John Beaton

John Beaton Poems

Whale-breath blasts up through the moonlight
in a bubble-net of vapor;
trade-winds catch the spout and droplets
stream through palm baleen on Maui.

Hie me to the hill-ground,
the high hill ground of Scotland,
to battle bladed wind-blasts
my forebears fought before me,

I'm wakened, drawn toward the ice-thin window,
to witness scenes as faint and still as death.
How bleak the moon; how bare the trees and meadows;
sky's pale maw overhangs

Well, I went for a walk last Halloween
on the scariest night you've ever seen.
and to prove to myself I was not afraid
I went to a place where the dead are laid:

It starts with lightning, tinder, and a gust.
Smoke-jumper teams, at this stage, may contain it—
clad in Nomex, ‘chuting down to dust
they rip along the fireline like a bayonet,

Step with me, float with me, over the floor;
weave with me, waltz with me, out through the door;
slide to the deck where the crowdedness clears;
glide through the garden and tear off your fears.

The Weeping Window bleeds ceramic poppies
that blush St. Magnus's cathedral wall
and each seems miniscule among them all—
the throng comprises nigh a million copies:

(for snow)

You lit upon the land one night,
a night of drifting lightness

The mayflies ride the glides in slow procession
above the burbling eddies' low percussion;
their up-wings test the airs and dance in twitches.
His toe-taps and his fiddle-notes commingle,

In Living Colour

From parting seas, the grey's great knuckled back,
where barnacles and orange whale-lice ride,

Sheets of rusted corrugated iron
clatter in the gusts against its walls—
the black house mossed with memories of childhood.
It passed like sunset blushed across the kyles.

Boomer Biker

There's a madman riding on a motorbike
and that madman is me.

The horizon garrottes the twilight's throat. I sleepwalk
through slash and over deadfall. My arms, white canes,
antenna me through copses; touching tree-trunks,
legs of huge tenebrios, whose abdomens

The twenty-fifth of January,
1759 A.D.,
brings you into this world, a wee
and helpless bairn,

This field in winter forms a wetland, quiet
except for hushing rainfall, rushing hail,
a breeze that, fussed with snowflakes, seems to sigh at
the calls of robin, chickadee, and quail,

I know there's something I forgot.
I really had to bring that thing.
What was that thing I had to bring?
I know there's something I forgot.

My ancestors, you were burned from the glens

As the ice gouged Strathcarron, then melted to mingle with sea-loch, you melted from glens to the shore.
When your roof-timbers crackled in Sutherland's fires at Strathnaver, you scoured a treeless coastline.

There is a blackness like a furl of smoke
hurtling and twisting fast across the sky—
it shudders and explodes
and shards of shrapnel fly

He jogs the hop-scotch patches worn to the earth
through treefrog-greens and sunlight spears and sparks
where grizzlies yield fawn-lilies careful berth,
confining their paws to these well-trodden marks

The moon is full above Mount Inglismaldie
and mirrored on obsidian Two Jack Lake;
the nights are growing long, but no Vivaldi
concertos leap the seasons' firebreak—

John Beaton Biography

John writes metrical poetry and has moderated one of the internet's foremost metrical poetry workshops. His work has been widely published and has won numerous awards. He recites it in spoken word performance. He has published a book of poems titled 'Leaving Camustianavaig.' A retired actuary, raised in the Scottish Highlands, he lives in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island.)

The Best Poem Of John Beaton

The Breathing Sea

Whale-breath blasts up through the moonlight
in a bubble-net of vapor;
trade-winds catch the spout and droplets
stream through palm baleen on Maui.

Past upcountry jacarandas,
spray condenses to a petal
in the lei that the clouds lay
round the mountainsides of Maui.

Over old volcano vent-pipes,
mothered as within an oyster,
mist impearls—a raindrop rolling
down the gardened gowns of Maui.

Flowed and flumed, it shoots a valley,
slows, and steals into the ocean,
scintillating as the sea-shirr
shawls the birthing grounds of Maui.

Underneath that sheen, lunge-feeders,
filled with krill and Arctic pilchards,
sing of their returning journeys
from the Bering Sea to Maui.

Haleakala's great crater
once shot stars; a living mountain
blows the moisture from its blowhole
to the midnight skies of Maui.

Whale-breath blasts up through the moonlight
in a bubble-net of vapor;
trailing droplets bathe the spoutlet
of a humpback calf in Maui.

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