Last Visit

and I am here

in the hospice

feeling small

caught like a sparrow by fear

and the selfishness of thinking

Not yet me, not yet me;

Her neighbour’s arm has skin

With a glister that is leaden and inflamed

A face that is wracked with pain.

The physio and I move unspeaking

Rattling around our thoughts-

The humming of the bed’s movement

Always closer to that edge where

All money and riches go over.

Hill o Beath Primrose

The primroses are blooming thon spring

Jim Baxter has deed

An the space is nae filled

In 1967 the massacre at Wembley:

The defeat of the 1966 fitba world champions

I wis a bairn

Born in the United States

A wis jist aff the jumbo jet

An bidin in the East Neuk o Fife

Lairnin tae speir non-Yank

Suppin the lack and space

E’en then an efter

Jim Baxter has deed

An the space isnae filled

Alive and adult in mind noo

A watched his bluid-brither

Davie Cooper weave defenders’ ribs

Intae a praxis o despair

Caress and work a baw lik Picasso on canvas

Seein noo the dearth

Jim Baxter has deed

An the space is not filled

The yird turns an war an bairns’ games gang on

Auld sangs need changed

Still agin and agin

Tae young and nae seen enough

Jim Baxter is deid

And the space is toom

Wull it no be filled, yet must be filled

Jim is gone

Father and partner

And it is them that need

Some of what we gie to memory

So Jim Baxter, footballer has deed

And the space is not filled



But hear

As the

Ball is juggled

An the world

Huids talent lik Jinky

Takkin Hungarians, Brazilians

Doun closes, up wynds and past poverty;

The dandelion, the primrose flourishes

Jim Baxter has deed

And the space isnae filled.

Law, Best and  Bremner

Ken their glory in statues

Ay, the still, the inanimate

All tribes ken secrets pass

In the genes, whispers on terraces

In the alchemy o the reekin cauld breath

Whan you watch the ball skite in winter

Elation and movement in bits

Jim Baxter is deid

And the space is not filled

Gemmill and Dalglish

They huid sum sperks in a rowan kist

An a secret chorus sings

In Hampden…in Wembley tae

It echoes in cathedrals stilled

In Lisbon, in Madrid, in Barcelona

The souch gangin up tae Manchester…

Jim is deid

An the space isnae filled.

Melaquiades in Edinburgh-a Poem


*Melaquiades in Edinburgh-the gypsy from Macondo in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The people here spit on

Decry his glass balls for curing headaches

They fail to wonder at telescopes

Sneer with throat-scratching noises at

The attracting iron in the gourd.

The people seem mired to dirt and damp

So richly twinned to the harsh winds

In his centuries of living he has not seen

Their ferocity of not appearing to care.

In a warm, cramped drinking place

Down from this city of the sleeping volcano

He meets a thinker and slow talker

Telling of whales, ice mountains that float.

A gold coin earns him the souls of the well clothed;

Promises: the skin of the woman Maggie tonight

The fiery liquids flow and the oysters go down

Amid handshakes his tales flow.

Getting the hang of this diction and words:

Ay, tak me

Nae problem..

Whit better pals wuid you want?

Nane, he replies, come wi Melaquiades back to the jungles.

Only one goes to the Leith dockside

Rory and he on the wet stones

Grey clouds louring and scudding off the Forth waves

Seem to guide the boat into a chilled sea.