Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

Archive for the tag “poetry”

Cop Show, a poem

Cop Show

Cityscape at dusk.
Manhattan’s skyscrapers
Pointing up at me
As I swoop down to the alley
Where the streetlights hit the rain
And the footsteps run away.

I’m interrupted
By a snazzy montage.
A line up of supposed criminalists
With their best side to camera.
Great muscle definition.
Fit, suave and competent.

I return to the scene of the crime.
A 4:19.
Flash, bang, flash flashy flash bang.
Marking out the blood drops
A void in the spatter,
A scraped surface –
They never vanish without trace.

Jane or John Doe
Toe-tagged and hosed down
with clinical sympathy.
Through front-fastening specs
Life’s last chapter is read
And re-told in monochrome.

Cut to the streets of NYC.
Suspect located.
He runs, we run.
Yellow cab, hot dog stand,
Steam through vents, a chase and
Shots fired.
Suspect apprehended.
“If you’re innocent, why did you run?”

The next part is different.
The next part is human:
Follow the evidence rather than a hunch;
Cops have feelings too;
Our perp is escalating;
The unremarkable relative is the sociopath;
Sometimes they come for one of our own,
And that is unacceptable.

Scrutinized, bagged and labeled,
Science makes us able,
To rewind time,
To unwind crime.

They put the knife in his hand.
They put him at the scene of the crime.
They gave him the motive.
It was all an act.

The credits roll and I kill the TV.
I try not to think of the darkness.


Tea Sonnet

Tea Sonnet

I quantify success in terms of tea:
When I can drink a cup when it is hot
From my first sip until the last I see –
You’d think this was the case more oft than not.
But sadly taking tea means taking time.
A proper cup needs three minutes to brew.
An interruption – tantamount to crime! –
When such neglect can leave a bag to stew.
The water must be boiling when it’s poured.
If cooler, tea will not be well infused.
Outwith this land this detail is ignored –
I state it now – you must not be confused!
Select your blend and put the kettle on.
I’ll do the same. I think I’ll have Ceylon.

Still standing about doing nothing?

English: Portrait of John Milton in National P...

English: Portrait of John Milton in National Portrait Gallery, London (detail) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I found myself trawling through “Palgrave’s Golden Treasury” this morning after training and happened upon, “Upon His Blindness” by John Milton.

In the sonnet he laments his frustration with his blindness and what be perceives as his inability, therefore, to serve God through reading and writing poetry as had been his pattern:

“……that one talent which is death to hide

Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent

To serve therewith my Maker…”

He then has a conversation with a personification of “Patience” who brings him a message of humility and of grace:

“……..God doth not need

Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best

Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best.”

Much as Milton wished to serve (and had previously served), in his blindness, he is comforted as he learns the art of patience. “Patience” concludes with the message:

“They also serve who only stand and wait.”

This echoed that passage in Ephesians that I was reflecting on recently in a previous post:

“Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

This is a hard lesson, but one of grace.

Ultimately, the haring about accomplishing tasks left, right and centre is all very well, but perhaps there are occasions where all that is required from an individual is patience, and the humility to stand and wait, in the knowledge that, valuable as our contributions may be, they are not valuable because they are our contributions per se.

And perhaps that very stillness and constancy may well have effects that are profound, hard to imagine – but powerful nonetheless.

The Desk, a poem

The Desk

The bridge of my starship,
My starship of enterprises.
I enter: prizes.

My name on a toblerone prism,
Gouged in gold.

You can’t see my feet,
Just my mug shot
Above the mahogany,
My coiffured self
My manicured shiny shiny me.

Polished and buffed,
My desk is tidy
Miscellaneous pens in a desk tidy.
Tidy, tidy.

My in tray is empty;
My out tray is full
Of neat fat envelopes with stamps on,
Ready to be posted,
Out of my hands.

Wood and baize,
And ink and paper
A stationary stationery helm:
My mission control.

Heaney Tutorial

English: Picture of the Irish poet and Nobel P...

English: Picture of the Irish poet and Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney at the University College Dublin, February 11, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Seamus Heaney died this week: a much loved poet. I have had cause to read a lot of his poetry in recent years, but back in the day, I read only one: “The Milk Factory”.

It was the early 1990s and I was studying Literature. The poem completely stumped me. Not a clue. So, I went to the tutorial and said, “I don’t know what it’s about; I don’t get it,” to which the tutor said, “It’s about a milk factory.”


So, more than twenty years later, I’ll have another wee read of it and see what springs forth.

I think the poem is set outside a milk factory, but with the poet and some others at some distance – on the other side of something – a road, river or something. At the same time as being distant, the people can see right in to the workers. The poem begins:

“Scuts of froth swirled from the discharge pipe

We halted on the other bank and watched”

The first word even stumps me. “Scuts” One definition is to do with wee rabbits’ tails; other definitions are associated with excrement. So, for my own mind’s eye, I’ll go with the rabbits tails as a visual, and take the connotations of the other, which do match with the “discharge pipe”, I suppose.

This sight is clearly worth looking at, as the poet and his company stop. Why “halt” I wonder? And what do they see?

“… milky water run from the pierced side/Of milk itself”

So,, immediately we get a crucifixion image, but instead of blood and water, we have milk and water running down the pierced side – of what? A cow? The factory? And I don’t get how you can pierce the side of milk itself. Is the factory “milk itself”?

This unity of something and milk is then continued in the next line with reference to “the crock of its substance split”. I side-step the lovely onomatopoeia and alliteration and arrive back at a blank space for an object that both contains and is milk.

The next part is clearer, the milk that is spilt goes over the floor, the:

“white limbo floors where shift-workers / Waded round the clock”

“limbo floors” So, from the distance of the onlookers to a sense of unity of the milk with itself and its container, we now have the betwixt and between concept of limbo thrown into the poem. How can a factory have “limbo floors”? I suppose, instead of it being a reference to souls who are neither here nor there, it is the workers who are working around the clock, neither in day nor night. I like the “waded”, giving a sense of their toil and the liquid spilt around them as they work.

Then it goes on:

“And the factory / Kept its distance like a bright-decked star ship”

So, is the factory separate from the whole milk-spilling episode? Or does it happen inside it’s boundaries, but it remains aloof, as far as a factory can? (Is the factory the cow? Am I missing the whole point?)

Certainly Heaney selects a good image for distance – a star ship has to be in orbit, far up and away.

There is then a stanza break and a baffling conclusion:

“There we go, soft-eyed calves of the dew

Astonished and assumed into fluorescence”

So, is Heaney placing the voice of the poem as a cow or a calf watching this? Is the milk factory alien to the calves and yet they eventually get drawn into its light to get the milk taken off?

So, twenty years of poetry analysis later, I still do not know what this poem is about. The Professor’s unhelpful response is still all I have.

It’s about a milk factory.

The only addition I can make is that I think it is about distance, involvement and essence.

But I don’t know why.

A poem about Wimbledon


The sun is out,

In dim lounges
We watch them play.

A tense trapezium:
White on green,
With scuffs of a fortnight’s dust
And puffs of chalk
And drops of sweat
And echoes of summers past-
With sun bleached memories
Of short shorts and long hair
And rain;
And Martina winning …
And come on Jimmy you can do it!
And you cannot be serious
And singalonga Cliff
And Sue…

But today …
In long shorts
The no longer long shot
Is bang on.

We wave awkward flags of nationhood
Over the All England club.

The 77 year long lament dies
As the long trousers are finally folded.
The long shorts
Made long short work of it
Which was the long and the short of it.

A wee poem about Today, called “Today”

20130608-080147 PM.jpg


Scotland is happy.
Sun in bright blue
Above green.

Everything uncurls, unfurls.

Scotland is open.
Leaves spread and bask
And we

Climb every mountain,
Cook outside,
Feel sand between our toes,
Sleep with our face in the grass,
Sweat, and drink water.
And we

Fill paddling pools
And splash about against a backdrop
Of flowers in bloom.

Brides can’t believe their luck today
Owners of convertibles are glad they are
And we

Are glad to be here


20130608-080130 PM.jpg

A Limerick With “Woosh” in it

English: Cover for A Book of Nonsense by Edwar...

English: Cover for A Book of Nonsense by Edward Lear (ca 1875 James Miller edition) Français : Couverture de A Book of Nonsense d’Edward Lear (édition James Miller, vers 1875) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A word in a poem was sought.

Such a limerick cannot be bought.

A wish for a woosh

I can grant at a push:

It was easy. Who would have thought?

“Babel”: a poem

Theoretical linguistics

Theoretical linguistics (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The same, the same, the same, the same.
Unity and power;
Time to build a tower;
Brick by brick by brick by brick.
Uniform blocks not random rocks;
The same, the same, the same.

Everyone we call on understands;
Everyone we’ve gathered from every land;
Together we can build;
Together we will stand;
Together we’ll be known in every land.

Fame for us,
A name for us,
The same for us.



Varied vocabularies,
Diverse dialects:
The community, confused,
Abandoned the plan.

People went to places.
They cultivated cultures
And valued variety.
Contrasting and vibrant.

That made all the difference.
That settled it.

Bung Dup

Ahm Bung Dup.
Cannae breathe so Ah cannae.
Pure aw wheezy n at so Ahm ur.

See the GP?
Aye. Naw.
Whitzie gaunae say?

A’ve hud enoughie youz in the day
Wi yur moanin and greetin.
Away an tak a LEMSIP an
Geez Peace.

Ah but yeah but,
Ah’ll say.

He’ll luik it me ower his specs.
He’ll say,
Ziff that means onyhing tae me.
Whit diz he hink Ah dae fur a livin?
Ahm no a VIROLOGIST am Ah?

So Ah wullnae bother.
Ah’ll stie here, luikin oot
At the sideyways rain
Gein intermittent sniffs
Atween the fits o sneezin.

Ma heid’s pure solid.
An Ahm aw bung dup.

So Sick

So Sick (Photo credit: maizers)

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