How little they take from life
how much they give
a few worms from your soil
and in return each
summer dusk they fill with music
more endlessly inventive
than a hundred Bachs and Beethovens
in black tie coats and tails
little conductors atop your aerials
chimneys mapping out smokeless signals
an entire town staked out in hundred-metre grid
of sentinels, transmitters and receivers
flying spies, Morse code men
and mating Mata Haris.
Listen, look. Behind them now
the sunset grows and blushes
pale sky gradated blue grey to fawn
lenticular and nimbus clouds
building to a feathery crescendo
on which tree branches writhe
in polyphonic textures trumpet flowers still glowing
brimming full of brassy sun they’ve drunk
in seesawing motion of cello bows
May’s blossoms fall on evening airs
to kiss the jumbled roofs of gentle suburbia
beneath each of which a table lamp comes on
tree shadows nod and wave across wallpaper
a half-heard word is spoken, shared, a magazine
opened or closed the last car rumbles home
the birds hold forth the whole town theirs
unchallenged save for this audience of one
who walks tolerated through their four-dimensional
labyrinth of sound, marveling, wondering:
just who is in charge here.

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The Heart’s Labyrinth

near apartment

Last night I dreamt
of the islands of forgotten loves
half Venice half Morocco
I followed and ran
through labyrinthine streets
always losing glimpses caught
of those I’d left behind in life
whose feelings I hadn’t guessed
or whose words had held significance
I’d moved too fast to understand
sometimes my chase
would end in an empty cul-de-sac
or a locked door
impossible steps downwards
leading out under the sea
which glittered high on the horizon
ever-present awash with longing
but sadder still were the conversations
with the friends I did re-find
always standing alone
in some shop or square
un-aged, unchanged since
the day I left them and yet
strangely dead our
empty words petered out
a phrase half-said, mumbled
misunderstood, eyes becoming
glazed and distant, disinterested
and I would turn bereft again
back to the endless alleyways
stalked by immeasurable loss
until beyond it all
confronting me at the final quayside
I saw a thousand other islands stretched
into the distance, unreachable
in each of which I knew
that a version of me
would be lost and searched for
by somebody else
the feeling washing
into me like the waves:
that hurt can never be undone
that none of us can ever truly
find each other.


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Milngavie, end of April


Siege mentality
frowns in town all round
hoods up shoppers hurry
while above the banal collage
of benign suburban roofs
distant green fields halt
their spring advance midway
the Campsies cloaked ice-white
implacable cliff faces
deathly chorus line
cold northerly breathing
down quivering backs
necklines plunging mercury
violent voile of mist
ruff collar sheer shift
eyes turn grey and steely blue
the clouds regroup
consider every hue.

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Oil on board, 1989Don’t look for me I am gone
beyond all which may be known
lost in the hidden places
fallen between pages of yesterday
forgotten as the dust in our pockets
on a day we never met or kissed
I am the light on a distant roof
the cloud a church spire points to
accusing that which may never be
called to account too late
I am a door closed a moment
before you got there the keys
still swinging in the lock
in the wind of never was
the train not caught
a letter unopened
soaked in the rain of tears
fragrant erasure of love
unreadable on an empty pavement
remember me but treasure more
what we could have been
when you find me I’ll be dead
then you’ll understand
the mirror’s message written
on our palms crossed with thunder
of rained out summers whispering
now you’re dead too.

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suburban train


Some nights
closing my curtains late
I glimpse a train moving through
our sleeping town
and all the suffering world
is drawn aside as by a higher hand
who whispers here is order
beauty that man and woman
were put on earth to do
connecting and collecting
blossom and seed
the fruits of good works
scattered in harmony
to gather and to grow
Take heart you who are part
not separate from the whole
but numbered and enfolded
within my vision all is forgiven
anticipated and known
work hard and sleep
keep my earth’s garden
and let all the shining trains
come through.

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that writhe and strain
towards the light and rain
but buildings too
frozen mimes of stone
locked in silence like
the gentle dead who built them
nonetheless enact
the secret whispers in our head
chaste proxies for our souls
express our longing
for more than sun and air
but order also, harmony
stability, beauty, eternity
see there the distant steeple
over drowsy roofs
between the canyon streets
seeming pointing where
all the clouds swirled about
reveal a clear blue
eye of sky. I can no less see
the world like this
than a wall can will to fall,
a memory of love or life
contrive to die.
Our arguments with gravity
accuse the sun, make shadows
of our fears, conducting
lightning’s symphony down
bring the very stars to tears.

Little Church In Woodland

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Sleep Corporation-160815Time I think for an update here of some bits and pieces. An excellent review has just appeared over at the British Fantasy Society website of my ninth book “The Sleep Corporation”, a collection of 31 short stories from right across my life to date, starting from when I was a mere boy in my early twenties.

Returning to the present, two new short stories of mine have recently appeared in interesting new anthologies. One is called “Bird Brains” and appears in the compilation  “Existence Is Elsewhen” from Elsewhen Press. It starts out as an essay on drunkenness, heads off into particle physics and evolution then concludes by revealing itself as a rather provocative allegory for recent terrorist disturbances in Europe and the social division which fuels them. existence elsewhenOccasionally authors stumble into accidental predictions of future events. I was disturbed to discover six months after writing this story that it correctly predicted the location of recent terrorist attacks and their places of origin. Intuition is an interesting word in English: it does not necessarily imply the supernatural, only a subconscious grasp of factors and forces beyond the conscious reach.

The second story is called “A Dream Of Blue Sunlight” and is based on a very weird dream I had and my attempt to describe it in an email to friend and fellow author Jet McDonald. This one has found it way into a little gem of a book: “A Galaxy Of Starfish“, an anthology of modern surrealism from Salò Press, edited by Sophie Essex.Starfish

Today, a poem of mine about architecture called “Rebuilding 18 Park Terrace” has appeared on the website of Stanza here, who held their annual poetry festival at the start of March in the beautiful seaside town of St.Andrews and apparently even had transfers in local shop windows of some the lines from this poem.

Finally, following the death of my eldest brother the painter Ally Thompson, I have created a new page here on this blog with a mini-gallery devoted to the very best of his work. I hope to increase awareness of his remarkable talent and legacy over coming months and years.

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