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Back pocket




Things left behind

This selection takes a look back.
Starting with the back pocket, and "behinds" that go with them, and then into thousands of years of history, especially the Bronze Age, on the Isle of Jura - a place with many great memories.

"Heaven Forever" looks backwards and forwards, with a mathematical view on the intersection of reality with Heaven and Hell.

A Haiku (or two) to finish with...


The Back Pocket
The back pocket, though hardly
ever used, certainly improves
the look
of the rear end.
Now and then it becomes keeper
of a ticket – bus, train or concert,
then washed into a sodden lump.
A favourite place for the finger when
couples parade downtown signalling
an intimacy
where touching bottoms is OK
Put a pen in it and you’ll find it
breaks. A good place for loosing
spare change.
A golf ball? Decidedly uncomfortable.
Half used chewing gum?
Bad idea. Screws, nails and pliers?
Best leave it empty.
So what are back pockets for?
It has to be fingers – yours or mine,
and memories
of things left behind.


Eilean Diùra

The timeless Isle of Jura
Diùra in the Gaelic and originally Dyr øy in old Norse
Is a great place to trace the tracks of human history.

Stone age, Bronze age, Iron age
And more recent steps in the human endeavour are all recorded here
In stone – the whitish grey, hard and durable pre-Cambrian Quartzite.

I like the speculative notion
That Odysseus might have visited Jura, as the island of Ogygia,
And that the legendary whirlpool Charybdis was the Corryvreckan.

But there is no doubt
That Jura and the Hebridean Isles were occupied and fertile
During bronze-age Britain and at the time of the ancient Greeks.

Mesolithic flints, Neolithic burial chambers,
Bronze-age standing stones, hut circles, cists and cup-marked stones
Record an era of productive farming, fishing, religion and warfare on Jura.

The island’s crescendo came
With the Iron Age and the arrival of the Gaels – the Kingdom of Dalriada,
The incursions of the Vikings and the rule of the MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles.

The Norwegians gave up their claims
But left their names and their genes with the clansmen of the Western Isles,
Along with the tale of Prince Breakan who braved the Corryvreckan for the love
          of a local lass.

Sailors will understand how
The Lords of the Isles (Angus Og, Good John of Islay) ruled a maritime power
Using a fleet of birlinns – adapted Viking ships with a square sail, oars and a rudder.

Since those days the noble art
Of farming reached its zenith, with cattle rearing, crofting, fishing and hunting;
Up to 1300 humans, 1500 cattle and 6000 deer lived on Jura in the industrial age.

Recent times have witnessed
Emigrations to the new continents, the toll of two world wars
And George Orwell’s 1984 – a warning of a future that none of us wish for.

These then are the times of Jura;
But it took a visit to the kirk on Sunday to remind me that human endeavour
is timeless, and that compassion lasts longer than strife. Gràdh is gu bràth.




Bronze Age standing stone on the Isle of Jura, Scotland,
merged with a reconstruction of a Bronze Age roundhouse




The Nilgiris, southern India


Heaven Forever
Heaven is a parallel universe which intersects
the space-time continuum we all inhabit.
Occasionally we catch glimpses of that perfection
intersecting the here and now,
And the beauty of those intersections grows stronger
with time, although enjoyed only momentarily.
Hell also intersects our reality all too frequently
but never, by definition, simultaneously with heaven.
We inhabit the gap between heaven and hell
and call it reality – yours and mine.
The only question is the sign of the vector –
Are you heaven bound or hell bound?
It only takes a minutia of will power to flip the vector
and maintain a heaven-bound disposition,
Always attentive to those glimpses of heaven
in the now, those that were and those that will be
Enjoyed forever.

Haiku in Kyoto


Like autumn leaves my
Love falls fondly in the mud
with colourful smiles


Remembering how
you brought life to the summer
Like cherry blossom


In the tree of life
Seasons come and seasons go
like a book of leaves


Turn over the page
and come with me on the train
to old Kyoto


Leaf-strewn stone stairs in Kyoto and the Preacher's Pulpit