Poem of the day

'Evening will come'

by Ian Hamilton Finlay

24 February

'Already I have comprehended a light'

by Paul Peter Piech

23 February

Like

by Elizabeth Burns

The fog that is like    but more rare

The wind that is like    but not so sharp

The sand that is like    but turns to mud

The hills that are like    but more peopled

The flowers that are like    but bloom earlier

The beach that is like    but more crowded

The summers that are like    but darken quickly

The air that is like    but not so sweet 

 

22 February

Untitled

by Kelvin Corcoran

By the well of Thalmi, Ino my bride

come out of your house, come out in the night

with ship gods as well as land gods,

with bronze statues on the island

in the open air of Pephnos,

with the whiter than usual ants.

 

See the owls swoop down from the tower

on dark wires sure as death,

hunting in pairs back and forth

threading the night.

 

My mind empties around the tower

of Kapetanios Christeas and into the sea;

my old neighbour sings at night,

her imperfect beautiful voice

rises for no-one or the moon, Ino, for no-one

or the dark ocean wrapped around the world.

 

21 February

Hampton Court Shelter

by Lee Harwood

That hue of light you find on a summer afternoon

when a rain storm batters the gardens, stitches the heavy river.

Like dusk but not.

 

You and I in a room set with windows overlooking that river.

A room panelled with large mirrors, long smoky mirrors

whose foxed glass reflects our dusky selves, maybe our ghosts.

And inbetween – the window seats and views of a flowing

                                                               watery world.

 

That this 17th century pavilion, built for privacy and banquets,

could have been where voyages were planned, trade calculated

and profit, much profit, inbetween the laughter.

 

That the elaborate maze-like gardens that surround this pavilion

are where people wandered talking,

are where we will soon wander in a fine rain

unaware of anything beyond, caught in the moment’s delight

 

as we weave our way through the flower beds, the sunken   

                                                                    gardens,

the arched corridors of wysteria, pergolas of laburnum,

honey scented lime walks, our myths and histories laid aside.

Floating in any century, timeless, we romantically imagine.

 

If the myths were put aside, and we… ?

Would the mirrors be clear and glitter?  a rainbow

flickering on their bevelled edges?     I doubt it.

 

“So what are you going to do

with the rest of your life?”

 

20 February

Falling softly

by Julie Johnstone

19 February

John Tennant

by Edwin Morgan

Tennant's Stalk - that's my monument.

Talk of the town, top of the walk, tells them to stop,

Any that trudge by that well-named Sight Hill.

It tapers elegant to its hourly bloom,

Thick smoke, acrid, highest anywhere,

Four hundred and thirty blessed feet

Above my empire, my chemical empire,

My blessed St Rollox, biggest anywhere,

My eighty acres of evenhandedly

Distributing industry and desolation!

Chief of all chimneys, carry your noxiousness

Into the clouds and away from my employees,

Settling if it must where I cannot see it!

I am in business for the uses of the world,

Bleaching powder, soap, sulphuric acid,

A thousand casks a week from my cooperage.

I'm standing here in the midst of furnaces

Which I understand and command - oh yes,

If there is anything new or strange in chemistry

It will not be the case that I have not heard of it.

 

Boasting, in my Glasgow way? Well, perhaps.

I am a chemist with passions. I am a character,

They say. Take my wife. I don't mean take my wife,

But just consider. We are not married

Except by good old Scottish cohabitation.

She is a total non-person to my family.

My brother, well we don't get on, that's that.

My sister-in-law, put bluntly, is a bitch.

My dear Rosina was a factory girl,

She may be beautiful, she may be bright -

She is beautiful, she is bright -

But a lassie from St Rollox, that's not on.

Well well, I've put their gas in a peep,

That claque or clat of bitches who can't stand

Class mix - my grand house in West George Street

Has, or should I say boasts, a fine brass plate

For MR & MRS JOHN TENNANT. And that's us.

 

How can a rebel be a capitalist?

What's the problem? I have a yacht - of course! -

And some have tried to poach my butler - fat chance -

But who was it marched through Glasgow in '32

To see the great Reform Bill safely through?

Who was it planted a doctor in the work

To give free treatment to all? Who ran

A factory school for workers' weans? Who

Cranked up mechanics' institutes? Who stayed

In the centre of Glasgow when the nabobs and nobs

Hustled out to suburban palazzos?

I'm bluff and gruff and tough enough,

If a foreman is a pain in the arse

I tell him he's a pain in the arse.

My eyebrows are bushy, and if my finger is in my fob

You had better watch out if you are skiving your job.

But, or rather BUT,

If ever you are down on your luck

You can come to me, you can run

With a secret misery, I can cut

Corners for you, nothing is shut

That John Tennant cannot get unstuck.

 

I come back to my Stalk, my obelisk, my watchtower,

My beautiful slender avant-garde polluter.

What poet would sing those acres of grey ash,

That ghastly guff of hydrogen sulphide?

Who cares? I'm happy to stand in for Homer.

His gods would have cackled with joy

To see my new-born boy

Poking manfully towards their heavenly rookery.

I marked the occasion - oh, did I not!

I gathered a posse of friends to hansel the Stalk.

Ladies and gents, I said, you're going to the top!

Such cries of horror, it was like a play.

I relished the moment, lifted a hand

For the clamour to subside. Just a joke, folks.

I don't need steeplejacks. It's inside you're going.

The bricks are the best money can buy,

They are new, they are brilliant, not a smitch of soot.

Please admire them as your rise past them.

Climb? Not a step. You will mount like magic

By a system of hissing steam-powered pulleys -

O James blessed Watt, late of this parish! -

Emerge at the viewing platform, safe as houses,

And sweep your eyes around like modern gods.

What's that sir? Insurance? Christ man

This is Glasgow. You are pioneers. Get in.

There's a woman in the Stalk before you.

Yes ma'am? Skirts? That's taken care of.

No one will look up your furbelows.

The ladies will sit in a basket, like balloonists.

The gents will be in buckets, like Brahmins.

 

Well, up they went into the half dark,

Clutching their ropes, listening to the pulley,

Silenced by the mystery

The summit was all light and air and chatter.

The smoky city was shunting fiercely below

But the height, the horizon, the haze was their hope

As they looked at, looked for, Scotland.

The firth, the masts and sails, the Arran hills,

The river winding south through glasshouses,

Eastward a faint glint of spires - Edinburgh?

We don't want Edinburgh! Find Ben Lomond!

They found it, and they found much else

As they leaned on my parapet, not paradise

But a throb of the great paradox,

Useful filth, mitigated pain,

Crops of brick and iron, with or without rain.