Poems


Ode to So-called Spring

Really? Winter's over?
Please present your evidence!
The London-centric media may declare it so,
And talk of balmy days, but we have snow
On higher ground.
The case that Scotland is another country
Climate-wise at least, makes sense.

I’ll grant you, for the pre-work park walk
My collar-light’s required no more.
And by midday my square dog shadow
(Should the shy sun grace us with a beam or two)
Is less elongated than before.

But down by the North Sea
(The clue is in the name)
A fierce onshore gale cruelly exposes
The folly of last week’s over-zealous grooming session.
Oh how I wish those furs were still attached,
All seven ounces of them…

It’s true, brash ranks of daffodils
Are now amassed on southern facing banks.
They breed ‘em tough at these high latitudes.
But as for me, tho’ born of Buchan stock,
I’ll keep my Fair Isle jumper on
Until my precious wiry fur’s regrowed.



An Ode to Blogging Friendships

I read about you almost every day.
From countless photographs I recognise
The angle of your tail when you feel joy;
The precise set of your anxious ears;
Your food-expectant head tilt.

Although you live a world away,
I’m confident that I could navigate
From your front door
Directly to your well-worn comfy bed, or better yet
Your kitchen where the treat jar sits.

Your daily routines, though different from mine,
Are quite familiar now to me.
There is more sunshine where you live (most probably).
But then my park, I think, has fewer rules than yours,
For dogs, that is.

For all the fun we share when life is sweet,
There are those other times
When you are injured, ill, or nameless terrors strike.
And then I yearn to help you, but
Feel at a loss.

We’re old friends, are we not (though never met)?
Our lives are now entangled, in
A precious world wide web of friendship,
An unanticipated bond.







A BOUNCING BOFFIN'S DREAMS OF SWITZERLAND

I want to scale the Matterhorn, glimpse snowy Alpine peaks at dawn,
I’d also love to see the bears of Bern,
But as a Bouncing Boffin, what I’d find most simply toppin’
Would be visiting the physicists at CERN.

Yes for sure it would be fun, to climb the Rigi like Mark Twain,
I might even reach the summit in one day.
But it’s the Large Hadron Collider that I’d like to get inside o’
To view sub-atomic particles at play.

Some might make heavy handed jokes, deriding all those cuckoo clocks,
As the sole result of centuries of peace,
But for me it’s the Higgs Boson that makes Switzerland the Chosen
Land for scientific-minded WFT’s.




ODE TO A DEESIDE SUMMER

You can take your Costa Bravas, the Greek Islands are all yours,
The Italian Riviera's not for me,
I'd rather be in Deeside where the ground beneath my paws,
Is soft and green, and clear the river flows,
And the air conditioning's natural and free.

The Balearics are too crowded, and Australia far away,
And California's sun has too much glare.  
But a little patch of heaven's a short bounce from where I stay,
Where the only sound is birdsong on a gentle summer's day
And a sweet pine resin fragrance fills the air. 

If you're searching scorching sunshine and a Mediterranean tan,
Then I'll point you to cheap flights on EasyJet.
But for dogs, a trip to Scotland is by far the better plan,
We have laws that grant you access to our wild and empty land. 
Come here! Roam free! All weary cares forget!   




A love poem dedicated to my sweetheart Addi, and inspired by the recent (11.2.2016) and thrilling announcement that gravity waves have finally been detected, a century after Albert Einstein first predicted their existence:


ALL OF A FLUTTER

by Bouncing Bertie Boffin


When I think of you Addi, so large yet so sweet
My heart starts a pounding. It will not behave 
In the regular way. So strong are its beats
I believe I've produced gravitational waves.

These faint fluctuations will surely distort
The space-time continuum betwixt you and me.
I know you will feel them; a lass of your sort 
Has the requisite fine sensitivity.  

In my mind I imagine old Einstein is smiling
His forecasts are all now proved right.
And you dearest Addi, I find most beguiling; 
So massive, so dense and so white.





On Clearing Out Human Granny's House

Us dogs can always sense when something is amiss.

Our noses can detect
Change in the air, the end of things, and sadness.

A lifetime of cupboards, emptied, yield
Pile upon pile of holiday leaflets; medicines galore;
A Nottingham lace tablecloth,
Still faintly stained with raspberry jam;
Notes from every evening class ever attended,
(And there were many).

Did Human Grandad once throw away
An item he could mend?
I doubt it.
No saucepan handle in this house
Escaped his meticulous application of araldite.
Was ever a rusty bolt discarded
When it could be stored in a Gold Block tobacco tin
For future use?

Who uses now
A 'best' china tea set (non-dishwasher proof)?
What to do with table linen - napkins, cloths, mats -
Lace or embroidered, stiffly starched,
Untouched for half a century?

*****

A sudden moment of delight.
A wad of letters, unknown, unsuspected,
Found in an old folder.
Close-typed on tissue thin airmail paper,
Stamped RAF, Egypt, 1945,
From a fond father
To the teenager who became Human Granny.

*****

But why will the charity shop not take
The painted furniture?
Can it really be so dangerous?
Surely some poor soul would be glad of it?
I lick Gail's hand to compensate
For tears shed, as Human Uncle
Builds a funeral pyre of tables, desks, chairs,
Unwanted but for the memories.

Us dogs can always sense when something is amiss.





And then it was Autumn  

A treat most unexpected,
But welcome as a bone,
A week of sun, blue skies, still air,
When summer should be gone.

It could not last, it felt
So undeserved. And yet
When normal service weatherwise
Resumed today, and wet,

Cool, blustery, and dour,
The world o'ernight transformed,
I thought it quite unfair,
And for the sunshine mourned. 

Then Gail cried "Chin up Bertie,
Remember what they say,
There's no bad weather just bad clothes.
Put on your coat, and seize the day!"





A Protest Addressed to Gail

I don’t buy your line about ‘Quality Time’
I want it in quantity; I want it now!
Forget about work. Cut loose, go beserk,
Tell the boss you’ve a dog, who needs you, and how!

I want you to stay right beside me all day
On the sofa, the bed or the chair.
I can curl on your lap, maybe take a wee nap,
You can do what you like, I just want you here.

It doesn’t seem right that it’s only at night
We’re together. How cruel that you go
To the office at dawn, only late to return,
And bored I sit waiting and watching for you.





THAT SHORT PRECIOUS WHILE
You who live in sunny climes
Might think you have the best of times;
I beg to disagree.

If every day the skies are blue,
No clouds obscure the dazzling view,
There’s small variety.

You’ll never feel the deep delight,
When dour grey turns to dazzling bright
For a short precious while.

The sense that duties, cares and grief
Can be forgot. And to the beach,
To run and bounce and smile!


(Inspired by a sunny, if cold, trip to St Combs on Sunday 14th June, 2015)



ON RETURNING TO SCOTLAND FROM NOTTINGHAM

No more flatland Trent-side walks
On claggy floodplain clay.
I'm back amongst the heather'd hills
The bonnie banks and braes.

Enough of dismal redbrick towns
And concrete urban sprawl
For now. I'm home, a home that's built
Of silver granite walls.

Goodbye to triffid pylons marching
Over hedgeless fields and wastes.
Hello to birches, burns and bogs.
I'm back. This is my place.




A PLEA TO THE BADGERS OF CRAGMOOR ROAD

No need to prove it Mr Brock,
That you are strong is clear.
I see you rolled aside this rock
And dug under the hedge right here.

You black and white guys with the good PR,
'Wise Friend' to Ratty, Mole and Mister Toad,
Admired by wildlife lovers near and far,
Though not the folk who live on Cragmoor Road,

Have you a notion what distress
These night time raids cause? So much damage done
By scratching up the grass, as if
You sought first prize in excavation?

For decades my beloved HGD
Nurtured his back lawn with tender care.
Now Human Granny worries night and day
That his hard work is wasted, and despairs.

So Mister Badger I am begging you,
Go dig your worms on someone else’s lawn.
It is so sad. Dear Human Granny, who
Cared long and lovingly for HGD with all her strength,
Feels she has let him down now he is gone.



ADVICE FOR DUI: PUTTING THE SCOT INTO SCOTTIE

Your name is a good one, dear Dui my man,
And your human chose well with a simple Munro.
You could have been named Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan,
Or Carn a' Coire Boidheach (shortened to Bo).

When you visit the vet to be vaccinated
You'll also be needing ID, like as not.
Just remember, a chip on both shoulders is said,
(By the English) to signal a well-balanced Scot.

And remember the kilt is traditional wear
For true Scottish males be they humans or dogs.
The lassies will think you so brave and so fair
When you're all fitted out in your best Highland togs.

But you might find it tricky, when Scotland's teams play
'Gainst Australia. You must choose which one you'll support.
(You'll find Scottish footballers have feet of clay,
Andy Murray means tennis is these days our sport.)

Our national dish haggis is affa scarce Down Under,
But it's worth searching out, I guarantee.
The meat is digestible; you will not 'chunder',
You'll love it, dear Dui, so try some for tea.

And lastly wee Dui, stay true to your breed type,
Yon Scottie dugs are couthybraw and thrawn.
Just show those dingos what a well-bred pup's like;
They'll soon be wishing that they too were Scottish born.

ALL THE BEST, DEAR DUI!



WHY I LOVED MY HGD

My Human Grandad, Gail's Dad,
Was modest, true and kind.
For four years our lives overlapped,
He'll stay for ever in my mind.

He always loved to be outdoors,
And thoroughly believed
That walks with me were only fun
If I were off the lead.

He saved lamb shank bones in the fridge
For when I came to stay.
He loved to watch me on the lawn
Gnawing contentedly.

He could have been a dog, you know,
So loyal, trusty, steadfast.
Devoted to family,
In affections, uncomplicated.

He always smiled his special smile
On seeing Gail and me.
His deep blue eyes lit up
And sparkled curiosity.

I never heard him angry once.
Even towards the end.
His carers all used the same words,
"He is a lovely gentleman".

He rests now in the soil near home,
As peaceful as he lived.
And thinking of him, there is joy
Dancing beside the grief.

The worms will now be gentle too,
Nourished on his gentle flesh.
The grass will thrive, the blackbirds sing.
Even the badgers will show respect.




I WILL GROWL
On behalf of Human Grandad

Gail is too gentle, but I am a terrier.
I can growl.

I can growl at Herr Alzheimer
Though I know he's not to blame
For HGD contracting
The disease that bears his name.

I can growl at the unfairness
Yes, I know Gail, "life's not fair".
You can lead a good and worthwhile life
And near the end, despair.

I can growl at those who cannot see beyond
A sick, demented man.
I can growl at those who will suggest,
Such suffering is Planned.

In growling, I can try to speak
For one who cannot now express
His thoughts. Beloved HGD
I'll make it known you were and are the best.




Snapshots of Duthie Park

Winter mornings. Dark, sharp, cold,
Dogs are sporting flashy disco lights,
Their ghostly owners wrapped in Marks and Spencers' shrouds,
The wind that's crossed the river gathers bite.

A weekend afternoon in Spring,
Much optimistic pallid flesh exposed,
Goose pimples notwithstanding, those from Aberdeen
Think, if the sun is out, they need few clothes.

Light evenings, masochists enrolled 
In British Military Fitness race
Around in circles, yelled at by
Instructors thick of neck and red of face.

Summer Sundays: barbecues, picnics,
Ice-cream cones lightly held by dog-height hands,
Those kids with flappy arms and high pitched shrieks,
Will tempt a chap to disobey commands.

And by the pond exquisite model boats,
Are all controlled by older men, sad,
One suspects, because their sons 
Prefer to lurk indoors, tending their (i)Pads.

A coach from Elgin parked beside the gate.
A line of grey-topped green enthusiasts
Make for the Winter Gardens' warmth, 
But pause en route to give cute pups a pat.

The cricket pitch brings out a different crowd.
Brown skins exotic still, in Scotland's chilly north.
When game's in progress I am not allowed
To dash across the grass and chase the ball.

But mostly we are lucky in our Park
Few rules constrain us pups, we're free to run
No lead required, we socialise,
Explore and play, and have enormous fun.



TO ADDI

I could compare you to a star, 
But Addi love, that's wrong 'cos you
Are quite unique. The stars are many;
Bonnie pups like Addi few. 

So long to seek, so hard to find,
You look exquisite with no clothes on.
No, not a star, but something rare,
My very special own Higg's boson.

And never fear, my Addi dear
To me your largeness is no curse.
There'll always be some space for you

Such beauty does uplift my soul,
And as I gaze and feast my eyes on 
You, I know I'd brave the blackest hole 
To traverse your event horizon.

As light bends round your extra mass
I ponder my proclivity
For awesome girls. For you I feel

Oh I would wish to ride the skies 
Besides you in our rocket tank
To far off galaxies we'd fly, 
And there create our own BIG BANG




HGD* HUGGED 
It does not matter to me
That you sank down to rest on the sofa
Which Gail and I so often share.
I know it's hard for you these days
To remember which is your chair.
I'm told you used to be
A chemist, pilot, rugby player, boss.
That you did not really approve of dogs.

Now you struggle with the simplest task
But I have noticed how
When I pass by, your oft unfocussed eyes
Light up, and you reach down
And pat my back, and scratch my ears, and sometimes smile.
I'm told you always were a gentleman.
A gentle man, and as I snuggle close
I feel that gentleness, still.
Gail says you used to love to walk the hills.
That as a child her happiest times
Were when you took the family
On Easter Sunday ten mile tramps
To Monsal Head, Mam Tor and Kinder Scout.

Now climbing up the stairs to bed, for you
Is tougher than the steepest Northern peak.
Oh HGD if only I could speak
I'd tell you how clearly I can see
That you have formed the Gail I know and love
How the apple falls not far from the tree.


*HGD - Human Grandad, as you know. 





MY 2011: BY BARD BERTIE

The year begins with shocking cold.


With long dark nights. The sun stays low.


The snow is deep, but in the home,


Soft laps, warm hearts and fires aglow.


*****


February’s time to celebrate,
And bake my birthday cake.
But Gail finds it hard to eat
My replica, such a mistake!

*****


In March a new experience,
A true test of my social skill.
A house party with fifteen guests,
For whom I finally sit still….

*****



So April is the cruellest month,
Old T.S. Eliot had it right.
How mean of Gail to leave me home,
And go with friends to France by bike!

*****


In May, in Britain, some were pleased
To cheer along our Wills and Kate.
Did you stay in and watch TV,
Or climb Munros to celebrate?

*****

The month of June, my chance to shine.
A village fete (Feis Alligin).
When I am jumping through the hoops
Those collies don’t get a look in!

*****

July and down to Nottingham
To visit Gail’s Mum and Dad.
We go by train, the passengers
Think I am such a bonny lad.

*****

Not everybody's quite so charmed.
In August Michael comes to stay.
I really did not mean to harm
Him but, bare legs? What can one say…?

*****

Month nine, it is my turn to show
My heartfelt patriotic zeal,
Go Scotland rugby team, go go!
Win the World Cup! Or not. Oh well.

*****



October comes. In Torridon,
I'm simply horrified to see,
The kayak, made by Florian
For Gail. BUT THERE'S NO SPACE FOR ME!


*****

Can you believe it? I cannot,
November saw this lovely chap,
Gail’s Dad, turn ninety, that’s a lot
Of years, (he often needs to nap).

*****

So here we are, year at an end,
It’s now the season of goodwill.
So bouncing love to all my friends
And may your lives be joyful still.




BERTIE'S CHRISTMAS POEM

I am not yet quite one year old,
So barely past a pup,
But I was ever brave and bold
While I was growing up.

I’m told that terriers can be
Quite naughty, when they choose.
Of course that can’t apply to me,
So please do not accuse

Me, I did never chew
That cashmere top, no way!
Nor did I ever steal Gail’s shoes
Not me, I only want to play.

At puppy class I bounced around,
And strived so hard to please,
But Daisy Dachshund, silly hound,
Kept trembling at the knees.

I learnt to sit, like, in a flash,
It’s easy if you try.
Of course I do prefer to dash
About. Why sit still? Why?

I know how sad Gail felt that night,
That dreadful night when Hamish died.
But even as he lost the fight,
New life was born. Through tears came smiles.

And now with Christmas drawing near,
We have a splendid tree,
And Gail’s face shows a look of fear
When I approach to pee…..

Oh it is very difficult
To keep these humans happy.
Maybe when I'm a true adult,
I’ll be a well-conducted chappie!

‘Til then I wish my friends good cheer
And ‘Slàinte Mhòr’ and ‘Toodle Pip!’
I hope you had a splendid year,
And through the next one gaily skip.






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