John McIntosh

Looking Away

When I think about childhood, all that family
Palaver seems a grim parade of fights
And tears, with dumb rage bubbling below
Like lava.

Then her, sickening and dying;
And him, drinking and sighing.
Some memories come always dark and cold.

But some glow bright and warm. This rain, for instance,
Beating on the window, zooms me down a lens,
Back to weekend afternoons in winter:
Red coal fire, round the telly, ‘something good’ on,
Plates of butter-dripping toast.
And outside, ranks of raindrops suddenly
Flinging themselves against the glass,
Then running down to die in

sullen

zigzag

tears.

So den-like, close and covert felt that space
Where we five, secret sharers, sat
Arranged around the nylon carpet swirls,

Grateful and quiet, while outside mad winds moaned
And clouds like grey destroyers steamed across the sky.

And somehow even then we knew that holding
Things too tight could make them disappear.
Don’t stare too straight at them or dare to say
Out loud that, ‘ This is just the way things are’.
Our bones knew happiness a deer that spooked,
And fragile peace a snowflake, born and gone.

Remember how the Seven Sisters, dotted
On the infinite black ceiling of our skies,
Would fade if we reached up to grab and
Roughly pin them down with eyes.
That smudge of shimmered silver only crept
Onstage and stayed,
When we remembered … we remembered how
Things worked, and let our gaze, all sparkling
With love and constellations, slide away.

Copyright © John McIntosh 2015

I’m a 55 year old father of two daughters, working as an English teacher in a leafy suburb of  Glasgow. Had a couple of things published in The Glad Rag, in-house artzine for the Glad Cafe in Shawlands, and online for National Collective during the referendum campaign.

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Gary Beck

Route

We rush from day to day
in sickness and health
to work, play, war, death,
and do not enjoy the journey,
too intent on arrivals
to savor the pleasures of the road,
leaving us poorer
when we finally arrive
at final destinations.

Copyright © Gary Beck 2015

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. He has 11 published chapbooks, 6 published poetry collections and 5 poetry collections accepted for publication. He currently lives in New York City

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Stuart A. Paterson

FROM HERE TO KIRKGUNZEON

The clock says 8.15 but nature disagrees
& seems convinced we’re in the Pleistocene,
the Eocene or, at the very least,
Kirkgunzeon. From Sandyhills the road,
the rolling fields, the clustered humps of trees,
the very age itself is swathed in seas of
grey we half expect to see occasionally
parted by long necks of sauropods,
stirred into swirls of milky depths
by half-glimpsed, gargantuan flocks
defying belief, quantum physics, death,
borders blurring into more than fog.

By Beeswing it’s lifting, cows are cows
again, rhamphorynchus no more than
tattered, droukit crows, cottages blinked
into Monday morning normalcy, car
headlights visible, the road a road,
no need to fear the haar-happed elder gods.

It’s half past 8, Dumfries waits
at the bottom of the Long Wood, sad,
slumped, wishing for mist, the past,
something bigger & more real than this.

Copyright © Stuart A. Paterson 2015

Stuart A. Paterson, born 1966, has been a past recipient of an Eric Gregory Award & SAC writer’s bursaries. Returning to Scotland in 2013 after 14 years of working in social care in England, he received a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship from the Scottish Book Trust in 2014. ‘From Here To Kirkgunzeon’ will be included in ‘Border Lines’, a collection of Galloway poems to be published by IDP later in 2015. He’s just been appointed the Scots Language Society’s Virtual Poet-in-Residence.

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Nadia Tariq

The Largest Space

I’ve placed my child’s toys across the room,
In small yet significant spaces.
A rattle in one corner, a tall giraffe in another,
Standing sentinel over my new life as a mother.

As a Mother.
I am a Mother.

I have a Mother and now
I am a Mother.

My toys help these words sink in.

My toys are placed deliberately,
Beautifully and  un-haphazardly across the room,
Occupying small but significant spaces –
My child’s toys.

And I have placed them
For I am her mother now.

Copyright © Nadia Tariq 2015

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Helen Jeffrey

Donald’s Pies

With pies in hand, like payment,
he’d visit unannounced late autumn
as veils of fallen leaves left trees
stark; emaciated; but still standing.

Mum would pressure-cook some tatties
and we’d eat – plenty on the plates.
Air taut; with trauma contained that
I didn’t see with my little eyes.
Talk trivial; Donald strained and stained,
skin as yellow as artist’s ochre.
Later we women folk went up.
Then male monotonous murmur, like
a blanket of bees in summer
would rise, lulling me over while
they revealed, relived a past of
brutal beatings – torture for tracks.
No soft purr from the Burmese cat.
A slow release in whispers, of
things the psyche should not see.
A dram raised to clichéd comrades
left behind, ‘laid their lives on the line.’

And in the morning he’d be gone.
Safety valve released; and yet, festering
scars of burden would re-open, return.
So then would Donald, with more pies.

Copyright © Helen Jeffrey 2015

My name is Helen Jeffrey. I work in my own business in Ayrshire and write as a hobby.

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Hamish Scott

Flour

Tho kirk bell shapit an shuik bi wund,
the blawort flour i seilence jowes:
tae God’s observance fails tae caa
ocht floral congregations

The ten commandiments neglecks,
the seiven sacraments forby,
taks tent nae sermons, niver prays,
nor offers ocht oblations

Yit see the blawort flour dae guid,
wi seed hae sum eternal life;
hou weel daes mankynd’s faith compare
tae sic a flour’s probation?

Copyright © Hamish Scott 2015

Hamish Scott was born in Edinburgh in 1960 and now lives in Tranent on the outskirts of the city. His latest collection of poetry in Scots – Wirds for the day – was published in March 2015.

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Andrew Shields

RIPPLES

1

The German boy might be a little nervous,
although he acts as if he’s messed about
in yachts before. He gestures towards the sky,
a little augury about the weather.
“I like to sleep out on the deck.” She finds
a spot for him to throw his sleeping bag.

The bay is full of yachts. On one nearby,
the largest one, the would-be king wakes up.
What was that sound? It’s dark, but he can hear.
There’s nothing but the waves against the hull,
the creaking of the mast. He’s long since learned
the bitter lessons of insomnia.

Out on the deck, all’s as it should be: moon
and stars and harbor lights. Just when he’s sure
he didn’t hear a thing, he sees what’s wrong:
his dinghy’s gone. What was that sound again?
An oar slipped into an oarlock? A splash
of sloppy rowing? The cussing of a thief?

The water’s dark but shimmers with reflections
that confuse him as he stares around the bay,
still a little drunk and half-asleep
despite his anger. He cannot be sure
that is his dinghy over there beside
a yacht that he has never seen before,

but it’s enough to send him down below
to fetch his rifle, always loaded just
for such occasions (though this is the first).
He shouts into the night across the water,
till someone finally steps up to the railing
and shouts back something he can’t understand.

“You’ve got my dinghy, and I want it back!”
Was that a shrug? Was that the only answer
that he was going to get? The would-be king
fires his gun into the night, and kills
that German boy asleep out on the deck
of yet another yacht moored in the harbor.

2

He wasn’t there the night his son was shot,
so he can only dream of drifting off
out on the deck, his cheek and hair touched by
a nighttime breeze, the stars and harbor lights
vanishing as his eyes fall shut with sleep,
the play of gentle waves against the hull

the last sound that he heard, and not the shot.
How could he have been anything but happy,
a boy out on his own—no, a young man
who must have felt that life could not get better
than such a summer night, who must have dreamed
of sailing on a day untouched by clouds.

Was there a ring around the moon that night?
The father dreams he hovers in the air
between the yachts and sees the bullet fly
through the concentric circles of his shock.
But when he reaches out his hand to catch it,
it flies right through his flesh without a trace,

and from the point the bullet passes through,
the rings spread through his body, guided by
a voice that can be no one’s but his son’s.
And somewhere in his brain a final ring
appears, the bullet’s ultimate effect,
a sign that leads the way to healing trauma.

This vision of the ripples of the bullet
he could not catch, the words he hears that voice
of utter clarity relate, the signs
he finds in every patient’s history,
the meaning of the story of disease
and death, the shock he shared with all of them—

how could it be no one has ever seen
this law as simple as the apple’s fall,
a trace of it in every brain like his?
You just have to believe, and you’ll be healed;
the bullet will pass through your mind and body,
the echo of the shot its only ripple.

Copyright © Andrew Shields 2015

Andrew Shields lives in Basel, Switzerland. His book of poems, “Thomas Hardy Listen To Louis Armstrong”, is being published by Eyewear in June 2015.

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