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Published December 28, 2018

Poetry by Alun Robert
(Rochester, England)

A Former Resident of Scotland

Departing Greenock
Rock Of Cromarty
Rutland Square

Departing Greenock

by
Alun Robert

Rolls out of the Hi’lands,
passes Dumbarton at dawn.
Follows the foggy Clyde with
sirens screeching non-stop.
Crosses at Erskine Ferry,
Father driving north west.
Auntie Annie shaking.
Craven ‘A’ calming nerves.

Rain, cold, miserable early
morning for this is mid August.
Dropping Auntie Annie alone
on the quayside at Greenock.
Wish her “Bon voyage!” as
she embarks the ocean liner
travelling First Class so lackeys
hump Louis Vuitton, and scrape.

Fo’c’sle up in the heavens
praying for a smooth crossing.
Lifeboats proud on davits -
hoping they’re not needed.
Steam oozes over gunwales.
Pennants flutter in the breeze.
Passengers on the decks
waving, blowing down kisses.

Engines growl like a mongrel pack
while funnels omit toxins
carried by the prevailings off
towards regal Helensburgh.
Commotion all around
with wet and dry cargo
wheeled up gang planks
to an orchestra of whistles.

Out to an America where
they’ve colour telly, Father says.
People talk different -
at least they do in the pictures.
And we’ve been here for ages.
Father looks at his Half Hunter.
“Departing soon son,”
with indications ubiquitous.

Then kilties’ pipes start to skirl,
must be ten bearskins or more,
to the beat of a bass drum
thump, thump, thump.
For the noise is overpowering
with fremescence at echo.
Ropes relieved from capstans.
Screws kicking up a tsunami.

One long blast from the horn
scatters gulls in all directions.
Excitement, trepidation
on quay and on board
where Auntie Annie postures
with masses underside her
sobbing in unison.
We reciprocate down here.

Just like our forefathers
when the Hi’lands were cleared.
Liners out from Greenock.
Families decimated in
the name of greater profit
aided by factors without scruples
providing descendents with funds
to sail First Class to America.



Rock Of Cromarty

by
Alun Robert

Devonian,
givetian,
millbuie red sandstone.
Unconsolidated,
finely grained,
interbedded with grey mudstone.
Clastic sedimentary,
pervious,
imperious
when crafted by stone mason
artisans of Cromarty.

Sparkling,
glistening
after copious amounts of rain
for it does in perpetuity
at confines of Cromarty.
Weather-beaten,
eroded,
formed into muckle boulders,
contorted into wee pebbles
across the crooked bay,
on the foreshore,
next beaches,
on farmland,
in verdant copse
as far as Dornoch and Dingwall.

Abstract,
beautiful
when carved by stone sculptors
(climatic and humanoid).
Adored by painters,
by artists,
by artisans,
by partisans bedecked
in their family traditions.

Cocooned deep inside
fossilised ammonite,
fossilised placodermi,
posing in nodules
awaiting release
after epochs alone.

Inspiration for writers,
base fodder for makars,
for vernacular rock musicians
(aka those who run rigs)
and those a tad gentler
en pursuit of utopia
from the residue of Mother Nature.
In the Hi’lands.
In Cromarty.



Rutland Square

by
Alun Robert

Stood
listened
mesmerised
transfixed to the spot
on the kerb edge
with Mother and sibling
at Rutland Square
in the West End
as Mary Dunlop
with pony Smokey
and barrel organ ground out
tune after tune
then moved off towards
Lothian Road
negotiating potholes
avoiding the traffic
not that there was much
apart from Corporation buses,
the odd jalopy
and carts fully laden
with coal sacks or groceries
to restock corner shops

for this was Edinburgh
in the early forties
as recalled by me
in my early seventies
back at Rutland Square
with it’s hustle and racket
without Mary Dunlop,
her pony and organ
without Mother and sibling
who I miss desperately
and without tranquillity
that I yearn but
transfixed to the spot
on the kerb edge
morose
listless
still.


Biography
Born in Scotland of Irish lineage, Alun Robert is a prolific creator of lyrical
verse and has achieved success in poetry competitions. Recently, he has
featured in literary magazines, anthologies and on the web. His influences
extend from Burns to Shakespeare, Kipling to Betjeman, Dennis to Mazzoli.

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