by Bernie Bell - 07:42 on 02 December 2022

This blog is mostly poetry – starting with Bartholomew Barker’s most recent….


Watching men from Ecuador and Senegal
play football in Qatar from a bar in Ireland
this poet from the United States
acknowledges his decadence.

Fortune kissed my forehead at birth
when I came out white, straight and male
in America.

I can take my freedom for granted,
unlike my sisters in Iran
who cannot choose what they wear,
unlike my gay siblings in Qatar
who cannot share who they love,
unlike my nieces and nephews back home
who are dying in schools and bars
for my so-called freedom.

Freedom is not a gun with six bullets.
Freedom is not a bottle of wine
that empties with each glass.
Freedom is a flame.
A flame that when shared
makes the whole world
warmer and brighter.

And like those players,
running on green grass in the desert
we should each be free to pursue
our goals

but unlike at the World Cup
we can all win.




‘The rain it raineth every day

Upon the just and unjust fella

But more upon the just because

The unjust ‘nicked the just’s umbrella’


The rain is back. After a few fine days it’s been tipping down again – filling the pond and turning the road into a river.


For Yasuko and Eiji, in Orkney


I’m trying to explain ‘burn’ to Yasuko,

and its difference from ‘brook’

and their difference in turn

from ‘river’ and ‘stream’.

And she nods…


I make widths with my hands

from six feet to inches,

announcing each word,

getting carried away into

‘rivulet’, ‘brooklet’, ‘beck’, ‘rill’, and ‘ditch’

- this last between finger and thumb.

She repeats them, carefully,

but we’re still not quite there.


‘England is…?’


‘What is “burn”?’


Then I show them a photograph,

one I’d taken the other day

on a walk in the hills.

‘Ah, burn,’ she says, smiling,

and I think that we’ve got it,

we’re there.

But, ‘What’s that?’ asks Eiji.

‘That’s a track,’  I say.

‘That’s a burn, and that’s a track.’

Both blue in the February sun.

And we laugh, for the track’s

flooded with snow-melt

and yesterday’s rain…


It’s a burn.


Alistair Peebles – February 2010


Sean Batty says that after a wet November, December will turn cold.  I hope so – you can wrap up against the cold. Constant rain is just miserable.


Here’s one I made earlier….. https://theorkneynews.scot/2017/12/14/oh-christmas-tree/





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