Gordon Gibson

Snail in April

This spring will not advance.
Bruised clouds darken over Arran,
Monotonous raindrops scatter in still air.
I stare into the garden noticing nothing
Except, on the washed surface of a grey flagstone,
A small coil, motionless,
Monochrome in the sodden light.

It lurches sideways, a minuscule, slowly rocking boulder,
And the snail within extends itself on the slick stone,
And starts its heroic haul to the far side of its world,
Towards the sheltering leaves and new-born blossoms
Of Honesty. Heedless of dangers,
It slides, without resting, without wearying,
Single-minded on its own slipway.
Chasms between the slabs present no obstacle.
Its quest for progress is silent and relentless.

While a prescient blackbird,
Sensing, despite the downpour,
A rising glass, a clearing northern sky,
Provides, for background, his new season’s song,
To quicken the plodding heart.

Copyright © Gordon Gibson 2018

Gordon Gibson lives in Troon, South Ayrshire. Over the past seven years his work – poetry and prose fiction – has appeared in a number of print and online publications.

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Julie Sampson

Tonight

raging thoughts
unable
to sleep

I realise
that like a red rag
to the bull,

for the poet
beginning
to write winter’s last poem

on the white page,
when snow
no longer
arrives,

there is longing –
empty the
charged field.

 
Copyright © Julie Sampson 2018

Julie Sampson’s poetry is widely published and she has been listed in several poetry competitions. Her poetry collection Tessitura (Shearsman) was published in 2014.

See Julie Sampson

 

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Tony Mott

Climbing

Deliberately he climbs
twisted thread in hand,
underneath his narrow frame
the warm water breathes warnings
of free fall arrests,
amongst tentative overhangs
and twisted limbs
he stills himself.

Lost in instruction
he climbs until the air thins
and self-confessed
lines of communication with his anchor fray,
antediluvian tension
burns his cold palms.

Below the audible
anchored to hope,
petrified rope in hand
his twin waits
memory raw from extended grip,
the chance to protect a safe decline,
as distant now as then.

Copyright © Tony Mott 2018

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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 (https://fieldsong.wordpress.com/) 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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