Petra Vergunst: Two poems

Pool of Blackness

Under the arching stones
the river ushers
harmonies hedged by banks
bedded with larch litter
from a bronze tree a charm
of cawing jackdaws soars

In this bridge the river
nurtures the pool of blackness
held in the womb of woodrush rocks

If you listen
you can feel
trout blow bubbles

Here, where the world ceases
your name begins

Brig o’ Feugh

Weak sun
sprays skies
into a rainbow of sound

Seven minutes and twenty seven seconds
since the salmon that propelled itself into a higher pool
sank our smiles

Water arrives
from the mouth of alder branches
before it departs from our grasp
leaving the salmon
to pull itself out of
the luminal pool

And you stand next to me

Side by side
we count our heart beats
until the salmon
recites its reel

Petra Vergunst’s poetry investigates how we relate to, and know, the landscape. In her project Field Song ( she writes about the senses of place conjured up by Northeast fiddle tunes. Her book length woodland poem Embrace, is available from Amazon.

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Andy Thornton: Two poems

Not Good Today

The child is grumpy,
squirming between sleep and tears.
Her rest under the moon broken
and now day is here.

She slides off a knee,
standing legs braced,
scowling out at the world
defying it to bring her more trouble.

But then collapses
into her Father’s belly
and slips towards that place
where memories are born.

The Silence

She wondered what had happened to the silence
she had heard as a child.
To the mind, calming,
in a wash of noiselessness.

Wondered if she would find again
the silent air
alongside a lapping ocean
or in the heart of a rippling wood.

Silence she remembered
that could be torn apart
by the prehistoric croak
of a passing heron.

Or would it only come again
with the muffled passing of her soul
into the vacuum of infinity?

Copyright © Andy Thornton 2018

Now of an age to have finished paid employment, I’ve had a split working life. First half involved forestry, fencing and gardening. In the second half I was employed teaching practical and creative subjects to students with severe learning difficulties. Currently living in my wife’s home village of Ballachulish.

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John McIntosh

The Rope

A saucer of milk for the holiday cat;
we all know how that ends.
Just so, he sits, polite and deferential,
mildly gazing round to spin his sorry tale
in that croaky, eloquent miaow.
Oh, he knows how to work the room alright.

And where’s the harm? It starts with bacon rinds
and crusts, but soon enough it’s swithering
in supermercados over the beef (in jelly!)
chunks or the juicy chicken pieces
‘Por Los Gatos Conocedor’.

I wonder if he thinks that this will last;
that all his days from here on in he’ll wake
to a friendly ‘Morning puss!’ and rub behind the ears.
Finally, he purrs, I’ve found the place where I belong,
where people know me and I’ll catch that dolce vita
that I’ve hunted all along.

Or does he know deep down inside
(he’s seen it all before), that when this
Autumn Break is done,
We’ll all be gone,
And he’ll be left,
Alone, once more
Outside the door?

After the sun drops down, I gaze along the
silver shawl the moon drapes round the sea,
along which shoals of flimsy boats grope grimly
north. Ship klaxons whoop whoop whoop
and searchlights shine on wide-eyed pilgrims.
I picture shivering backs, new-turned on loves
and childhoods left behind them in the night.
They are falling through a dark towards a light.

Is there no end to desperate? Is there no end to hope?
Is there no end to creatures clinging to its fraying rope?
I wake in midnight’s silent black, imagine
orange flotsam candles burning on the shore,
the hushed waves sliding swollen offerings onto
sand, then shrinking back in shame.

A million skinny cats are scratching
at the window in my mind.
Here be monsters!
Nothing human; nothing kind.

Copyright © John McIntosh 2018

I’m 58, a professional teacher and amateur versifier from Glasgow. One day, when I grow up,  I want to be a proper writer.

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Finola Scott: Two poems

Local knowledge

I sob
alone in skyscraper canyons
wait for the El, as snow layers.
I’m sub-zero frozen in two hats,
tartan scarf, fists snowballed
in sodden coat pockets. Santa jeers
from the brooch at my throat.
Frost diamond-locks my eyelashes,
the plexiglass shelter brazens its lie.

I want to fall at the fire burning
beside the signals on the platform.
I want to be home.

A switch is flicked, heat lamps flame
above our heads. My cheeks flare.
In a marshmallow breath-cloud,

a hot chocolate voice
melts the ice,
Visiting for the holidays honey?

Thin ice

I say yes but
not my idea
of grown-up fun   an outdoor ice rink
beery-cheery workers   xmas-released
in santa jumpers  frosty beards
beneath tarted trees    toy-town lights
weak sun     on Rudolph noses

mittened   we skate  tight laced
he pitches low   desire’s offbeat
svelte  racy  padded anorak   he’s not
my usual   but I fancy him  so

let him     take me
on to neon ice-slush
swirl  twirl  kick glide  that beat
my heart hop-flips    resistance melts
his hot leathered hand
presses   passion
my woolly waist   yes  my choice
he can
take me     grown up fun
not my idea
but  I say  yes

Copyright © Finola Scott 2017

Finola Scott likes writing and tickling her grandchildren. Her poems have appeared in Clear Poetry. The Lake, And Other Poems, Coast to Coast and many other places. A Slam-winning granny she read twice this year at the EIBF, as well as performing by candlelight in Rosslyn Chapel.

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Linda Atterton

Take Down The Stars

Take down the stars,
They were just fairy lights,
Tell the man upon the moon,
To pack his things and go,
Before it turns to chalk.
Pin the sun to the horizon,
Or let it set,
The minute that it climbs the sky,
Then fall and join the clouds,
That scuttle to the ground,
And pile like snow.
Command the tide to stop the waves,
Just where they are,
And freeze the sea to glass,
The seagulls skate upon.
I wish there was a way,
To stop the room from spinning,
For everything you said,
To just have been a dream,
I tell you later.
Later I will build a world without you,
A day will do for now.

Copyright © Linda Atterton 2017

Linda Atterton is a poet and author who is also a clinical psychologist. You can find  out more about her writing on her website,

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Catherine Eunson

Time’s brief

To rearrange and redesign
all the small sand –
each separate grain
to be included.

Terms and progress of this fundamental contract
will remain under constant review
and multiple results from consultative testings
will become available twice daily
via regular shoreline downloaders
hence ensuring public access.

Project partners must additionally achieve
a concomitant dissemination
of this reassurance:

though waves buffet
            and though there is much
            sometimes catastrophic
            all will
            be settled.

Please share.

Copyright © Catherine Eunson 2017

Catherine and her family lived in Benbecula for 20 years, where she also produced music for a CD of Pauline Prior-Pitt’s ‘North Uist Sea Poems’.

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Judith Taylor: Two poems


She’s a voice, they say
but when did you hear a human voice
sing such grace

in baroque quintets and ragtime bands alike?

lilt through the ornaments
and lament with so much reason?

like a low star
then slide on up and scatter notes
far and wide, a firework
under the blackwood skies of the Jazz Age?

This is the world as sung to you by a long-
serving, sensible
weary angel

compassionate after all she’s seen but
not deceived.

Her saddest song
has a whisper deep inside
of translunary laughter:

the sorrows of all the people of all the world
shadow the phrases
she makes dance.

And with such sweet tears
– you realise
when it’s too late – she sings

that same old song again
for you, distingué lovers
so newly met in the garden


That small deceptive bend
in what seems like a fast straight, where the boy-
racers would come to grief – remember?

Now the scars on the big sycamore tree
have all grown over

and the last of the silk flowers tied to it
are tattered, grey, that were kept
renewed through all these years.

I saw her once: a red-haired woman
middle-aged, in a pink top
wading into the ditch, her armful of artificial sunflowers
held high above the nettles

and her car parked in the bend
where everything northbound had to swerve around it
into the hidden traffic
coming the other way.

Like she could care
her heart dead
to the world, her only thought in that corner

not to forget him
not to permit forgetting him.

Where has she gone
to leave his garlands fading?
Has she laid down outliving him
after so long, her beautiful

careless boy?
What but death could keep her away
from the place of pilgrimage he gave her
by this cold road?

And who is left behind now
to remember all that sorrow
or to lay flowers
(and where in the world) for her?

Judith Taylor comes from Perthshire and now lives and works in Aberdeen. Her first full-length collection, Not in Nightingale Country, is out now from Red Squirrel Press.

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