r2vyln3rdioj14u-rld0ska where mountains meet the sea: July 2016


Bealach meaning the pass as in mountain pass, filmed in the area called bealach na ba (the pass of the cattle) an old drovers road. The pass a journey to home a steep challenge having to go against the flow, the land never changes it's the same today as for the eighteenth century highlander, secure the country's future as we are merely custodians of this ancient land. The reference to the sheathing of the sword depicting that the pen is mightier than the sword, contemporary times merely need ink not blood to achieve independence. Craig Mackay

Bealach na Bà



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Plodda Falls

Snails...and more so Slugs

They came out in the dusk.
It was not easy to walk,
even on stone,
without crudely smashing
some spiralling shell.

we trailed with our torches
inspecting young plants,
shone beams on snails,
considering them.

Night upon night
we tipped slugs from leaves
brought them in cartons,
antlers astir, to forage
in wilder greenery.

Laughable folly,
futile as hope:
dahlias and asters
stricken by morning
were sullied to rags.

To try beer
seemed the optional, half
moral strategy: let them
choose to get drunk,
topple and drown.

We expected, of course,
the first squeamish guilt:
heavy slugs
lay like whales
wrecked by disaster.

Then rank after days
the death trays were cleared,
odd-sized shreds
of discoloured rubber.

Now big winds
blow through the trees.
The reddened brambles
gleam with black.
Our summer has come to little.

Madeline Munro (d. 8 June 2016)


Let’s blether about doors.
Revolving doors and sliding doors;

Half-opened, half-closed:
The door with your name on it,

The heavy one - hard to open.
The one you walked out when your heart was broken,

The one you walked in as you came to your profession
(And the tiny door when you made your confession)

The school door at the end of a lesson,
(Yes, Shut the door in Gaelic is duin an doras!)

The wee door on your doll’s House, or
Ibsen’s Nora’s door, or Chekhov’s Three Sisters’

Doors imagined by writers the world over - Proust.
And the chickens coming home to roost!

Or Chris Guthrie’s open heart at the end of Sunset Song
Or the step left when the house is gone, the haw.

The door to the stable, bolted after the horse left,
Not Tam O’Shanter’s tail-less horse!

The one that shut suddenly behind you
Banged by a violent wind,

The painted red door code for asylum seeker,
The X that says Plague or Passover

The one turned into a boat to cross the ever-widening waters.
The North seas and the Aegean, reminders

Of the people cleared off their land, out their crofts
To whom the sea was their threshold - on, off.

Take the big key and open the door to the living, breathing past
The one you enliven over and over,

To the ship’s port, or the house of the welder;
To the library door of Donald Dewar.

Then picture yourself on the threshold,
The exact moment when you might begin again,

A new sitting, new keys jingle possibilities.
Hope comes with a tiny Greyfriar’s Bobby key ring.

Then come through the door to this Parliament, new session!
Pass round the revolving door (change in the revolutions,

In 360 degrees) – Take in the mirrored opposites:
The Dutch Gables, the cross step Gables…

Here - rising out of the sloping base of Arthur’s Seat
Straight into this City, a city that must also speak

For the banks and the braes, munros, cairns, bothies
Songs, art, poems, art, stories,

(And don’t forget the ceilidhs – who doesnie love a ceilidh? Heuch!)
A city that remembers the fiddlers of Shetland and Orkney
The folk of Colonsay, Bute, and Tiree
The Inner and Outer Hebrides, the glens and the Bens

The trees and the rivers and the burns and the lochs and the sea lochs
(And Nessie!)

The Granite City and Dumfries and Galloway
The Dear green place and Dundee

Across the stars and the galaxy,
The night sky’s tiny keys, the hail clanjamfarie!

Find here what you are looking for:
Democracy in its infancy: guard her

Like you would a small daughter
And keep the door wide open, not just ajar,

And say, in any language you please, welcome, welcome
To the world’s refugees.

Scotland’s changing faces – look at me!!
Whose birth mother walked through the door

Of a mother and baby home here
And walked out of Elsie Inglis hospital without me.

My Makar, her daughter, Makar
Of Ferlie Leed and gallus tongues.

And this is my country says the fisherwoman from Jura.
Mine too says the child from Canna and Iona.

Mine too say the Brain family.
And mine! says the man from the Polish deli

And mine said the brave and beautiful Asad Shah.
Me too said the Black Scots and the red Scots

Said William Wallace and Mary Queen of Scots.
Said both the Roberts and Muriel Spark.

Said Emile Sandé and Arthur Wharton.
Said Ali Smith and Edwin Morgan.

Said Liz Lochhead, Norman and Sorley
And mine said the Syrian refugee.

Here we are in this building of pure poetry
On this July morning in front of her Majesty.

Good Day Ma’am, Ma’am Good Day.
Good morning John and Helen Kay -

Great believers in democracy.
And in gieing it laldy.

Our strength is our difference.
Dinny fear it. Dinny caw canny.

It takes more than one language to tell a story, (Gaelic)
Welcome (Cantonese)
One language is never enough (Ewe)
Welcome (Polish)
It takes more than one language to tell a story (Hindi)
Welcome (Punjabi)
One language is never enough (French)
Welcome (Gaelic again)
It takes more than one tongue to tell a story (Doric)
Welcome (Syrian)
Welcome (Igbo)
Welcome (German)
Welcome (Italian)
It takes more than one language to tell a story (Urdu)

C’mon ben the living room.
Come join our brilliant gathering.

Jackie Kay, from the Opening Ceremony of the Scottish Parliament, 2 July 2016


Well my heart’s in the Highlands gentle and fair
Honeysuckle blooming in the wildwood air
Bluebelles blazing where the Aberdeen waters flow
Well my heart’s in the Highland
I’m gonna go there when I feel good enough to go

Windows were shakin’ all night in my dreams
Everything was exactly the way that it seems
Woke up this morning and I looked at the same old page
Same ol’ rat race
Life in the same ol’ cage

I don’t want nothing from anyone, ain’t that much to take
Wouldn’t know the difference between a real blonde and a fake
Feel like a prisoner in a world of mystery
I wish someone would come
And push back the clock for me

Well my heart’s in the Highlands wherever I roam
That’s where I’ll be when I get called home
The wind, it whispers to the buckeyed trees in rhyme
Well my heart’s in the Highland
I can only get there one step at a time

I’m listening to Neil Young, I gotta turn up the sound
Someone’s always yelling turn it down
Feel like I’m drifting
Drifting from scene to scene
I’m wondering what in the devil could it all possibly mean?

Insanity is smashing up against my soul
You can say I was on anything but a roll
If I had a conscience, well, I just might blow my top
What would I do with it anyway
Maybe take it to the pawn shop

My heart’s in the Highlands at the break of dawn
By the beautiful lake of the Black Swan
Big white clouds like chariots that swing down low
Well my heart’s in the Highlands
Only place left to go

I’m in Boston town, in some restaurant
I got no idea what I want
Well, maybe I do but I’m just really not sure
Waitress comes over
Nobody in the place but me and her

It must be a holiday, there’s nobody around
She studies me closely as I sit down
She got a pretty face and long white shiny legs
She says, “What’ll it be?”
I say, “I don’t know, you got any soft boiled eggs?”

She looks at me, says, “I’d bring you some
But we’re out of ’m, you picked the wrong time to come”
Then she says, “I know you’re an artist, draw a picture of me!”
I say, “I would if I could, but
I don’t do sketches from memory”

“Well,” she says, “I’m right here in front of you, or haven’t you looked?”
I say, “All right, I know, but I don’t have my drawing book!”
She gives me a napkin, she says, “You can do it on that”
I say, “Yes I could, but
I don’t know where my pencil is at!”

She pulls one out from behind her ear
She says, “All right now, go ahead, draw me, I’m standing right here”
I make a few lines and I show it for her to see
Well she takes the napkin and throws it back
And says, “That don’t look a thing like me!”

I said, “Oh, kind Miss, it most certainly does”
She says, “You must be jokin’.” I say, “I wish I was!”
Then she says, “You don’t read women authors, do you?”
Least that’s what I think I hear her say
“Well,” I say, “how would you know and what would it matter anyway?”

“Well,” she says, “you just don’t seem like you do!”
I said, “You’re way wrong”
She says, “Which ones have you read then?” I say, “I read Erica Jong!”
She goes away for a minute
And I slide up out of my chair
I step outside back to the busy street but nobody’s going anywhere

Well my heart’s in the Highlands with the horses and hounds
Way up in the border country, far from the towns
With the twang of the arrow and a snap of the bow
My heart’s in the Highlands
Can’t see any other way to go

Every day is the same thing out the door
Feel further away then ever before
Some things in life, it gets too late to learn
Well, I’m lost somewhere
I must have made a few bad turns

I see people in the park forgetting their troubles and woes
They’re drinking and dancing, wearing bright-colored clothes
All the young men with their young women looking so good
Well, I’d trade places with any of them
In a minute, if I could

I’m crossing the street to get away from a mangy dog
Talking to myself in a monologue
I think what I need might be a full-length leather coat
Somebody just asked me
If I registered to vote

The sun is beginning to shine on me
But it’s not like the sun that used to be
The party’s over and there’s less and less to say
I got new eyes
Everything looks far away

Well, my heart’s in the Highlands at the break of day
Over the hills and far away
There’s a way to get there and I’ll figure it out somehow
But I’m already there in my mind
And that’s good enough for now

Bob Dylan, from Time Out of Mind



from Three Battles

To the 51st Division

High Wood, July-August 1916

Oh gay were we in spirit
In the hours of the night
When we lay at rest at Albert
And waited for the fight;
Gay and gallant were we
On the day that we set forth,
But broken, broken, broken
Is the valour of the North.

The wild warpipes were calling,
Our hearts were blithe and free
When we went up the valley
To the death we could not see.
Clear lay the wood before us
In the clear summer weather,
But broken, broken, broken
Are the sons of the heather.

In the cold of the morning,
In the burning of the day,
The thin lines stumbled forward,
The dead and dying lay.
By the unseen death that caught us
By the bullets’ raging hail
Broken, broken, broken
Is the pride of the Gael.

Ewart Alan Mackintosh