From my window, dazzling autumn colours
yet faraway
Within reach, window garden with fragrant mint, caressed
a luscious harvest awaited

Dazzling autumn colours and window garden with fragrant mint

Entry to Caboodle flash poetry competition (20 words max) for National Poetry Day 4 Oct 2018. My first (feeble) attempt at a flash poem, following judge Kate Clanchy‘s flash course in flash poetry:

Try making your own memorable image. Remember your five senses and list them down a page. Now write down the name of a favourite place, and note down what it smells, tastes and sounds of; what it feels and looks like. Avoid abstract big words and long adjectives. Try the same exercise with the name of a friend, or an idea like ‘hope’ or ‘nationhood’. One of these lists will be your poem – look for the oddest one, the one that sounds most like you.

VW flower power bus

‘Come With Us on a Bus to Luss’
read the advert
A promising start to a tour of Scotland
For other sights, you’ll need to

Catch a train to Dunblane
or a plane to Culzean

Ascend via cable car to Braemar

Sail on a schooner to Troon–or
fly a balloon and land in Dunoon

Book an overnight berth to the city of Perth

Ride the metro ‘neath the toun of Glasgow
Be pulled by a rope tow through the valley of Glen Coe
Paddle a pedalo to the burgh of Thurso

Haul your muck on a truck to Greenock
Hitch a ride with a lorry on the way to Tobermory
Drive your own ute o’er the Isle of Bute

Take the subway through the land of Galloway
Balance a Segway on your tour of Dounreay (radiation suits included)

Ride a golf cart through the parish of Cathcart

Waterski ‘round the isle of Tiree
Paddle a kayak to the village of Back

Soar on a glider, drop in on a Morningsider

You’ll need two yachts for sailing to Shotts
but only one scull to crew to Mull

Optional add-ons at the end of your tour:
Sail on the ferry to the port of Derry
Fly on a kite to the Isle of Wight

And remember your brolly and wellies!

A work in progress: I still have about 40 modes of transport lacking a rhyming Scottish location. Suggestions for new rhymes are welcome!

One world - Refugees Welcome

Photo by Ilias Bartolini on Flickr Creative Commons Licence

I am not a refugee
yet far from home I am
a migrant many times over
a stranger in unknown lands
unknown people
unknown language
unknown culture

I am not a refugee
yet I am their grandchild
and know their stories:
living in fear
fleeing oppression
to the New World
in the nick of time
before the gates were slammed shut

I may not be a refugee
yet know that you may struggle
so proffer a helping hand
to navigate these local waters

We must keep open these gates
welcoming you, in need of sanctuary
and be willing to make sacrifices
large or small
so that you can
breathe freely
live safely
be at peace.

Dad's architect's scale

Dad’s tools of the trade
acquired over seven decades ago
handed down to another generation
through university and beyond they saw me

eleven scales held in a triangular prism–how clever
solid wood–they don’t make them like that anymore
colour of ivory with accents tricoloured
bearing scars from years of battering
odors absorbed from toolbox neighbours:
ink leads pastels rubbers pounce and the like
rather rank if I may say so

reposing unused for many years
replaced by the computer
forgotten perhaps but not unloved
ready to be taken up again
by another generation

Writing exercise from the FutureLearn How To Make A Poem MOOC
A memory of a tool

Glasgow, 20 June 2018

I take up my tool
applied to his head
stroking, gently stroking
in waves
brush and I are as one…

…two, three
how many times
‘to one hundred’ cries he
smooth and long enough
to be let down
for his prince

Writing exercise from the FutureLearn How To Make A Poem MOOC.
Choose two arbitrary words as the prompt (one to be a tool)

Glasgow, 20 June 2018

Tower viewer looking out to sea. Photo by Drew Graham on unsplash.comfour eyes
looking out to sea
a longing to be out there
in which direction? so much choice
leaving home, family, friends
to a far off place I do not know
what will I find there?
(when) can I return?
so many questions to ponder

tick, tick, tick
money ran out
Back to Reality

Writing exercise from the FutureLearn How To Make A Poem MOOC (respond to a photo)

Glasgow, 20 June 2018

We have received your Referral;
what happens now?

Here’s what it means for you:
Supporting Communities,
Unlocking Potential.

Real bread
made with love
by the people at
the Tastiest Social Enterprise.

Easily connect
with a Loyalty Card.
Collect a stamp
with every loaf.
Five stamps
will provide
someone experiencing
social disadvantages
with their own loaf.

Continue the Honor,
Join Today!
Get news first
with our mailing list.
And Well Done
For Taking Part!!!

a ‘Found Poem’ assignment from the FutureLearn How To Make A Poem MOOC.
It is a mashup of texts from 10 sources: SEUKNHS ScotlandSSEFaith in Community ScotlandHigh Rise BakersSpoonMaplinSigma Xi, SQLGLA, and Friends of Southern Necropolis.

Glasgow, 4 June 2018


On the Eighth Day of Pesach I still had left to eat:

Eight ounces charoses
Seven tablespoons chrain (white)
Six pickled gherkins
Five free range eggs (2 hardboiled, 3 uncooked)
Four gefilte fish pieces
Three boxes matzo (1 Rakusens, 2 Yehuda)
Two matzo balls (in chicken soup)
And a box of mint chocolate thins!

This truly was the remains of my Pesach food—at the end of the holiday on Saturday evening.
Disclaimer: a few numbers may have been adjusted (but only slightly!) to fit the story 🙂

Glasgow, 7 April 2018

I haven’t published any poems for some time, so I thought I’d share the following for #WorldPoetryDay.

These were written at the “Creativity with the Spirit” evening (13 Nov 2017) during Scottish Interfaith Week. They don’t follow a traditional Japanese 5-7-5 syllable structure (this departure is apparently quite common nowadays). “On the Spot”, as all six were written in the course of about 20 minutes, with no further editing.

flakes in the air
first snowfall
or volcanic eruption

mist in the air
forgot the brolly
up goes the hood

autumn morn
the Clyde like glass
leaf falling on water

springtime here
still bundled up
where are the blooms?

Saturday morn
lie-in expected
binmen disrupt

Shabbat morn on the bus
yet on the streets
life goes on

Glasgow, 21 March 2018

Beebee blanket - Essence of a Memory competition entry

For half a century they’ve provided comfort to family
Mine, the first of how many blankets? Only God knows
Sitting on your bed, knitting squares (117)
Family time in the living room, arranging squares to be assembled
You’ve been gone many years, yet memories remain in your handiwork

winning entry to Essence of a Memory competition, Scotland, October 2016

Glasgow, 9 November 2016

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