Tall trees guard
the half-ruined kirk
a transfigured army
focused on a longer time
than ours mere centuries litter
mulch to feed their roots
pealing bells, peeling bark
their tips scrape blue skies
drink the light of eternity.
How tangled the roots
of the tree of love
a yew perched upon
a collapsing bank
shored up with moss-eaten stones
the roots writhe
lose their way so many times
give everything, anything
just to survive
the tree will outlive us
it’s only getting started.
3. Holy Ghost
Icy embrace for the eyes
the wide still waters of the Tay
flowing ever backwards
black as time, as memory
irrevocably falling leaves
the deeper current
always returning me
to the ruins of myself
unfinished and unstarted
consumed by nature
tender and fatal
as ivy, as moss.
Next Tuesday, 27th October at 7pm, at Glasgow’s CCA in Sauchiehall Street, I’ll be launching my latest book ‘The Sleep Corporation’ and selling signed copies for a ridiculously low price to anyone sporting enough to come along and listen to me ramble for an hour and a half. The evening will also be a “Masterclass” (ahem… I know, I know, I can’t take that seriously either) and I promise to make it an interesting old look back over my last 8 books, the things I’ve learned and the funny and inspiring people I’ve met along the way. Also poems! And pictures! What’s not to love?
In other recent news, Simon Bestwick interview me here. And an extract from my next novel in progress can be read Bright November in the latest edition of Sein Und Werden Magazine.
Oh yes, and two of my digital paintings, bathing seagull and foxtrot, can be seen and/or purchased at the Makers Gallery in Alloa.
Finally, there were a couple of good late reviews of my novel The Rhymer here and here.
Side by side on the little bench
among the fallen leaves
in your ruined back garden
we gaze up at the wild autumn sky
the wisps and vapour trails across the blue
and do not hold hands beneath the tartan blanket
because we do not need to.
We are up there together, circling each other
as eagles, in ever tightening orbits.
Beyond the clouds we know the stars drift
the vast universe turning beyond us.
You say it is all an accident, meaningless
even your memories and stories which haunt
and move me so much my heart hurts.
I disagree. I vow to prove it:
it matters, all of it, everything falling
and orbiting like us: towards darkness
peace, resolution, oblivion
you and I enfolded within each other
as all those who have ever loved.
the vying spires of Ghent
mottled black and grey
gnarled and spiked as lizards tails
weave the woolly cumulus
of Delft-blue skies brushed
by Vermeer and Van Eyck
like a cooling breeze from history
a single crow caws across
the red clay rooftops
the golden ships on every dome
this old town once lord over Europe
the bells ring boom and bust
send not for whom
it falleth as the gentle rain
the enduring memory
of white doves and geese
in the market cages flapping
against the steely good manners
of Belgians. A truck full of
dead immigrants spills
across the newspapers
like black coffee the morning after
so much meat to be had
in this town but not
a drop of milk.
In Amsterdam the endless backdrop
of passing cyclists silhouetted like
old cine film click-clack of sprockets
pulled through by the antique light
of frosted glass lamps thermal diode
valves bypassed avenues of history
dammed open rediscovered technological
backtrack hidden shortcut alleyway
In the American Hotel the staff
and the décor remain mysteriously
unchanged since 1940. You like this?
–The solicitous waiter whispers in my ear
appearing unexpectedly at my shoulder
with the imperious poise of a high-class dentist
Yes, Ja, dank u, let me see the dessert menu
while you remove my upper left molar
tilt my chair back to gaze upon
your beautiful Dutch future. How I ache
with the weariness of a tattered British
passport token of disputed nationhood
Go on drug me, pull it like a sore tooth
and when I wake present me
with a battered old black bicycle
so that I might take my place among
the pretty blonde girls on Leidseplein
for which I believe I should also require
a cloth flat cap, a denim waistcoat
and a cigar.
Well, here is the cover for my next book, out soon. Published by the wonderful Terry Grimwood’s wonderful The Exaggerated Press. 31 short stories, dating from as far back as 1991…. nearly a quarter century. One man’s life, for what it’s worth. The first story is about me and a 37-year old grandmother I went out with when I was in my twenties (bless you, Lizzy, are you out there somewhere?), and the last one is about the lonely suicide of Alan Turing. With a whole lot of much weirder and wilder stuff in between, such as supermarkets bigger than cities and haunted bicycles. Copies will be on sale soon and you can get one off me in person at this upcoming gig on 27th October. I seem to be increasingly doing my own book covers these days, which is nice. This image began life with a poem on the blog a couple of months back.
I’ll be talking about a few of my books then, including The Brahan Seer, and The Rhymer, the latter of which has been reviewed again recently at The British Fantasy Society and Future Fire.
THE CARPENTER’S LABYRINTH
Musical language of wood:
plane and saw and feather
router chamfer sand dovetail
mortice tenon mitre
battens joists branders
dooblins hangers midrails
transomes astragals scrolls
stringers winders scribe
splice bullnose apron plate
at night the joiner sleeps and slips
into a maze of turns and braces
triple cripple studs glued and screwed
as pit props under sleep he scurries
beneath the varnished world
a mere mouse in the house of riches
his signature perhaps a spot of blood
or scribbled sketch or jotted sum
where no light shines beneath
a wainscot, skirting, architrave, while
no proud aristocrat spies it now
yet it shall make some future apprentice
wonder, pause and smile.