WEEP & BE NOURISHED: Three Poems by David Kinloch.

We’re pleased to publish this selection of poems from Greengown: New and Selected Poems by David Kinloch. You can read Mandy Haggith’s full review of David’s book, here on our site.


Hush-a-baa or huzziebaw: a lullaby from the verb to huzzh. S. Pron with so strong a sibillation that it cannot properly be expressed in writing. Clips attached to the H and W enable you to fasten it around your head as with all middle-alphabet words. Select your preferred definition by pressing firmly on the hyphens: impelled by the sea-saw of its own intimate history, huzziebaw will balance between your eyebrows and take over:
mantelpiece clocks in the fragrant Dinard light tick past you like lemons on an old fruit machine: hush-a-baa.
aluminium trolleys forward and reverse in the quiet green hospice: huzziebaw
the landscape steadies and you see a young man lying with purple marks all over his thin body, a mother and sister kneeling, a man who is his lover, poised, and a photographer, crouched. We are all waiting. This is huzziebaw. And you wonder: surely the closed curtains swaying in the summer air will bring forth something; ease, a scrap of melody, a brittle word that will not simply say the pain of this last lullaby but be it, blinding us beyond the reach of the camera’s ultimate, pale cut.


PYRAMUS: O, kiss me through the hole of this vile wall!

THISBE: I kiss the wall’s hole, not your lips at all.

               Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Look at the wall, the sweet and lovely 
wall we carry with us in public places.
Even in meadows when we rest it
for a second on muscular buttercups,

its tinyness glimpsed from the distances
of outer galaxies is not as small
as the monstrous little voice
I use to whisper to you through its chink.

And in the streets of Glasgow
where we set it down despite the looks
to share afffection over lattes and Versace suits
we can hear the awkward avalanche

of lime and mortar evolve within its frame
as we kneel down and seek out
chink and speak our cherry words
knit up in hair and stone.

Even here on Pearblossom Highway
or Garrowby Hill where you can barely
see it for the Hockney colours
and sentimentalists mistake it for a rainbow

it is a wall that bears our mottoes of restraint.
And in the Japanese storyboard
of Chris and Don’s Malibu interior
where even the wicker chairs are clearly

gay, at ease with their own maturity,
Wall balances between the pockets 
of our cargo pants as we meander through,
fearful of prat-fall, putty on the pinewood floor.
                                                                                                                   Some say Chink offers us the virtue
of cubist perspective: the silk forest
of your ear-lobe’s blonde still-baby
hairs. Polaroided and collaged

in a cakewalk of mismatching
edges, our groins grow a wall.
Exciting textures are described
but no-one ever asks us what it weighs.

Others tell us to ignore it, drape
our bodies in a magnetic web
of invisible embraces, a shimmering
virtual cloth of Proustian complexity

beyond the deconstructive powers
of Peter Quince. We touch our asses
heads like caps, pick up our wall
and walk. True, Chink’s lynx eye

offers us a precious parsimony
of moments: the time the slits
of our lapels smiled to fill the whole
of that slim orifice, the time

your pinkie stroked a whisker
of my orange tawny beard,
my purple-in-grain beard,
my French crown-colour beard!

And no-one noticed!
But those who see our wall and label it
know about its chink as well,
the slight pucker of its lips

which taste of cold chipped tile,
name it only for the fuck-hole
of Bully Bottom’s rude mechanicals.
Everywhere we turn we find out
moonshine. Smash wall!
Smash the person of wall
and the person
of pure moonshine!


after Sandro Botticelli

If an angel…
If an angel stopped.
Stopped in the lane before our barn
or the turreted castle and turned

to embrace me — oh the hugs,
oh the stopping and stopping! —

I would brush aside wings
and shake his hand. I would 

dance all the friendly angels
out of their domes, their stables. 

Why even the seven small devils
clasp crestfallen hands

before heading to hell.
May I turn to you then,

— as the child
in the manger turns

from his swaddling shroud —
and unfold the wings of your palms

like a gamp. You remember the loosening rain?
The dull, earthly weather? How

we shared the braille of our lifelines,
those touching gifts?

Was this in our lifetime? Now,
loose the arm from the shoulder,

the right one, the left one, re-
member the hand, cross

the painting’s meridian
just into the lane by the barn.

About the author

(Photo credit: Andrew Mckenna.net)

David Kinloch is a poet based in Glasgow. He has published six collections of poetry with Carcanet, including Greengown: New and Selected Poems, from which these poems are taken. He is Professor Emeritus of Poetry at the University of Strathclyde and the current chair of The Edwin Morgan Trust which he helped to set up in 2012. Last year he received a Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors in recognition of his work to date.

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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.

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