GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
Elspeth Brown has had several pamphlets published and two books of poetry, 'A Crab in the Moon's Mouth' Markings, and 'Skunk Cabbage', Indigo Dreams.
Particular writing interests are James Clerk Maxwell, John Muir, and Green Men.
Her play, 'The Spectrum', concerning James Clerk Maxwell, has been performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and read at the Edinburgh Science Festival.
Elspeth has been involved in Creative Writing tutoring in Edinburgh and has enjoyed reading in many venues.
Cover artwork by Ronnie Goodyer
138 x 216mm
£6.00 + P&P UK
Starling and Crane
The poems in Starling and Crane connect memory, wildlife and industrial cranes and also explores the healing power of nature.
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“With subjects ranging from industrial cranes of the docks and city to the wild birds of the seashore, these are poems to be enjoyed for their vivid observations.
Elspeth Brown has not only a wonderfully imaginative and sympathetic eye but, as in the marvellous poem about a blind woman negotiating a trip to the beach, she relishes
all the senses.
Her poems express a joyful delight in the world but are also alert to the illness and death that accompany the passage of time.”
Starling and Crane
Leith Docks, Edinburgh
Like a bird making a nest, each strut
was carried up and angled in.
Sometimes a smaller crane,
more agile than this giant,
beaked pieces up.
Now the massive cable drum,
once smoothly woven,
is stuck in track, red rusted,
fluted edge too old to turn
towards the water.
Like an exhausted pterodactyl
the working arm reaches
tall above the buildings,
abandoned in the sky,
blind to the busy dock.
At the very top, a starling
in her nest surveys the city.
The Titan Crane
You lifted engines into ships,
where rivets were hammered in,
furnace blazing, dust and smoke.
Your driver high above the ground
reading hand signals from below.
You swung towards the Clyde,
ropes steadying the bucking boat,
held like a nervous horse.
Every piece of you solid,
mechanical, reliable, redundant,
overtaken by technology,
and the shipyard’s decline.
Now you stand restored,
A defiant icon by the river.
I don’t want to write about Bass Rock
though it looms in front of me
its lighthouse tucked under its shoulder,
as I stand on the warm sand of Belhaven Bay.
I want to think about the small rocks
scattered randomly along the river.
Seaweed and moss covered,
the crumbs of a larger rock, dark and layered
like small memories that drift through a life,
sparrows, celandines, sticklebacks, field mice.
A lone gannet far from Bass Rock lands on a boulder,
swallows his fish, and rises to fly to the open sea.
An incoming tide laps on the rocks,
soon to be covered by the splash and slap of waves.
Kittiwakes on John Muir Way
Kittiwakes are restless
on the castle rocks,
shifting in their crowded nests,
flying out and back, landing
on sandstone and out again
above the fishing boats
and fierce-eyed herring gulls;
circling upward to view
the sea over the harbour wall,
their round eyes fixed
on the route to the horizon.
Walkers below feel unsettled,
a nomadic instinct stirs,
a wild desire for change
flits through a few staid souls
before they walk back home,
perhaps to plan a holiday,
rearrange their house,
or fill a backpack,
tie on mug and metal plates,
don anorak and walking shoes
and take the John Muir Way.
She follows the first swallow through the glen.
Knows he has found his way from Africa.
She’s not exactly lost, misplaced,
the path is somewhere here or there.
The trees have changed alignment.
The river rushes out of sight
flowing past a stagnant pool.
Grey light suggests day.
No sun to show the hour,
it could be any day in spring,
yes spring, scent of coconut,
yellow flowers, maybe gorse?
Nothing is clear or understood,
yet she melds into the habitat.
Surely a route will become clear
among the uncurling ferns.
A mud clarted path is entangled with weeds.
She settles among celandines in the haar.
Wonders will she recognise the first swallow’s
red cap and bib in next year’s spring?
Each of us holds a locked razor…
‘Waking in the Blue’ by Robert Lowell
Do all of us hold a locked razor,
a hidden anger we keep within?
We hide this worm in the bud
with petals of peace, mostly
we flower lopsided, incomplete.
With luck a blackbird pecks
the worm from our flower’s core
before we darken with disease.
Some nurture the worm and turn
their rage on man. Feel the need
to spew detritus out on film
and point their razor at the world;
a killing frenzy with knife and gun.
More sorrow, they are someone’s son.