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Mark Motherland Dec 2018

a child sings from an open window
a sweet song serenades an angry sky
escorting the sun home soft and mellow
so many years have now drifted by
visiting my old home here on Vatersay
Western Isles have their own genetic blends
I made the wee trip over from Castlebay
all that was left to see - two gable ends!
As my eye resists a lonely tear
I walk alone for a while on the sand
memories hark back to yesteryear
my Parents couldn't tame an untamed land
unrelenting hardships too much to take
the summer rain and then the winter snow
remnants of a failed dream in my wake
endless crashing tides screamed we had to go
but now I've lost myself in time's assuage
smoke billows forth from a happy fire
forgetting the gales and their howling rage
just the birds and lambs of nature's choir
but then the Cuckoo sang a confused song
Oyster Catchers didn't know which way to fly
no more childrens laughter all day long
Father leans on his staff and starts to cry
I visit my childhood home this one last time
bookending my days, a kind of crescendo
a strange thing I know but surely not a crime
for an Old Lady to sing from an open window.


New Scotland, old Scotland it was all the same
the clearances were a distant memory
and the two thousand mile journey that took weeks.
They settled on Nova Scotia's East coast
time and circumstances made them one flesh
as they embarked on love's difficult journey
they were blessed with a sweet child, Ishbael
they both loved her tho no longer each other

at night Ishbael would sing out the open window
she would sing to the moon, she would sing to the stars
she imagined that she was a ballet dancer
and dreamed of being such when she grew up

Mother eeked out a living from the tired land
Father spent most of his time on the fractious sea
She stood motionless at the front door each night
He checked the lobster creels under a salty spray

the spode China would be laid out on the table
strategically placed on the driftwood surface
cups stained brown with tea, coffee and nicotine
and on the outside with smudges of lipstick
it was the most treasured family heirloom
it was somehow smuggled across in the boat
it was passed on to them as a wedding gift
it was the only item of value they ever had

night after night Mother watches the sea
in the distant field, Sheep murmur like Bees
the bog cotton waves like a myriad hankies
as sunlight dissolves under cumulous cloud,
his bent over figure would surely soon appear
whistling a sea shanty walking up the track
but like a novel, his script came to an end
the storm weathered body was never found

outside on the lonely pebbled shore a Curlew sang
the net curtains rose and fell to it's bleak strains
wind rattled the windows like the beating of fence posts
they drank hot milk from Spode china for the final time
their family had creaked under the stresses and strains
that night a tall poplar tree crashed through the roof
storms wrecked their home like they wrecked their marriage
a perfect marriage of howling wind and frigid air

a lifetime of memories carried toward the sea
yet that old enemy was soon to be their friend
like a crush that would simply not go away.
Veiled by wrinkles Mother responds to the calling.
Larks cavort up and down in their unyielding plot
while they are bound for a far and distant land
the land was in their blood the blood was in their kin
the Isle of Vatersay, they were going home.


Old Scotland, new Scotland it was all the same
but she could not ignore the similarities
she looked across the ocean, it was all the same
two thousand miles of Atlantic anger
wind driven waves like a Tiger on a lead
but the tide died, the sea had peace like a child's hair
this reminded her of her kind Step Father
he would lean on his staff and cry when things went wrong

a storm took this house too, only they were not in it!
They settled across the water in Castlebay.
Time was unveiled as she relived her childhood,
withered fence posts and rusty wire that kept the joy in
brushing aside the nettles the hearth warmed her heart
window fames were as firm as ber Father's hand shake
she carefully scraped away the moss of time,
darkening seas awakened to her silvery voice.

She scurried along the beach with a youthful gait
reminiscent of her ballet dancing days
then the tide of her heart rose like a mountain within
down in the marram grass, she stared in sheer disbelief
her body all a quiver she picked up the fragments
with cupped hands tears were mingled with Spode china
she raised her eyes heavenward and screamed...
"nach eil sin italicired"
which when translated means 'how wonderful is that!'

tears rolled uncontrolably down her face
she stood still shaking the fragments in her hands
it made a lovely tinkling sound like cow bells,
two thousand miles of Atlantic anger
had softened the edges and smoothed over her memories.
She looked fervently at the long deserted croft
the wind erased her footprints in the sands of time
and then the sun went down.


when your poems fail to rhyme
when your watch runs out of time
when you feel your fate was sealed
we were on the same level playing field

when clouds slowly start to fill your sky
when the ocean gives it's final cry
life's pathways they did wind and wend
we were all equal in tbe end

we all had good times and hope'd they'd last
but time went on rolling on by far too fast
that lady in the window she's still singing
not about 'the end' but a new beginning.
It's surprising what comes into your mind whilst walking along an Outer Hebridean beach. This is a work of fiction yet it could of happened. Anything can happen on a Scottish Island, the Clearances were cruel but serendipity can be rich.
Mark Motherland Nov 2018
The *** Gardeners there were twelve in all. Hurrah! Hurrah!
everyone a Hero and answered the call. Hurrah! Celagh!
they were going out to war to fight the ***
soon be back as Heroes when the work is done
so get the Cheer Leaders ready...
the *** Gardeners are coming home

poison gas threatened from afar. Hurrah! Hurrah!
Soon be back as Heroes and first at the bar. Hurrah! Celagh!
they climbed over the top of the fields of fire
and complex networks of barbed wire
so get the fireworks ready
the *** Gardeners are coming home

deadlocked enemies on the Western line. Hurrah! Hurrah!
their bodies were earth their hands were slime. Hurrah! Celagh!
they didn't have time to take a breath
out of duty to the King they laughed at death
so get the flagpoles ready
the *** Gardeners are coming home

specialist bombers of an infantry platoon. Hurrah! Hurrah!
our Heroes longed to be home so soon. Hurrah! Celagh!
overhead shellfire scared them out their wits
dropped in their trench and blew them all to bits
so get the coffins ready...
the *** Gardeners are coming home.
The *** Gardeners were twelve young men who were masters of their craft. They transformed the gardens of Kinloch Castle, on the Isle of *** (Scotland) into a veritable paradise. There were Palm trees, a Japanese walled garden, an array of tropical plants, crops of peaches, nectarines, figs and grapes as well as acres of glass houses with free flying hummingbirds. Out of the 12+ young men that went to war, only two returned.4
Terry Collett May 2018
She's nae ready yit
Mrs Scot said
when I called for Hannah
at the flat.

Will she be long?
I asked.

Ah dinnae kinn
she said
waltzing away
up the passage
leaving me
on the doorstep
gazing at her
disappearing ****.

I looked back
into the Square.

Boys were riding their bikes
round the pram sheds
and girls were playing
in chalked out boxes
or doing handstands
against the wall.

Thought I heard your voice
Hannah said
I was in the bog.

Mum's not
in a happy mood
as Dad forgot
her birthday present
yesterday and today.

I nodded
and looked at her
standing there.

We're going out
she called to her mother.

A grunt came back
along the passage way.

We went out
and she closed the door.

Is she ever happy
your mother?
I said.

Ah dinnae kinn
Hannah said
and smiled.

We went to the park
and rode the swings
and slide.

Then we lay on the grass
and she did mimics
of her mother
and we laughed a lot.

Then we sat in the shade
of the trees
being hot.
JRS Jan 2018
I live in the north with the hoodies and the loons,
Where the wild gorse grows and prickles the brooms,
Where fields and pastures roll into mounds,
Which fold into mountains which tickle the clouds.

I live in the north, more water than rock,
Grey, green and blue like glas on the loch,
Reflecting the perfect mirror of the moon,
Are the world's oldest rocks, from which it was hewn.

I live in the north where cold winds blow,
Bringing hailstones and hurricanes, sunshine and snow,
To pristine white sand beaches where white waves come foaming,
To the straths and the glens serene in the gloaming.

I live in the north, the land of the Scots,
Named after the Irish, the natives forgot,
A land of Vikings and Picts, through war and through fire,
They bested the worst of the Roman empire.

I live in the north where the music runs deep,
It can make you laugh till you cry or a grown man weep,
A reel to make you believe any fable,
A blast of the pipes'll have you dance on the table.

I live in the north, still ruled by a king,
Monarch of the glen, lord of the ling,
Whose forests lack trees and whose lands are bare,
Save for the lonely, hunted hare.

I live in the north where magic is real,
And you can never be sure if it's selkie or seal,
Where the goddess Aurora paints the night sky green,
And dances with more stars than you've ever seen.
Guden Nov 2017
Some people live their lives in a slumber,
Eyes fixated on the shows
That show
People living fake lives,
Killing zombies,
Being criminals,
Scottish time travelers
For Christ's sake.

Some eyes look at reality,
Real people
Being fake,
Acting like they wish they were,
But they aren't.

Some people
Don't look at anything,
They have lost their ability
To be amazed
By the tricks of a magician,
Tired of being mesmerized.
Steve Feb 2017
A brave little haggis called Gus
Set off on a trip to Luss
But he wound up in Troon
Lying upside doon
Cos he fell asleep on the bus.

© Copyright SE February 2017
From a little trip to the west coast
Terry Collett Aug 2016
Sit doon,
Mrs Scot said.

I looked around
the sitting room.

In th' armchair,
she added pointing
to an old armchair.

Will Hannah be long?
I said.

Hoo dae Ah ken,
she said,
walking off
into the passage,
smoke from
her cigarette
following after her.

I sat down
and looked around
the room.

she bellowed
from the kitchen.

Won't be long,
Hannah replied
from the bog.

I hoped Mrs Scot
would not return
to speak to me
without an interpreter.

Dornt keep heem
tay lang,
Mrs Scot said firmly.

I rubbed my crucifix
with my thumb
in my pocket.

The bog door unlocked
and Hannah came into
the sitting room:
sorry about that,
she said,
call of nature,
or as Mum says
caa ay nature.

She smiled;
I smiled weakly.

So where we going?
Hannah said.

There's a film
we can see,
I said,
if you've money,
or we can go swimming
in the swimming baths.

I've no money,
but swimming seems
a good idea;
I'll just get my stuff
and ask Mum
for a few pence.

So off she went;
I sat listening,
fingers held
in each other  
forming a church
kind of thing.

ye aye want bunsens,
her mother said.

Just a few pence
for the locker,
Hannah said.

Puckle bon
mah god,
her mother said.

I sat staring
at the wall
where a picture of man
in a kilt stared
back at me.

The resemblance
to Hannah's mother
and the man
was plain to see.
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