Featured Poem


Noo the cocks are crawin.
          Natalia, quine, your cockmaleerie’s kecklt aready,
           Justo, ma loon, your bantie’s keckl’t n aa.
Rise oot o yer bunk-beds an palliasses,
I sweir I can hear the congos waukent on the carse oot ower.
We can fuff up the kinnlin – teem oot the chanty.
           Fetch in the tilly lamp an see aa the faces.
A bothy dowg bowfit
           syne a dowg in anither but-an-ben bowfit back.
Juana, ma lass, it’s time t licht the stove.
The mirk’s aye mair fan daylicht’s on its wye.
Rise an shine, Chico. Rise an shine, Pancho.
There’s a cuddie t mount
           an a coble t caa.
Oor dreams cam atween us, reddin oot
beddin an bowsters (ilk ane in a dwaum)
           bit the rowsin gaithers aabody in.
Even noo nicht draws awa wi banshees an bogles in tow.
We’ll see the watter galyeart blue, richt noo we canna mak it oot.
An this laun wi its trees in fruct we canna see aither.
Up ye come, Pancho Nicaragua – tak hud o your machete,
there’s a hale streck o knapparts t chap –
           tak up yer machete an yer guitar.
There wis a houlat at midnicht, an a hornie owl at ane.
The nicht wint by athoot the Meen or ony sicht o Venus.
On this inch teegers set up a rowst, as yon on the coast yowl’t back. Noo the cushat’s awa – the ane that cries: Foutou. Foutou.
Eftir a bit the corbie’ll gie’s a tooteroo oot o the palm-tree.
           She’ll sing: ‘Campañero,
Aheid o the licht the shadda wings aff lik a bleedsucker.
           Up ye get, you, an you, an you! (Noo the roosters are kecklin)
          ‘Fine day. Blissins on ye!’

Noo – now; quine – girl, young woman; cockmaleerie – cockerel; kekklt – cackled; loon – boy, young man; bantie – bantam; oot – out; palliasse – stuffed mattress; sweir – swear; congos – native blacks; waukent – awake; carse – long stretch of land along a river-bank; oot ower – across; fuff up – blow on, puff; kinnlin – kindling; teem – empty out; chanty – chamber- pot; tilly lamp – oil lamp; aa – all; bothy – workers’ lodging; dowg – dog; bowft – barked; syne – then, after; but-an-ben – small, two room dwelling; licht – light; mirk – dark; mair – more; wye – way; cuddie – horse, colt; coble – row-boat; caa – propel; oor – our; cam – came; reddin – clearing, tidying; bowsters – bolsters; ilk ane – each one; dwaum – dream, reverie; rowsin – rousing, wakening; gaithers – gathers; awa – away; banshees – evil spirits; bogles – menacing ghosts; in tow – following after; galyeart – bright; richt – right; canna – cannnot; laun – land; fruct – fruit; aither – either; tak hud – take hold; hale streck – whole stretch; knapparts – bitter vetch, trailing vines; chap – chop; houlat – owl; ane – one; wint – went; Meen – the Moon; ony – any; inch – island; teegers – tigers; rowst – roar, loud call; yon fae – those from; yowlt – yelled; cushat or cooshie-doo – wood pigeon; foutou – fucked (French); efter a bit – after a bit, in a little while; corbie – raven, carrion crow; gie’s – give us; tooteroo – tooteroo; aheid – ahead, before; shadda – shade, shadow; bleed – blood; blissins – blessings.

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About the author

Original poet

Ernesto Cardenal

ERNESTO CARDENAL was born in 1925 and has served both as a Catholic priest and Minister of Culture in his native Nicaragua. He...

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Alexander Hutchison

ALEXANDER HUTCHISON wrote in English and Scots. His last collection Bones & Breath (Salt, 2013) won the inaugural Saltire...

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