sheena blackhall

(18/8/1947 / Aberdeen)

A Hairst o Thorns (23 Scots Poems)


1.Ballater Brig

Aneth the brig I skim a skiffin steen.
This cauld, calm bield these antrin wirdies vrocht.
Fitfaas abeen stert saft...mid ben, growe strang
Hyne ower they dwinnle doon tae soonless nocht.

Fa cud be dowie bi this bonnie brig?
Gleg bandies glide, a wattery Strathspey,
Far preen-prick midgies link and jink an jig
An craikin dyeuks their simmer biggins thigg
An burns cam treetlin doon tae plink an play.

The geans hing thick far the stinch Sabbath bell
Cries fowk tae book an prayer inbye the kirk,
As roon Craig Coillich's shooders, cloods drift snell,
Like ermine tips on green an pleisunt birk.

'Cheepity cheep', a bobbin dipper cries.
The cheery notes frae his wee throat doonfaa
'The Glen is riggit in her Sunday best
The leverick's pibroch's ringin oot oweraa'

Aff flees the dipper on his wee quick wings.
His mapamound's a smaaer span than mine
'The Glen's spread oot its yearly feast o joy.
Simmer is short. Sit doon an drink its wine. '


2.Larick

Sae complex, larick's mony fronds,
Green taigles like man's mirlin thocht.
A michty tree, sun canna pierce,
Sic derks frae ae smaa seedlin vrocht.

Alane it stans until a flame
0 straikit reid flees up the bark.
A fiery squirrel like a lowe
O love or anger, sclimms its sark.

An syne aa's steer. The larick seems
Tae haud yon anger on its reist
That bides inbye its wechty boughs,
The smuchterin squirrel at its breist.

The dreepin, dowie draps o rain
Luik like the larick's greetin. Dreich
The win that rochles frae the loch
An shrouds it, lamentation's wheech.

An gin the furlin mist faas doon,
Ye canna see the tree ava.
A ghaist withoot a sowl or harns,
Tint inbye dissolution's mawe.

Eenoo the larick's quate, at peace.
Nae weet, nae win, nae flichterin bird
Brakks the perfection o the hale.
The larick screives the hinmaist wird.


3.A Nor East Villanelle

We're dour an thrawn the kinsmen o my race
Tho fin we spikk oor winds strikk hard an true
Fit makks us sae mim-moued, is it the place?

We hide oor thochts ahin a steeny face
Oor feelins micht be yalla, black or blue
Pandora's box is lockit, jist in case.

The weather's coorse in this win-scartit space
The verra trees are wrunkled an askew
Tho gulls an gannets threid the storms wi grace

Should Eros prick oor hurdies tae gie chase
A Nor East Scot ay keeps his plaudits few
Tho langins rage, they're tholed wioot a trace.

It disna suit us, lavender an lace
We are a tweed an leather kinno crew
An stinch an siccar is oor ploddin pace

Noo suburbs, roads an factories replace
Sea-satty parks an braes o heather dew
The wins o cheenge fae Sunderland tae Thrace
Sweep oot the auld an hickle in the new


4.Tellin the Beads o Mornin, Balquidder

Cauldly, cauldly lifts the mist,
Fae the chitterin taps o fir
Dreichly, dreichly hings the frost
Blae wi smacherie o smirr

Hyne awa the brukken baa
0 the yowes that reenge the glen
Brakk the seelence o the warld
Birds an gangrel bodies ken.

Gurly grey as dragon's braith
Like a ghaistie fae the grun
Cauldly, cauldly lifts the mist
Tellin Winter has begun.


5.Quackers

`Quack' gaed a happy drake
Expeckin dauds of breid
A quinie heistit up a steen
An bashed it aff his heid.

Aa this cam fae assumin
That quines are aywis nice
Dyeuks, mind on Adam's Eden
An fa invented vice!


6.Somebody New: A Christenin Spikk fur Scottish Bairns

Somebody new's arrived at hame
Somebody needin a spleet new name
Somebody wee that's bigged fae love
Warm an safl as a lassie's glove

Somebody greets an fowk aa lowp
Tae stap a moo or tae dicht a dowp
Names are a faimly's 'hist ye in'
Tae the youngest body that's their bluid-kin

Noo ye'r named, let's say it wi pride
A bobbydazzler has cam tae bide!


7.The Giftie

This'll be yours, an yours alane
Bairn: the gift that we gie's yer name
Weir it proodly an weir it weel
This'll be yours fin ye stert the schule
It'll be yours fin yer auld an gray
At wark, at study, wi friens at play.

An fin ye lie in yer timmer sark
Yer name'll follae ye tae the Dark
The gift that laists fin ithers hae gaen
Bairn, the gift that we gie's yer name.


8.Daith o a Pet

Ane o the breets o the warld has left its fitprents ahin
Tho it spak nae human wird
Tho it thocht nae human thocht
Tho it gaed its luv fur meat
It kent nocht o deceit

Ye raxx tae stroke teem air.
The hoose aches fur its lack
It has gaen tae Cuchulain's lair,
sair tho ye wish it back.


9.The Beelin Thoomb

A yoke in yer oxter, a yark in yer queats
A physog like a soor-dook ploomb
Are fachious tae thole, bit a blicht on the soul
Is the dirt o a beelin thoomb

Hae ye plooks on yer dowp or a dreepin neb
Or a hoast tae teem a room?
It's fairly a soo wi a different grunt
Fin yer haun begins tae stoon
An ye lose yer grip... yer a rudderless ship
Fin yer steered bi a beelin thoomb

Yer thinkin o daein some D.I.Y.
In Ballater or Khartoum?
Fa'll caa the saa? ..Nae gumption ava
Fin ye wark wi a beelin thoomb!
Ye may smcher awa like a haimmer's claw
Yon smirk will be turned tae gloom '
Fin the throb, throb, throb, begins tae stob
The stangs o a bellin thoomb!

Gin ye gowf or knit it'll gar ye spit
Like the deid at the Crack o Doom,
Ye can say taa taa tae yer prayers anaa
If yer deaved wi a beelin thoomb.

Did ye heard o the mummy, fae heid tae fit
Rowed up in a Pharoah's tomb?
Cut the bandage in hauf, fit cerriet him aff
Wis the curse o a beelin thoomb.


10.Haunfast: A Waddin Poem

Somethin auld: the years afore
Somethin new: the morn's door
Somethin borraed: kirk, or haa
Somethin blue: sky clear o snaa
As bricht as ony wattergaw
A cloodless future spent as twa.


11.Wish-list: A Waddin Poem

May the moose in yer hame
Hae a weel stappit wame
May yer nest be as warm as the wren's

May yer sorras be fyew
As the stars in the dew
An yer luvin laist lang as the Bens.


12.Scurrie

Snapper o a bird wi a fish-bowl belly
Draps his jaas like a comic on the telly
His een gae pop fin skytin doon the shute
0 his muckle yalla beak gaes a daud o fruit.

13.Hairst o Thorns

In the rain's on-ding, a paper faas apairt
Ower their hairst o thorns, the beggars hunker doon
Three stories up a High Rise
Twa weemin grummle aboot the price o fish

In the cafe, the skiffie's wame
Is three months stappt wi bairn
Her left haun's ringless, neives are hackit reid
Ootbye, bi the herbour waves
Rocks rise fae the fooshty bree
Dulse clapped abeen their lugs like baldy seamen

In the Nursin Hame auld tears faa
Brakkfasts o cornflakes
Myndin on wine an roses

In Drap in Centres urns begin tae byle
Chauffeured aff tae schule
An ileman's dother mynes her Ps an Qs

The scurries skirl reveille
Laavies flushed
Dishes washed
Buses boorded
Like it or no, the days
Maun ay rin forrit.


14.Luggin in at Khan's

Nae salt on ma fries, please, Khan
I'm watchin ma carbs, ye ken?

Michelle... fit like ma frien?
Maun be pye day...korma on yer cod.

Ma heid's fu o mince.
It's tatties ower the side wi me an Dan
He wis a neep,
Wintin tae hae his cake an eat it.
Cauld kail hett again.

He wis ay an affa man fur porky pies
See his fancy-piece? Face like a torn scone!
A pasty-faced wee pudden.
Fowk'll caa him a sugar daddy.

I kent there wis somethin fishy aboot her
She's got a bun in the oven,
A hale bakery's.

She's ae slice short o a picnic,
Nae exactly an egg-heid
Him an his hauf-biled schemes!

He's a rinner bean in his lycras
Nat meat n' twa veg doon his breeks
Mair-like spaghetti bols.

It's a rum doo as roon...
Bit I'm nae greetin ower spilled milk
I winna touch ither fowk's leavins.

It's bin fine chawin the fat
Watch yersel gaun hame
It's a real pea-souper, oot.


15.A Wee Kirk Prayer Gyangs Up

Lord,
Please cud ye arrange tae gie
Some meat, a bield, lang life an a blythe dreel?
Cud ye sen me a faithfu mate
Fur bearin bairns, hame-biggin,
A significant ither tae replicate ma genes?
Tae thole oor weird thegither, share ma dreams?

Gin ye cud, I'll worship ye foriver.
I'll be that guid I'll pit Saint Luke tae shame.
Already I'm fairly a fixture in yer hoose
I sup yer breid an wine on a regular basis...
(Fur speeitual sustenance naturally)

Yer obedient servant
Kirk Moose


16.Spring Cleanin

Dicht wi the duster, my wee man,
Ma's in the kitchie, scoorin a pan.
Da's in the livin room hooverin the fleer,
The kittlin is hidin aneth the airm-cheer,
For it thinks that the hoover's a muckle black breet
That snaps kittlins up for a dennertime treat!

The paper is scrapit hauf aff o the waa
For Spring Cleanin fever has grippit us aa.
The slates on the reef, an the lum up abeen,
Are the anely things left that the fowk canna clean!

Bit the windaes are skinklin, the curtains teen doon,
The lavvie is scrubbit, the yett's peintit broon,
The washin machine is as clean's a new preen,
An the bairn's bin soaped till her verra lugs gleam!

If you're a bit caddis, or a pucklie o flooer,
Watch oot, for a war's bin declared agin stoor!
We're chasin the orra, the clarty, the fooshty,
And onything glaury or yirdy or roosty!
If ye are a wyver, a moch, or a moose,
I'd advise ye tae flit frae this Spring-Cleanin hoose!


17.At the Piper Alpha Memorial, Queen Mother Rose Garden

Their monument is far frae storms
An thunnerin waves o weet
Three token figures rise like rigs
Frae roses, sherp an sweet

Adams, Anderson, Barclay, Borg
Campbell, Connor, Cowie
Far simmer wauchts her winsome yoam
A roll-call dreich an dowie

Duncan, Findlay, Fowler, Frew
Gallacher, Gibson, Gill
Aa wyled the blaik hairst fae the sea
Blawn chaff in Sorra's mill

Goodwin, Houston, Kelly, Knox
Lawrie, Longstaffe, Mearns
Gowd names on a steen monument
That aince war mithers' bairns

Morris, Murray, Noble, Quinn
Pyman, Raeburn, Reid
Foo quick they trinkle frae the tongue
Fowk that the fire preed!

Sangster, Seaton, Skinner, Short
Taylor, Wakefield, Wiser
And names unvrocht...their lives sair bocht
Fit means thon word survivor?


18.Jacob's Laidder

Jacob's ither-wardly stair...
Moosewabs biggit ilkie rung
Aa maun climm't fm tales are telt,
Roads are eyndit, sangs are sung

Tawny angels haud the yetts.
Ilkie nation enters in
Fin the mortal cloots weir dane.
Fin the threids o life weir thin

Daith is bit a spirk o rain
drapped intae the lochan's mawe
See the Heivens efter storm!
See the shinin wattergaw!


19.Hill o Kincorth

Ceann wis the auld Celt wird fur heid.
Tap o the toun, stauns Kincorth Hill
William the Lion gied this lan
Tae monks, sae yowes micht graze their fill.

Jamie the Saxth, he claimed it back
The hill stude quaet, the years wun roon,
Until the Covenanter's cam
Ae dowie nicht in mids o June

In saxteen hunner thirty nine
Montrose's airmy deaved, the toun
His battle at the Brig o Dee
Gart cannons roar an bairnies flee.

The hill's bin used bi mony fowk
Tae wauk fur pleisur. Whyles, tae pray.
Far luvers coort, gleg birdies sport
An flash-tailed rubbits lowp an play.

Granite wis howkit fae its sides
An shipped fae Tony hyne awa
Noo far the quarry wirkins war
Wild girse an whins blaw ower aa

May Kincorth Hill be iver free
May Aiberdonians iver prize
This bield fur bird, breet, plant an tree
This place, gien ower tae natur's wyes!


20.Rikky Roe: fur the littlins

It's my hoose yer waukin through..
Rikki Roe's ma name
Dinna drap yer rubbish here!
Ye widna deet at hame.

Rubbits, beetles, slaters, slugs, birds an millipedes
We hae faimlies jist like you, wi a family's needs.

Yalla yeities, tits an wrens, birdies on the wing...
If ye burn oor hoosies doon far wad we ging tae sing?


21.Lipperty Lil
Lipperty Lil, she bedd in a puil,
Wi a bluebell bunnet that suited her weel
The taed, the puddock, the wee broon bat
Cried lipperty Lii we like yer hat.
Fin the sun gaes in an the rain dings doon
Yer bluebell bunnet it haps yer croon,
Frae dreepins an drookins an draps o weet
Bit far's yer beets fur yer twa bare feet?


Harriet the Hoolet
Harriet the hoolet
She disna gie a hoot
She hodges roon the hedegrows
She footers roon aboot
She'll polish aff a puckle mice
While toyin wi an ant
Harriet the Hoolet
The hoolet debutante.


Hamish MacSporran
Hamish Mac Sporran gaed oot in the snaa,
The win wis sae strang that his scarf blew awaa,

He bedd oot sae lang he grew stiff as cud be,
He froze tae the grun like a wee Xmas tree.

Syne a cheerie reid robin
Drappt doon on his haun, `
Sic a fine perch, ' quo she,
`Fur a robin tae staun.'


22.On a Halflin's Suicide

Gowden-tapped like a settin sun
A sinsheen smile fae the daylicht's pairtit
White limbs happt in the clarty grun
A life is ower that barely sterted.

Passed through schule on invisible feet
Gang-lands nae fur the tender hairted
A wauk ben thorns tae the douce, the sweet
A life is ower that barely sterted

Teachers canna recaa his face
Ane that wisna wi malice mertit
Kept his coonsel an kent his place
A life is ower that barely sterted

Ae step forrit an twa steps back
Future's cauldrife fin hopes desertit
Easy tae jink the warld wi smack
A life is ower that barely sterted

Smack takks geniis ooto the box
Reason's rocky in seas unchertit
Deevilicks lowp through the stinchest locks
A life is ower that barely sterted

Gaen in a glisk like a wattergaw
Fest as a fawn tae the shaddas dertit
Peace, staun guaird ower his nerra staa
A life is ower that barelty sterted

Grace an youth war his anely jewels
Dreich's the wecht fm the kist that's cairtit
Cairries a laddie inno the mools
A life is ower that barely sterted.


23. Ritual

It gies yer hairt a lift, like a kittly wirm gaun roon it,
The bairn, takkin its name, the meenister's haun abune it.

It pits a lump in the throat, the bride in her waddin goun,
The groom in his plaid an kilt, kirk fu fae tap tae foun.

It brings a greet tae the ee, tae staun wi the lave,
As the stoor strikks the timmer. The auld wirds ower the grave.

The rituals that fowk live bi, in temple, mosque or kirk,
Tend tae the rites o passage, sma lichts throw the pit mirk.

Submitted: Wednesday, December 11, 2013

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