Thursday, 15 December 2016


Open arms

Let your family
Be something good,
Open and warm,
Not ruled by blood,
Or geography.

And, large or small,
Keep this resolve:
Embrace outside,
Work hard inside,
Make history.

RF 2016

For me the best family is an open concept. Read about some very special Xmas dinners here.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Xmas number one?

Straight in

It’s been a tough year,
People gone, times hard,
But how to write that
In a ‘merry xmas’ card.

I think of you my love,
How you make loving fun,
And all I want to be
Is your xmas number one.

Days are short and cold
And the funds are low,
Xmas lists so long,
There’s no sign of the snow.

I think of you my love,
Look, here comes the sun,
And all I want to be
Is your xmas number one.

Music’s on repeat,
Jingle bells on high,
Wham’s 'Last Xmas'
Lasts forever, who knows why.

I think of you my love,
And I need nowhere to run,
And all I want to be
Is your xmas number one.

It’s a drawn-out day
For a lonely heart.
Some can’t wait for the end 
Of the joy to start.

But I think of you my love,
What we’ve done, done, done,
And all I want to be
Is your xmas number one.

RF 2016

Tune anyone? 

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Hate Crime

The opposite of brave = hate crime

It’s the land of the free
If you look like me,
If you talk like me,
If you think like me.
It’s the land of the free
If you ride like me,
All the way to the bank, guys.

And it’s just as well
I believe in hell,
That’s where I’m going,
All this hate I’m sowing.
It’s just as well
I believe in hell,
Down, down to the bank, guys.

And don’t you wish your country was free like mine?
Well, don’t cha? Don’t cha?
Terrifying kids and feeling fine?
All the way to the bank, yeah.

RF 2016

Sunday, 13 November 2016



Cry today for our choices that are so poor.
Kill or be killed,
Starve yourself, or others.
What choice is that?

Cry today for our view that is crooked.
Hate because you’re told to,
Because you want to,
Because it feels good.

Cry because your god is bitter.
Love thy inconvenient neighbour,
Not just your family,
Or love is mean.

And cry today because you can,
Because you still care,
And remember what good can be;
It is a choice.

RF 2016

Photo taken from Caterthuns, Angus, yesterday.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Entry number 2

So in the last post I offered my first entry for the Great Trump Inauguration Poetry Competition. Maybe it was a little angry. Maybe it could be misread (largely I was using his voice, or one of his voice's anyway...). Still, I'm going to try and come up with a few alternatives because I really want to win this competition! And like Trump I will say just about anything to secure my win. If I was a hashtag person I suppose I might try and start #Great Trump Inauguration Poetry Competition... maybe someone else will do that. There will be a positive, life-affirming, all come together entry yet to come (I am sure!) but it might take a few weeks. People keep crying on the news, beloved artists keep dying... it's all very inconsiderate.

At least in part my second entry was influenced by this article. And possibly the fact that I keep seeing mention of some shop's TV Xmas ad. (because that's news, obviously...).

The Great Inauguration Poem Competition – take two.

We expect a lot of politicians,
Too much perhaps.
They are only human after all,
If we’re lucky.

We want them to fix everything,
Be plumber, joiner, carer, nurse.
We give them the keys to our castles,
And our cells.

We write them letters,
‘Dear Santa, please outlaw abortion’.
We have our own focus,
And they have theirs.

RF 2016

Photo from 2013, Pennan, Aberdeenshire.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Hot off the...

In which the party machine writes the greatest inauguration poem of all time
(rough draft for January 2017)

Good morning Vietnam, I mean America.
How y’all doin’? Are you having a good time?
Have you been on all the rides yet?
My personal favourite is the one that makes
Your hair stick right out, so you look like a mad man,
A person no-one would ever trust to run a country.
Am I right?
Am I freaking right?

I mean it worked for Ronald McReagan.
Who’d vote for an actor, they said,
Who’d want a cowboy turning D.C. into Dodge?
And he did OK, didn’t he? A-OK.
The president’s brain is missing, my ass.
Whoever said the president needs a brain in the first place?
He needs a solid team of speechwriters,
A wife, a total disregard for the environment,
A few good suits and a baseball cap.
Can I get a ‘hell yeah!’?
The world needs ‘hell, yeah’s.

So let’s get this celebratory poem thing rolling along…
Superbowl, Super Tuesday, Supersize shrink…
Greatest country in the world!
Greatest country in the world!
Jeez, even I feel uncomfortable saying some of this crap.
Did I say ‘greatest country in the world’ yet?
Shall I say it again?
How about Normandy?
Does anyone remember Normandy?

Basically, the hard truth is
You losers sent a woman to do a man’s job.
But I won’t say that out loud.
This time.
Maybe on twitter.
Women are... other,
Keep ‘em looking in mirrors, that’s what I say,
Or maybe do some more yoga, honey.
The farmer wants a wife.

And now here I stand, Donny champion of the world.
I have smashed corruption
(Or something)
With my big, hard head,
And as I walk the halls
Of my new white palace
I can’t quite believe it.
Well, really, can you?

RF 2016

Photo taken this morning. The poppy was already there.

Monday, 7 November 2016

More about waiting


The news comes fast,
Unless it’s slow,
A heart that hopes
Has far to go.

And news seems bad,
Until it’s worse,
The heart contents
Itself with verse.

RF 2016

I put this on facebook just now... so those readers who know me there may have seen it already. I don't often put poems straight onto FB but the small ones fit on there quite neatly and I'm sometimes tempted. I have yet to tweet. In any sense. 

Anyway, see you on the other side.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

In which I have written a poem about 'Desert Island Discs'...


There are so many islands,
Crammed into small spaces.
Which are you, my friend?
Do you know, can you say?

Are you long-term sick,
Are you lonely rock,
Are you waiting, waiting,
For something, someone?

On our sofas, or chairs,
Our beds, or whatever,
We need signs of life
And lights from afar.

We need warm voices,
Tales of survival.
Without them we harden.
Set. Crack.

We turn to the sound
Of our desert’s guide.
Her voice has a glow.
How can that be?

She hangs with the great,
The funny, the strange.
She asks them questions,
What’s more gets answers.

We can sing along too,
Down but not drowned,
A little more encouraged,
A lot less lost.

Why this week alone,
I had brunch with Barry Manilow,
Cooked crumble with Jackie Kay,
It’s a world away.

RF 2016

I started this poem a couple of weeks ago but it wouldn't come out right... today it seems to have found its shape (or a shape anyway...). For those of you beyond our shores it is about listening to the BBC radio programme 'Desert Island Discs' - currently enjoying a golden age with its best ever presenter, Scots marvel Kirsty Young. She gets the tone just right, I think, and gets great interviews as a result. All episodes of the show (with Young and all the previous presenters) are available on the website in the castaway archive section. Whatever you think of the BBC in general (and it certainly has its critics up here in Scotland these days) this bank of shows is still an amazing resource. 

Thursday, 20 October 2016


Long night (1991)

We're in a car,
It's daylight,
But nothing like morning.

Is someone driving?
They must be,
How else would we be moving?

The streets are almost empty
And we are somewhere lonely,
In London, England,
It seems kind of unlikely.

Somebody says something
About us being in the east
And there still being miles and miles to go.

The car rolls on and on and on.
When we get where we're going
We drink tea, call it home.

RF 2009 (I think)

The photo is not connected to the poem (photo is a Montrose morning, September 2016). The poem is an old one... I find that as I review poems past some grow on me with age and this is one of those. It might make it into the small pamphlet type thing I am considering getting together as a 50th birthday present to myself (that's only half a joke). The nightclub years are quite a distant memory now and mostly that memory is pretty vague and blurred but this night and its sensation has stayed with me, largely because of the poem I suppose. Maybe we should write all our memories into poems and then we won't forget anything. Only (half) joking.

Anyway, I did a lot of staying up far too late in the 1980s and '90s but one of the definite pluses was the whole 'being around when hardly anyone else is' business. For me you can't beat an empty city (unless it's a real war zone of course...) and I guess that's why so many of us love the zombie apocalypse fantasy genre so much. But I've had a cold this week... and I'm rambling...

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Change of pace

Around people

Some people are sweet,
Some people are mean,
Some people laugh blue,
Some people cry green.

Some people stride forth,
Some people don't know,
Some people feel lonely,
Wherever they go.

Some people eat no meat,
Some people drink gin,
Some people stay hungry,
Whatever goes in.

Some people hunt comfort,
Some people need less,
Some people like questions,
Some people love mess.

Some people feel different,
Some try not to feel,
Some people seek perfect,
Some people want real.

Some people say “what's that?
Real – did you say?
Don't you know real
Isn't real anyway?”

Some people get tired,
Some people give in,
Some people keep at it,
Some people drink gin.

Some people love winning,
Some don't mind defeat,
Some people are mean,
Some people are sweet.

RF 2009

An older poem. I've not been writing much rhyming verse of late. I think I miss it sometimes.

And the photo was taken in July at The Lighthouse in Glasgow (a detail on a window). The company responsible for the detail (and many others around the building) is called O Street. I really like a little detail that manages to be so simple and yet say so much. Some people make big buildings, some people make the little details on the buildings... and so on, and so on...

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

In the trees...

No name

Never used to be this vague,
Had definition,
Had pronouns,
Went places,
Knew things.

Now, lately, amongst trees,
There’s merging,
Less edge,
More wood,
Gaps blurring.

Could make fear,
But that’s spent.
Time is a record
With new groove.
Oak, larch, pine.

RF 2016

It seems the poetry sickness is back for sure... it's not even Friday yet and here I am. Anyway, to quote Stevie Wonder, "I don't want to bore you with it..." but I will continue because it doesn't hurt anybody and I know some people are reading (despite comment sparsity - the stats say so and so do actual human beings.. when I encounter them...). There have been tree poems before (old one here, back in Poetry Bus days...). There will be again...

Today's photo was taken in a tree in California in May 2011.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Another Friday...

Another Friday, another poem. Not sure how long this run will (or should) last. Today's poem is new. The photo was taken up Lossiemouth's Covesea lighthouse in July this year. I like windows.


Sister, I never knew you,
Not your stories or your places.
I barely knew your name.

There are waves between us.
Extreme mysteries.

I try to read your eyes,
Open gates, make roads,
Unfold a future.

RF 2016

Friday, 2 September 2016

Stars on Friday

Some stars

It’s not the sadness
We love the most;
That can come easy,
We all know that.

It’s more the soaring
That calls us close,
The stretch, the gasp,
The ‘how did they...?’

We say things like,
‘They made it look easy’,
But the truth shouts loud,
The power of wow.

RF 2016

So, this is a new poem, another wee thing. It was prompted by, for a start, listening to singer/songwriter/musician Kathryn Williams talking about her passion, if you like, for the work of Sylvia Plath (radio programme here... I don't know how long that link will be live...). Also it's influenced, I am sure, by my having another listening-to-heaps-of-Amy-Winehouse period of late (and that was prompted possibly by another blogger here...). I almost can't describe the effect that that Winehouse voice has on me sometimes... and it's not about the tattoos and the look, the misery, the waste etc. etc.... it is the sound, the effort and the work of it. There are lots of other singers and voices that I adore (I heard Gil Scott Heron's 'B Movie' on the radio the other day and had a moment... sound and content - love!) but Amy's voice is definitely up there in my (quite large) 'favourites' pile. Here's a blast of her, because the wow can pull you through:

Photo at the top of this post is local Sunnyside ex-hospital (yes, again), taken last week, through shades...

Friday, 26 August 2016



You get to a milestone;
You look around, take stock.
Maybe you sit down,
Have a drink of something,
Maybe with friends,
Maybe not.

You review the route so far,
What’s loved, learned, lost.
There is a soundtrack,
You recall some of it.
Maybe the greatest hits,
Maybe not.

RF 2016

So, I realise that since I've been writing poems again (and posting them here and elsewhere) that most of them have been fairly sad. This is with good reason (many sad things to see and feel around us...) but even so... it cannot always be this way. So the above is (I hope) at least not too much about death (though I think nearly all poems touch death somewhere... don't they?). I suppose this one started because a lot of people I know are turning 50 this year (my turn in a few months) so I am at that thinking-about-time-passing stage a lot of the time, it is unavoidable. Mostly I think we are just all lucky to still be here in whatever form we have arrived. Oh and people keep posting old music on facebook... and that kind of thing. So here you are - thoughts on pausing and the past and what-not. Happy Friday.

Photo is of abandoned bus stop up at the former Sunnyside hospital (photo taken end July this year). The site has been sold recently so I guess this bus stop's days are numbered.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Stories Untold

So, it's August, halfway through already, and here in Scotland that means the schools go back soon (very soon... tomorrow in fact). As usual I have done little-to-no writing over the summer (family business, lots to do, some of it involving doing as little as possible...) but as it happened I was more than happy to leave the poem in my last post as my statement for the summer, if you like. News moves so quickly but poetry doesn't have to. The death that prompted that poem (the murder of Jo Cox) still happened. It is still shocking.

Today I have something a little more cheerful to mention however. Another poem of mine (written quite a long time ago, 2006, on a postcard here) has made it into the world of music (well done, clever poem). In particular the poem 'Significant other deceased' (poem itself not cheerful, obviously, written after reading an article about victims of the London bombings in 2005) is now part of the marvellous thing that is track 4 on the album pictured above - 'Untold Stories' by the very lovely and talented Scottish songwriter and musician Kim Edgar. The album launch was this Saturday (just gone) in Edinburgh and you can now buy the album via Kim's website, even though official release is in September. The site also has info about Kim, all her gig dates and so on. It is a brilliant album (as are all her three solo albums) and I cannot recommend her work highly enough (which makes it all the more exciting to be a tiny part of the latest album). Other names that appear in the writing credits for 'Untold Stories' are Karine Polwart, JΓΌrgen Treyz and Gudrun Walther but most of the writing is Kim's own (and the singing, and the piano playing... and a fair bit more besides... like the stunning cover photography). The launch was in Stockbridge Parish Church in Edinburgh and the stage just before Kim came on looked like this:

There was a full house, a warm, friendly audience to match the artist herself and some absolutely precious sounds and expressions of love and care and hope (and a raffle with allotment vegetables). I haven't had many big wow moments in my writing 'career' really (though I did get an encouraging word from Michael Marra after I read a poem at a gig he was headlining some years ago... I've lived off that for a while!) but this was a pretty special night (for everyone there but certainly for me). Happy sigh.

Monday, 27 June 2016



She was not your enemy,
Not if you had thought about it
For longer than a minute,
Or had lifted your eyes
From the sites online,
Where every word is a knife
In some soul’s back.
Or worse.

She was not your enemy.
She was a classic striver,
Little person, big ambition,
Trying to make things better,
To help all people
(For we are all people)
Go forward to a place,
Where we all might survive.

She was not your enemy.
And even before
You set off down that hill,
You were jailed already,
In a past that never was,
Locked into a greatness,
That was simply not great,
Not for most of us.

No, in those great times
You would have dripped away,
In a trench, or other hole,
Some paupers’ prison.
You would have dreamed maybe,
Of a liberal do-gooder,
Who might fight for your rights,
For your tiny life.

You would have longed,
Don’t you see,
For someone like her,
Someone who gave a damn.
And in another trial,
Through different eyes,
She would have been your salvation,
Not your enemy.

RF 2016

The news, as ever, comes thick and fast and in amongst it all a woman died in Yorkshire on 16th June. We lived in that area, her constituency, for a few years a decade or so ago and maybe for this reason her loss is large in my mind even with all the other news that is flying about (some sad, some distressing, some confusing, some exciting... such is news, generally speaking). Her name has been in the news (and will continue to be there somewhere I am sure) and there will be other poems (by laureates and such) but for now, here is my offering. And a picture of the sky because right now I couldn't think what else to show next to a poem about someone being murdered in the street.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016



Partly I just like the feel of it,
It makes me a man,
Little else does that.

I like its shape, its strength,
What it says to people,
Fear me.

And I am scrawny and ugly,
And nothing you care about,
But you know my name,


RF 2010

I wrote this poem for the online Poetry Bus back in 2010. It seemed at least a little relevant this week, if not every week. Sad story follows sad story.

The photo is from a visit to Crosby last year where we saw the Antony Gormley work 'Another Place'. 

I'm working on putting together a little book/pamphlet (my first since 2008's 'More about the song') so I've been looking through poems, deciding which deserve a bit more of a push (and which should be hidden forever!). This poem, for example, is a maybe (I have several categories - probably, maybe, maybe maybe... and so on). I have a title for the project though so part of the way there...

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Pencils and pens

A case

When you died
I cried so much
And so hard
That I wore
A groove in myself.

It was a hollow pipe,
The line inside,
Like the one
In a pencil,
That has lost its lead.

No wonder 
So few words came
For all that time;
Though good things happened,
And the rest.

Now I work more
Like a pen again.
Blue-black marks
Come scratching
From an inky vein.


Photo was taken May 2016 (six years after my Mum died). This new poem makes me think of this (much more cheerful) song. Am I the only one who sings the refrain at the end as "vegetables, I got my baaaaaaby"?

Thursday, 2 June 2016

City girl again

So, a long time ago I wrote a poem called 'City girl'. You can read it here. Recently it was used as the starting point for a piece of... dance music (and I'm not talking a light waltz). The artist is a mysterious Dark Web and you can hear the track here. There are three versions (original, original with one mild rude word removed and 2 am mix - i.e. remixed and faster with less words). As these 3 tracks are on bandcamp you can listen a few times (3 I think) and then it will 'prompt you to buy' (if you want to). After a break of nearly 20 years I think I am finally ready for loud pounding house music again. Well, now and again... when I'm not napping...

Sunday, 15 May 2016

About the toon

This is very new... prompted by finally watching the last part of BBC Scotland's 'The Promised Land' just recently (I didn't know it was going to be ALL about Montrose and its early twentieth century cultural clout...) and probably by the upcoming music festival MoFest here too (photo from a couple of years ago above). I've posted the words written below but I have a simple tune for it (and I quite like the chorus - listen here, it's just me singing... into the phone, one take, don't judge me). I'm never very good at differentiating verses from chorus and tend to use about three notes (and I've never claimed to be a singer...) but maybe a local songwriter (or two) can do something interesting with it (2 weeks till MoFest... high street ready by then... loads of time...). It could possibly take more Scotification - I have used bits of Scots and some local references but I'm sure others more local than me might be able to do more. It could certainly be sung with a more local sound than mine!

Non-Scots should note that 'stay' is used in Scotland where others would use 'live' (as in 'where do you stay?'). I am using 'stay' in both senses in this, kind of blended really. I snuck in a 'bide' (also a type of 'stay') at the last minute too. 'Close' is another double meaning - here 'closes' are the alleys /courtyards between houses (very much a feature of central Montrose).



I live in a little town,
It picks me up
And it slows me down.
I stay in a little town,
Aye, I stay…

Watch tides, at the waterside,
Sea sure for its share,
River fights, its course to keep,
Gulls float, going nowhere.


Flat lands, green against the blue,
Long days, long beaches,
Hearts wake, for a golden day,
What that might teach us.


Bide, close, can you hear the words?
Poets past, modelled faces,
Tall street singing high above,
These are our places.


RF 2016

Sunday, 8 May 2016


Yes, another window photo. And, lo, another poem.


She’s in a pocket;
Tucked in, safe hole,
Whatever rains,
It doesn’t reach her,
She hides her stupid head,
Pulls up her stupid knees,
Makes like a circle.

Hard times come round;
They knock, knock, knock,
They pull and push.
Her view is simple.
She waits them out,
The rips and stones,
Disguised as nothing.

RF 2016

Thursday, 24 March 2016

This year's fears

This year’s fears

So some of us are scared of airports;
The flatness of them,
The waiting,
The type of possibilities.

Also tunnels;
Smoky, dark tunnels,
Where there should be light,
And air.

Some of us fear forgetfulness;
Being useless,
Not helping,
Letting the rest of us down.

‘The rest of us’ fear night and day,
That nothing will ever be right again,
That ‘home’ and ‘safe’ are old words,
For other people.

And some of us are just scared;
That soon even fear will disappear,
That it is nearly over,
Whatever it was.

RF 2016

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Simply this

What we want

Just to get on with things,
ordinary things,
exceptional things.

To take an unmolested walk,
or to the floor,
or our own time.

We want to be somebody,
and so do you,
you want that too.

RF 2016

I posted this elsewhere the other day - one of those places where things move quickly and you don't even get to be fish and chip paper afterwards. Here it can live a little longer... maybe till it gets to be a postcard or something. There are a lot of 'we's, and a lot of 'you's.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Visits past

Photo by Mark Stephenson

So, a few years ago, around this time of year, we were in Vermont (details here if you want them). I was reminded of this yesterday, thumbing through a book of Robert Frost poems that I found lying, unloved, in one of the many piles of books that clutter this house. I studied Frost at school, have even written a poem that mentions him before (back here, now a little altered) but now I have a new one (below). Well, a draft anyway.

Just recently I have been reading (via daughter) the Jackie Kay poems that she is studying in school. I know some people probably manage to take in nothing from the poetry that they are exposed to at school but for others these poems can be life-changing, mind-enhancing. You may not realise this at the time of course!

Bennington, Vermont (2011)

It is a crisp day,
Suitably Frostian.
A March Sunday,
New England,
History in the air.

In the graveyard
There are pointers
Only to your name.
Who else has that?
You’ve arrived, they say.

We walk on grass,
Visit a white church.
School poetry,
That old uncle,
Whispers in my ear.

RF 2016

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Back on blog

Haven't done this for ages... blog that is. It feels weird.

Another thing I haven't done much of late is write poems... but here is one. May it be of interest to somebody.

Peace out

I do not google myself.
These days I am happier viewing others
who just happen to share a same name
(this name and that, and even the other).

I study their grand achievements:
doctors of psychiatry, literature,
an author of children’s books,
and whilst there was a time
I would have felt pressure,
disappointment and even a sense of shame,
I think that nonsense has finally blown away
and now, on some possibly insane level,
I just feel pride in their names.
Call me ridiculous.

I mean - look at this one:
Professor of cultural something or another,
Producer of academic tomes,
and, with the inevitable Fox/Quaker connections,
Promoter of peace to boot.
What a woman.

Today it feels enough, more than that,
that they are doing it,
that they are all so hard at work;
neat army of busy minds.
And me? What of the messy mes?
We just potter about quietly,
no need to panic,
for there are safe hands,
somewhere else,
getting important things done.

RF 2016