The Rose Goes North



There comes a time for mental reflection,
When a man turns forty-two, forty-three,
Burning brazen youth to circumspection.

I wander’d as a cloud with wee Daisy,
Thro’ Grasmere, on a January morn,
Just me, her, & Dawn’s first fell-top fancy.

Those moments saw a memory reborn
Of Wordsworth strolling gaily to Townend,
Dreaming of Mary & the Matterhorn.

A little later let the world ascend
Up steep-slop’d Rydal Mount, in thought enshrin’d,
Above the waters, as the clouds suspend,

Eternity has won us in a bind,
With snow-hoary King Norse sky-flung behind!



Sing the sonnets of a nation,
Famous in her rightful station,
First mistress of Britannia’s face,
Where Pictish clansmen merge in race
With Viking, Angle, Celt & Scot,
Forever kept in tangl’d knot,
That such a spangl’d nation fills
Beyond the three-prong’d Eildon hills,
Thro’ Stirling & beyond Orkney,
There is a stretch of endless sea,
Where only Shetland parts the wave;
Brave men nam’d thee Scotland the brave,
Of ancyent race & noble kind,
More than a place, a state of mind!



I’m cringing every time I see a garish Paisley tie,
I’d just popp’d hungry into Greggs a hottish pie to buy
& chose a steak & kidney offer’d up for ninety pee,
I took the pie, she took the change & said, “It’s ninety-three!”
I said, “Love, that’s false advertising,” stormin’ out the door,
But never mess with Weegie Birds, they’re all fuckin’ hard-core,
& leaping from her hum-drum she pursued me down the street,
Looking as if an earthquake were shaking a slab of meat,
& panting now beside me squeez’d the pastie from my hands,
Smugging with satisfaction at her petty jobsworth’s stand
& turns her tail in triumph, as back to her shop she skips,
You coulda balanced ninety-three bridies on thosefat hips,
Then looking down on what was left, my skin all bruis’d with mince,
I thought I’d catch the first train out – ain’t ever been back since!

Glen Coe.jpg


Before Glen Coe’s ghostly & ghastly peaks,
Lost Merlin lochs of savage Rannoch Moor
Move the soul to tears… what challenge surmounts?
Inviting topaz slopes, we park the car,
Pop a wee pill & begin the ascent,
An arduous climb, at first with no fear
& then with no choice as danger fills the way,
Soaked deep to the bones, soon greeted by our aim,
O perfect precipice, perching beneath the clouds
We pause a fine moment, eyes keen to the skies,
My love, these are the days of our lives,
World-keltering vista… East… West… breathtaking
But rains closing in now, lets begin the descent,
We bare-chested hill warriors in the breeze.



What is more beautiful than Knoydart in the Spring?
More lovely than the thrill, dawn’s wee Storm Petrels bring?
Dancing, perchance, along to sylvan seraph strings?
Perhaps, or sat among wee faeries in their rings?
Deeper than heart sublime, tender than all of this,
I fade & pass the time ‘til Sally’s silky kiss.

Ah! Sally’s silky kiss, the taste still lingers long,
A surge of perfect bliss; of lips & teeth & tongue,
Feel Cytherea rise as spirit centers meet,
My Danae in disguise, how can life seem so sweet,
Complete, & in my mind, behind the half-closed eye,
Fair waters as I find forever passes by.

Tho’ sun & moon eclipse, tho’ flowers fragrant petal,
By Sally’s silky kiss, what is more beautiful?



I found myself on the edge of civilization,
Not Tierra del Fuego or frozen Archangel,
But Portree, place to be, ‘metropolis’ of Skye,
Two thousand Highlanders sheep dip high,
Europe’s second highest suicide-rate amang
Those young & blooter’d men.

The port seems far too quiet as we are drawn
To a clishmaclaving ceilidh at the Gathering Hall,
“Can we have a drink?” “I’m afraid ye cannae!”

Sally hands me the flyer
18th annual Isle of Skye
Alcoholics Anonymous gathering –
Tonight’s theme… Tolerance

…& the place is heaving.



As Kestrels surf the mountain-fringed spaces
Road twists between saturnine gargants,
Romantic mounds of monstrous magma,
Marvelous munroes of aulden minstrel-song,
Lost in the moment, eyes keen to the skies,
Hard traveling unravels, sailing above us
Silver-fire mists of the sylvan alpine rise,
& beyond, entering the stunning scope
Of another planet, another Jupiter,
Sodden expanse of treeless waste,
But beautiful land, stupendous Cuillin hills,
Seats of Titans, where thrusting solar shafts
Induce startling notions of timelessness
Here there is no time, only milky flowing waterfalls.



As times have swung again to strike the road
My eldritch muses glean a glint of gold
Perhaps a mile away, perhaps abroad,
Shall I be searching still when I am old?

How gorgeous is the red sun as she sits
Upon the haunch of Hoy, the Pentland Firth
As glass tonight, no epic pitch of wits
Twyx oceans girdling all this happy earth.

A bannock moon hangs over John O Groats
& Dunnet Head us summons to a path,
That leads down from this pinnacle of sorts
Along the sea-bashed coast to wylde Cape Wrath.

Aye, let us seek our rosaries once more
Tomorrow, yon the dreich Duncansby Bore.



We were strolling thro’ Thurso hunting for food
When I had one of those mad moments,
This black dude brushes past me talking Japanese
On his phone, & I’m like what the hell,
That’s incongruousness incarnate, innit?
Then, from behind, this guys’s peddling his bike,
Wobbling about like a right proper nob-head,
& every five seconds his bike went <CLICK>
& I’m like, fer fucks sake, what was I thinkin’ again?

There is no such thing as matters of abject slightness,
The smallest drop of rain can feed a bush,
Bushes feed a shrew, shrews make falcons’ feast…
…and so on, until man begs at the conference of angels,
Squatting under tables for scraps.



Eurasia, Eurasia, from tip to toe,
Men may wander thee forever in vain,
From the sensuous sierras of Spain,
To the towers of spangling Tokyo,
Men have stumbl’d thro’ Siberian snow
To the jungles where Ganges parts plain,
Enough to send a troubadour insane,
For Shangri-La a myth most never know.
Yet, here lie the shores of Arabia
& the fjords of the Skull-helms of old,
Here, an angel-throne’d high Himalaya,
There, a castle of Prince Leopold,
For here be defining Eurasia,
Reminding us with weathers manifold.



Let us scamper under Munroes
As the rivers thro’ them move,
There all this love for you girl
‘Midst the mountains I shall prove.

Lets us skip along the loch banks
Where the coupling salmons leap,
In the heat of highest summer
Lie two lovers sound asleep.

Let us waken with the moondrift
As she shingles thro’ the glen,
Energizin’ haelan’ songsmiths
For a fireside tale or ten,

When, love, we’ll wander onwards,
Under Munroes, once again.



The sun has set as steer & stereo
Accompany the roads to Samarkand
& I sing back, renewed lothario
Opens a page, pulling his pen to hand;
Enough light is there in this lovely glow,
Lighting the mountains of a clansman’s land,
Some stoic slept, some capp’d with blocks of snow,
Being a region ancyent eagles spann’d,
The muse now omnipresent as we go
Past Inverness & Perth, as paths were plann’d,
Soon moon-diffusing clouds pale lights bestow
On epic structures looming gloom & grand,
Where through these rough sea coss-winds all ablow,
We cross the Forth for fair Queensferry strand.



Twelve thousand years ago Crammond was swept by a higher sea
Where on the beach our ancestors eked out a winning existence
Living embodiments of the migration of intelligence
“The proof is in the pits of nut-shells!” mutters archaeology
Paleolithic, Neolithic, whatever they may be
Flint tools were used, stone arrowheads flew, so they must have had some sense
More for practical eventualities, not to please futurity

Mankind is older than the dust of lost forgotten cities
& the monkeys & the dogs & the lizards we all once were
There is a wondrous common-ness to which all creation must answer
A pond of ancient memories, you can hear them in the ditties
Sung by blind bards, & in the Spring when deep down we remember
Being those plants gasping for life across thirsty, frozen tundra
Like a baby turning towards the milky breast of his mother!

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