Barcoded

divider with barbed wire

I wrote this poem a few years ago but looked it out and re-editied it when a friend recently mentioned barcodes. In fact, I think the first version of the poem even predated self-service checkouts. Post-covid some of it perhaps now seems to belong to a distant time, when people stood closer in the supermarket queue, and we handled small plastic dividers that were placed between our shopping and the next person’s.  Everything changes – but some of this ancient history was less than a year ago, so hopefully, it’ll ring a bell, or at least sound a familiar small electronic bleep. 

.

Barcoded

Nipped out quick
checking in to 
the supermarket queue
to checkout £4.75
of Mayday indulgence.

Strategically locating
the next-customer demarcator –
this is mine now, mine alone.
In chorus, lined behind 
a suburban opera bickers:

    She is getting very bratty.
        Yes, she’s getting very bratty.
    You are getting very bratty!
    You are bratty, you are spoiled!

    She’s a proper little basket.
        Yes, a proper little basket!
    I’ve had enough now, had enough
    now, that’s enough now, that is IT!

Corner-eyed I register,
undefined hostility,
struck-through runkles 
plough furrowed brows,
enmity, eight-to-life.

Ahead a woman passes her
(it’s labeled, so we know)
        compact entrenching tool
to be blessed by blind inquisition
of that un-judgemental laser light.

Will it fortify allotment borders,
bury a lately composted doubt,
or succour deeply seeded beliefs?

Another plastic meridian drops behind,
consumer crowd control,
policing the shopping line.

.

.


Cup and ring

cup and ring illustration

.

Cup and ring marks are a kind of carved rock art or petroglyph. They are found widely in both Mediterranean Europe and across north western Europe, including Scotland. As with so many prehistoric artworks, their intention and meaning are far from clear. They consist of a central indentation surrounded by concentric grooves of carved circles. Like a tiny map, or a labyrinth for the hand, they seem to invite touch.

The place where I was when I had the idea for this poem does not have such a mark (that I know of), but the poem is connected with thoughts about their meaning.

 

Cup and ring

(a benediction)

Turning at this middle stone mark
Driesh and Mayar, Dun Hillock,
Tom Buidhe, Tomount, Monega, Maols, and Claise,
Fafernie, t-Sagairt Mòr, and Bannock,
Broad Cairn, Lochnagar, Meikle Pap,
and Broadlands
back again.
 
While the wind spits grey break rumours,
this little top lees a cup of sun:
be warm and happit here a sitting moment,
brim hill-flask full,
short sweet napped, 
rest still as quiet ground
in a place well met.

 


go-around

StAnza Poetry Map of ScotlandDelighted to have my poem go-around placed on StAnza’s Poetry Map of Scotland. They located the pin for this poem perfectly on the exact spot between the hills of Glas Maol and Creag Leacach where this encounter happened.

Read the poem and check the map here.

WordPress tells me this is my 200th post on subjects, objects, verbs – hooray!

.

.

.


Sidelong

First photographic portrait image of a human produced in America.
“Robert Cornelius, head-and-shoulders self-portrait, facing front, with arms crossed”, approximate quarter plate daguerreotype, 1839 [Oct. or Nov.]. LC-USZC4-5001 DLC United States Library of Congress
.
.
.

Sidelong

Robert Cornelius remains skeptical.
He does not trust that it will work,
or that a specific future develops
when this image will be visible.

He does not pause to comb his hair
or consider us, but guards himself
against the possible exposure,
against the theft, of unmarshalled spirit.

Slow counting silent hesitation,
he glances sidelong from 1839,
doubtful of our existence,
his focus on what he next intends.

.

.

.


Retouched

Retouched

That’s so weird, you said.
But it was just people,
lots of people, before
Glastonbury main stage
on a Sunday retrospective show.

A rammed excess of happy
swaying drunk on music
or sun or sleepless, undisclosed
influences, of thighs shouldered,
arms like barley, of singing along.

It’s just a big crowd, I said.
I’d have avoided it anyway,
but I knew what you meant,
weird like green purple,
levitation, or holding hands.

.

.

.