Rain Town

Glasgow Central station

Rain on the attic roof
tender footsteps of youth remembered
and all the unconquered possibilities
of immaculate Saturdays
waiting in glistening wrapping
my beloved city where the crowds
ebb and flow on station platforms
like the systole of a giant heart
wherein I know in time I’ll go
dying without dying
caught up in raincoats and shoes
umbrellas and hats
lipstick and conversations
powder mirrors appointments
hairdressers dry cleaners
dates and disappointments
pullovers, sleepovers, hangovers
finders keepers, rails and sleepers,
sidings, branch lines, points and crossings
comforting pattern of fixed life
as beautiful as the bolted girders
over Central Station the confident strength
of Victorian great grandparents
who built this infernal machine
streaming with oil and rain and tears
the dusty glass clouding overhead
with gentle doubt and mercy
when I die I’ll become a conversation
between two strangers on a train
the wistful look in the eye of a pretty girl
gazing outwards, upwards at a glimpse of sky
We built this maze to capture love
the city fathers say, to teach you discipline
and wonder, wonder for the blue above.

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The Great Escape

by Ally ThompsonThe dead aren’t coming back
how many levels to this revelation?
over time like falling leaves
the waves of the symphony of loss
impress upon us unexpected fragments:
the sound of their voices saying our name
their laughter and simple kindnesses
the undeserved reverence they held for us
a love and belief we must try to live up to
then deeper: the moments they spent alone
in despair swigging whisky in a curtained room
while mice and flies gnawed at
the fraying corners of their collapsing consciousness
layer upon layer of forgotten drawings hidden
suppressed, never shown to anyone
among yellowing 1970’s newspapers
where you find at last a haunting self-portrait
of the troubled young man you remember
leaving his last day at secondary school
one glowing summer before the shadows
began their life-long progress creeping
like a maggot in an apple inward to the brain
you look up startled to see from the bedroom window
some other young man dawdling by loved by his mother
unaware of how a world waits to consume us all…
at last we’re nearly there now, the final veil
is lifting, the features of beauty’s lost face recovered:
the dead aren’t coming back but we
while they stand still, are moving closer.

(picture inset: The Great Escape by Ally Thompson 1955-2016)


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Go, when I am dead
stand where I foresaw you would
on garden steps to watch the light of dawn
brighten the edge of a roof whose shape
dipped or lifted to the sound of inner music
which grew within me each gradual day
and now takes root in you
Turn as I would turn to grasp the handle
welcomed imagined for this door
in warmth to drift up mellifluous stairs
my thoughts drawn upwards
by light that drew me all my life
See how I contrived a window
and framed a distant view
to awaken your heart now
to this longing that has no earthly cure
that is nowhere and everywhere
yesterday and tomorrow
feel my embrace of stone at last
and know that I am you.

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The Fallen West


This may or may not end up being the cover (an extract from one of my late brother Ally’s most apocalyptic oil paintings), but this is the point when I announce that cult independent publisher Snuggly Books will be publishing my tenth book “The Fallen West” later this year or early 2018. Unusually, and interestingly I think, at the suggestion of the publisher, this will be a collection of poems and short stories and prose, all mixed in together. Because categories suck of course. Innovation and uniqueness are what we’re always after. I’ll probably never be successful or famous now, but I can at least promise to go on being Douglas Thompson, as long as life allows me to, if that means I’m writing strange things that some strange people want to read.

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Warehouse Windows

Warehouse Windows

Drowned world of blue memory
broken warehouse windows
in fragmented reflections
moons sail like flickering white flags
darting fish play among underwater ruins
the chimneys stand guard smoking guns
vandals throwing stones become doves
wings mapped frozen in afterimage
punctured glass glittering of jewels
frost across the no man’s land
unending indelible handprints
fluttering freedom renewed each night
moonlight data stream graffiti
indecipherable revelation
pouring down from the stars
this viscous elixir
in which everything atrophies
motion progress language

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The Rusted Millwheel

The Rusted Millwheel

Look now
how the old mill from which
the town takes its noble name
lies abandoned, boarded up
its water wheel no longer turning
stout heart and turbine of a golden age
rusting hidden behind overgrown bushes
the river rushing by unhindered
source of momentary power and potential
now lost, slipped beyond
numb fingers set free again
like failing memory, forgotten skills
of tradesmen long dead in wars
or the duller tyrannies of peace.
But some of us still recall it
as a child I watched it turn
beneath my shaking feet and marveled
at its juggling gaunt groaning
sparkling water diadems of light
and grasped in my young mind
a thing of love as well as genius.
And what since?
We’ve dug coal from the earth instead
oil from the sea floor, killed in droves
each other and the animals, the plants
everything that moved and much that didn’t
all for the miracle of motion, elixir of power
to drive our thirsty machines.
Soon all the wheels of the world will slow
come to a halt and rust as this one
until we see the error, accept the spurned gift
of the river still running by, laughing.

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Winter Moon

Each sunset now on these clear nights
bright Venus dances with the crescent moon
it’s that or Mars to choose from
Thanatos or Eros, love or war
Venus who’s too hot to stand on
and too fraught with fog to seeforest-by-ally-thompson
Mars an arid warning
of what a world of war will be
sex a mirage and hate a husk
a puff of powder or a fist of dust
let’s eschew these false idols
and choose the surer truth
that Moon who was torn once
from inside us as Eve came from a rib
is the form true love takes
a product of cosmic collision
never less than almost fatal
hard-won and ever-changing
sometimes full, sometimes null
in wax or wane yet even then
as a cryptic crescent foretells
a shape and light projected
from inside us cold and hard
as bone, timeless and eternal
beyond life and yet alive
adrift but pointing home.

(image inset is Forest oil painting by Ally Thompson, 1955-2016)

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