Midwinter Vigil


I am not made of molecules
skin, sinew or bone
those are only clothes of words
layers of abstraction rather
I am made of darkness
absence, silence, memory
sadness, regret
questions without answers
How else to make myself
an eye to watch the clouds
above endlessly passing
than to become this stillness
passive, endless, bottomless pit
where I become the dark pool
of all the world has put there
that now once the clouds
have caught fire briefly
in sunset passing lights up
infinitesimally a trillion bright
fireflies of sentinel stars
reflected carnival lights
some sort of celebration this
faint constellation of atomic light
the equations of connections
inside me: I, like you, body and soul
a theorem of love chalked
across the blackboard cosmos.

(Picture inset above is “Listening To The Sounds Of The Night” by Ally Thompson, 1955-2016)

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Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson (1817-1875)

Eternally set stages awaiting the divine
their modest usher seeming still alive
to stand at our shoulder
and whisper in our ear
of light, the ancient sacrament.

To him every building a church
house or office becoming temples
consecrated by photons
raining, reigning always from above
as if travelling out of time
he who lost so much to death
his parents, siblings, his own children
entrusted in stone the only remedy
his necessary foundation.

The buildings tell his sermon yetholmwood-1_637292953
to those who’ll listen:
the God he speaks of sings
in many tongues, Etruscan
Greek, Hindu, Egyptian, pagan
effulgent foliage of fabled acanthus
wafting lotus wisdom
in the regal breeze of antiquity
eastern and ancient sophisticate
cosmopolitan magpie eye
aping urbanity.

And yet he duped them all perhapsstvincent_pulpit
albeit pleasurably, for this humble Balfron boy
was really only ever pharaoh over Glasgow
who never sailed the Nile
nor left his own Clyde to see
the ruins of Rome, Athens and Luxor
who built here instead within himself
his own Jerusalem
enshrined the mind a secular and sacred place
adorned its altar with the precious riches
of reason, geometry and order
the endless gold of light.


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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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