ayrharbourMy “next public appearance” as they say, (apart from popping out to the shops for a pint of milk and so forth!), will be next month on Wednesday 16th November 2016 7.30pm at the Ayr Writers’ Club. I’ll be talking about my books, reading from some of them, and attempting to offer pearls of wisdom to anyone who’ll listen regarding the art of writing, particularly the art of writing short stories, since I will also be judge the Ayr Writers Club short story competition in the new year.

Sleep Corporation-160815In support of the far-fetched notion that I might be remotely qualified for this honour, I hereby offer up as evidence two recent reviews of my short story collection “The Sleep Corporation.” Reviewer Martin Rose has described the book as “a fascinating and riveting read of intelligent and deeply layered fiction…”, read in full here. And Charles Packer of the Sci Fi Online site has said of the book: “the quality is universally high and his singular voice is always crystal clear…” as you can see in full here. If you are lucky enough to live in the lovely and ancient seaside town of Ayr or its surroundings then please come along in return for which I promise to be convivial company for the evening 🙂

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In Baldernock Churchyard

From long autumnal walk
late sunlight swells my breast
hot and cold the rest at last
then half and half am I
both life and death
dark and bright-witted
poised as at the edge
guarded by wise yews
and boxed by hedge
exquisitely alone and sat astride
the bridge of stone I build
in thought and breath
to hold within my knitted fold
all those remembered gone before
belonging not to either realm
somewhat of both I take the helm
and move on forever
neither young nor old
but blowing as the wind sings
through all its shades
a million souls a-flicker
in the green grass blades.

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What is it that we seek?
This endlessly receding horizon
the cloud patterns of autumn skies
hazed, combed, teased froth:
the residue of Gaia’s wordless thoughts
etched across the cranial blue
only water vapour, only everything
artwork, emotion, sublime beyond
human hope or comprehension
each day is each day’s message
writ large in naught but
the medium of life is what
life means and commands of us
whispering: shine out
for what you are, take every taste
upon the tongue and burn, burn
until you are only blackened ashes
with which to polish, cherish
our restless, ardent star
the diamond of the sun.

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One day but not the next
who can guess the hour
when a poem will come
down from the hills
like a solitary deer
pelt red and aglow
in the first light of dawn

She always feels you watching
returns your stare
even through curtains
window glass no matter
what stealthy silences
you might employ

Inspiration on prehensile legs
divine arrow unleashed
from on-high: watch but
you cannot hope to match
her speed her supreme
alert alacrity

Even to see her
is a long apprenticeship
an odyssey
discipline of the soul
a lifetime in the making

Yet she rewards you
with a flick of her eyes and ears
and everything her beauty
has to say about freedom

Graze on life like this she tells
with this lightness
bold yet unbeholden
flying though earthbound

Then leave it as I leave it
rising and falling
like a wind from the sea.

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Let me sleepLandscape by Ally Thompson
as railway sleepers sleep
in domains of foxes
urban wastelands
twilight zones of chimneys
abandoned warehouses
disused tunnels
overgrown sidings.
Let me sleep
in the dead dream
of Victorian Glasgow
overcome with moss
decaying brick
neglected rhythm
of the everyday.
Let me sleep
under rusting tracks
of the forgotten moment
atlas-like to bear
the world’s weight
delivered to each
lost tomorrow.

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scarf on sofa

scarf on chair
One of the scarves I designed for Vida has arrived from America. I can report that the quality is rather good, and therefore recommend with a clear conscience that anyone who likes them should go ahead and order one or two up if they so desire (scarves and tops to 2 different designs by me are available). I ordered this scarf on 7th May and it arrived yesterday (9th July), so the process is not fast but bear in mind they are making each one up from scratch. Also, the now ongoing Brexit disaster is not going to help in terms of how much these cost, due to the falling strength of the British pound against the American dollar (the VIDA factory is in San Francisco).

For anyone living in Glasgow or nearby, I am going to make this unusual offer: the first two people to email me with proof of purchase of one of these clothes items, can have a free canvas. I’ve got two of those (Bathing Seagull and Foxtrot Echo Bravo, see photograph below) to give away. If you want one (and have bought a scarf or top), I will meet you in any cafe you like and give you a canvas to take away, signed and suitably wrapped in protective sheet to carry home and hang on your wall. Each picture is 870 x 600mm, and usually sells for around ÂŁ175, so this is an insane offer. You can see the original posts of these digital artworks and their accompanying poems here and here.

scarf and canvases


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Foxes Lightnings Poetry Scotland

A few things have come in over the doorstep in the last month or two: a short fiction piece of mine called “Moon Shot” has finally appeared in the long-awaited anthology of flash fiction “100 Lightnings” from Australian publisher Paroxysm Press, alongside the likes of Kaaron Warren, Angela Slater and Allen Ashley. Big in Australia at last 🙂

Secondly, an eight part poem of mine called “Galloway Octuplets” has appeared in Poetry Scotland broadsheet, pictured above. The first two parts previously appeared in my blog here and here.

Thirdly, my poem “Vulpine Night” has appeared in the excellent anthology “Foxes Of Glasgow” edited by Peter Wright. The poem was previously posted on this blog here.

Fourthly, yesterday I won the Faith/Unbelief annual prize for my poem “Dunkled Trinity”, previously published on this blog here. Although I explained that I am not religious before reading it out in a church in Glasgow’s west end, the spiritual message seemed to transcend that distinction and it was an enjoyable occasion alongside very talented and kind fellow writers and judges.

Oh yes, and I forgot to mention: on Thursday the United Kingdom died. The death throes of the British Empire, which I have long predicted, are thus entering their final stages. Common sense suggests that a new constitutional settlement must soon emerge and Scotland take its place at last as an independent nation remaining within the European Union. Sometimes history does offer second chances. Let’s not cock it up this time, folks.

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