6 American Sentences from July

a pine above the car park first the male and then the female blackbird

cyclists in lycra all along the towpath the scent of cow parsley

late sunlight on the surface of the canal the splash of a swallow

red spots on a yellow leaf beside the bramble flowers, lit by sun

bird seed, pigeons and a pair of jackdaws in Bathgate, Sunday morning

Whitburn Cross roadworks again and again the swoop of a house martin

13 July reflections

a day rich with summer
I fear the paleness of my offering:
the downy feathers of a fledging magpie,
a flock of starlings swooping flight,
the flatness of a rabbit’s ears, watchful as I pass,
late afternoon sun on the lines of farm worked fields,
teenage laughter hunting a football on the workplace roof,
the wayside splashed with purple, the season of self-heal:

was this really all there was?

all day
this richness
this all that there was

12 July

misty morning by the war memorial the scent of summer roses

colourless morning the swagger of a jackdaw down the road

outside the office window all day the whine of a chainsaw

all day in the office I touch the petals of an artificial rose

too tired to write the way the light falls on a sleeping cat

dusk under streetlight the rumble of our neighbours’ bins

11 July

4am glow of the numbers on the clock crawling towards morning

supermarket trollies in the rough ground by the stream so much purple loosestrife

out for a sandwich once again this young rabbit watching on the path

the way back from Lidl counting six red spots on the wings of a burnet moth

looking skywards for the hint of a poem the outline of the wings of a gull

slowing down for an unknown bird nothing but the white on black of a magpie

10 July

mist on a cobweb in early July the promise of autumn

soft grey waters of the Clyde the clatter of the gangplank for the morning boat

still waters of the Clyde the wingtips of the cormorants barely skimming the surface

low level cloud the flash of white on the wings of a guillemot

evening crossing the sky over Arran the way the heart swells with gratitude

evening boat the outlines of the hills beyond the mist at the Holy Loch

9 July

down the road for a pint of milk the whiteness of these gulls against the grey sky

soft drizzle on the pavement the bones of a young bird

packing boxes the cat’s watchful eyes from the back of the wardrobe

drizzly morning three women in pink jackets and a red umbrella

rainy July morning the whiteness of the bramble flowers curled round a lampost

wood pigeon in the distance again and again this quiet Sunday

8 July

pausing for a moment the ruffled feathers of a blackbird, with a worm

somewhere between peach and apricot the colour of the underside of all these swallows

watching the shape of the swallow’s tail a sudden flock of starlings

just a youngster in the tractor mowing the field and four swallows round and around

almost lost in the shade-light of the river under trees, the sudden movement of a wren

the blueness of the sky in the breeze above the field this blackbird song


7 July

grey July morning the comfort of steam rising from my tea cup

somewhere behind the veil a bird cheeping in purple buddleia

the weight of the clouds above Edinburgh the raucous laughter of gulls

all day chasing anxiety the scent of roses by the war memorial

behind the hoardings at India Quay three large magpies on a patch of wasteground

scraping for poems in the wasteground the flash of a goldfinch


6 July

three used teaspoons on the counter their light glinting

another heavy grey morning the softness of its rain on my fingers

driving home to The World At One so much sadness under these swallows’ tails

the manse through raindrops on the skylight for a moment just impressions of brown

bare branches of a dead tree at the field edge a gathering of crows

washing raspberries I hold the wetness of the water in my hands

5th July

first morning back the way the sky pulses with blackbird song

boys carrying chips the gull circles over and again

approaching Lidl the six spot burnets on ragwort

gathering small stones the way this bee in the ragwort

driving to work the mystery again of this tree tunnel, and a white van

walking back behind a gull the way it swaggers