Robert Crawford – Two New Poems




Over the standing stones of Machrie Moor

Starlight discharges midges across Arran.

The sea is a heron’s breast; desire

Moist lips in front of banked thunderclouds.


Daylight, an orthopaedic surgeon,

Resets the nation’s bones,

Realigns the cave of Robert the Bruce

With mobile-phone masts, fingers veins of whin

Shining along the pit bings of Lanarkshire, attuning

Hip-hop to incunabula.


Kissed nipples; water sucked through a straw;

Slow, body-heat pull; stashed pollen

Carried in a shirt, catkin kisses,

As you close your eyes, then open again,

Intimate places tallied and caressed —

Hand-smoothed kegs of butter.


Let the cold British Empire statues

Weigh down our squares. We’ll slip

Into start-up now, fields stubbly with orchids,

City streets laceworked with light,

Everything we were threatened with and scared out of


Bright today, wedded to our independence,

The held look, the Luckenbooth brooch.







As they rowed


At night

Against the wind

They found

He nearly passed




On the loch,

Till they cried


With a wild shout

And he said,


Don’t worry,

It’s me,’

Then strode


As the storm


The wind dropped,

And silently

They held their breath,

Scared to death,




Mark, 6: 48-51




Robert Crawford‘s seventh collection of poems, Testament, will be published by Cape on 3 July (in which these poems will feature). He teaches at the University of St Andrews and is writing a biography of T. S. Eliot.



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