Scottish Lighthouse Poems

In 2008 I was commissioned by the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses in Fraserburgh to write a book of poems about lighthouses in Scotland. This was a subject close to my heart as I had already written some poems on the subject. It was these poems that got me the gig. Anyway I got to research in the museum's archives and those of the Signal Tower museum in Arbroath. I also travelled around and visited as many of the accessible lights as I could. In 2010 Scottish Lighthouse Poems was published.

The book contains an exploration of places where lighthouses are as well as of what they mean and some of the stories and culture that is associated with them. The book also contains some pictures I took while out and about. The whole project has been great fun. I am still nominally the writer in residence for the museum.

night: (time at the light)

(Ardnamurchan Lighthouse)
(a ruddy gem of changeful light bound on the dusky brow of night. Walter Scott 1814)

most west most west
all night if you wanna
twice every 20
goes on like a mantra

step by step
we're climbing the spiral
we're climbing the spiral
there's a star at the top

comfort: excitement
mackerel: la Luna
silver: dark crimson
draws perfect circles

* * *

trippers and dippers
anglers, tanglers
stragglers, fuck-ups
'compass them all...

songs of Atlantic
song to the siren
stretched into midnight
stretched beyond land

* * *

there used to be foghorns
there used to be mermaids
there used to be keepers
up there with the light

tankers and tugboats
humpback and whalers
cool navigation
no beaching no beaching

* * *

if you come here at midnight
it's something important
it's childhood fireworks
it's Custer's last stand

it's succour it's rescue
it's virile it's upright
it shows no emotion...

...but deep down it's love

* * *

(like the Bell Rock and Flugga
the Longstone and Skerries
Cromarty, Cape Wrath
and the mighty Bass Rock)

fanfares from trumpets
it's brave Ardnamurchan
it's a light in the darkness
it's hope, it's redemption

* * *

most west most west
all night if you wanna
twice every 20
goes on like a mantra

step by step
we're climbing the spiral
we're climbing the spiral
there's a star at the top


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