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‘Karate stands on the side of justice.’

In a land where the poor are demonised

When some rich walk tall and unbowed

The legal becomes illegal.

No hands and feet used like swords-


Just intent and deed, balance-

Seek our ain social justice.

Posted in Pieces Based on 'The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate' by Gichin Funakoshi, Scots Poems, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Hot Bubbling Road

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Hot Bubbling Road

I remember seeing the water boiling as the lakes of Yellowstone were a stone’s throw away. And soon death would take us to all ends, create a murmur of a black shadow and speaking that would follow us. The three of us.


The roads became longer once we got out to the eastern states beyond New York State itself. The Cherokee jeep we had was full. Jan and I had filled it with Chicken Ravioli tins from the American summer camp we had both been working in. Two guys from London and Oxford had joined us. New York State had coped well with the Dutch and Scottish student single figure invasion.

We had contacted the student organisation that we had got the jobs through and they had put us in touch with them. That made one Scotsman, one Dutchman and two others from Great Britain. Accordingly assembled this smattering of nationalities were a European contingent about to go across the continental United States.

The time zones that we went into before we reached Mountain Time, Arizona, I think were punctuated by hundreds of miles of road. We: Jan and I couldn’t drive the car so the others would drive.

Driving before Montana:

‘Did you pay the bill, Jan? ‘Tim said as the long lock of the Kansas highway opened up again and again before us.

‘No, I did not. I presumed Alex or Martin had.’ Jan replied, exhausted as the rest of us after the many hours of driving from New York.

Thereafter, Tim-a psychology student fretted and whined about the possibility of State Troopers giving us forced board in a town’s cells.

The sarcastic humour that Jan got was wasted on the other two who seemed as humourless as the gas station attendants we would meet across the miles and states we had been through before Wyoming.

Wyoming and Montana-this is what we had been looking forward to. The miles of forest containing bear, moose and buffalos and the famed volcanic geysers and springs including Old Faithful.



The Ranger at the Park entrance was surly beyond belief and warned us on no account to go camping beyond the allocated sites without a rifle.

It was getting dark as came to a pretty much deserted stop next to the pools of water that were the colours of the nebulae and supernova of NASA photographs. The bacteria in the super-heated water made them that way, we learnt from a quick scan on the tourist information boards.

We ran down to them as the light faded and could still see dust coming off the wooden walkways across the living, molten earth below; belching hot mud pools were all around.

‘We can get a photo, down near that really blueish one.’ Tim said.

We were all over the fence and walking on the bare and dry skin around the hot mud or water pools. A thousand myriad tones of blue and clear light mixed in the bright August sunlight.

A loud crack. This was from the split in the top layer of mud or rock.

Then Tim’s comic position with one hand and one leg wickedly bent.

Screaming, then more screaming. And all time and belief in solidity, God and mothers descended into movement and panic.

Jan, Mike and I backtracked onto the wooden walkway for tourists. We were gallus after walking for a quarter of an hour on the surfaces near the pools.

What and how-the concepts and panic all mixed as screams got louder yet thinner.

Kicking the wood from the walkway then getting the tallest of us to lie down and reach in.

And Jan bears the burns still up to his shoulder.


A month. A month before we returned to university in our own countries.


Later, even when sleep and work drew you down I always read any signs, watched for a problem when the kids were out or on holiday.

At least it was something to honour him.

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Nicola Sturgeon is Alone

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Nicola Sturgeon is still there-alone

The sign that holds her name:

Black marks on a pure white rectangle

Has lost its twin marking the Time.


The hall meeting is past, history

Still it stands as the small haar lifts;

It is the morning after the vote.

No one has moved her, no one has taken it.


It seems nothing has changed

It has, and nothing is yet written

What and who will be on other signs, other markers.

Posted in Poems in English, Political Poems, Comment and Essays, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Man Who Spoke

*Recent visit (and now revisit) of Ed Miliband, Labour Party leader to Scotland speaking of ‘social justice’


And lied to himself and us

Saying ‘social justice’ with phonemic litany

Without a foundation of purpose or history.


An intellect misappropriated for power

Standing with those who sell the undeserving poor.


A racist Party debated with the Deputy Prime Minister

As this nation debated its essence.


Not anger, not regret but surprise at the spectacle-

Flag waving, jubilees do not disguise decay.


Whatever the poll result

A new start has been made.


As The Bruce never said,

‘We won’t gie in’.

Posted in Poems in English, Political Poems, Comment and Essays, Scots Poems, Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment



They are the seeds of our green fringe-

The pine trees, slivers of essence

They are winged micros

Pared elliptical spirals into here:

The square concrete and steel of human nests.


They mark another cycle:

Death, renewal, birth and awakening

As their girth grows ours weakens.


The August sun splits the early evening

As a grey squirrel dashes over the fence

Like an office worker in Adidas trainers

He is all frenetic energy and need.


Posted in Poems in English | Tagged , , | Leave a comment




There is no first strike in karate.

If you are waiting to react second

It is weakness, not strength

And strength is not power, nor aggression.


Rather it is all your being, soul

Prepared, let loose in extremis

Technique melded to training

Enabling you to strike


Or down.



Posted in Pieces Based on 'The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate' by Gichin Funakoshi, Poems in English, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment



Like Heinkel bombers colliding

Like powerlooms near yer heid

The twa beasts ignore me-

Dandering across the meadow in a heat haze.


This English meadow

Where grass and reed singe their essence

Into you and your walk.


Morning training is yet to start

On a day when the Algarve and Tuscan heat

Has come to Kent.


July 2014

Heid-head; twa-two

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