Steens (27 Scots Poems) Poem by Sheena Blackhall

Steens (27 Scots Poems)


A steen on an Anstruther beach
Wizzened bi tides an winters
Alpha an Omega o its ain weird
Fuspers till itsel, a steekit shell

Aince, I cairriet a steen up a heich Ben
Conquerin it, as I thocht,
Roosted crampons litterin its braes

Eenoo I hear it lauchin in its corries
I’d fooner gin I tried tae sclimm its foun
Some-like thon beardie chiels at the wersh Pole
Heistin a flag for Britain, afore their daiths.

Druid steens abeen ma gransire’s ferm
Steepit in starns an meenshine
Staun as a portal, drooked in eirdly dwaum-licht

2.Tree Plantin, for Manjusvara

A flute wis played aside the wids
Far prayer flags flichtered in the breeze
The reedy sabs upon the air,
Melled wi the birdsang in the trees

A howp o yird wis howkit oot
Mools-like, aside a clorty hole
An there a sapling wis set doon
New life, the sizzens cloor tae thole

An we stude roon kirkyairdie-like
Myndin on ain fa lued this airt
An voiced oor myndins tae the glen
There, in the mids o its green hairt

A puckle stood, a whylie quaet,
An dowiie- like they drapt a tear
Bit ye war wi us in thon wye
Ye hid o bringin sense an cheer

I think ye lued the flute play best
Thon day we laid the past tae rest

3. Flegs

A regatta o dyeuks, the rowan aneth the meen
Ken nae fear o the derk
Nor dae the deid fa lie in the mools in their timmer sark
Nor dis the fite-faced hoolet wingin doon frae his hoose
Wi a wheech an a stooshie o wings
Dingin the pech frae a moose

4.The Welcomin Local

Ye can spot the toorists hereabouts nae bother
Chips ‘n ice cream, thon is aa they ett

Aiberdeen ye come frae?
Cauldest hole on earth
Ye hae ma sympathy

Callander’s braw, ye think?
It wis, tll the social spyled it
Ferryin oot the hameless
Tae stap the B ‘n Bs

Still ye canna blame the hoteliers
They’ve tae makk their siller somewye

Jist you watch yer purse
That’s aa I’m sayin.

5.Bus Tour, Inverness- John o Groats

At the station, a teethless schizophrenic
Gies a langamachie tae the unlistenin lug o mornin
A rant tae an inveesible congregation

A weel-read chiel, his een
Follae the prent on the newspaper
His lips aywis moothin a kirn o styte

Trudy frae Texas has trailed her loon alang
‘What else is there to do for godsake Herbie! ’

The rain trinkles sidiewyse doon the panes
The driver’s hair’s peroxide à la Calgacus
Fingers bestudded wi rings, oorie an Gothic
Post Celtic punk

The guide, Catriona, is nat’ral straaberry fair
New oot o a gym slip. Ae skweejee tooth,
Nae makk up, hair dreepin doon ower her left ee

We leave the Heilan capital, passin
Thon weel kent Scottish eateries,
The Indian Ocean Restaurant
An the Route 66 American diner
Tae cross the Kessock Brig on the Moray Firth
Biggt tae withstaun an earthquake
Vrocht as it wis, on the Great Glen’s muckle faut line

Bottlenose dolphins dinna jink in public
Glowm in happit fathoms, sleekit-like

The Black Isle breenges on us, a bleeze o hinneysuckle
Reid kites, re-introduced, we’re telt, frae Scandinavia
Furl by banks o breem, gowden an blythe

Catriona gars us takk tent tae a sanbank
Aneth the Cromarty Brig, far seals lie sprauchled
Like creashie Brits beached oot in Benidorm

Ower the intercom, the driver’s Glesga burr
Spirks inno life. Here’s Balnagowan Hoose
The Scottish seat o Mohamed Al Fayed
His tutor telt him Egyptians discovered Scotland

Fusky’s mair tae the current driver’s likin
Tain, he says, distils Glenmorangie malt
King James IV cam here tae auld St Duthac Kirk
As penance for his pairt in his faither’s murder

Noo we enter the Clearance Lan o Sutherland,
Here, sheep tuik precedence abune the crofters
Fifteen thoosan forced tae leave their hames
Mist haps the shame o thon coorse dispossession

At Helmsdale, a statue o The Emigrants
Honours the fowk fa fled a Duke’s brutality,
For the wersh realities o a life in exile
Howkin hames in Canadian winter snaas
Their torn reets bleedin memories an banns

Helmsdale, airt o the gowd rush, far, we learn,
A chiel panned jist eneuch for a waddin ring

Wee clachans aince war a bield for the herrin gutters
Back in the glut o heavy wechted nets

The day, the dowie corn is drooked wi rain,
Boos, tashed an sypit, nearhaun weet eneuch
For a shoal o Neil Gunn’s bonnie siller darlins

An hinmaist, Johnny Groats. The Lanely Planet
Caad it ‘a seedy tourist trap’, this winner o
The Carbuncle Award for the dreichest neuk in Scotland.

Jan de Groote, a Dutchman, sterted the ferry
Wi the blissin o James IV. Fowerteen ninety sax an still it’s here
Somethin maun be richt or twid be gaen.


The mist that bides in the corrie’s briest
Kens nocht o the wyes o men
The skreichin moose in the midgied girse
Kens less o the tod’s deep den

Secrets keepit an secrets happt
Whyles better tae be unseen
The moose wid niver steer frae her nest
Gin she luiked wi the hoolet’s een.

6.The Following Poems are Scots Owersets of Japanese Tankas

Kiyowara no Fukayabu 10th century poet

In the simmer nicht,
While the gloamin still seems here,
Luik! the dawn’s arrived.
In fit neuk o the clouds
Has the traivellin meen sattled?

Fujiwara no Okikaze 10th century, poet and politician

Far then are they noo,
In ma auld age sae far ben
I can haud as friens?
E’en Takasago's pines
Arena friens of yestreen.

Tenchi Tenno (628-681) , Emperor

Roch the segg-mat reef
Happin the hairst-sheilin
O the Autumn rice-park; -
An ma sleeves are growin weet
Wi the watter dreepin throwe

Kakinomoto no Hitomaro 660-739,

Ochone! the fit-draan trail
O the Ben-pheasant's tail
Booin like doon-curved branch! -
Throwe this lang, lang-trauchelt nicht
Maun I bide beddit alane?

Sarumaru Dayu, poet active 708-715

In the Ben’s deep founs,
Stravaigin throwe crammosie leaves,
Skreichs the wannerin stag.
Fin I hear the lanely roar,
Dreich, - foo dowie, is autumn

7. Advice the Warld gied me

The fir tree telt me tae sink deep anchored reets
The rose buss telt me tae hap ma flowers wi thorns
The watter telt me tae saften ma rims an edges
An whyles, tae lie like a puil
Watchin the lift wi an ee as clear as glaiss

The vole, deid on the road
Like a cowped black velvet purse
Telt me I’ll lie as still as her
Fin the Sizzen cheenges

The cloud that cairries the rain,
Telt me that I’m nae mair nor less
Than a skirp, a spirk, a dot
In the blawn win.


Nae harebell can balance the buiks
Nae ane can shee a shelt
Bit atween the dowie firs
The time atween mornin an nicht
They shakk their trimmlin heids
Sae braw sae blue
Cowpin their thummles o scent
In the widlan air

Meanwhile, the heron stauns like a caunle
Watchin fur flames o fish

9.Midnicht Thochts

Aa nicht whyle I sleepit
Ma harns hae bin oot on the prowl
Like huntin cats
Bringin hame triesurs o bluid

10. Opium Quine: Owerset o Die Opiumraucherin (1926) Bertolt Brecht

She’s rattlin wud tae chase the dragon’s rikk
Her days are nichts, her gloamins, a black-oot
The hookah’s an exhaust pipe in her moo
She wadna ken gin fate sud stub her oot

Her heid’s near baldie. She is gaun tae wrack
She canna see herself as ithers micht
A moose-wabbed blob-heid in the keekin glaiss
She thinks she isna seen, a total sicht

Her ain doonfaa, it disnae gar her stop
Naeb’dy will miss this smack heid fin she’s gaen
Her helpin haun’s the heroin she takks
The wyte is hers, aa hers, an hers alane

11.The Taed: Eftir Tristan Corbière (Le Crapaud,1873)

Yers is a fooshtie nicht sang
Tae the meen’s siller cauldron
(howked oot frae uneirdly yird)

Hunkered, on-gaun parp parp
Risin derk frae the tarn
Far dae ye bide in the day?

Sheuch lintie, doon-cast bird
Like a bard stukk fur a wird
Grindin his teeth, I delicht

In yer pyocherin clear-
In o the thrapple. ‘I’m here
Aneth a stane. Sae, gweednicht! ’

12. The Pipe: Eftir Charles Baudelaire

I’m the pipe o the ootlinned poet
The cruddiness o ma dowp, is a thochtie
Like the first wife o a Hottentot.
Nae doot it shows he’s unca fond o me

I’m the licht o his life fin dule laps roon him
Puffin rikk like the lum o a crofter
Fas meat’s on the byle
Hame, eftir a day’s wirk on the yird

I’m a cweel puff, fas furlin rikk
Birls a cirrus o ether tae coddle him
Fin he’s bythesome he blaws a ring

Ma moo o fire is blockit frae his thochts
Sae he can bask in the caimbed guffs comin
Bibblin oot the stem, sae we’re at ane.

13. Lessons

See thon wee fishie there
Faither tells dother
Pyntin oot troot
In the skinklin watter

Twa eenies keek
As the fins gyang skytin
Ferlie o winner’s
The reward for wytin

14.The Poser

On fower inch reid stiletto heels
A fantoosh coiffured wumman
Hyters ooto a Trossach humphy pathie
Dug lead in ae haun
Pyoke o keech in the ither.

15. Setterday in Callander

Sunlicht dapples the dyke
A bletherin bairn babbles alang like a burn
Blin-fair, blink bonnie an blythe

A heron steeps its taes in the river’s mids
Its lang raxxed craig glower-owerin in the seggs
Gowans an buttercups skinkle on ferny braes

The wagtail flicks his wee dowp up ‘n doon
Like a smoker tappin the ash frae his burnin fag

16.Nemo me Impune Lacessit

Thrissles in coorse or fair weather
Are thrang wi thorns an spit
The hurcheons o the plants,
Like schiltrons o Bruce’s airmy
They brakk through cracks in stane
Fin the sun teets throwe the wid
They kittle up, like seannachies eftir a ceilidh
Takkin a mornin dram
Braid shoodered, sonsie, fearie
Yer sheughside thrissle’ll teir yer queats
An shanks fur the pure hell o’t
Nae a single pacifist amang them

17. The Cannie Slugs

The slug powked oot her hornies
Saw a wirm atween the girse
She bedd ahin a thissle
For fear twis somethin wirse

Takk tent should be her motto
Brocht up cannie, unca guid
She mind’t me on ma mither
Saw the trees bit nae the wid

18. Nigredo/Albedo

Ma kinsman, a meenister, saw signs an veesions
His fermer forbears risen frae the yird
Troopin in, undeid in his kirk frae their laigh pew
Ma mither’s ghaistly faither
Stude at her bedhead ae hale nicht afore an operation
There in the derk like a caunle licht o wunner

Aince, bi the river bank, fin sun an leaves
Melled in a shimmer o sunspirks
I jyned the cosmic daunce, deid tae the bouns o eirdly
Flesh an bluid. An oh, thon taste o the Aa in Ane wis guid!

19. Schemies

Some fowk bide in schemes
Wi £10 short fur the leckie
Wi dug keech ower their trainers
Wi thon etten an spewed luik
Wi a sister on speed an smack fa’s up the duff
Wi twa bairns fostered oot
Wi lassies wi barbit weer tattooed on breast
Wi peroxide grannies spray-tanned tango orange
Wi windaes boordit up

An ithers dinnae

20. Vanished

A swift flew into the space between two clouds
Then vanished like the mandolin I lost
Like my friend who’d eaten the Blarney Stone
And washed it down with a flagon of Glenmorangie
Like the flute-man walking his tune across the horizon
Like the heartbeat of a home where love has died

21. Blue Boat
A blue boat sits on the loch
A painted island

The only traffic’s a crow
Crossing a cloud

Two wrens shuffle
A pack of rustling leaves

22. In the Temple of the Air

Six books unopened on a coffee table
Two sliced ripe lemons glistening on a plate
A soup of insects hatching in a pond
A vixen sniffing round a compost heap
A cuckoo hijacking a thrush’s nest
A gate that opens on a winding path

23. Hercule Poirot: A fictional Belgian detective created bi Agatha Christie

Hercule Poirot, like HP sauce
Brocht a savour tae aa he did
His daith wis merked in the New York Times
Queer, for a body fa niver lived

Five fit fower wi a heid like an egg
A mowser shaped like a blaik bow tie
Struttin in patent leather sheen
Pince-nez perched on his een tae spy
Ony wee facks, an he’ll sniff them oot
Like a truffle hog, ill deeds he smells
He tracks crime doon bi Psychology
Vive Poirot an his wee grey cells!

24. Nicht, Ballater

Wheesht. The corn is swyin aroon Tulloch
In the bottle green parks, in the nae-yet ripe time
Fowk sleep like cowpit dominoes in the clachan
Minnie the fruit seller, fa guffs o paraffin an carbolic
Snores in her flannelette goun, her mou ticht
As a walnut shell, her auld chest whizzlin

Simmer thunner rummles atween the Bens
On Nell’s tea caddy the meen lichts on a jumbo
Gowd an blaik. The flooers hae steekt their petals
Like virgins hochs.

Wheesht. Third day’s broth ferments in Annie’s pan
Donald the roader keckles in his sleep.
Ma Gordon’s washin skelps aneth the starns
Like bats on their reest. The Dee
Skinkles ower pebbles roon as Sabbath peppermints

Thirty-steen Jeannie glowers at the tickin clock on
The mantle, like a trauchelt coo dowped in the hett ley

Wheesht. The aiks on Craigendarroch are newsin
O tods an ernes. The hoolet, wi its muckle een
Sits on the hinges o a branch. The midnicht puils
Are hotchin wi fern-tickelt troot. In sty up Gairnside
Squallichin grumphies sook their midnicht feed
In moosewabs an shaddas. The nicht air’s warm
On the greenin gravesteens, ower by the brig far
Chuckens sleep on their eggs, a lid o feathers
The frienly knowes, gweed neebors, niver
Wrang-fit each ither.

Wheesht. In meenlicht gairdens, veggies swall
Like yeast. In Rosie’s wyme anither sodjer’s bairn
Begins tae growe. Larick an birk showd saftly,
Green an dwaumin

25.The Little Maid o Norway

The little Maid o Norway
Her faither’s favourite flooer
Wis delicate’s the violet
That dwinnles in an oor

Her faither wis King Eric
A Norseman, kind and gweed
Her mither, deed in childbirth
Wis Scots, o Royal bluid
Her gransire Alexander’d
Sent nobles ower the tide
Tae ferry his ain dother
Tae be the Norseman’s bride

Bit on the hamewird journey
Frae Eric an his wife
The ship sank sailin hamewird
Each Scots Lord tint his life

Drooned nearhaun Aberlour
In fifty fathoms deep
The Scots lords met their Maker
An wi the fishes sleep

Ootower the cliffs at Kinghorn
King Alexander fell
Cowped bi his rearin stallion
Doon tae his sair daith-knell
The little Maid o Norway
Noo, becam Scotlan’s queen
The English Lord, King Edward
Pit forrit, syne, a scheme

His son an heir Prince Edward
Wad wed her speedily
Bit laith wis gweed King Edward
His dother tae owergie

Twa Scots lords war despatchèd
Sir David Wemyss wis ane
The tither wis Sir Michael Scott
Wizard o micht an fame

The little Maid o Norway
Wis cairriet tae the stran
At eicht year auld, lamentin
Lost faither’s luv, an lan

A stormy ocean crossin
Wi hairt-brakk’s ill tae bear
An as the boat reached Orkney
The Maid wis stricken sair

The Bishop Narve o Bergen
Spak prayers ower her heid
Sir Michael Scott the wizard’s
Black Airts brocht nae remeid

The little Maid o Norway
She deid within the day
Quittin this warld o Sorras
Wi Heiven’s host tae play

26. The Auld Man o Hoy

The Auld Man o Hoy
Fowk climm tae the tap
Syne turn roon aboot
An climm aa the wye back

27.The Swilkie Whirl Puil

Aff the pynt o Stroma, in the Pentlan Firth
Furls the muckle Swilkie, faist, for aa it’s wirth

The Icelan fowk’ll tell ye, it hauds a muckle quern
Stown frae the great King Frodi, that caused the thief tae murn

Stown bi the sea-king Mysing..his boat sank wi the wecht
It’s neth the watter grindin sea-satt for aa it’s wirth

Thon’s foo the sea is satty, it’s auld King Frodi’s quern
A-grindin satt foriver, far tides thegither kirn

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