Tag Archives: #poem

Scotland, Bonny Scotland

My dear friend, Erin O’Quinn, is working on the last chapters of the latest in her Nevada Highlander series, Sleeping with Danger. It’s the fourth book in this exciting story showcasing two of her most intriguing characters, Alex Dominguez, a Nevadan by birth—but who says you have to stay where you were born, eh? He’s partnered with Rory Drummond, a Scottish Laird who is as tied to his land of birth as the thistle which grows there. At the request of the local constabulary there, they are searching for a missing man, and in their search, they find an unexpected depth to the Scotland Rory has delighted in showing to his lover. Their search and the pathos of the land of my own ancestors moved me to this poem. I hope you enjoy it. [“Bean Nighe” is Scots Gaelic for “washerwoman.” She is the Scots equivalent to the Irish Banshee.]

The skirl of the bagpipes
The haunting of the moor
Call forth from lowering sky
Bean Nighe, tilting up her washing tub
To pour her grief upon the world.
There is no world but Highland.
All else can matter not
The pipes alone can call this mourning
Of a clan, of a family, of a people.
Grief is the fruit of Scotland,
Gleaned from the corners of the song
The notes that sit but are not sung
Driven downward toward the earth
By the beat of kestrel wings
To meet the purple thistle-heads
Thrust up from blood drenched soil.


By your side I will stand
When waters rise and tempest screams
When cannons hurl their hatred amongst us
When contention scrapes the top coat of consanguinity from us
When those who make bold the assertions of their crippled hearts,
When they proclaim as truth the spewings of their pustulant mouths,
When they claw away our freedom, for bondage of one is bondage of all,
When their priests affix us to their altars, splayed for the knife
By your side I will stand.
Together, unified, stitched into one flesh, one blood, one “Us”, one “We,”
Together, each hurls a clenched fist to the sky
Together we sing, we refuse to be divided
Together rainbows and black fists
Together cross and crescent
Together om and pentagram
Together, humans, The People
By your side I will stand.


Counting up and counting down the staircase goes both ways
A conveyor belt it seems for to and fro are seamless
No barriers there to force us on to where the others wait
Just on and on as Dylan said, no rest for wearied feet,
No direction home, no way to go, no relief-spawned sigh
No slate gray roof to wave us in atop the trees.
Curling in—or out, perhaps—becoming tight and tighter
Wrapping in gray concrete and strips of birch
No place to stand and stop us here.
No place to twirl the wrapping warping off
No place to call him home.


This poem was written as a sort of call and response, from two very different points of view. The lines in plain text are from the point of view of an immigrant or those who side with the immigrants in the current troubles. The lines in bold italics are written from the point of view of, or referring to, or by the followers of the POTUS. Please click on the collage to enlarge it, in order to see detail.


A lonely crowd in straggling line
With blistered feet and all
They reach out to the bounds.
We must build a wall, he said,
A big and beautiful wall
To keep them out, the Not-Like-Us,
Ayudame por favor.
Aide moi s’il vous plait
Saeiduni min fadlik.
The iron face, peached with rust
Cratered with pustules of hate
Cloaked with lying just-his-way words
Help me please, the wounded beg
Help my children, the broken sob
Help my tribe, the shattered weep.
Fear-born the spells splatter from his lips,
Echoed by his acolytes
Chanted by his sycophants
Abandoned in haste, our ways cry out
Our rites and rituals left unspoken
Scout for our absent selves
Plucked, gemstones from seething sewer
Recited from disciples’ maws
So filth from filth descends
Destruction lies behind, Unknown loiters ahead
Condemned by obscure benchmark.
Is this our always fate?
Animals, proclaimed from desecrated shrine,
Not people, by bonafide human
So proper to despise
Help me please, the wounded beg
Help my children, the broken sob
Help my tribe, the shattered weep.
Turn back, the ventriloquist forces from our laws
Flung over the wall, the big and beautiful wall
The one built in our hearts.
“Give me your tired, your poor,”
The Lady cries, pleading for their lives
And they believed and we believed.
“Give me your children,” the tyrant commands,
“And my own land, to you I say,
“Give me my way or blood be on your hands.”



Hardtack and dry bread crusts glare
From all the year-mountains and day-canyons,.
Detritus of a life that cobble together a face—
A model for protoplasm are his eyes,
Coded not simply for color, but for hiding and revealing.
Shaped by slaps and daddy-belt lashings,
Both as receiver and as bestower.
The arch of brow over the cave of unshed tears.
Scraped out cheeks, nude of beard, grizzled Keystone moustache .
Subducted chin and pendant jowl.
A life inscribed in wrinkles, there for the reading.
Who will translate?