Smyllum Park

A bit dark, this one. BBC Radio 4 recently broadcast an interview with a former resident (inmate??) of the Lanark orphanage run by a Catholic order. Her story is chilling. This poem is in memory of the victims of Smyllum Park and other places like it.

Smyllum Park

(dedicated to all child victims of abuse)

lap dog
hot dog
caught dog
I am accused
They make me lick my vomit off the floor
I sleep in piss and this
this too
is my fault
I was caught
red handed
a child

Train of thought

I like to write when I’m on the move, especially when I’m on a train.

On a train bound for anywhere,
racing sunset red down stubborn tracks,
forehead resting on the glass.
The sun, a furious typist,
hammers on vellum lids:

CLOSED                  CLOSED
TO                            TO
VISITORS                VISITORS

Heat and light sear through to consciousness.
Memories of summer
bubble and simmer,
and thoughts rise like damp
on crumbling plaster.
I rise too
and leave this train.
I take its rhythms
with me
into winter.


Jog on, Mendelssohn

Came across a picture today that inspired the following poem. It showed a couple, the man with his arm around ‘his’ woman, at their backs a large house with a ‘For Sale’ sign in front of it. A ‘Sold’ sticker had been pasted on top of the sign. My eyes drew a triangle from the man’s arm to the woman’s face to the ‘Sold’ sign.

Shared on dVersepoets site, for Björn’s challenge on metaphors.

How long have I been
up for sale?
Since birth?
Since they stripped me
of all hope?
Who sold me
this falsehood?
I am a Lego brick, jammed down hard,
plastic on plastic,
on bloody plastic.
Slotted in. Stuck.
My life has crouched,
crept on its belly
for too long,
for what?
Are you my unsticking or
my undoing?
I will not hear the bells
that chime for jellied love.
The party’s over.
I’m not ready
to set
quite yet.

The truth of it

It’s not a new concept, that of never truly knowing the truth behind the news, or ever knowing the real news. Paul Valéry famously said, “That which has been believed by everyone, always and everywhere, has every chance of being false.”

But as I scanned the news items as presented by the media this week, it struck me again how totally and utterly manipulated we are by the elite and powerful. What often passes for news is not only ‘un-news’ but also shields our vision of the real disasters occurring around our world that should be in the news.

I wrote this simple poem as an expression of my frustration. No great literary masterpiece, just a venting …


Changing minds

They stuff us full of what to know,
steer beliefs like dying bulls,
blinker us to make us go on thinking
like their puppet fools. Something
has to change.

Tragic news of unscored goals,
an internet sensation,
politicians switching roles,
proud tales of one great nation.
Something has to

The truth limps silently between the lines
as Twit-face chooses where to look –
empty parcels, bright designs,
mute futures hang on tenterhooks.
has to change.



Written as a quadrille for dVerse Poets. Thanks for the prompt, whimsygizmo!

own the land
I stand on,
in the river that flows
where they tell it
to go.
Even the fish know
their home is not
their own.
I stand with the fish –
still –
in the flux
by no one
I am

Terminal Conscience

The minority Muslim population of Myanmar continues to be slaughtered by the Buddhist majority while Aung San Suu Kyi and the world look on …

Meanwhile in Myanmar

Soft applause
slips like summer rain
amongst the books
in the bookshop
as a new edition is unleashed.
Audience in silent rapture.
fires rage again
in Rakhine State.

Glasses glinting – ting!
Smiling muscat faces.
Praise peels off lips like petals,
scattering success.
a baby boy is found
face down in mud
in Rakhine State.

I ponder the power of words
to transform reality.
Tomorrow I will use my pen
to prick the eyeballs
of a leader who has forgotten
and lets the fires rampage
through Rakhine State.

Callander Poetry Weekend

Last weekend was inspirational, with over eighty talented poets sharing their work in a wonderful setting. Hosts Sally Evans, Ian King and Finlay the cat made everyone feel welcome. As well as fine poetry, there was singing and instrumental entertainment. The following little poem was inspired by some awesome musicians.

In the church hall

One acoustic guitar
and four mandolins,
well matched, strike up.
Music fills the room like
the sudden exit of bats
from a cave
and my ears show me
the moon
being set on fire.