Thursday, August 16, 2018

Dawn Dreams in a Glasgow Cafe

Glasgow, Scotland
July 15, 2018

Mid-July and zipped into layers, 
I huddle by the high glass walls 
of a Sauchiehall Street coffeehouse 
on a rain-soaked morning in Glasgow.

It is Sunday. Restless seagulls 
patrol the glistened streets. Pigeons 
pick manna from cracks in the sidewalk. 
Strangers roll suitcases down the damp plaza.

But I dream of the highlands – 
forests of birch and pine, 
breath of mist and fir. 
I kneel in the humus of needles and moss

and ponder the ruins of castles and clans 
wrought by the bonnie princes of war. 
A puff of wind ruffles the mirror-face 
of morning over an inland loch. 

I slip out of the chandeliered foyers 
and opulent halls of the once-important.
Sunlight cascades through cathedral trees 
and wavelets kiss the sea-aster shore.

Above villages swollen with summer –
sticky toffee, shops selling tartan –
I climb the bracken hillsides to high heather. 
Wind sweeps in from Iceland. My fingers numb

and somehow it’s August. How soon 
we haste to the land of before where dreams 
devolve to memories, cropped and cleaned, 
and hung in the hall by a wide-open door.

Here is a link to photos and video clips (cropped and cleaned) that accompany this poem. Thanks to Tracy Elder for leading our group through the Highlands and Islands.

Images from Scottish Highlands and Islands

Images from the Scottish highlands and islands. These accompany "Dawn Dreams in a Glasgow Cafe."


Clouds over Little Minch and the Outer Hebrides

Cathedral trees

Downy birch

Forest of fir

High heather

Low tide on the Firth of Clyde

Sycamore roots with moss and boulder

The mirror face of Eilean na Moine on Loch Eilt


Wavelets kiss the sea-aster shore (Firth of Clyde near the Mount Stuart House)

Loch Shiel at Glenfinnan (near the monument to Bonnie Prince Charlie):

High burn with bracken and heather:

Sound of Sleat in fog with ragwort and wind:

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Stumbling Toward a Brampton Manor

Brampton, Cumbria, UK
July 12, 2018

When you exit the two-car train 
outside the village of Brampton 
and leave the lonely platform
tugging wobbly wheeled bags 
loaded with too much stuff 

the mile or two toward an old manor 
which your wife saw on the web 
and Google diverts you down a dwindling lane 
lined with loosestrife and ragwort  
where cattle crowd the mid-day shade 

and watch you weary on 
till the surface turns to gravel 
and your wife and daughter forge ahead  
while you tend bags beside the rusting gates 
of a deserted dairy farm 

composing prayers for traveling mercies 
parsing signs and portents 
as the Brampton black cat 
freezes your soul with yellow-green eyes 
and claims your suitcases 


this is when a lanky farmer named James 
ambles up, asks if you’re lost 
or Canadian 
then offers a ride in his sawdust truck 
and you choose to trust 

because this is Cumbria 
and life is good – 
your belly’s full 
and the sun held for one more day. 
Tomorrow, let it rain.