I’m very happy to have my poem Come, walk the beach included in this great article on the Love in the time of COVID blog. It’s a progress report about CUMULUS: an anthology of skies, a collaboration with New Zealand poets and photographer Carlos Biggemann.

CUMULUS: an anthology of skies

To Dundee FC early 1900s

Pleased that my eccentric wee poem ‘To Dundee FC early 1900s’ found a spot in POETRY SCOTLAND‘s sheet for ne’er-do-wells and troublemakers ‘Gallus’ (Scots: bold, cheeky or flashy) – about the right place for it, I suspect!

Not so much a football item really, maybe more of a photography or a time-travel poem. Trouble indeed…

Stop Making Sense!

Stop Making Sense! website poster image

Stop Making Sense! is a poetry project I’ve just finished making in collaboration with talented poet and performer Kirsten Luckins, enigmatic yet irrepressible artist Logan Hanbury and others. It’s a small contribution to one of StAnza International Poetry Festival’s 2021 themes – ‘No Rhyme nor Reason’.

Stop Making Sense! is a website with light-hearted activities spinning a dizzy birl around the fraying threads of poetry and not making too much sense at all. There’s a collection of contributed nonsense to rummage about in (and contribute to) plus – it’s entirely FREE and anyone can join in, without actually having to go out!

Thanks to those worthy souls who’ve already contributed a verse.

Have a look, have a go, but most of all, have a laugh!


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. 



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.