jim hogg

Castle Kennedy - Poem by jim hogg

The wunters were hard but oor simmers were hot
and braver kids dooked in the chilly white loch
where temperature gauges fair upwardly shot
when reports swiftly spread that the ravishing Dot

was loose in a swimsuit that couldnae contain
every last hint o' her weel mannered mane
an' talk o' her curves, every shade o' her skin
kept a' the boys warm whun the wunter came in.

Now that's slightly jumping the gun I suppose
but memories like that are inclined to impose.
The truth is that sna' was a regular thing
an' ice on the lochs was the signal tae spring

yer curlin' stanes clankin' oot intae the licht
on white Sunday mornin's tae gae them a dicht
and monie a ring, that rang through the cal' air
across Paxton's loch and the land owned by Stair:

'The Grounds', that stretched near tae the end o' the world
-the apples we spewed and the canes that we hurled
were, in the main borrowed - and never returned -
from oor London based laird whose branches we burned

tae make a wee blaze when we didnae feel hot
or the ‘keeper decided we shouldnae be shot
for nickin' their progue or poachin' their fish
wi gear that could never be fairly ca'd swish

but somehow still managed tae hook oot their troots
their roach and their perch and odd scaly brutes
which only were seen -and then oot o' shock -
when bobby was riding his bike in the loch

as if it was normal and we were jist crass
for parking our bikes on a dry bit o' grass
like we did through the simmer o' sixty six
while some o' the big boys were hatching their tricks:

that big jimmy barrie came gallopin' doon
an' clattered me flush on the erse wi' his boot
an opportunistic detail no' forgotten
when I'd grown bigger and kicked his cotton

clad rump ferociously hard, right in the wedge,
as he knelt in a gap in al Maggie's hedge
intendin' to catch some younger boy dosin'
an' instead found himself tum'lin and rollin'

oot over the grass on al maggie's green
I've got to admit that he took it quite weel
and aye picked me first for his fitba team
tho' Moddy's convinced that was jist a bad dream

but dreamin and darkness were ever weel met
as Alex and I - when it wasnae wet -
went strollin' by Grace's tae pull a wee stunt
when larkin' was slack and needed a shunt.

We'd swing on the wire supporting the pole
‘til all of a sudden, as if doon a hole,
the village was loast in a thick rush o' nicht
as if a great blackness had swallowed the licht

an everything else, except ghostly voices
plus several ither unusual noises:
the wun through the parachutes stuck on the wires
the roar o' occasional chimney fires

or rasp of the wud wasps buzzing aroon
when foraging forth fae that wud tae the sooth
where yin douglas fir over forty feet high
sprung clear o' mere lowness, up through the sky

an' stubbornly stood there, its summit so proud
‘til Fee, on a whim, fae flat on the ground
speeled up through the branches tae look fer the sea
an' sat like Cochise at the tap o' the tree.

He'd conquered the plant, but love lay in wait
an' some o' us fell, some o' us swayed.
Pirates played tunes on the radio waves -
oor hearts strings tae pluck, an' oor souls tae save.

An' here for the moment this tale I must park
yon music tae savour by street bricht or dark
oor crescent tae wander in memory's trance
or crack at the shop or gan tae the dance.

15 01 13

Poet's Notes about The Poem

This Castle Kennedy has become almost a fictional place. It looks the same as the one that stands now on the edge of the A75 in south west Scotland, but they could hardly be more different. And yet for those growing up in it these days there is probably a magic in it that has indelible meaning for them, as the magic of the one in the scribble did for all of us in the 60s and early 70s. Place matters but it seems that time more than anything does all the damage we rue and yet makes all our experiences so precious.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Poem Edited: Tuesday, January 15, 2013

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