Stornoway

SteòrnabhaghOh, StjórnavagárThe place where old testaments meetWith Viking religion and cosmologyWhere the mad thinkers laid anchorIn the bay of stow-ageAnd sought the universal orderTo go where joy rises from the perfect harbourFrom the pages of sagas and from rhododendronsOn glistening slopes that shed the ancient tearsThat run softly then swiftly then torrentSalty into the calm … Read more

Charlach’s Chair

I took Charlach’s Chair carefully from the head of the Jacobite tableto carry it down to the water’s edge when the tide was at its lowesttying my feet to its legs as I was gazing at my navel, nakedand waiting for a raging hiatus. This is conning clan-hoodand here the paler the forearm tattooed with … Read more

Marquee

Do you recall the Dornoch Marquee?You took me on the waltzersBefore the Queen was crownedAfter Babycham you promised meYou’d be mine for ever and everBut then you ran awayWith a fairground boyNamed Kevin.Like trees we are carved rawWith swelling hearts and awe. Do you recall the crate in the bar?Or Dunk the Punk’s white Cortina … Read more

Lochan na Choire Ghuirm

Searched for hoursStumbling in lightSurrounded by old rockMinus the fossils(which has intrigued for a whileand doubtless for ever) Wild wind whistlesDead mists aboveantennaria dioicaAnd heatherThen coldly throughLochan after lochanOf every colourIn every fissureSave the green oneWhich is stillA mysteryAnd looked for Not a ripple on the lochNot a riseLooking for the unfindable?McCaig whispers, “Unwise …” … Read more

Book Fair

She put flowers in her hairand we fell in lovereading in the square pretending Caravaggioreciting Baudelairehoneysuckle in the airat the Dornoch Book Fair I smelt vanilla in her hairblue sky in her eyes assimilating the Life of Pisoft Romeo and Julietlove’s a stage and we were playersreckless and without a careat the Dornoch Book Fair … Read more

Open Roads

Trust and Orderon the open roadsand Good behavioursouth of John O’GroatsBeautiful steeringon the boulevardspot-holed roadsfor speeding cars But mad disorderbad brute behaviourcrass uglinessand detritusand economic failureplague our waysand highwaysupon these ugly open roads There’s carnage out thereblood-baths waitingto be driven into by anticipating touristssalivating for Capalidis ice creamliving the dreamThoreau’s to quoteon the open roads

Dornoch Links

The sweetest scent upon the dunesAye fills oor heids wi’ madnessYon yellow broom an’ the starlings’ tunesAroon us sonsie herbournousThe evening licht wi all Her michtOft maks us stop an’ thinkSo bonnie be yon Dornoch LinksIt drives us a’ tae drink Such is beauty surface deepLust we so, and sow; so, we weep

Her Tide Stays Out

It is as ifwe are walking along a headland(of emerald green cliffs, under an azure blue sky, aside an aquamarine ocean below yellow-orange rock bespeckled with silvering strata and flintiness)you holding my hand and saying, “walk on the edge”me tiptoeing on the knife-point of itat 45 degrees to your simmering horizonsuddenly smiling at me and … Read more

Na Helmsdale Charuspech

The Helmsdale astrologer opens her arms to the haar,calling beyond to the soothsayer’s stars. Her all-seeing eye of rune-twisted time,her yellow-whin-thought beguiling the mind. “Are you sure the wind blowèd long and strongand carried those scriachans on my bansheein’ song?” she asks as high spin-drift on the ocean waves thrills us,we lying half-naked looking up … Read more