Poetry Map

We all know poems about Scotland but can the shape and nature of Scotland be drawn entirely in poetry? StAnza has set itself the challenge to see if this is the case. Find out more about the project and how to submit your poem by clicking here, or browse the poems using the map. Latest poems are listed below.

Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 25: Cumbernauld

Sunday 10 August 2014, 08:55

So Where Are You From?

Look, I know you're friendly and curious.
Even when my president's name was Bush
no Scot ever blamed me for the sins
of my motherland.
But you have to understand –
ten years I've been asked this selfsame question
and it's starting to wear a touch thin.

First, I must congratulate you on getting it right.
You didn't ask 'what part of the states are you from?'
(There are people known as Canadians.
Never assume we're the same, or you may come to grief.
Most of them have a good sense of humour, but the others,
well...you won't forget the meaning of a maple leaf.)

When you ask that question, I'll smile and answer 'Chicago'.
I haven't lived there in years
but it's a good place to claim
primarily because, at the very least, you recognise the name.
I don't need to start explaining Tennessee
or drawing maps of Puget Sound.

Then you will cheerfully tell me
that you visited Chicago as part of a five-state tour
or you changed planes at O'Hare,
or your brother lives there,
or you once saw ER on C4
and if you have a wee bit of extra knowledge
you'll tell me, with glee,
you've heard it's called the Windy City!

(You say this without irony
in a country where the rain blows horizontally.)

The best place to ask me this question
is at a party, or a literary salon,
or if we meet in the street by chance –
not in the back of an ambulance.

I appreciate your personal interest in me
but some days I get tired of this routine,
of being reminded that a decade of muddy summers
will never be sufficient to make me a native.

I think I need to get more creative.

The next time someone asks
'so where are you from?'
I may just answer:
'Cumbernauld!'
And that's them told.

Tracey Rosenberg

From Lipstick Is Always A Plus (Stewed Rhubarb Press, 2012)

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

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All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

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Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 24: Old Kilpatrick

Saturday 9 August 2014, 12:33

the saltings

Salacious waves tongue iron-silver stacks
where columns of pirate planks
splinter and shatter in the tangled rape
of seaweed and biodegradable crabs.
Dolphin carcasses are gulped clean,
spitting bones of polythene bags
like brittle teeth inside shoreline gums.

Trailer flags beckon the seabird’s anthems.

I screw the lid back on the vodka bottle.
The metal bridge hangs overhead, keeping vigil
over the dead buried in the Clyde,
shawled by crayon scribbles; addict needles.
A flicked cigarette blushes, then cancels,
and my capsules tame the glass-eyed tide.

Stephen Watt

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

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Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 23: Edinburgh

Thursday 7 August 2014, 19:58

Resurrection Men

In the midnight fog they loom large, the taste of them sulphurous on the tongue,
Like the blunt blade of an old lead spade.

Watch out for the winking yellow eye of their sleepy lanterns,
Watch out for the frosty kiss of their laboured breath on your icy window pane,
The graveyards have given up their dead, but still this pair hunger.

Two tall-hatted creatures of the smoky Edinburgh night,
Outdoing any limp English Boogie Man that Ealing Studios could dream up,
Nah, these two are the real McCoy,
Made in Scotland from girders,
In the premier league of deep-fried Mars Bars and Hi Pizza Pie,
Uniquely Scottish, and without even a hint of tartan,
Obsidian comedians of the dark who'll slit your throat for a shilling and then buy you a drink with the change.

Butch & Sundance, Fred & Rosemary, Myra & Ian,
Synonymous names irrevocably linked with a deadly ampersand,
Canongate Doxies, Fleshmarket Foxies or Fingzies Poxies,
Dive bar harlots of Henry Jeckyll's alter ego and the habitués of the fog-banked haunts of….
Burke & Hare.
Nah, no trite tourist-trap ghost bus here!

So,
come
visit
if
you
dare.

Edinburgh. City of bones.

 

Max Scratchmann
Previously performed on the Edinburgh Tour bus in November 2013 as part of the history festival.

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

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All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

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Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 22: Camusdarach, Morar

Wednesday 6 August 2014, 09:04

Next Bay North

I am haunted by my memories of this coast
of myself and my brothers
three awkward adolescents marching north
through intermittent rain and dismal skies
looking for a beach we never quite got to.

Somewhere there’s a photograph
the last headland before we gave up
a distinctive Scots Pine gesturing above rocks
and today thirty years later
I bask on the other side of that
on an exquisite sunlit beach
with the woman I love and other blessings.

I recognise the scene in reverse, that headland
but that tree is dead now, somehow symbolic.
We were nearly there, only will and hope failed us.

It’s like being dead, this looking back thing
parallel, external to, one’s own existence.
I’d like to postulate a next bay north
of course. I’ve checked the map but found
the tides too high the rocks too sharp
to let me penetrate its secrets.

Let us believe that its views are better
its sunlight yet stronger to burnish
these frail bodies into gold.
But that dead tree troubles me
Its writhing bone-white branches
a warning that something will be lost.
My brothers and I can’t look each other in the eye
these days, the wretches time has made us.

The trick in looking forward is to see more deeply
the past the future all too quickly will become
and reach that tree before it dies and taste its fruit
the present waiting to be won.

Douglas Thompson

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

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All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

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Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 21: Dunbar

Tuesday 5 August 2014, 21:00

Dunbar High Street

It’s the spine of the old place.
Before there were streets
all lived in the wynds, entries,
vennels, closes, alleys, courts,
essential passages either side.

Market stalls displayed goods and produce,
fish new-landed off the wee boats,
meat there for those who could afford it.
The beasts met their end in Slaughterhouse Close,
the blood gutter a vein to the sea
and the butcher’s good thumb on the scales.
In Gardener’s Close potatoes, fresh
from clamps, jostled bundles of kale
and dirty carrots, a base for broth.

Beer was brewed by alewives, served up
in parlours, then pipe-kippered ale-houses.
Inns and pubs imposed a modicum of dignity
with each new century’s whims and morals.

The Market Cross was for proclamations.
The Minister declared a fatwa
on the dominie’s wife, for the spreading
of malicious gossip. The King’s Messenger
announced new laws, and lawyers
scurried off to polish writs.
The Provost, in chains and robes, read the names
of drunks and felons fettered
in the dank jail, and firebrand preachers
summoned the wrath of God each week.

A wide, straight thoroughfare
for the regiment to march and counter-march.
Cavalry pranced, and horse artillery
towed gleaming guns destined
for the poppied mud of France.

Off Empire Close the cinema sat,
the heavy petting back row
where the young usherette’s torch
reddened with embarrassment,
as the fake action flickered in grayscale
on the grainy screen.

A tourist boom whimpered out
in my lifetime, shops have come and gone.
The footfall is smaller, as they say,
the offer less attractive; a row
with gaps and pop-ups, but still
where else to meet six random friends
on a wet Tuesday morning? Where else?

 

Colin Will
Dunbar High Street was published in Wild Words, by Dunbar Writers (Calder Wood Press, June 2014).

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 20: North Berwick Law

Sunday 3 August 2014, 17:23

 North Berwick Law

Climbing the volcano’s
constipated gut, a basalt core
that still resists the everyday
seduction of the rain,
smoothing and dissolving.

Half-way up asking:
Why are we doing this?

Our feet slide on
liquorish-drop rabbit turds,
the path decays into
Featureless grass.

As if from the top
we could see our lives.
Whole.

Ruth Aylett

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map