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A Mayfly said to his mate
"I've been searching for algae for 5 minutes
it was such a long time
most of my life has gone by"

a Painted Lady said to his mate
"do you realise we've been waiting a whole day!
It took so long for our friends from Spain to arrive
most of our lives have gone by"

A Wren said to her chicks
"you're going to have to fend for yourselves now!
I've looked after you for a whole month
and most of my life has gone by"

an old Oak tree stretched out it's branches
"I've been in this wood for over a hundred years
and I have seen many things come and go
yet when I think back it seems just like 5 minutes"
Was just trying to illustrate that the 'passing of time' is all relative. Taken from
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 Oct 2018
the circles still expand...but the fish has gone

people come people go
there it hangs
in a fusty old Charity shop
above a box of battered old LP's.
It was just a normal Saturday afternoon
people come people go

A young man tries it on
smiles as he looks in the mirror
gets the nod of approval from his wife.
His shirt is tucked in, so too his collar
there is no scent of whisky mingled with tobacco
on his breath,
yet he has the charisma of an Easter island statue
compared to the person who had it before
but he's gone now...
like the fish.
Against the backdrop of the humdrum of life, in this world people come and go like customers in a Charity shop. Their personalities vary too!
Mark Motherland Oct 2018
remember when you          we set out towards Arkle
started out

you were both young         the sun shone and the air
and a little naive                  was sweet

you got your first house      we made easy work of
                                                   reaching the summit

you made it your home       the view poitively exploded
                                                  in scale

then children came along   but once on the ridge the wind
                                                  picked up

life became a little  more     and walking became more
complexed                                complicated

but you held their hands      we had to hold on to every rock

yet each decision carried      concentration was paramount
a lot of weight        

as you raised them with         every decision mattered
heart and soul

ironically they weren't
children long                            eventually the wind subsided

they had established their
own identities                           and we wended our way back down

before long they had      
their own lives                          to enjoy the pleasant walk back
                                                      to the road

then you look back on life's
long road and ask yourself?   as we look back to the castellated
                                                     ­  ridge so high and way back in
                                                       the distance

did we really raise a family?   we ask, were we really up there?

It all seems so long ago now.     It all seem so far away now.
Raising a family can be like conquering a mountain.

Can be read one segment at a time or straight across, the parallels are obvious.
Mark Motherland Nov 2019
chattering like youths in undulating flight
that looping the loop was an awesome sight
your peers eat mostly worms and insect fayre
yet you catch Damsels as they fly through the air!
Then returning to patient stones in the loch
to plan your next sortie and feed your young stock
cataracts of grey in yellow cascade
I appoint you Queen of the fashion parade.
observing Grey Wagtails on Loch Torridon, highland, Scotland.
Mark Motherland May 2019
streams stay on the hills
a husband stays with his wife
rivers reach the sea.
The parallels are endless.
Mark Motherland Oct 2018
I knew a Girl once
I was only a child
She was a great friend
We got on so well
We sought each other out in the playground
We played all sorts of children's games
I invited her to my party
I assumed she would come
I dont know why she didn't show
Or why it seemed to cause such a stir amongst grown ups
She moved soon after
I never saw her again
I was very sad
I often wondered why she never came
I still remember taking the invitation to her house
I went with my Mum
Her Father answered the door
A very big friendly man
With a great big Jamaican smile!
Sometimes Children manifest more wisdom than Adults, like seeing people for what they are rather than being sidetracked by the colour of their skin!
Mark Motherland Mar 2019
Part One - Missing presumed dead

Apparently Alec was missing presumed dead
at least that was what the obituary said
how then he got married is still a mystery
life after a very dark period of history

               Jane plodded head down through another long day
               solitude complete in a strange kind of way
               while Kestrels are tacked to an untamed sky
               she screams "Dear Lord wont you please tell me why"

young Alec stood well over six foot tall
legs full of shrapnell disfigured and all
willing to give all for a meagre days pay
a young man with half of his face blown away

                Shepherdess Jane sat under sad twinkling stars
                it was plain to see she had her own mental scars
                the Ferryman's Daughter, she was so kind
                different from the others, Jane was blind

when the bells of victory began to ring forth
it was too much for Alec, he headed up North
up to the North where the bronze fields shone
but Alec's old personality had gone

                 there in the North a young Shepherdess called Jane
                 did dry Alec's tears and soothed his deep pain
                 Her voice rolled over hills in a plaintive wave
                 as they assumed Alec lied in an unmarked grave

In time they married, Jane bore Alec a Son
but talk about the war, Alec would have none
all that he said was "between you and me..
I've seen things that no man should ever see"

                 flashbacks in his mind of the dead still ringing
                 offset by his young Wife's ethereal singing
                 somewhere around the Somme young Alec lay dead
                 at least that was what the obituary said.

Part Two - The Ferryman

The Ferryman vowed he would find his girl
he picked some roses to place in the top room
searched high and low to find his precious lost pearl
swore he would have her back before the flowers bloom

treated like a slave, a young girl in her prime
the Brothers got away Jane was left behind
her body it did whither through the passing of time
She was different from the others, Jane was blind

worked as a Milkmaid her hands would get so sore
under constant threats she still searched for the spark
work never done a family waits on the shore
although Jane was blind she could see in the dark

the moon shone bright on the path to the Ferry House
the gusts picked up on the night Jane ran away
salty wind and sea shanty's awakened the grouse
as Jane finally gets her break from the play

He scoured every square inch of the land
yet couldn't ask why? Or search into his past
at the Wayfarers Inn they'd got it all planned
released from a cruelty that could no longer last

the night the Father died Gaelic psalms they sang
a lonely house still stands like a watch to nature's will
when they buried the Ferryman the church bells rang
the flowers in the attic, they stand there still.

Part three - The Inn (recapitulation)

The Ferrymans lantern swung in the pouring rain
he heard that his Daughter had made it to the Inn
the audience sang to the Drovers refrain
midst discarded cigarettes, rolling dice and gin

Jane had long picked brambles from thorn covered vines
lived an intoned existence yet she had her plans
though Jane was blind she could read between the lines
a chance to escape, she grabbed it with both hands

the Inn's cosy light shone at the end of the lane
to Whiskey Jack, Jane's elopement had come to light
she had nothing to lose and everything to gain
Jane's now with Alec and has recieved her respite

see him dramming away yarns, bereft of what's true
then screaming his lies to the starry sky above
but tidal subtleties are demanding their due
his heart had long died to the trueness of love

the landlord played the piano and felt every note
the Ferryman's lantern swung in the pouring rain
given up his search, now in want of his boat
regular at the Inn but never seen again

he knew that yesterday would never come back
sailing aimlessly like a throw of the dice
he knew there would be no-one to take up the slack
the doomed Mariner paid the ultimate price.
On the North coast of Scotland on the Ard Neakie peninsular, there lies an old Ferry house, built before the road in 1830. Sadly it has long fallen into desuetude. On the other side of Loch Erribol lies the Wayfare Inn, now a holiday let. My imagination knows no bounds.
Mark Motherland Nov 2018
I was being stalked by something large and threatening
foot falls behind me but there was no-one there
an uninvited guest to me he is beckoning
shimmering rings, rainbow his head in the air
I know Bigfoot looms large in swathes of shifting grey.
I'm above the clouds stood with my back to the sun
the dark figure motions to his trembling prey
"oh circular glory, to you I'm outrun
sat cowering beneath the Brocken Spectre
the circle was broken and the Grey Man walked free
was he a Troll or some Mountain Protector?
Oh! Hideous encounter, the Grey Man was me!
When you are stood with your back  to the sun, your shadow is cast into the mist. The halo is caused by an optical illusion called a 'glory' where diffracted light is reflected back at you. It has a greater effect when you are above the clouds. 'Brocken' is named after a mountain kn Germany that is renowned for this phenomina.
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
Mark Motherland Nov 2018
the hills breathe verselets high and low
in jigsaw lochans of liquid sky
lure me back to where I want to go
back to the land where poems lie

clouds turn mountains into words
that sing unto the morning sky
and a faintly scattered beach of birds
call out to me where poems lie

four seasons lie forever stranded
await some verse to unlock the spry
in a song that never ended
in beautiful land where poems lie

the setting sun says that all is well
as rhythmic rivers join the cry
of pounding waves of sand and shell
in the Motherland .. where poems lie!
for me poems lie in the Highlands of Scotland, the Motherland. But where is your Motherland?
Mark Motherland Apr 2020
Voiceless whispers yearning to be normal
shops staring back at you in thoughtful mood
a desperate jogger who can't be informal
in case, into his private space you intrude

distrustful of every other single person
living in dread that you're going to break the law
fearing that conditions are going to worsen
like a wave of the sea that daren't land on the shore

gusts of bygone days calmly sweep on by
while happiness was left on a razor's edge
with a booming stock market and more pie in the sky
and promises that could not renew their pledge

in bars and cafès hang painted silhouttes
a deserted High Street that was once the fast lane
seeing your hopes dashed again as another sun sets
but how long before the bridge breaks under the strain?
I went for my morning run up Lincoln High Street and the appropriately named Steep Hill, at the height of the Coronavirus  pandemic. At 10.00am on Saturday morning there was just a couple walking their dog! The area was virtually empty.

— The End —