HUGH MCMILLAN is a poet from Penpont in south west Scotland who has been widely collected and anthologised. His latest collection ‘The Conversation of Sheep’, a collaboration with shepherd Michael Robertson, was published by Luath in 2018. He is currently collaborating with artist Robert Campbell Henderson on a video collage and art/poetry exhibition based on the utopian 18th century Scottish religious cult the Buchanites, entilted ‘Elspeth Buchan and the Blash o God’.


Watching Andy Goldsworthy being collected in a taxi

The cutting edge of poetry
or maybe in fact the slightly
corroded bit of a blunt fork,
the tine – that’s it, I am the blunt

tine of poetry – is onerous:
there are painful bus rides
through parts of Lanarkshire
and buying pints at Edinburgh

prices. Then what happens,
how I do not completely know,
is being stuck in Lockerbie,
that town and also state of mind,

in a rain swept street
while the young folk
crowd the chip shops and
sing in beautiful raucousness

their plans for love.
My love is not here.
The paving stones and slate
are jet black, gleaming.

Such depths I see in them
and the wash of disappearing
cars and the hard congealing
sky, my land, my life.



My Mother’s Kitchen

At the dead of night
I walk through the ghost
of my mother’s house,
from the gap between the front
doors where still in my dreams
I pick up post, to the boils
of sagging plaster upstairs.

Some rooms are solid enough
but all are stuck for some
indefinable reason at particular
times, at points on my clock.
My mother’s kitchen is the shade
of five o clock, clothes are on the pulley
on a high ceiling.

Beside the broken range
is a cooker and on that,
a pot of broth.
I see the ham bone seething in it,
I smell the barley. I am hoping
for some hard peas.
It is after school,

Winter, and I am home
for soup. Try as I might,
and I do try, I can’t see my mother,
there is only ever the room,
the cupboard,
the rich clouds of steam,
the clothes moving slightly

above my head,
she is never there,
not in front of the cooker
or the window where there is
moss and rain and beyond that
always, the shape of a Dumfries
trembling in vagueness like want.



The Supply Teacher’s Last Lesson

Independent variables
are ones you use
to see the effects on
dependent variables,

the ones tested.
Look again at
the PowerPoint
and the worksheets

which have examples
from Star Wars
designed specially
to interest you.

No I do not know who
Moff Wilhuff Tarkin is.
Let us imagine
instead that I open

this drawer and there
is a jar of tablets
which I think
could make us fly

from the top of this
1960s tower
vibrating in the wind
like a sore tooth.

I give half of you
the pills and half of you,
the control group,
some sweeties

then we launch off the roof
which is flat concrete,
the odd puddle but
a perfect runway overlooking

the sorry wet fields of our
mothers, the long rows
of houses uniformly grey
apart from those splashed

by emulsion from vigilante groups.
I strain my eyes against
clouds gathering dark as bacon.
Is my hypothesis good?

Are we flying at last,
my broken theories?


All works published by the Glasgow Review of Books are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and the journal reserves the right to be named as place of first publication in any citation. Copyright remains with the poet.


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The Glasgow Review of Books (ISSN 2053-0560) is an online journal which publishes critical reviews, essays and interviews as well as writing on translation. We accept work in any of the languages of Scotland – English, Gàidhlig and Scots.

We aim to be an accessible, non-partisan community platform for writers from Glasgow and elsewhere. We are interested in many different kinds of writing, though we tend to lean towards more marginal, peripheral or neglected writers and their work. 

Though, our main focus is to fill the gap for careful, considered critical writing, we also publish original creative work, mostly short fiction, poetry and hybrid/visual forms. 

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