Thursday, November 29, 2018

From Hugo Rifkind in THE TIMES...

"Brexit is not really British. It is English, and always has been, and merely uses the wrong flag. It dreams of English independence from the EU but seems to forget that England is inconveniently shackled onto a whole bunch of other places."


Friday, October 26, 2018

Northwords Now

My poems, The Room With No View and Beyond The Dunes, have just been published in the autumn edition of Northwords Now. The magazine is available free throughout Scotland (and in Edinburgh at the Scottish Poetry Library, Blackwell's, the Fruitmarket Gallery, Summerhall, the Fruitmarket Gallery, etc.).

Thursday, September 27, 2018

You Put Your Right Arm In...

Reading for Fife Writes in Dunfermline last week...


Sunday, July 8, 2018


An aeroplane hums
though the blue, as far away
as a child's summer.


Thursday, June 28, 2018

Except Sometimes...

Last week my Poetry in Practice classes finished for the summer. The class has been running for 24 years. Each term we examine a song lyric. This has led me to the conclusion that lyrics without their music rarely read like poems - and poems are rarely improved by the addition of music.

We examined I GET ALONG WITHOUT YOU VERY WELL, a song by Hoagy Carmichael, first broadcast in 1938. I chose it because I did find the words rather poetic, then, to my surprise, a little background reading revealed that Carmichael had made use of a virtually unknown poem, published in a magazine in 1924. The author was Jane Brown-Thompson and she called her poem EXCEPT SOMETIMES. Here it is:

I get along without you very well,
Of course I do.
Except sometimes when soft rain falls,
And dripping off the trees recalls
How you and I stood deep in mist
One day far in the woods, and kissed.
But now I get along without you - well,
Of course I do.

I really have forgotten you, I boast,
Of course I have.
Except when someone sings a strain
Of song, then you are here again;
Or laughs a way which is the same
As yours; or when I hear your name.
I really have forgotten you - almost.
Of course I have.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Autumn Leaves

Last night at Shore Poets I heard six pieces played by a solo saxophonist, Graham Walker. One of his performances was a version of the well-known standard Autumn Leaves. Some time ago I wrote a poem called Autumn Leaves (inspired by a sax version I'd heard on the radio). Graham's performance last night, as far as I'm concerned, was my poem.

Autumn Leaves

(Les Feuilles Mortes)

I wallowed in the sweep of falling strings
and lush satin tones of Nat King Cole.
He sang of leaves of red and gold,
the sunburned hands I used to hold -
and how, my darling, days grew long.
In slid the brass, honeyed and lulling.
The leaves drifted past, as they usually do,
and I was softly seduced - yet again.
Loss was so sweet, heartbreak so smooth.

But last night I heard a saxophonist play:
he gripped that song and twisted every bar;
he stripped the trees to their bare black branches
and blew the oncoming winds of winter.
His discord bit like acid in my gut;
each note was a 3 a.m. emptiness.
And when I lost the tune, I fully knew
the essence of the song, its agony.

(Published in LONDON GRIP, Summer 2017)


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Just Desserts

For my wife's birthday on Saturday we went to the rather fine Nok's Kitchen Thai restaurant in Stockbridge. The waitress asked if we'd been before. We had, and my wife mentioned it was her birthday. After we'd finished our coffee and I was reaching for my wallet, the entire staff appeared at our table with a dessert of strawberries, bananas and pink ice cream. One not-quite-appropriate single candle flickered on top of the ice cream. Then the staff sang Happy Birthday, the other diners joined in, and there was much clapping. Excruciating in a way, but oddly enjoyable.
We liked the comment from a neighbouring diner: 'I'll bet you pull that one in every restaurant you go to.'

Jim C. Wilson  Poet
‘A true poet —