Our third full month starts now. We’ve had plenty of views, around 1500 per month though we are not up in the fantasy figures yet, so please keep sharing. We welcome contributions and we assure those who have already sent them, that their work is lined up while we assemble congenial companion groups of poems.

   One poet heads off on a train. One has time to look closely at an owl stone. One stops off for an observant cup of coffee in a cafe, and another goes all the way to Chinon to think about Joan of Arc. By train or by poetry we link England with Scotland and Scotland with the world.

   If you haven’t been on that train run Edinburgh or Glasgow to Carlisle, Lancaster and Preston, I can personally recommend it. Be sure to stay awake.

   Many thanks to intrepid poets Pippa Little, Des Dillon, Rosemary Gemmell and Tony Lewis-Jones.   If you’d like to be one of our poets, read the instructions on the very first post in the August archive.

   A few favourite poems to read every weekend. Come back next week!


Pippa Little
Howlet Stone

In the gaps, grace.
Godly stump, pellet of newborn’s bone.

A soft bell to whisper its dead,
Feather by feather.

Who is calling from a long-ago lifetime
For the lamb to come home from the hill,

For something broken to be mended
Or come to rest.

From Foray , Border Reiver Women, Biscuit Press 2009

KPA Preston tr

Des Dillon
Change at Preston

Engine tugging
High on Glasgow
Central Station
Silver raining
River bridges
Southward flying
South west Glasgow
Blantyre passing
Craig all empty
Children hungry
Fathers angry
Shops all empty
Crows on cornfields
Mental inmates
Carstairs junction
Mist on Tinto
Young girl flirting
Must remember
change at Preston

Southern Uplands
Trees all waving
Sheep in green fields
Trees all wispy
Just like Ireland
Someone’s paper
Over river
Provo’s peacemaker
Main line bending
Cars all passing
Loyal uproar
Top of form
Under bridges
Orange and gleaming
In through valleys
Raindrops falling
Service station
Round by hillsides
Must remember
change at Preston

Moorlands marshy
Clouds are rolling
Pylons standing
Cables stranding
Road above us
Fast train passing
Pass like rockets
Free range chickens
Road below us
Concrete bridges
Rock perched castle
On the border
Goodbye Scotland
Pass like rockets
Stopped at station
Must remember
change at Preston

Carlisle station
Metal railings
Open windows
Five yobs drinking
Red brick houses
Screaming shouting
Little hamlet
Buzz of talking
Curly Blond girl
Train gets noisy
Brown eyes swivel
Sexual contact
Out the window
Snub nosed horses
Penrith passing
Fields all folding
Pass like rockets
Must remember
change at Preston

Mirror window
Eyebrows raising
Through the tunnel
Caught her staring
Good reflection
Clouds all soaring
She’s so lovely
Hills all raising
Brown eyes swivel
Pass like rockets
Wordsworth country
Rivers running
Under bridges
Pass like rockets
Sunshine breaking
Secret smiling
Kendal passing
Mona Lisa
Must remember
change at Preston

Train wheels slowing
Heads all swinging
Blond bird leaving
Engine stopping
Wagons shunting
Someone waiting
Blond bird kissing
Heart is sinking
Engine inching
Blond head turning
Goodbye flirting
My mouth smiling
Brown eye winking
Train gets moving
Lost forever
Perfect Beauty
Sheep all huddling
Pass like rockets
Must remember
change at Preston

Cars all pointing
One direction
Derelict station
Stacked up train stock
Coastline shining
Pass like rockets
Seascale looming
Windscale whispers
Seashore lapping
Sunshine setting
Horses chewing
No more flirting
Golfers golfing
Council housing
Massive river
In Lancaster
Zones of colour
Must remember
change at Preston

Train gets moving
Landscape gardens
Four girls smiling
Pass like rockets
Fields all furrowed
Small roads winding
Smoking hamlet
Sky gets darker
Signposts pointing
No-one watching
Night – time falling
Darkness coming
Fear is crowding
Faces peering
In reflection
Got me covered
Eye-lids closing
Must remember
change at Preston
change at Preston
change at Preston
change at Preston

Wake from dreaming
Eyes unfocussed
Brain cells guessing
Well past Preston

First published in Poetry Scotland, 1999

KPA bus queue

Rosemary Gemmell
Coffee at the Café

Watch the people going by,
wonder where they go, or why?
Crying weans wi’ tired maws;
growling dogs wi’ mucky paws;
jostling youths jist oot o’ bed;
skinny teens who should be fed;
grannies been doon fur their pension,
guarding purses wi’ suspicion;
business folk all dressed in black
grab a bite – they must get back;
well-dressed wumen eating scones,
wi’ botoxed brows and wrinkled haunds;
lonely lads withoot a mate
eye cute wee lassies – hesitate;
doon and oots search fur a fag;
Big Issue vendors sell a gag.
Humankind goes wandering by;
It makes me want tae laugh and cry.

First published in Writers’ Forum in 2004 where it won first prize in their poetry competition.


Tony Lewis-Jones

The Ruined Chapel at Chinon

Is cellar cool, quiet as dust.
Its jagged walls and floor suggest
Austerity, the spirit’s
Ancient struggle with the flesh.
A little light
Breaks through a cleft
Where the altar was

And a frightened girl
Sought courage
From the silence
Before the flames.
A little light
Is all one needs
For vision.

First published in iota in 1994