Tuesday, 25 October 2016

In which I have written a poem about 'Desert Island Discs'...


There are so many islands,
Crammed into small spaces.
Which are you, my friend?
Do you know, can you say?

Are you long-term sick,
Are you lonely rock,
Are you waiting, waiting,
For something, someone?

On our sofas, or chairs,
Our beds, or whatever,
We need signs of life
And lights from afar.

We need warm voices,
Tales of survival.
Without them we harden.
Set. Crack.

We turn to the sound
Of our desert’s guide.
Her voice has a glow.
How can that be?

She hangs with the great,
The funny, the strange.
She asks them questions,
What’s more gets answers.

We can sing along too,
Down but not drowned,
A little more encouraged,
A lot less lost.

Why this week alone,
I had brunch with Barry Manilow,
Cooked crumble with Jackie Kay,
It’s a world away.

RF 2016

I started this poem a couple of weeks ago but it wouldn't come out right... today it seems to have found its shape (or a shape anyway...). For those of you beyond our shores it is about listening to the BBC radio programme 'Desert Island Discs' - currently enjoying a golden age with its best ever presenter, Scots marvel Kirsty Young. She gets the tone just right, I think, and gets great interviews as a result. All episodes of the show (with Young and all the previous presenters) are available on the website in the castaway archive section. Whatever you think of the BBC in general (and it certainly has its critics up here in Scotland these days) this bank of shows is still an amazing resource. 

Thursday, 20 October 2016


Long night (1991)

We're in a car,
It's daylight,
But nothing like morning.

Is someone driving?
They must be,
How else would we be moving?

The streets are almost empty
And we are somewhere lonely,
In London, England,
It seems kind of unlikely.

Somebody says something
About us being in the east
And there still being miles and miles to go.

The car rolls on and on and on.
When we get where we're going
We drink tea, call it home.

RF 2009 (I think)

The photo is not connected to the poem (photo is a Montrose morning, September 2016). The poem is an old one... I find that as I review poems past some grow on me with age and this is one of those. It might make it into the small pamphlet type thing I am considering getting together as a 50th birthday present to myself (that's only half a joke). The nightclub years are quite a distant memory now and mostly that memory is pretty vague and blurred but this night and its sensation has stayed with me, largely because of the poem I suppose. Maybe we should write all our memories into poems and then we won't forget anything. Only (half) joking.

Anyway, I did a lot of staying up far too late in the 1980s and '90s but one of the definite pluses was the whole 'being around when hardly anyone else is' business. For me you can't beat an empty city (unless it's a real war zone of course...) and I guess that's why so many of us love the zombie apocalypse fantasy genre so much. But I've had a cold this week... and I'm rambling...

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Change of pace

Around people

Some people are sweet,
Some people are mean,
Some people laugh blue,
Some people cry green.

Some people stride forth,
Some people don't know,
Some people feel lonely,
Wherever they go.

Some people eat no meat,
Some people drink gin,
Some people stay hungry,
Whatever goes in.

Some people hunt comfort,
Some people need less,
Some people like questions,
Some people love mess.

Some people feel different,
Some try not to feel,
Some people seek perfect,
Some people want real.

Some people say “what's that?
Real – did you say?
Don't you know real
Isn't real anyway?”

Some people get tired,
Some people give in,
Some people keep at it,
Some people drink gin.

Some people love winning,
Some don't mind defeat,
Some people are mean,
Some people are sweet.

RF 2009

An older poem. I've not been writing much rhyming verse of late. I think I miss it sometimes.

And the photo was taken in July at The Lighthouse in Glasgow (a detail on a window). The company responsible for the detail (and many others around the building) is called O Street. I really like a little detail that manages to be so simple and yet say so much. Some people make big buildings, some people make the little details on the buildings... and so on, and so on...

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

In the trees...

No name

Never used to be this vague,
Had definition,
Had pronouns,
Went places,
Knew things.

Now, lately, amongst trees,
There’s merging,
Less edge,
More wood,
Gaps blurring.

Could make fear,
But that’s spent.
Time is a record
With new groove.
Oak, larch, pine.

RF 2016

It seems the poetry sickness is back for sure... it's not even Friday yet and here I am. Anyway, to quote Stevie Wonder, "I don't want to bore you with it..." but I will continue because it doesn't hurt anybody and I know some people are reading (despite comment sparsity - the stats say so and so do actual human beings.. when I encounter them...). There have been tree poems before (old one here, back in Poetry Bus days...). There will be again...

Today's photo was taken in a tree in California in May 2011.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Another Friday...

Another Friday, another poem. Not sure how long this run will (or should) last. Today's poem is new. The photo was taken up Lossiemouth's Covesea lighthouse in July this year. I like windows.


Sister, I never knew you,
Not your stories or your places.
I barely knew your name.

There are waves between us.
Extreme mysteries.

I try to read your eyes,
Open gates, make roads,
Unfold a future.

RF 2016

Friday, 2 September 2016

Stars on Friday

Some stars

It’s not the sadness
We love the most;
That can come easy,
We all know that.

It’s more the soaring
That calls us close,
The stretch, the gasp,
The ‘how did they...?’

We say things like,
‘They made it look easy’,
But the truth shouts loud,
The power of wow.

RF 2016

So, this is a new poem, another wee thing. It was prompted by, for a start, listening to singer/songwriter/musician Kathryn Williams talking about her passion, if you like, for the work of Sylvia Plath (radio programme here... I don't know how long that link will be live...). Also it's influenced, I am sure, by my having another listening-to-heaps-of-Amy-Winehouse period of late (and that was prompted possibly by another blogger here...). I almost can't describe the effect that that Winehouse voice has on me sometimes... and it's not about the tattoos and the look, the misery, the waste etc. etc.... it is the sound, the effort and the work of it. There are lots of other singers and voices that I adore (I heard Gil Scott Heron's 'B Movie' on the radio the other day and had a moment... sound and content - love!) but Amy's voice is definitely up there in my (quite large) 'favourites' pile. Here's a blast of her, because the wow can pull you through:

Photo at the top of this post is local Sunnyside ex-hospital (yes, again), taken last week, through shades...

Friday, 26 August 2016



You get to a milestone;
You look around, take stock.
Maybe you sit down,
Have a drink of something,
Maybe with friends,
Maybe not.

You review the route so far,
What’s loved, learned, lost.
There is a soundtrack,
You recall some of it.
Maybe the greatest hits,
Maybe not.

RF 2016

So, I realise that since I've been writing poems again (and posting them here and elsewhere) that most of them have been fairly sad. This is with good reason (many sad things to see and feel around us...) but even so... it cannot always be this way. So the above is (I hope) at least not too much about death (though I think nearly all poems touch death somewhere... don't they?). I suppose this one started because a lot of people I know are turning 50 this year (my turn in a few months) so I am at that thinking-about-time-passing stage a lot of the time, it is unavoidable. Mostly I think we are just all lucky to still be here in whatever form we have arrived. Oh and people keep posting old music on facebook... and that kind of thing. So here you are - thoughts on pausing and the past and what-not. Happy Friday.

Photo is of abandoned bus stop up at the former Sunnyside hospital (photo taken end July this year). The site has been sold recently so I guess this bus stop's days are numbered.