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A Dounfaw by Frank McHugh

17th August 2020

Frank McHugh writes poetry in both Scots and English as well as songs and plays. His poetry has been widely published, including in Acumen Poetry, New Writing Scotland, Gutter Magazine, The Glasgow Review of Books, SurVision and The Poet’s Republic.

His interest in poetry was ignited and fuelled by Philip Hobsbaum’s encouragement at the University of Glasgow to whom, like so many others, he owes a debt of gratitude. For a couple of decades, he read and stashed everything he wrote in a wicker box. In 2016, he felt inexplicably compelled to start writing in earnest and has just kept going.

He is a teacher out of necessity, a poet out of compulsion and plays drums for fun. He lives on the beautiful Ayrshire Coast.

A Dounfaw

for reasons a still canny faddom
a hid oot for a fortnicht ablo the big Ayrshire sky
sleepin amang pyramids o whisky barrels,
                    fillt an stackit in aye-decreasin circles,


thoosans o doverin futur memories
lyin caum an coolin in their widdy deprivation kists
                              tae be sirpelt fae the best glesses
fillin guidveins wi flicht, saucht, and sleep.


                     in the mirk-daurk ah wid speak in rouns
tae this whisky
it spak back
                                     in a quate, echaey lammervyce


ah leart there is a dale o the bree born tae fuel auld sangs
which will be distilled by wirds, time an alchemy
back intae the riven watters o its birth


ah leart tae that certain draps are tirren, haud strouth,
thrab wi fire and beatins and can walk throu waws:
the measin sherry and wice-heid of aik huv nae impact oan thaim.


                                 ilka mornin a watcht the riddenin sun blink
through the braeset folly, lichtenin a paraud o fa’en angels -
                                 Bukowski-faced an vauntie as Icarus -
                            wha wad each gollop a waucht o this bad bluid,
haud it in their mooths lik snake pushion
soar, an spit it oot intae the assoilyin watter o the lochan.


wance, at nichtfaw, I fund wan o them deein in the lang gress
                                                  the face hidden but no blank
                                  awbeit the expression cam fae ither lyre,
the backbane hud a deep rid sab coorsin through its chennels
the feathers maistly inveesible, broke and presst intae the glaur,
                                   had nae fleein, nae beatin in their vanes.