Monday, 23 November 2020

Sunday, 8 November 2020

black woodpecker

at dusk you see a woodpecker

and everything is fine


blue tits the rattle of dead trees


asking the woodpecker

about the fish’s sneeze


ghost hare

across the path

her jewelry


shit or worse. a woodpecker


none of the kids 

wearing earrings

if your dream comes true you die 

and then a woodpecker


Tuesday, 28 July 2020

when life gives you lemons go climb a hill fort

The morning is overcast grey and cool. I am planning the day’s walk. Deciding is sometimes difficult but itʼs always fun pouring over old maps and websties. Weʼll see. Breakfast on. Thatʼll help me decide. Pasta and eggs for some good fuel. Full tank for whatever comes under foot. Now tea - part of any good day. Yes, tea. Yes, yes, tea.

Mount Florida station. A wasp, its yellow and black abdomen, looks good along the blue of the ticket office paint scheme - happy accident. Languid from the cold it grips on hoping for an Indian summer or maybe even death. I donʼt know. In the ticket booth the man chained to the desk is knotted to his phone out of tiredness or something worse. I buy my ticket with little to no conversation. Grunt. Grunt. Aye.

Some gorges are made from shifting ice caps - long gone floods and gigantic rivers. Some are man made like train lines and routes. They both have similar topographic and geographic similarities the difference lies in the train tracks and the plants on the embankments. I wait in this gorge looking headlong and forlorn for the next ice age. Well at least a Mammoth.

On the train the announcements are blurred by an overenthusiastic driver and a past its best speaker. It sounds like the last cry of an Irish elk caught in some ditch in West Meath. The young people wear shirts that match their hair colour which are equal parts stupid and cool. Healthy soft and over fed. They whisper - which is always better than shouting like the train driver. One of them has a tote bag that reads ʻfighting animal testingʼ. I wonder if the driver of the train had almond milk with his porridge this morning? Two sixty. Ta, now.

Muirend, Williamwood, Whitecraigs, Patterton, Nielston. The landscape half digested by golf courses and the ill chosen architecture of housing developments. I hope all you fuckers get indigestion. Beautiful and violent in its ideology. A sentiment suited to innuendos in the shape and hue of brown envelopes. Genital and genitive indifference. Viaducts. Aqueducts. Rail bridges. Water for the towns - man made reservoirs. Bringing beasts, water and people to and from the city. So it is. The train picks up speed between Patterton and the last stop Nielston. 

Off the train. My feet sure. Sure that itʼs concrete. Clear cool air - you could spread it on toast. Cut grass. Cow shit. Soft morning. The sound of Saturday morning being played just out of view. Pass the fucking ball and all that. Time. Time. Luck up. Look up. Man on. You fucking...... Poems of the turf. Leave the station. Left down Kirkton Road. Good name. Good job town planners. Pass the Neilston Bowling club which is one part Bolshevik ode and another part Northern English working manʼs club. 

Further on a field on the other side of the road houses the stone from which Nielston derives its name - according to a leaflet from East Renfrewshire Council. The stone was erected in commemoration for an officer that died close by. Jackdaws and rooks overhead. Grass wet with dew and ghosts. I push on up through and into the Levern Valley. And on. Hedgerows. Hawthorns - red and green. Landscape becomes weird and old very quickly. Farms sitting on top of farms that sit on top of farms and so. Probably the bases of the earliest farmers in this part of the world. Hill forts, old stuff juts from hills and fields mixing with the pylons and the skeletons of modern farming - agricultural equipment and mowed fields. someone fires a gun behind one of the hills. In the corner of my eye I notice something fall from the sky. The gun repeatedly sounds until I get out of hearing distance.

The country road curves and rises through beech portals - old, real old, some dead standing covered in porcelain fungus busy winning the war. Soft drizzle. Wind picks up. Leave the country road at the Springfield Road junction into a field. So long concrete and tarmac. Cross the field. The grass long and wet. Real wet. My boots remind me they are three years old and have been round the clock at least once. The field narrows towards a gate between two patches of woods. From here Duncarnock fort above Glanderston is visible. A couple of swans take off so loudly they drown out the sound of lowing cows from the nearby farms.

Follow the dam around. The banks covered with yarrow, knapweed, thistles and private fishing signs. Ladybirds exclusively feeding and resting on the yarrow which is being fed on by aphids. A hedgerow of very old gnarly weather worn hawthorn leads me to the foot of the fort. 

When life gives you lemons climb something - hill forts are good. Duncarnock fort is situated on quite a tall natural out crop so its going to get the blood and lungs working. Ghosts as rocks jut here and there all the way up. I rush up not wanting to stall the steep ascent. And breath. A trig point, beautiful modern monolith in its own rite, sits like a little crown and that seems as good of a point as any to rest and take notes and some photographs. For a moment the clouds start to shift I look up quickly and get a blast of vertigo I touch the ground and close my eyes and all is well again. 

The thought of coming back down in sunshine is a short lived fantasy. Circle round the remains of the fort. A clear lip around it gives one the sense of the walls. The middle is like a crater of sorts taking over by a micro bog like area - rushes, bilberry, sour grass and the usual acidic loving plants. A soft stillness up here. The sounds of the not so distant M77 a soft bee drone, pylon hum, trickling water, wind through tall grass and the sound of birds protecting their nests.

On the way back down the rain god remembers his job. At times like this I become aware of my glasses. Heavy drizzle. Head right at the dam this time coming back to Neilston in a loop. In a field facing the reservoir a young bullock is staring me down. He has only one eye and the markings on his face are in the shape of South America. Iʼve a feeling weʼll meet again if he doesnʼt become a hamburger. Hedgerows subtle along this stretch with splashes of purples in harebells, scabious and the darker tones of blackberries. Paused by ditches full of tall willow herb going to seed. The flame passes to the next candle. The walls around the farms, fields and roads is built with the salvaged stone from the fort. Common practice in rural areas everywhere I have been and the leading reason why hill forts, castles and similar buildings are in the state that they are in.

Along Johnny Blueʼs well Road. A moment to look at the well that is full of sunflower offerings. Story goes that Johnny was a local print worker. On his way home he would wash the blue ink off himself at this well. Speaking of blues the fields facing the well have been cut in the last few days and the swallows, that were late arriving this year, are also late leaving and are getting a good feed before the impending cross continent journey. I join them for a moment in their feast - they scarfing insects, me stuffing handfuls of perfectly ripe blackberries in my pie hole. A fellow walker passes by we comment on the weather -what else can we talk about? It doesnʼt know what itʼs doing, I unwillingly agree. Of course the weather knows what itʼs doing. But I didnʼt want to dry snitch the weather god - snitches get stitches and all that. Not far from the town now so I put my hood back up and plough on.

Quick fuel up in the co-op. Nielston has a wonderful main street full of old buildings too wet to fully appreciate today. Make my way to the train station. The train waiting for me - it leaves in five minutes. Perfect. I take my seat and adjust my gear. A man is whistling - I hope he stops or gets off at the next stop before I set the weather gang on him. The train leaves. His whistling is now out of time too. He stops as more people get on at Patterton - he doesnʼt like a big crowd. The old ladyʼs perfume takes the seat next to me. And home.

Saturday, 25 July 2020

torn mail sail

Start out from Townsend Castle ruins. The night interrupted by lighting. I follow the Brooklee Towards the coast. Butterflies colour the journey. I regret not bringing the butterfly book I picked up in the charity shop last year. 

By midday I make it to One Tree Pass. I rest in the treeʼs shade. I eat the sandwiches I made last night. I drink the flask of tea I made this morning. Before continuing on I sharpen and clean my axe.

Just before nightfall I make it to the beach. I set up camp for the night in the dunes. I fall asleep to the waves' lull. My last sight is a shooting star. I dream of thunderbirds. I must make an offering to the gods soon.

Morning comes along - as it does. Dawnʼs rosy fingers and all that. It is pleasant to wake up beside the sea. Big bodies of water. Slow or fast river. Itʼs hard to be prejudiced towards water of any denomination. I look around. It would be great to sail on that big ocean someday. 

I enjoy writing in the morning. I take it all in. A human sized ball of red wool appears above my head. It spins out into the ocean. The air to touch. The air to touch. Soft - or nothing.

Getting ready to head out I notice a large upright beast has left footprints near the camp. I look around but whatever left the marks has long gone. I feel a sense of fear and relief.

Heading back over One Tree Pass I notice thunder clouds forming. I walk as fast as I can skirting Percy Woods but the weather breaks before I can take shelter. The pylons, quite close buy are hit by a massive bolt of lighting. It rattles them and my bones. I think of being made of steel like the pylons - it feels weird and good to think this way. Before I can gather my senses the weather changes again and the skies clear. I feel a great sense of relief.

I head south a little further and decide to stay at the stone circle south of Percy Woods. I light a fire and make an offering to the thunder gods. I burn mugwort and recite a prayer my father gave me. Will they hear me? As the night sets in I notice another shooting star. This surely is a sign? I light a pipe and think about the day.

Monday, 29 June 2020


for nowt
the moon and a sandwich
in the backpack

late summer flowers
a crack appears
in the pencil

stopping to pick hops
your hands become the ipa
from three summers ago

a fisherman waiting for the train

dying moths
covering the linoleum
pencil shavings

your passport photo fading snapdragons

a flock of geese pass over lassila allotments for a moment all the gardeners stop and look then silently they agree to work a little longer and harder this evening

Sunday, 21 June 2020

monkeys ain't shit birds 4ever

I keep having this dream where my glasses break and I put them back together. And the mood of this whole dream is that time is moving very slowly independent of my tasks and it all loops over and over. Ok. When I wake someone has always left a note beside the bed and it reads -  monkeys ain't shit birds 4ever.

Saturday, 20 June 2020


Aaaaahhh. That’s no way to talk to a pear.
Aaaaaahhh. That’s no way to talk to me either.
Aaaaaahhh. That’s no way to talk. 
Aaaaaahhh. That’s no way to bicycle.  
Aaaaahhh. That’s no way.

Friday, 1 May 2020


enough moonfull
she takes the bat
out of her ear

the astrology 
of a q-tip shutout

karmic waves
surf’s up
don’t I know it

all your fingers 
as olive brine

salty licks
if I could I would
blissfully dance

deepening spring
a cow becoming footloose 
in thick mud

dropped stitch in time
the cowl appears in newcastle

from grainger market
he carries the stottie cakes 
through a thick fog

prove it, prove it
the cartesian baker calls

sitting on mars
an evil demon flicks yeast
towards earth

Ray Caligiuri, Beaverton, Oregon, USA
Michael O’Brien, Helsinki, Finland 

a dishwasher can be a hard thing to get used

A dishwasher can be a hard thing to get used. The rowan berries start to ripen. I say to the chamomile tea bag. I make chamomile tea with a chamomile tea bag. I decide to dissolve a dissolvable multivitamin. I drink the dissolved dissolvable multivitamin instead of the chamomile tea. Let’s dirty all the dishes I say to the chamomile tea. We dirty the ones with fish prints first. 

Sunday, 19 April 2020

a whistle of crows feet

do you finally sink without the moon?
neptune orbiting seven drain plugs

are you dancing this weather?
in virus air bluer sky fevered dreams

will half-baked clams reclaim the beach?
the perigee of muscle memory, blindly, of course

pointing towards the abyss - does this make my butt look big? 
that huge crack produces the kindness of strangers

might I impose for a whistle of crows feet?
lip balm, that's the night, buddy.

sergeant or colonel, lieutenant? 
beer battered the humvee explodes a chicken

is the last string quartet sanitized yet?
the gel like apparition of grandma's dinner says everything

brussels sprouts, you know what time is, right?
when last checked the calories left me behind

how does a slow burning bush receive absolution?
marshmallows - what the jumping cow became 

two choices wise guy - obama or omaha?
a surfeit of clouds blinks out the mind’s eye

Ray Caligiuri, Beaverton, Oregon, USA
Michael O’Brien, Helsinki, Finland 

make the morning

winter darkness 
too big for a house 
the lion

an outside dawn light
ants ravage the pants

moving hills
with uncertainty 
we make the morning

source of spring
bounced back by
the river’s tribute

upside down 
the crows pay in r's

the past murdered
a cow settles
for chewing ennui 

Michael O’Brien, Helsinki, Finland 
Ray Caligiuri, Beaverton, Oregon, USA

Monday, 20 January 2020

after the hunt
melting into a hanky
the marshmallow


on a patch of frozen grass a frozen leaf


the sound of wet tires on wet asphalt


you turn 
a tarot card

Saturday, 18 January 2020

sticking out of the
‘fighting animal testing’ bag
a yoga mat


yellow blue drying on my shins salt water


underneath the houses
a river


nightmare the heat between an ice cube and a finger

Thursday, 16 January 2020

in agreement 
with the moon 
the moon


the cuckoo’s call you become a statue


Thursday, 9 January 2020

oilfaced cow emojis

Faced with a bitter north wind, do you stand behind or in front?
rainbow oilfaced cows ripple in field rut water

Why pull the world’s weight though midnight eyes?
metal detector metal detector a field bound by cow emojis

When the time comes will you replace your spleen with a carburetor?
only if I crank the shaft without the flight of bluebirds

Who drags time for the murder of crows?
His head full of clichés the farmer hits repeat on the Mac DeMarco song

Another one? asks the veterinarian hiding behind time and crows.
without fear or consequences he quickly plows into them

Is it time yet to beam up the scarecrow scout?
three miles to.... next exit the alien's green thighs 

On the cover of the autumn almanac is a photo of a lost explorer,  will you doodle a willy on his head? 
with a pig’s bow tie I hoe semicircular cornfields

Next you’ll tell me there’s no gas left in the pump house diner?
Softly he wipes his mouth with the paper he wrote this poem on

Michael O’Brien, Helsinki, Finland
Ray Caligiuri, Beaverton, Oregon, USA

hair of the dog

whiskey over ice
this morning
the softness of birds 

a glimmer of sunlight
on the rusted tractor

out of poverty
between barley sheaths
an armed robbery

just for the thrill of it;
faster, pussycat! kill! 

counting death masks
you ask the wind
to blow the other way

all over town
the scent of the cannery
the crash of waves

building a mountain
out of rocking horse shit

worn thin
enough to be real...

through potato soup
you read about the war

in refrigerator magnets
a poem;
hair of the dog...

Michael O'Brien
Clayton Beach

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Daily Ablations

Why do the birds sing my morning coffee?
innocently you spread your legs over a blackbird's tongue

Sowing racism into a traffic jam - which radio station do you become?
finding no excuse make toast with the mourning

What do you make without unintended silence?
after saluting the muskrats we take lunch with red circles 

Late for something, do you eat the sky or become a Patagonian village?
a sugar high blue driveway pine cones fall and crunch

Do the pheasant screams spoil your lunch?
indigestion you become a hand gun 

Seven crumbs or the Andes, sir? 
price hiking turns a blind eye toward the sandstorm

Why all these ambivalent water meters?
seven minutes late for happy hour Handel sews his eyes shut 

When exactly will you beat me to death with a copper pipe?
the after tea earthquake opens heart fault lines

Who accounts for dinner seaweeds rise and fall?
drunk on nothing my rib cage becomes a seahorse 

If a child fakes a fart do you fake a sniff too?
under satin sheets the cannon shoots confetti

Ray Caligiuri, Beaverton, Oregon, USA
Michael O’Brien, Helsinki, Finland