Thursday, 24 August 2017

Branded











The names of our places, filched,
they sealed our lips in secrecy,
insisted on sworn oaths
and, by our obedience, bound us
to their scheme of things.

     Culloden
     …on both sides, clans, brother against brother,
     some say, for honour to survive, otherwise 
     in factions under orders from their betters
     five hundred miles away; the same sly lords 
     wrestled for bloodless advantage, spilling blood, 
     but not their own.

The cloth we wore, stripped away,
an offence, they said, against the king,
our distant cousin, a prisoner himself
of finery and high position; God, they told us,
was with him, not us; bow down, kneel, they said,
go home to harvest your sparse and fruitless crops.

     Glencoe
     …home of black betrayal; for want of fealty 
     to the lords, for that token obesiance,
     deceit and death fell on the innocents 
     and those too proud to bow down.

Our tongues and the words upon them, cut out
so we would be dumb and could no more say
what was in our hearts nor read the names
our footsteps wrote in the despair of our retreating.

     Bannockburn
     …armies in a field of blood, a nation risen again,
     its subjugation, the vexatious substance of battle,
     and the line stood, for once unbroken, 
     despite the intent to hammer dissent
     into the strewn earth like a rusty pin.

Our resistance was twisted into wild intransigence,
an they defeated us with history till we were laid low
by feud and squabble like mean and vicious fools,
like savages; for all that we placed a different honour on it.
with land beneath to stand on or lay ourselves in, living or dead.

     And now the label steals the word.
     our names are secret still, 
     not to be seen or said without consent 
     and, though the red stain is no longer blood 
     but a scrawl of pen across a legal page, 
     consent is not sought - not from the land itself, 
     nor the people on it, but only from those 
     whose ownership still compels our silence.

© BH, 2017

Then there was the NTS branding controversy in which they pursued a clothing manufacturer who had been making Glencoe outdoor wear for years. But NTS own the Glencoe name …and Culloden …and Bannockburn. To name only a few.

I thought, this is still colonialism, a colonial attitude, never mind it’s in the marketing context. It’s still about putting fences round our world and daring us no longer to cross. Because theirs is the power and the glory - not ours.

You’ll note this text has changed over time. It’s something that happens with poems. They are rewritten. Rather like our history.

Here's Brandit.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Poetic Justice














Waiting in the courtroom,
The scales from my eyes,
Fall wearily to the floor,
To the patterned blue carpet
In this wood-panelled room,
Where the benches, like pews,
Are hard under the thin cushions.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Pigment























Blue: definition of mood; a celestial hue to counterpoint clouds; something green is made from; the effect of light in air.

I lay on the mirrorless tarmac
After a long night,
And the stars gave way to morning.
I framed a hapless question:
‘Why does it do this?
Why have sky at all?
Where do all those cold points go,
Those cold places,
Those remote and nightless suns?
Why am I come so low?’

Viridians














Green: grass and leaf before winter, blue contained by yellow, the eyes’ jealousy;

Somewhere the colour of heaven gave way
To shades of envy, and the sea refracted its passing
Over sand and shadowed shallows; currents drew aside
The mermaids’ hair in the rip tide’s rolling.

Lake of Fear














(Lacus Timoris)

Convections of disaster lift the smoke from ashen pyres;
Dust falls out of the clouds, scatters the pulverised earth.