back at school.

All I can do is slide my jotter towards you
and whisper – I have eyes – copy mine.