Harpoon spires, coal smoke, iron rustbucket,
daylight’s bright fine gold, cranny of the South.
Judgement’s dungeon cell, lost hospital maze,
tiny ark with cabinets of curiosities padlocked.
The lone piper able to bring the young running
the nexus of street veins to the octagonal heart.
Then submarine arcades, fleets of wooden shops,
sell-out sermons on oyster saloons ready to open.
But between pipe skirls and wool skeins stands a
boil-in-the-bag city, whose teaspoon-tinkle stanzas
announce fine china cups are running over absently,
populace gone in search of oats and possum stew.
Who’ll buy clay chamberpots, a weighing machine?
If buildings are porridge-coloured, eminent stone,
go down into the catacombs: there the dead snore.
The gannet colony’s a rest home, sounding out oracles.
Repeat the series of thirty-nine steps after Cargill,
from his named summit, street, monument, corner,
and watch last Century wash up in cinema lacework.
Ironmonger’s nails swapped for a sack of earth that’s
sewn into a uniform riding through Canongate.
Under a shirt of frosty stars, the kilted hills.
An eight-sided poem spiders the crystal screen:
hail to the ears, the whole town gets up and cheers.
Lines at Wharf’s End
Summer’s evening gown ruffles gold silk;
saxophones of stars tilt;
surf ebbs, and beach guitars plink;
conch shells of cloud squeal to pink;
breezes trumpet the sun’s farewell;
a flagging cabbage tree rustles its leaves;
night throbs on rusty reefs of roofs;
marimbas of town lights melt towards overseas.