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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Photo is of Soweto, Jo’burg.

Paola *Brazier

This African night in Northern Cape

Has me think of Brando in ‘Apocalypse Now’;

Surreal shadows and eclectic emotions jig

On sand, our skin and the faces-smiling.


In a shipping container the mobile shop is busy

While in the shanty shop business is hectic

Electric pink jackets on a lady turns my head;

We walk Oma and I

On toward home.


Shanty café for a toastie!; Soweto


We are walking across the township;

Lava bright threads of light sideways:

The paola is next to the welding

It’s at the back stoop of the Mandela hooses*.


Walking and walking in the chill of July

I wonder what happened to much of this in us

How our communities were bound and existed;

Interdependence, dependence, Independence

They do reels and dialectics in heid* and heart.


The red earth is dusty

Soon we will be in the kitchen

Out this light into another

We will drink tea and talk

As the chill air settles.

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Thanks to Bruce Damer (interesting guy!) and Phil Bletherwick for SA photos above the latter.

For ST, ‘Mammy’ and rest of GT team in NC, SA.

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Let Out

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The pair of them have never known any different. Her House cats. Marie has two, one a tabby the other a mixed breed her aunt had given her.

Maybe Jessica would turn up, Marie thought. She had been looking for an hour. But inside she was breaking. The tense headache that had been her torture in the Revenue office was hounding her thoughts. The thin face of Rena (divorced mother and, allegedly an ex-model) career ladder crawler ribboned into her head among the panic she was feeling.

Ah. She had opened the flat door to get the shopping in then gone around the flat block to put the paper in that bin.

She raced down from the second floor flat and nearly slipped on the one broken concrete slab before finding nothing.

The smirr of rain coated her face and joined with the tears running down her cheeks. The spotlight of a car pulling into the house opposite curtained her bare feet, short green summer dress and the box of cat munchies.

A scrape on the ground nearly made her scream as the image of a giant rodent’s incisors loomed into mind.

A finger-like electric touch on her leg. Looking down she saw Jessica. Wet, looking up at her she nudged the label-less box of munchies.


Later, she opened a new box of treats and broke a rule about milk for the pair of them. Two years ago since she had left that job. One year on that holiday where she flew round the world.

And that guy in Cayman was still emailing her every week. Soon Jessica purred next to her on the couch.

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YES to Inconvenience

It is inconvenient to the Chief of the military

Scotland will be independent;

(Democratic will, a failed Union, relative child poverty apart).


It is inconvenient that still a Scottish mother asks

Just why did my son-a Scots soldier die

In an illegal war?


Is it inconvenient that Scottish education be fully invested in

Because savings are still savage cuts?


It is convenient for the professional politicians

To bribe with ‘low’ taxes 

Or propagandise about immigration and Europe.


Finally, it will be easy and convenient

That I place goods,

For the local, well-organised food bank

In the school.

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Summer Spot

Maddy has just completed her drama course. The graduation ceremony with parents and grandparent has come and gone.

The reality of jobs and income hasn’t been forgotten but the numbers don’t lie. As the last bit of rent in Glasgow is paid and the money for the mad week in Spain (with all five friends) has registered fully on card and account she feels it.

They are here for two weeks. In a shopping centre that makes Kafka’s dreams look like paradise. Brutal, grey concrete with pound shops and empty units in the lower end like decayed teeth in a shopping mall’s wide mouth.

She is the foil to Andy’s ‘Game Master’ as they entice families and shoppers with families to join in their madcap competitions and sketches next to the small café (closed) platform and its open space.

They have an inflatable ‘ring’ and welcome arch as well as real sand for their stage.

Andy is brilliant. He was a car mechanic in the East End of Glasgow before hearing the call of thespian angels. Tall, lanky and from an Indian family he is fun, protective and can reel the punters in.



The third day a young mother with a one year old and a three old comes down. Her long black hair seems more lively and voluminous than herself. Her lovely edge of the hand floral tattoo contrasts with the drawn face and tired green eyes. Her mouth never wavers upwards.

Maddy takes both away-pushing buggy and holding the other’s hand while Andy orchestrates the ordered chaos.

As they hush and freeze for the punchline (and loud bang) to happen her phone goes.

‘Ay, tonight…I can phone. I will have to get some credit on the phone. And my mum has promised to give a bit toward some bits for Natalie’s starting the Nursery.’

The finale and bow-relayed on a wee screen to the audience outside causes a small ripple of applause. Children are reunited and some parents look both relieved and happier than when they started.

Maddy listens to what Mummy says as she clears the sweat on this hot, hot day which is so un-Scottish as to be positively alien.

‘…Daddy is still away for that work for a long time, now. We can phone him later and tell him what a wee star you were,’ she says.

The young mother turns and with a thin arm and very slender wrist takes Natalie’s hand.

Maddie wonders if they will see them tomorrow or another day and heads to the Newsagent for something to drink. She passes the jewellers shop and the stall in the walkway selling mobile phone covers.

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- One

I have translated the precepts of Sensei Funakoshi into Scots based on Sensei Cruz’s original work which can be found elsewhere on this site but just as karate is a lifetime’s study and practice so is the study of the masters’ writing and learning who came before present day teachers. As Sensei Hazard (our Sensei) states, ‘You are your own best teacher.’ The real understanding of this comes and deepens only with maturity. Sometime as the odd joint begins to protest in your body.

I will develop this theme over time…

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1 Do not forget that karate-do begins and ends with rei.

- One


Balance it between Self and foe

Seen, unseen, past or future

All given what they would deny you:

Rei-respect: yours, theirs.

Posted in Karate/Marrtial Arts Writing, Pieces Based on 'The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate' by Gichin Funakoshi | Leave a comment

Creel Boat Elegy

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My poem, Creel Boat Elegy has been put to music by George Mackie-who is part of The Sair Banes: Nick Shovlin and Alex Gillin. Nick is the vocal on this draft track :) It will feature as part of a night in August that will also feature my pal and fellow Makar, Ross Wilson with his poem/song.

Below is the poem and link to the song. Many thanks to George.

Creel Boat Elegy
The meal never finished, the children forsaken
Ainster is in tears, the North Sea chill has taken
In a flat sea wanded over by the still mist
Both faither and son will be sairly, sairly missed..

Most years the mermaids they kiss and drag doun
So savour the chips laid oot by the wounds
The herring has gone, the creels lie empty
See them sail oot by the light of this high April moon

Even if the teeth of the skerries and rocks hadn’t bitten
A pale aura of strange silence lies over the boat
Rescued but empty she lies broken, amid oily reek glisten
Gulls screech, swirl in their Hadean eighth notes.

Aye the same, aye different the April sea relents
For the summer nears and the gods they seem near spent
But watch come the autumn and the white canyons beat down
Wife and bairns look on as the lines of grey, white urge toward town.


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