I have never had to write a eulogy before. I am very sad that this one is for my father-in-law, who died last week.

for John Devlin

There was always mischief in your eyes,
a readiness to laugh and joke,
a kind man, though there were no flies
on you, you were a savvy bloke.

No problem ever was too big for you;
you always found a way around it.
When even Google didn’t have a clue,
by the time it loaded, you had found it.

An active man, you walked and cycled everywhere;
you put much younger folks to shame.
You wore the streets in Caldercruix threadbare
and now those streets are still, it’s not the same.

You wore your hair slicked back like Elvis,
whose every song you knew by heart.
And like the King, your humour was rebellious:
everybody knew that wit was your fine art.

If only I could have had more time with you
to set this world of ours to rights;
we shared a love of all that’s good and true;
we would have talked for days; we could have laughed for nights.

In life, you were an inspiration,
the way you faced each day without a care
and so take this, my dedication,
as a promise of remembrance, not a prayer.



I have a PhD in Dying

I wrote this after a particularly frustrating visit to the doctor. Lighthearted stuff…


Aspirin, Valium, Anadin, Omeprazole
Codeine, Brufen, Tramadol, I’ve had them all.
Diazepam, Prozac, trippy amitriptyline,
heads-a-spinning, tills-a-ringing, glorious carbamazepine!
HRT’s a patchy fix as tablets or transdermally;
Doctor Death is happy to prescribe them all quite merrily.
If arthritis gives you gyp, if you’ve had a broken hip,
don’t despair, the doctor’s there, he’ll prescribe a drug to sip.
Knock it back, swallow whole, take the jab (“it’s just a prick”)
Doctor Death will sort you out, she will stop you feeling sick.
Vaccinate, inoculate, protection while it’s not too late.
Constipation consternation, pills to make you defecate.
Are you feeling dizzy, pet? Have you called the doctor yet?
Don’t hold off if you’ve a cough. For ulcers you’ve got Tagamet.
Keep yourself out of the sun; jogging isn’t good for knees
Stop laughing if you don’t want wrinkles, stop your children climbing trees.
Danger lurks on every street and Doctor Death lives well on it
Don’t put your faith in cannabis or mumbo jumbo new age cures,
Reiki, reflexology, holistic healing reassures
but Doctor Death outlives them all, he alone can sign you off:
“She died of cancer, heart disease; he died of rickets, whooping cough.”
Doctor Death can’t give you, though, your longed for happy ever after.
On my stone, the words will read: “Another woman died of laughter.”
When you’ve had enough of grief, of fear and crying, rage and sorrow,
Laughter lands like soothing snow to help you to forget tomorrow.

Mrs May’s bangle

If it didn’t make me so angry, the Tory Party Conference would have me peeing myself laughing… I offer this poem as my contribution to open link night at dVerse Poets. Thank you Kim!

Mrs May’s bangle

Don’t bother counting swallows,
I can tell you it’s not summer yet.
Winter after winter follows and
my wager is as safe as wagers get
that speeches will be shallow
at the Tory Party Conference,
where wearing bangled images of Frida Kahlo
does not inspire public confidence.
Maybe counting birds isn’t such a bad suggestion;
but which season follows next, that is the question.

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