Grand Canyon Wheelies

A short poem unpublished in anthologies.

In Anstruther

The Bankwell Road hill took

Our converted (turbo-fuel injected)

Fish boxes-wheeled and extended.

In the Arizona heat…

Seemingly I had nearly done the

Ultimate fatal wheelie

Hurtling in released pram into

The Grand Canyon.

I lived and now no Gran

To save me with

Skills honed in the Glasgow sausage factory.

Waverley Mall, Edinburg

In Waverley Mall

(In anticipation of Festival season. Originally in The Herald)

The American is in a

Near-home environment: the mall.

I sit at the next table relieved

The old man has finished circling my hot-dog,

The American has joined him

He has put away, out, away, out, away

The soiled lady novels into his bag.

The heavy tweed jacket, trousers

Have the filthy white cuffs to match-

He says nothing as the American downs his burger.

He tries three times with small talk

Then the tramp brings out a nail file

Continues to smoke his thin pipe.

It is humid and hot

While above, on the street

A French mime group

Sell tickets for this in Breton.



Fer Bob

An older piece like poem, In Waverley Mall which was originally published in The Herald newspaper.

Bob Hayes, died aged 59-1964 Olympic gold medallist and relay champion (in a split of 8.6). The only man to hold an Olympic gold and a Super Bowl ring from the NFL.

Fer Bob

Mair quick-twitch fibres than heather on Rannoch Moor,

Enough strength tae tummle the Bass Rock,

Keekin on the footage o 1964 niver guessin

The drinks an drugs tae cum.

Shreddin yer ain intenstines in public,

Noo the currency on-line, an on-air,

The shame o things put ye doun in the ’70’s.

The few billion seconds we daunder on thon kortal coil.

Nar quick an thon echt seconds that seared intae,

An earth’s granite-meltin mantle…

Whaur e’en the continents obey.


Babi Yar-a Draft Translation

Babi Yar, a poem written by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, tells the story of the Nazi invasion into the Ukraine, in which, throughout World War II, over one-hundred thousand Jews, Gypsies and Russian POW’s were brutally murdered. The narrator and author is not a Jew, but a mere observer who is aghast at the atrocities that took place during the Holocaust. It is through allusions, as well as other literary devices, that Yevtushenko albeit in horrible contrast does describe beautifully the absurdities of the hatred that caused the Holocaust, in addition to the narrator’s identification with the Jews and their history of oppression. Beginning on September 29, the Jews of Kiev were assembled and marched to the vicinity of the ravine.  Not far from its edge they were told to strip off their clothes and remove their valuables.   In groups of ten they were marched to to the edge, whereupon they were shot and fell into the Yar. The accepted estimate is that 33,771 Jews were executed in this manner. Babi Yar continued to be an execution spots for many months subsequently.

Babi Yar

Ower Babi Yar

thare nae cairnstanes.

The brent brae lik a raucle inscription

A’m feart

The day A’m auld as the Jewish race.

A seem tae masel a Jew at thon moment.

A, danderin in Eygpt.

A, crucified. A deein.

E’en the day the merk o the nails.

A think on Dreyfus. A’m him.

The Philistine ma hinging judge an ma accuser.

Cut aff by bars an pit in the neuk,

ringed aroun, spat at, leed aboot;

the screichin wummen wi the Brussels lace

poke me in the face wi parasols.

A’m also the chiel in Belostok,

the drappin bluid spreids athort the flair,

the public-bar heroes are riotin

in an equal reek o garlic an o booze.

A hiv nae strenth, gang spinnin frae a boot,

screich oot fushionless prayers that thae dinna listen tae;

wi a cackle o ‘Thrash the kikes an save Russia!’

the corn-chandler is layin intae ma mither.

A seem tae masel lik Anne Frank

tae be transparent as an April twig

an A’m in luv. A hiv nae need fer wirds,

A need fer us tae see or tae smell

separatit frae foliage an the lift,

hoo much, hoo much in the derk room

doucely embracin each ither.

Thai’re cumin. Dinna be feart.

The boomin an bangin o the spring.

It’s cumin thon way. Cum tae me.

Quickly, gie me yer lips.

Thae’re bashin in the door. Roar o the ice.


Ower Babi Yar

rustle o the wild gress.

The trees luik threatenin, luik lik judges.

An awthin is ane silent cry.

Takin ma bonnet aff

A feel masel slowly gangin grey.

An A’m ane silent cry

ower the mony thoosands o the buried;

am iverie auld man killed here,

iverie bairn killed here.

O ma Russian fowk, A ken yous.

Yer nature is international.

Maukit hauns rattle yer clean name.

A ken the guidness o ma kintra.

Hoo horrible it is that pompous title

The anti-semites calmly caw thaimsels,

Society o the Russian Fowk.

Nae pairt o me cuin ever forget it.

Whan the lest anti-semite on the yird

is buried fer aye

let the International ring oot.

Nae Jewish bluid runs amang ma bluid

But A’m as bitterly an hardly hated

By iverie anti-semite

As if A wur a Jew. By thon

A’m a Russian.

Babi Yar is the ravine in Kiev whaur mony slaughters took place. The Society mentioned above was a notorious pre-Revolutionary organisation responsible for pogroms. Belostok is now within present-day Poland.

Writing for Jitte

Kata (型 or 形 literally: “form”) is a Japanese word describing detailed choreographed patterns of movements practised either solo or in pairs. The term form is used for the corresponding concept in non-Japanese martial arts in general.

Kata are used in many traditional Japanese arts such as theatre forms like kabuki and schools of tea ceremony (chadō), but are most commonly known for the presence in the martial arts. Kata are used by most traditional Japanese and Okinawan martial arts, such as aikidō, iaidō, jōdō, jūdō, jūjutsu, kenjutsu, kendō and karate. Other arts such as t’ai chi ch’uan and taekwondo feature the same kind of training, but use the respective Chinese and Korean words taolu and hyeong, respectively.

Kata originally were teaching/training methods by which successful combat techniques were preserved and passed on. Practicing kata allowed a company of persons to engage in a struggle using a systematic approach, rather than as individuals in a disorderly manner

Jitte is one of the shotokan (the style I study) kata I practise. I have tried to match words to the movements which although often bigger than used in bunkai-application of the techniques are effective martial tools.


(Ten Hands)

Ower the rod of iron,

Tae rax an splinter the threat

Than agin hold tae cut.

Lang as the serpents tung

A bow

Huid fast instance an block-

Ane oot, the ither haun bak.

Retreat on yersel,

Baith airms up as angels

The weapon held in the wings,

Efter you spread.

Ane, twa an a third stamp tae brak,

Afore the lest sang an counters;

Attack the haun nae the wuid,

Afore cleek, twist an steal-

The weapon is noo yer ain.

Feenshin the pattern:

Aw directions held fast,

High an low strike and block

Claymore o sinew an bane

End an ending aince mair,

Twistin hips tae spin attack up high

Lestly wi the speed o ten legs

Slide in, hips, legs, airms sneckit ticht.

Saft yet wary,

Ready for the rod or bow.

The Twenty Precepts of Gichin Funakoshi

Introduction: what follows are the precepts of modern karate as stated by its founder Gichin Funakoshi. The Sensei: karate teacher below gave his kind permission for me to translate the precepts into the Scots leid or language from his book some time ago.

The Twenty Precepts o Gichin Funakoshi * adapted from The Twenty Precepts of Gichin Funakoshi – And Other Essays on the Philosophy of Karate Do by Vincent A. Cruz (2004) iUniverse, Lincoln,

The Three Speerititual Philisophies thon appear in Zen literature:

  • Gishin Denshin – Frae ma Saul tae Yer Saul
  • Mizu No Kokoro – Mynd Lik Lown Watter
  • Tsuki No Kokoro – Mynd Lik the Muin

The Twinty Precepts o Maister Gichin Funakoshi

1 Karate sterts wi mense an ends wi *mense – *courtesy.

Anely respect unnerstauns aw. It gies insight. Hoo ye treat yersel is hoo ithers will treat you.

2 Thare is nae first attack in karate.

We shuid hiv the understaunin o why thai want tae injure us. Evadin is better – tae be cannie an hiv unerstaunin.

3 Karate is an aid tae juistice.

Parents gie thair bairns tae Tradeetional Karate, first, fer discipline. If a bairn has discipline, he or she cuin concentrate, If he or she is able tae concentrate he or she wull be able tae lairn. If he or she cuin lairn, thai cuin evolve at a higher plane o existence.

4 First control yersel afore attemptin tae control ithers.

Aince a sair mynd is allowed tae rampage, it cannae mak oot atween the righteous an the corrupt. We maist clean oor ain passions afore we cuin help ithers.

5 Speerit first, technique seicont.

If we are wise an yaise intuition , we cuin rely on oor deepest recesses o oor consciousness an saul tae mak the richt decisions.

6 Aye be ready tae release yer mynd.

Tae be ready tae release yer mynd is tae release understaunin an awareness tae the needs o fowk around you: freen or foe, it doesnae matter.

 7 Accidents cum frae negligence.

Hoo mony physical injuries hiv been caused because o negligence? Karate Do practitioners girn thon thai hiv caused thaimsels serious injuries because thai dinna warm up correctly.

In aw oor follies, thare is ayeweys a lesson tae be lairned if we paid mair attention tae oor intuitions an listened tae oor ain God-lik nature.

8 Dinna think karate trainin is anely in the dojo.

In the end a Sensei wull seek oot an motivate thon student wha is wise an understauns the principle o discipline – tae seek oot mair knowledge through the continual practice o his lesson.

Hoo aften di we procrastinate an pit things aff till later, anely tae feel regrettably discouraged fer nae taken care o business at han?

Ane wha kens ithers is wise;

Ane wha kens himsel is wisest.

Ane  wha conquers ithers is strang;

Ane wha conquers himsel is strangist.

Lao Tsu

9 It wull tak yer entire life tae lairn Karate; thare is nae limit.

Hoo sad it is tae keek potential Karate practitioners bein misled by ithers in the so-cawed “modern” martial arts. We are surrooundit by the spectacles on television thon gie a gruesome display similar tae thae gladiators o ancient Rome…

Tradeetional Karate Do is a way o life. It is a lifetime dedication, consecratit tae the perfection o the human character through unlimited physical, mental an speeritual seekin.

10 Pit yer everyday livin intae Karate an you wull find Myo.

The Japanese ideogram defines Myo as used by Funakoshi as feelin gowden an strange, tae hiv outstandin skeel

He believed thon if we are in tune wi the principles o Karate Do in everyday livin, we can achieve union atween baith disciplines. Thon wull encourage us in attainin wa (balance).

11 Karate is lik bilin watter; if you dinna heat it constantly, it wull cool doun.

The saying gangs thon “if one doesnae yaise it, one wull lose it.” It is totally true. Aften, A hiv seen excellent karateka tak a sabbatical fer a mickle months, an whan thae cum back tae training thae hiv a very difficult time adjustin thair techniques.

12 Dinnae think that you hiv tae win; think rather that you dinnae hiv tae lose.

Americans by nature luv a winner. {While in Scotland we lik baith an unnerdog an the victor who has lost than won} We are a competitive society. We luv winners. Hooever, he maun be a judicious, douce winner. The Talmud proclaims, “Wha is the michty? He wha strives tae mak an enemy his freen.”

13 Victory depends on yer ability tae distinguish saft points frae invulnerable anes.

Whan the enemy strikes oot, seek yer weaknesses in yer opponent’s fighting stance (kamae kata). Every attack has its coonter attack

14 The battle is accordin tae hoo you move: guardit an unguardit.

(Move accordin tae yer opponent).

Tradeetional Karate Do yaises combat or fecht situations cawed Ken an Tai. Ken is seizin the initiative or an active condition. Tai is the state o reserve, nae attackin suddenly-waitin fer the enemy’s first strike.

15 Think o yer hauns an feet as swords.

Strike as if you had a sword in yer haun. Meanin: a technique maun be as sherp as a sword. The expression gien by Funakoshi instills a parallel atween karate an the airt o ken (sword) way.

16 Whan ye leave hame, think thon you hiv mony opponents waitin fer you.

(It is yer behaviour thon invites a stramash wi thaim.)

Hoo aften hiv we heard the same auld story? We got in trouble because we were in the wrang place at the wrang time.

17 Beginners maun maister low stance an posture: natural body positions are fer the advanced.

The beginner maun practice an maister aw stances. A pouerful foundation is the base fer guid Karate Do. The implication o this precept is clear…

In the primeval time o oor lives, thae wha luv us continually advise us tae get the maist whan we are young…

A soond base, strang posture wull last a life time. Pouerful roots mak a stable pine tree.

18 Practisin kata is one thing; engagin in a real fecht is anither.

Kata is the formal exericise o Tradeetional Karate Do. In the kata we find the self-defence of Karate D0. Practise kata with the principle o “Shin” (superior consciousness) an one wull be practisin in the speerit o Budo (Bushi-Do – the way of the samurai.)

19 Dinna forget correctly tae apply: strength an weakness o pouer, raxin an contraction o the body, an slowness an speed o techniques.

Waza o hodokoso koki. The psychological timin tae execute a technique is a guid way tae describe thon precept. Tae attack in strength is sumtimes nae cannie because ane has the tendency tae execute one’s best technique. If one’s attack is weak, it may gie the opponent the advantage o thinkin thon he cuin control the situation  because he senses that there is nae kime in the technique.

20 Ayeweys think an devise ways tae live the precepts ivery day.

Agin, we are telt tae stap, listen be silent an hear the vyces o oor ain consciousness. If we are obedient tae the rules o human decorum, live oor lives with righteous dominion, an live it tae the fullest-athoot any reservation, one cuin attain an enlightened saul.