I might have been twenty
when I had this thought.
Good family, material ease -
she really should
snap out of it.

This was before
I'd ever stumbled
into fruitless darkness,
when mood and circumstance
seemed one and the same.

I thought myself magnanimous
when rather than judging
I rationalised.
"Perhaps we're hard wired
to seek problems to solve,"
I pondered,
"so where there are none,
we create them."

But now
instead of second-hand accounts
of days in bed,
ill-fated relationships
and unaccountable weeping,
I read her own words.

And I am staggered,
by her strength
and her insight,

and by how little
we can know of each other
until we are ready
to learn.

Alan McClure Jul 10

"They don't come to the glass
when the people aren't here",
the woman tells us.
But we are here,
and they are entranced.
It is odd
to be watched,

They are expectant,
swimming in our reflections.
The rays,
back and forth and eager;
sharks, watchful and aloof;
a cleaner wrasse,
distracted from his task -
they hang there
in mastery
of their medium

A shoal
of unanswerable questions,
still watching
as we shuffle off,

Alan McClure May 17

Primary to pastel
to lights, darks

to static and noise
to nothing.

The old man ice-axes
memory mountain.

Some echo, some glimpse
of all he's lost

is all he seeks.
But all there is

in unpictured void,
scuttling, spidering

denying the light -
a parasite alphabet

barring windows
spinning webs -

the words for which
he once was famous

sucking the juice from
all they ever meant.

While lesser spectres
span the spectrum

dreams and photons
undrowned in ink.

Alan McClure Dec 2016


See that yin?
Jist sittin there?
Ye ken how she’s sittin like that, don’t ye?
Well, whit’s she sittin oan?
Aye, her erse.
She’s only sittin like that
So ye ken she’s got an erse.
Gaggin fir it.

An whoa, check that yin!
Wearin claes!
Filthy cow!
Whit dae ye mean, “Whit dae ah mean”?
Ye canny wear claes
If ye huvny got a boady, can ye?
That’s right –
Just screamin it, so she is –
“Check oot ma boady!”

Aye, ah wull an aw!
Don’t mind if ah dae!

Aw, mate – that yin!
That yin ower there!
Bendin her airm!
See her?
Bendin her airm like a mucky hoor!
That’s so ye ken
She’s got elbows!
Phwoar, I ken your type hen –
you wi yir elbows an a’thin!
Desperate fur it, aren’t ye?

An man!  This yin,
walkin towards us!
Breathin in an oot!
Whit a slapper!
Breathin in an oot!
Aye, ye need a pair o lungs tae dae that,
I bet, eh, hen?
A pair o fine, functioning lungs!
Aye, you use them, doll –
dinny you be shy!
Ah’m no!

Aw pal, haud me back!
This yin!
This yin eatin a meat pie!
Shameless wee slut!
Aw yeah, baby,
I ken whit that means!
Mean’s ye’ve got yirsel
a sexy wee digestive tract in there, no?
Ye dinny hae tae spell it oot tae me, love!
Probably got a pair o kidneys
tucked away in there too,
ye horny wee bitch!

Aw the same, ur they no?
Aw ae thum.
Gantin oan it.

Alan McClure Dec 2016

by the waves of sound
so transcendentally human
I am swallowed, surrounded

The basses are an ocean swell
the tenors, a hull of solid oak.
We stand upon the altos’ sturdy deck,
gaze upwards at soprano sails
swollen with song

What strange creatures we,
to join and mingle so
to vanish in the whole.
This ritual enacted
for this God, or that
has outlived immortals and still
floods with lifeblood

Anu, Enlil, Enki, Baal,
dived divinely
in the sea of song
and vanished.
Forgotten gods adrift
in harmony, in melody

And while I wish
all gods forgotten
I would abase myself
before Jehovah’s golden toes
to be a part
of this eternal choir.

Alan McClure Dec 2016

There is always someone
to say, "Ah, but..."
when we weep
at little tragedies.
Striding gurus
whose far-reaching sight
passes over little corpses
to seek out the Big Picture.
And you dry your eyes
and you feel foolish
for thinking little ones matter.

Big names are tossed around.
Patterns passing back
through blackened ages
History degrees
dusted off,
chins stroked,
lofty knowledge
powerfully deployed

Churchill manifests
all black and white and grim.
Roosevelt and Stalin,
and this is why,
and that is why,
and further back
to Empire and beyond.

Until it all makes sense.
It's good versus evil
eternal, universal
and nothing to be troubled by.

But still
the little corpses
in your path.

Alan McClure Nov 2016

Will you be the German
who is tutting through the shutters
as the trains roll by?
Will you be the Christian
busy ticking off the reasons
you can shut your eyes?
Screw the left, screw the right
this is everybody's fight
and we're battling the evil in our hearts
It's a long road to hell
but we know the journey well
and a hatred of the strange is where it starts.

Will you be enchanted
by the pretty little whispers
of the self-made man
Strutting on the scaffold
of the skeletons he shackled
as he made his plans?
Well his dazzling election
is a clever misdirection,
builds a figurehead to follow or defeat
Still whenever evil comes
braying trumpets, banging drums
it's the likes of you and me that keep the beat.

See our little kingdoms
slickly built to keep the guilt and trouble
out of range
Mastering the darkness
simply saturates the masses
with a fear of change.
We cajole, we corral,
who's against us, who's our pal,
Who's the sacrifice to calm the raging seas
Tides will rise, tides will fall
breakers burst against the wall -
It's our terror that will bring us to our knees.

Each of us is given
just one minute and a million choices
every day
Struggle for the love
or love the struggle
of the jungle hunter gone astray
wicked wishes crack the whip
comfort loosens our grip
and a black and hungry vulture takes the air
Every road goes up or down
we can climb, or we can drown -
be the beast - or be the angel, if we dare.

Next page