Peter’s poems

Backwards and forwards learning

Backwards and forwards learning contributes to who I am.
Neither the microscope nor the telescope quite help me in the focus with which I wish to see.

Backwards and forwards learning contributes to who I am.
We live between the microscope and telescope.


If only I could soar like an eagle
to see the world as I cannot.

I am a magpie in black and white,
in flight through clouds,
seeking colour.

I am nosy, noisy, restless, bothered by life.
I pick up the pieces.

Beat the drum, Fly the night, Catch a star

Frost hit Tillybin and froze the night.
Bitingly cold and startlingly clear.
A night that stirred the soul
A night of Spectacle Sight.

Midnight came rhythmically
Andrew beating his drum:
Sian said ‘time to go!’

The windscreen iced over in anticipant celebration
hands that felt no cold rubbed hurriedly
a telescope to the soul.

The car coughed to life
The farm track bumped and hurdled
– as if urging.

Count the gaps: count the rhythm –
Faster: No time to waste!
Fly the pot-holes
Peer the telescope!

Gosh – what’s that? A jewel. A wonder. A spectacle sight.
Hale-bopp: such Brightness.

Beat the drum, fly the night, catch a star
and Hale-Bopp reigns its brightest!

Peter and Sian
Now ‘mum & dad’

Fingers that could not dial
Lips that could not speak
‘we have a boy… a lovely boy’
Beat the drum, Fly the night, Catch a star!

Beyont Mizzerment!

Speeshal folk – Deeside loons
The like weel nae see agin
Hunners of years auld, hunners.
Aye speeshal loons – beyont mizzerment!

The ancient Dallyfour lived
a hunner and twenty-sax year –
wud ye believe it?
An berit in Glenmuick
Wi the dates 1596 tae 1722 on his stane:

Betwixt his cradle an his grave
John Mitchell of Dallyfour
behelt saiven monarchs and twa kings
an the union o’ the Croons.

The ancient Dubrach lived
a hunner and ten year –
aye wud ye believe it?
He carrit Dumfoonert’s name – Peter;
And Granted Auchindryne.

Chipped Tooth

The administrator now the

Pulse-oximeter sirens a frenzied fear,
friendly faces pace in busyness managing
checklists to the unknown.

Man-made epilepsy in-a-box.

Temples numbing – signify it is done.
Tooth is chipped.

Din-raisin wi’ Donald.

Tarbrax by the high road tae Forfar
Donald Mcpherson far fae Bovagli’s hamely braes.
Black bothies left ahind, aiver speerited in saicret. Aye!
Girnoc garrons twinty each – wi’ ankers twa abreast:
the toonkeeper wimmen left oot.
Speerits heich (tcaach ….fit a tirravee!)
Loshtie aye, dwam fou!

The-gaither, time-servin’ smugglers:
Donald Mcpherson – oor seerious scoondrel;
James Gordon – aiver richteous;
an’ John Gall – oonprencipilt mebbe,
yet surely mair of a dweem than a dwam:
loshtie aye!

Donald Mcpherson befuskert high on baith chaffs,
aye rugged cheekit – bricht red oondernaith.
Jorum at the ready the-gaither wi the Gordons: James an’ Peter
…. an nae doot, yit mair of that inextricable tribe!
Aye nae doot!

James Gordon an Abergeeldie loon – of sorts!!
Gamekeeper to David Gordon, Esquire of Abergeeldie.
Friend of genteelity maybe but
naiver to be mizzered in mainners:
Loshtie nae!

John Gall grand-maister o’ the bothies,
brither tae the Girnoc.

Sundoon at his Tarbrax sheilin –
a saicret tryst oonder yonder roddin-tree.
Feckless wi’ a fleerish:
Loshtie aye!

Twa gaugers biding their time,
hodden in-by the Tarbrex Tollbar:
Mr Tawse an’ Mr Rose, aiver-sae wullin in the law.
1824: Excisemen noo wi’ clout!
Aye Parliament had seen to that!

Dragoon guards hauled-in at the ready:
At the ready –oh loshtie aye!

Anither Gordon caa’d Peter, a Camlet loon,
rode auld ‘yella,’ sae many hans in hicht –
a strappin horse speeshal tae the Girnoc:
wi braith snortin’ ready,
yet his maister, Peter wis grippet wi’ doot.

Aye grippet.
The others,
‘to the number of nine or mair’
shared that nervishness –
but plied theirsels’ wi’ ther ain coontraband:
aye, fou an fleein’ tae loosen that fear!
Bit not oor Donald, fa he wis high-heedit,
an seemingly baithered by nout –
not aiven a fearsom rainstorm risen michty faist
wid brak his smugglers course!

Michty me he wis blin tae danger –
Michty aye!

Through the spleeter of weet,
an jist ootside the Tollbar,
Tawse an’ Rose, officers aff the Excise,
wi’ their troop aff ‘Dragoon Guards’
withoot warning, made tae apprehend –
but in-turn were veeshusly attacked themsels.
Veeshusly aye!

Donald McPherson ‘threatened tae
‘blow ther brains oot if they laid violent hands upon them’
an to run auld Tawse-the-Excise
‘throo the body wi’ a pitch fork’
by noo Donald wis joined by the Gordons who a’ the-gaither
started to throw ‘large stanes’
at roon-shoodert an’ wrunkelt Rose.

Aye nae sympathy wis extended
tae the hunchie-bacit an’ fastidious Rose

All this wis witnessed by a young loon
James Gordon age 6 years
His faither Peter, picked him up
an in a flash young James escaped on ‘yella’
back to the Gordons – bit not tae the Girnoc
fa’ that wisnae safe.

Michty No.

Sorrafu’ an wi’ ther tails atween ther legs,
brocht them tae Kincardine o’ Neil –
in the stable Inn –
‘130 gallons of illicit distilled spirits’ wir stacked up high
an horses wer’ at the ready for a second pairty ….
ye can imagine can’t ye – loshtie aye:
for they ‘were at the time takin’ refreshment.’
Takin refreshment – michty aye.
fit a stramash!

ye stramash an’ styterin fou!

An noo The Excise stepped fore:
an all were caught din-raisin.

Shamed Donald McPherson tak flit tae Angus
he never returned tae the Girnoc.

Soon aifter the Girnoc emptied like a quaich!
Ye see ther wis no choice in changin times.
Fitprints aff shame,
an the end of a way of life. Aye.

Din-raisin wi’ Donald.
Loshtie Aye!!

“I’d Buy you that!”

Too many days have past,
from the days of
the burningly bright eyes of our
innocent and wondrous boy.

As simple as the loss of money!
Not the important stuff:

Andrew, if it were so simple!
I’d buy you no money.
at any price.

Kitty Rankin’s hairt beat

Aye Deeside fowk wir feart o’ Kate
she had that weasel way
an she was thocht tae be a witch.

Wan day Kate tak coonsel of Abergeeldy
the Laird wis cavorting or so
she saw – a weasel way ah richt!

Kate cast oot her spell, stirrin’ the soup,
an the Laird
wis droont.
Fowk kent a’ too weel it
wis Kate.

Fit a weasel way. Aye fit!

Poor Kate she was chained
in the ‘Geeldy cellar
– her hairt beat faster
an brocht oot intae the licht
she cooered doon.

Craig nam Ban stood afore her
and the stake a tap.

Her hairt beat faster
– in a ‘weasel way’.

Marched up the hill
her hairt beat faster.
Until the flames a’ licked her.

Aye Deeside fowk wir feart o Kate!

Melt the Bear.

Castellated gallery of white
iron-cast pavilions – one atop another,
shine bright on a Scottish spring afternoon.

Clocks, rockets, asteroids, mummies and totem poles;
fish circle the children, pennies circle the pool.

Whale bones suspended disbelieving
– no dinosaur stolen here!

Buttons to press; costumes to dress;
the Antonine Guard recruits a boy!

Peter could peer all from his board
secret in the attic of Chamber Street.

The polar Bear silent and sad. So sad.
he had saved the girl – us all.

Alive only in the mind.

Ode to Narrative.

Born backwards;
could sleep standing-up,
lived in a world upside-down.
silent as light.
grafted like a Scott;
found and loved Cimbrone.
Stars that shine now.
The doctor (under)standing on his head.

Finding Cimbrone

Junior doctors in love –
Peter smitten by eyes deep.
A faltering heart surged as you passed
in white-coat, green mini-skirt and in your pocket
the love-note secretly placed by Peter the night before.

A spoonful of sugar and
the Medicine was in Aberdeen.
Seaton Park gently traversed in a restful peace
– flowering the past, present and future.

Here Peter had his first magical kiss.
Striding on towards the dungeon. The Marischal.
Awaiting Dr Skene – bearded and sinister
punching one-fingered results with palpable sneer!

Indeed this was not yesterday, as Rachel would come to remind us:
Rosemount with cats and fur balls: curtains and croissants.
And ink scribed carefree the Jellicoe way
metamorphosing the romantic in Shute.

And the Autumn brought to us in rich arboreal watercolour:
Getting back to nature: ‘like the primitive man’.

Now is the time of the flowers:
Sentinels of Cimbrone stand tall
graceful in poise, reaching out:
touching the sky.
as newly weds.

And somehow carried back in the scent
through Drumdruills gate and its clipped box path:
leading to the sweetest of peas.

We found Cimbrone in each other.

At Inverewe the Rhoddies were rampant in care-free abandon
And Sissinghurst so alight in Euphorbic lime, but
not (for us) undone by the brilliance of the dazzling White Garden.

Back home, and northern-skied days:
buzzards danced overhead
and we trekked across the fields of Tillybin
down the oak-lined dyke, wandering with the snow-drops and aconites.
And later in the year
towards the castle –
where the philadelphus left us heady and the castle no more than body!

Tae Humbie we went:
Peter’s creative core had tugged.
and marvellously you held on.Wedding bells would chime and gold rings instantly lost
foretold that we would be together whatever.
love is far more than any symbol or precious gold

The Aultdrachty Rauchle.

Naebody mynds Aultdrachty noo,
though lood it rattles still.

Yet Aultdrachty’s watter wis’nae awas clear,
an it hods a muckle saicret.

Sae hearken, an hear the feech
o’ the packman, shepherd an the whisky smugglers.
An beyont the reevin win’
the toon-folk, michty-me,
brought forth their ceevil brolly –
Fit mare eesless cud there be!

Stapit foo’ wi dram he wis,
oor Packman on’t fairst erran –
oor hapless loon had’nae heed Aultdrachty’s rowt
on such a fearfu’ nicht.

The snaa it came ower the Moonth, a bin-drift,
like nane afore.
Poor loon, asleep aside Aultdrachty,
his lum still a reekin’ was berit.

Linvaig, wis the hame of McAndrew: anither mither’s loon –
lured by Aultdrachty’s cackle.
then risen fae a halla, a sleekit naisty beast,
seelenced by Aultdrachty it pounced.
Aye Aultdrachty saa it’ fearsome.

Aultdrachty’s rauchle had a’ thirst that widnae slack.
Half a’ doozen smugglers naixt tae the slauchter,
theer bellies reed-het wi’ watter distillate,
jeelous Aultdrachty cud’nae hae that!

Aye the watter wis nae awas clear.

An then Aultdrachty reeled its maist keerious,
the hapless, stupit toon-folk,
the umberella makkers:
fit an’ earth tak them tae Aultdrachty, nane will ken,
nane but Aultdrachty.

Fit a spleeter o’ weet,
A shooer like nane
eesless brollies, blan in-bye-oot,
sae they huddled by Aultdrachty.

The watter it fell oot fae the heeven fur days, an nichts,
an fullt the quaich o’ Aultdrachty welt beyont the brim,
Ceevil folk, wi brollies, had nae chance.

That’s how lood wis Aultdrachty’s rattle
an sae its keerious tae think
the glen it ken’t has lang since ceased to roar.

The Dumfoonert Loon

There’s Naebody noo in the glen – lang since dwine’t awa.
Dwine’t awa an deid.

Littlins lachter, sing-sang, chirm and diddle
As sailent noo as the shuttered plaid o’ Bovagli’.
An the reevin win nae langer cairit the waxin’ lyrical
o’ Camlet’s auld Minaister.

Aye noo the furtive brow belongs tae this dumfoonert loon:
raikin roond folk gan ah so lang –
an caa’d a’ the same as ane anither!

Noo wi’ Camlet ane cud dibber-dabber faireveer:
Aibergeeldie nae that’s fa sure – but fit loon?
Peter wis it yir namsak?
Ah, cud you be sure – I doot that!
Aye I doot that – they were inextricable – did ye nae oonerstan!

Surely no!!
Cud bleeter a’ day – jist like the Camlet folk a the’ day
Til the Sma stills smacked afrontit
an Girnoc touns drapped an rouped til a’ but scaitered rickles.
Left salient; but fa the wheeblin an fusperin of the hameward win!

Aye hameward.
The hieland Clearance ah richt –
Still Girnoc’s stamack wis wachty lang afore.
Dooble liveliheids: fairmers not jist.
Sleekit lums tae dodge the gauger:
An smuggle the naftie ooer the Mounth.

Pairliment’s Act. An Act oot-by anaither warld.
A deidly haimmer. Deidly.

A yellow horse – a gowden jewel shimmrin gainst Lochnagar
Wis the laird’s very own ye ken.
Then unexpectit the laird wis gan – jist drappit deid:
an tae The Camlet cam his shimmrin Stallion.
Fit chancy; nae but surely heeven pre-ordainit:
on the back of yellow, young James Gordon, a loon jist nine,
galloped awa fae the ragin’ gauger.

Anaither faimily had flit the Girnoc: fairever –

No time tae greet: the family.
The family of The Dumfoonert Loon.
The Gordons, aince inextricable, were gan.

A’ but ‘Red Donald’ – prodeegious o’ Bovaglie.
He fairmed wethers in the hunners & thoosands (an mair!)
Jist for the killin, an Balmoral
Cairtit doon the ‘Butcher’s Walk’ tae the Royal hoosehold:
fit they cad ‘The Mutton Larder.’

Nae wonder ‘Red Donald’ wis the Queen’s very ane flumgummer!

Donald’s drooth (it has been said) wis no for the watter:
Tummlers o’ the stonger stuff wis his stoorum!

Aye his fancy wis for a dram or two (an mair!) –
Donald used to tak his horse and cairt doon glen tae ‘The Inver.’
Aifter a guid nicht, stocious an greetin foo,
Donald wud shaky-doon in his cairt.
Aye his horse had seen it a’ afore!
Even blind-foldit, Donal’s horse cud tak him hame:
tae the sheltered plaid o Bovagli.

Wan day, twa loons wi noshun fa mischief –
unhitched Donal’s cairt wi auld prodeegious still in it –
aye sleepit foo’
an then hitched it back togaither – but not afore
first passing the shafts of the cairt throw the spars o’ Bovaglick’s gate!
The mischeevous anes hod in-by the plaid
An laughit seek, fan Donal deleerious, hootit:
‘I doot the diel himsel has been at work here the day!’

Cameron The Factor – wis a sleekit man ah richt
oonder the coonsel aff Balmoral.

Aifter all, Girnoc had nae mair tae promise.
Folk had nae seengle penny atween them:
Days of dreeving beast gan –
Naftie outlawed –
An noo the Royal takover!
Fit an earth naixt!!

Aye, The Camlet – the hairt o’ the glen,
wis heavin it’s last sorrowfu’ beat.

Naisty deeds, or wis it mercy?
Anyhoo lang-heidit Cameron wis tae be
the Meesenger o daith tae a way of life:

Nae mair chirm
Nae mair diddle,
Nae mair Sing-sang,
Nae mair Littlins’ lachter.

There’s Naebody noo in the glen. Naebody.
Naebody but the dumfoonert loon.

At Bovagli’s door he sits aside an auld currant tree,
son-afore-the father.
Heevenly scent – speeritool yet waesome
Heid foo, an greet-hertit, o’ days gan by.
Aye Bovagli, oh so buitifool – lochnagar’s saicret jewel:
strikes melancohly an’ wonder in equal measure.
Beyont the shuttered sailience within
A stained enamel baith as ready to pour
as it surely wis on Donal’s last nicht.

Weavin in an oot the wuid – noo the preeserve of the deer:
yet aince that of the Gordon bairns.
Bitten aff by Bovaglick’s cald win
wi’ smallpox – such a loss of littlins.

Heeven scent o’ the bonniest quines.
Currant blossom.
An a loon dumfoonert.

Linvaig hame of the cherry blossom.
Wis tae be Girnoc’s very last tae flit.
Aince it wis fairmed by twa brothers Gordon – sons o’ The Camlet.

At Linvaig, look oot aboot ye, fae imaiginashun can easy conjur
Wolf McAndrew:
A mither’s loon lost tae the wild an raised by the pack.
At Aultdrachty, in the Muick, he cam back.
Aye he cam back!

Cud you believe it: at Linvaig lodged a huddle o’ umberella makkers
Fit in the Girnoc: Ceevil folk wi brollies!?
Fit mair eesless cud there be!!
Not even the dumfoonert loon
wid tak, a brolly, tae the Girnoc!

Mair keerious still:
Centuries of doodles writ upon an auld wooden Linvaig Flesher:
Doon tae the ditties signed by the twa Gordon brothers:
an remynders o’ bills;
sheep coontit –
An then this:

“Lost last night, Emma Gordon,
last seen going down the road with Fred Duncan’s clothes on.
A’body givin information on her whur-aboots will be rewarded.”

The dumfoonert loon has tae tip his cap to Emma.
An wi’ a guid smirk,
she tips him back wi Fred’s!
The Cosh – the halla an gate tae the Girnoc:
The Miller there wis auld Joseph: Joseph ‘the frugal.’
Anither Gordon, an anither son o’ Camlet!
Aye inextricable ah richt, fae Joseph, wud yae believit,
marrit his mither’s sister!

Auld Joseph wis a prood man, in an ancient year,
yet still trekked ooer the mounth tae Brechin ta visit his grandbairns.
In plaid, kilt and bunnet and wi twa staffs he set aff:
A striking auld man.
Takin his laist journey.

Auld Joseph started up the moontain track all alane
But some of his faimily followed him.
Aye Joseph wis proud, bit he wis auld and guy weak,
an they were feartit for him.
The way wis steep, an soon the snaa gaithered deep.
Joseph tak aff his ill fittin shoes to try an mak the gayin mair aisy,
an tied the shoes tae his staff.

Faimily followit auld Joseph aiver-mair closely
an cud see that he wis vairy tired an oonwell.
Aifter lodging in the snaa, his staff (tied wi his shoes)
he laid doon tae rest.
Ainly tae rise again an stagger on an on,
but fa shorter and shorter.
An shorter.

Nae ‘frugal’, that cannae be richt.
Joseph’s epitaph shud reflect the man on his laist journey.
Joseph: Joseph the cooragious. Joseph the thraan.

At Camlet, the dumfoonert loon drifts in ban oot:
Camlets bairns had such mixt fortunes ye ken.
Some remarkable an so warldly wise;
Cortachy Castle an Airlie too
Burnside, Springfield an even Priory!
Whilst aithers lost affrontit at the gaugers will,
or shamit, jist mebbe, thro a clandesteen birth
in the grounds of Abergeeldie.

The Great Conker Hunt!

Another year! Another year!
Excitement rises for those

The giant’s gentle green fingers clasp.
for Kinfaun’s spectacular
rival tae Walnut’s grove.

Boxes laden. Hands held,
feet skip,
purposefully collecting
for some mental feat or other.

Shiny inside pumpkins!

The Three Moustache Tree

At the head of Keir it sits
facing clockwork gyrations
of cars: numbers untold.

It beams a hidden sentinel:
our custodian of mans’
faceless technology.

It stands tall as a cavalry officer saluting;
or as absurd as an upside-down clown on parade.
Or Perhaps a classic screen Idol:
with everyday growth trimmed, waxed, and svelte.

Its moustached face has ups, downs and in-betweens:
hiding a third of no soul.

It has no chlorophyll.
Yet it is strangely alive in the green
and beckons Dunblane home to an odd reassurance.

This is not yesterday

Indeed young Rachel, ‘this is not yesterday.’

And oh yes, and for that matter ‘It’s not the meantime now!’
For this is our moment.

Hale Bopp had brought the brightest gift to Aberdeen.
Two comets had blazed in-between
and then faded in the night sky,
but held still,
in our wonderful moment.

It was Aberdeen’s reevin win that brought us our millennium marvel.
Dark eyes brightening the nineteenth.

Hearts bursting with joy beneath.
Tears cradling a wonderful moment.

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month
over the stair she went, she went….
Heavily down the stairs
Binglety, banglety, bumplety
Down with apple & pears…
That was how our dear soldier fell.
Stookied in sympathy with thoughts cast
always to dwell in the moment.

Yes, our dear soldier reached out to the lost
and brought them together again
in her kaleidoscope of showering comets
and one last glittering moment.

Moments together in time

Each and every drop, has dropped differently into the moment.
A moment cannot simply belong to a drop.
In this our wonderful, yet falling togetherness
our love is only equal to the moment
in the feeling and the fall.

The bed we made

We are neighbours and friends across a generation, and a fence.
Our houses, laid-out in a mirror opaquely stane:

The 1870’s fancy of Mr Cousin that infinitesimal builder,
built himself so fiery red.

It is long since our lost Cousin made his Victorian bed.
Seven years ago this summer, our neighbour’s wife died.
That spring, I recall seeing Elma at the door of her house
in the mirror of a doctor’s eye:
she could not walk.

Crawford, her husband, dear neighbour, had to support her.

My mirror was useless.
Elma had not broken her leg,
no longer proud of diagnosing little Ali’s break,
a tear – no more than manganese and gravity- fell
as neighbour told that his wife had cancer;
that she was hobbling to her Strathcarron bed.

That summer, Crawford arose every morning and dug,
a beautiful circular bed.
For Elma he filled it with roses.

For several years they were colourful and beautiful;
but the roses, in the shadow of Mossgrove life,

Not quite Ten Summers have since passed,
and ‘That Summer’ is still as real to me as the bed Crawford made.
So I raised my own summer bed, to Elma and life.

Yesterday, from the mirror, I spotted Crawford digging – early yet again:
digging out the scraggy roses from Elma’s bed.

Today Crawford is sowing grass,
and now both our beds are made.


Granny is gone.
Her potty rusts and now leaks

The beech tree is ancient, but not near death.
The iron potty was once her doll’s.

Peter is here.
He is potty
and in his leaking, he reveals much iron mongered:
or is that ‘irony mongered’?

Candia’s father rearranged such.

Len you died ‘that summer’:
1940 so somersaultingly real to me.
Natural sciences still cannot hang upon such invisible
at least not revealingly.
The disappearance of appearance.


Known to none but Peter.
Nestles in a hill that carries a name that we forget why it was so called.

Our WORLD is here!
Natural sciences are backwards free
yet what is humanity
if not understood in its journey?

We have moved on

We have moved on’ (said doctor Knows Best)
didn’t you notice?!

Today we have targets, tooled by incentive,
and our patients are our numbered ‘partners’.
Betjeman has been realised:
not in poetry but in his warning.

We must ‘Release time to care

Illness is our paradigm.
Though (of course) we only seek health!
But sadly, long since did guid Dr Osler ‘move on.’
and Today disorder is our norm.

‘Neuro-everything’ may seem necessary, but it is never sufficient –
unless we are no more than ‘our brains’.

And Peter’s principle is that –
evidence can help inform,
but cannot be sufficient amidst poverty of thought.

We have moved on’ and ‘we can be certain’
said Dr Knows best:
history is ‘irrelevant’ and our social world ‘unreal’.

We have moved on’ and ‘we can be certain
of the boundary between ageing and illness.

And more certain still
that we are (indeed) (today) more humane.

Dr Knows Best you are a marvel!
A neuroscientific wonder.

and we have moved on . . .


The Protocol asks:
“What year is it now?”
“1984” I reply.

The machine stamps ‘Cognitive impairment ESTABLISHED’:
and I fall down a dystopian Orwellian memory-hole.

The Protocol knows what’s best:
do not stray from the pathway
Evidentially (or not)

The Protocol has no need to consider
maleficence and Hippocrates’
but I am an oaf.

The Protocol has moved-on:
ageing is a thing of the past!
Patterns of pathology
have become

The Protocol is unstoppable in its progress.
“It is an all out fight”
our Prime minister confirms.
The metaphors
are indeed pathological.

The Protocol fights stigma! [The machine confirms].
And any ‘diseased Other’ has nothing to fear
from The Protocol.

The shortness of life

Michael, yes, “life is short”:
So you will say what you like.
Life is short.
And there is little enough time to mention identity.

You don’t want to be ‘told’
but like me, you ‘tell’ everyday:

In our own professional language (pathologically ‘complete’)
we typecast disorders more ‘real’ than any illness.

Michael, life is short
so we must remember
that we are not all ill.
Not at all.
but you know this.

I worry for you Michael
as you hate illness –
and that makes you angry.

Poems need to offer space

I am no more
SERIES II, than you were

Much space of time has passed between us:
grandson and grandfather.

Each year, new gardeners will sow
sweet peas
and bairns will still run towards them
as I once did when arriving at Drumdruils:
the scent and colour of you.

The world lives in me (or am I backwards to think so?)

I am neither independent
nor simply dependent:
I am simply Peter that is somewhere
to be found within (and without)
my biology, physics and chemistry.

Every sceptic can agree on this
astonishing ‘scientific’ complexity!

Peter lives in a world far more than
that which is carried in words or indeed numbers

Perhaps our world
can never fully be understood:
DLROW or 12345?

Letters, numbers,
expressed backwards or forwards,
may always struggle with time as experienced.

Let us not calculate light

Sian saw a glimmer in me. I was dazzled by Sian
Glimmer or dazzle, dazzle or glimmer:
let us not calculate light!
Together, and only together,
Peter and Sian have wavelength


Agapanthus: natural, beautiful, reaching
sharing light, colour and presence.

A globe, a world, projecting tall into the clearest of skies.

Without Agapanthus I have no sky.

How foolish

To think that we can ‘capture’ the moment!
Listen. Time passes. Listen
Every moment has properties in physics, chemistry and biology
A togetherness that is lost without time and tense.
Listen. Science. Listen

Part of the conversation.

I could never be a leader,
I do not want to lead.
I just want to be part of the conversation.

I don’t want to be labelled,

I do not want to label.
I just want to be part of the conversation.
Is this my sensitivity or that of the world?

I could never be a leader,
I do not want to lead.
I just want to be part of the conversation.


Prosody (when and now)
Syntax (arranged)
Grammar (not to be silly)
Punctuation (all in the timing)

Meet you at the statue in an hour

Thank you:
For meeting me (we are part of serendipity)
‘at the statue in an hour’
(more than serendipity)

Thank you:
For marrying me (we are part of serendipity)
We are arresting in our togetherness
(more than serendipity)

Thank you:
For being there for a temperamental artist
We are all scientists!
(more than serendipity)

Thank you:
For your beauty (beauty beyond serendipity)
I have no sky without Cimbrone

Thank you:
Our world together.

I need ethics because I am on my own
I can only see with my own eyes.
I try to shift my stance.
However, I do not always see what others see

I need ethics because I am ordinary and extraordinary
I can only see with my own eyes
I try to shift my stance.
However, I do not always see what others see

[and then there is feel]


under our hedge:
a blue that
opens up to the world:
I know where love might be found.

Scottish Chapter Prize

EGOs get in the way of being true.

I was awarded every award
in my post-medical landscape.

But awards are not signs
to be posted on maps.
and I am not an architect of any landscape.

Let nature in.

being confident
is not ‘me’.
the lack of
is my making


As schoolboy I was put in goals
Yet I could not catch.
Such play!

If only I could catch!

the goal is wide
If only I could catch!

In praise of

and nothing short of
‘the big bang’.


words and numbers
are hopelessly insufficient.


a word generally understood
– but like all words
cannot understand itself.

The number of lives that enter our own is incalculable.
Why select just a certain few stories to define yourself?

Being with you is like being in this fantastic landscape

He looked at her, and she smiled.
She laughed her seventeen-year-old laugh.
That brief smile that afternoon.

Words and numbers

Numbers matter!
But numbers alone cannot begin to reveal the actual experience of life [or any life lived]
This is true of any language.

A D V I C E [as given by Mr Gordon Bennett]:

[Let me be sensitive]

The mainstream is not for me!

No wonder that this ancient rebel
will win no award
that he would not want.

I am a ‘Scottish Chapter’.
Recorded on a bit of faded paper,
a typewritten insert that was glued –
without feel – to a book
on waterfalls.

B E I N G [and let me be sensitive about this]
– is more than a sum –
between the ‘MAINSTREAM’
and me.

Somewhere between:


the moment that has passed since I thought of ‘now’

Do not begin to tell you where you might find me.


I have walked you backwards
every day since
the fountain

I am the hunched one.

The Politician’s Clock


only dust makes light visible:
bringing colour
skies that are not little.
children are

local and deep

As a child I waded into ocean shallows
the season did not matter –
I could not feel the cold!

Older now, I recall more vividly than then:
tippy-toeing into an ocean deep.

Vivendo discimus

The Antiquary worries:
that today’s Science
has lost the place
of  T I M E
in our lives.


of our lives.
from our beginning


Lists are just lists
[and this is a list]

Words are just words,
numbers just numbers.

Time [might this be experience]
has just passed.

This poem is a list
that left out
an extraordinary word.

The Porsolt Forced Swimming Test (Behavioural Despair Test) is centred on rodents’ response to the threat of drowning. It has been interpreted as measuring susceptibility to negative mood in humans. It is commonly used to measure the effectiveness of antidepressants in rats.

The following is a poem written by me about this test. I wrote it in my mind on my way to Siberia. Once at Siberia I jotted it down in my commonplace notebook. This Siberia is a farm, now a ruin, in the East Neuk of Fife. It should not be confused with the extensive geographical region spanning much of Eurasia and North Asia.

The poem recounts the friendship of two rats: one rat is called ‘Hippocraticus’ and the other rat ‘583’. Hippocrates is often referred to as the “Father of Medicine”. Agnes Richter was a psychiatric patient and seamstress. She made herself a jacket whilst under psychiatric care. It seems that she was known as ‘patient 583’ and so she stitched this label into her jacket.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has stated that “We know that in the vast majority of patients, any unpleasant symptoms experienced on discontinuing antidepressants have resolved within two weeks of stopping treatment”.

Dr William Sargant (1907-1988) was a British psychiatrist who is remembered for the evangelical zeal with which he promoted treatments such as psychosurgery, deep sleep treatment, electroconvulsive therapy and insulin shock therapy. He wrote, with Dr Eliot Slater in 1944 the influential Textbook: “An introduction to physical methods of treatment in psychiatry”.
Real Psychiatry” is a blog written by an American Psychiatrist. In terms of psychiatry in the UK a new textbook is to be published this month: it is titled “The Medical Model in Mental Health: An Explanation and Evaluation”


Aye its cauld, like Siberia! Says rodent ‘583’
So keep swimming Hippocraticus
ye wud’nae want to SINK.

Keep swimmin’ Hippocraticus
We’re being ‘evaluated’ did ye nae ken?
And all will be ‘resolved’ when we stop

Did ye nae hear:
Dr Sargant is giving a talk on ‘values and feeling valued’
Aifter a plush dinner at some Royal Society or anither!
So keep swimming Hippocraticus.

There’s gan tae be a Text book aboot us –
it will “explain” how we feel
based on the new brain cells that grew in oor brains
before we drooned.

The Text book is to be called “REAL PSYCHIATRY”
Keep swimming Hippocraticus!
“The Rules of Science”
are credible
and we
are not.

“I am sae tired 583
I don’t hae strength to swim much longer
Gie me a ‘choppy sea’ any day
tae P O R S O L T”

Keep swimming Hippocraticus! [rodent 583 is close to tears]
the imbalance is not ours.

Hippocraticus [sinking]
Is now dead.
Dr Sargant enters the laboratory
and prepares the PORSOLT glass beaker for 583.

In Defence of War

Dr Sargant has issued a command
to be learned by heart
before entering
his laboratory-treatment room:
“it is moral cowardice not to go along with my
F A C T S”

This is a “rule of science”
hollers Dr Sargant, and
Vivendo discimus
nothing more than “propaganda”.

“Choice of words” is not relevant
yells Dr Sargant
in his Defence of War.

Note: I have written this poem from the perspective of a fearful rat shortly before leaving PORSOLT for disposal. Attached to the rat’s foot was this label “Anti-Sargant 01984”


Evidence cannot be based
in numbers and words

We are all “evidence”
of time experienced

You are unique
do not forget

Science matters:
matter makes us and made us.
the living [and the dead] understand [understood] this!

Yet, it is the unsaids, the unknowns, and soon forgottens
that alone we keep
dead or alive.

Delivering news that passed me by

I was a paper-boy
delivering news that passed me by,
every day.

I was paper-boy to Mrs Picken:
36 Redford Drive.
who left me an apple on her window-sill
every day.

I was a paper-boy
delivering news
every day.


Girgenti followed Paestum
in a blue sky summer.

Beneath this sky
two girls sang.
It was a beautiful summer.

o o r  B I G  B R A W  c o s m o s

aye my fiere
Peter Pan flew oot the windae, aince agin
it was braw tae be flyin’ oot there
where the sky is nae little!

Story-telling, surveying in oor ain vernacular:
that’s nae jist ony quantity!
Yer spaiken scrieves were interstellar, solarising,
and unsoberising.
Let’s hae a dram tae that!

In a sky that is nae little
where light is silent
we flew hauding hands wi’ the pawky Duchess of Lost
and huddin’ oan wi fingernails
took a ride on the glimmerin’ tail o’ Hale Bopp.
Michty me whit
B R I G H T N E S S !

And the craik as we flew the gaither
It wis’nae jist telescopic, microscopic
it was daft and fun,
fun and daft
and B R A W!

I could write essays [on just about anything] but I began here

[ W A V E R L E Y ]

sixty years since
they were buried
in the graveyard
sixty years since
they were loved.

*this poem was inspired by coming across a grave that made me cry. It was by chance I came across the grave to Margaret Ogilvie by her daughter Nellie. This was on Tuesday 6th August 2019 in Clunyhill Cemetery, Forres,


Without: Line-breaks, silly metaphors, crazy syntax, odd grammar, miss-spellings, lost trains-of-thought, alliterations and alterations [OF ANY LANGUAGE]

Might the CAPTION be Wrong?

[I am  a  c r e a t i v e  sort]

I no longer feel a need
to be known
or remembered.

All that matters to me
is my family.

[I am creative sort]

poet silly, poet me
silly poet, silly me


I am a circle,
you are a

I see shapes,
you saw

You are the past,
I am

EVIDENCE BASED MEDICINE can be both evidence and medicine if it includes:
s u b j e c t i v i t y
– there is no view from nowhere [1]

EVIDENCE BASED MEDICINE can be both evidence and medicine if it includes:
the  s o c i a l  world
– no man is an island [2]

EVIDENCE BASED MEDICINE can be both evidence and medicine if it includes:
t i m e
– listen. time passes [3]

EVIDENCE BASED MEDICINE can be both evidence and medicine if it includes:
e x p e r i e n c e
– vivendo discimus [4]

[1] The View From Nowhere – by Thomas Nagel. 1989
[2] No Man is an island – by John Donne. 1624
[3] Under Milk Wood – by Dylan Thomas. 1954
[4] Vivendo Discimus [it is by living that we learn] – Patrick Geddes. 1889


To anti-THIS and anti-THAT –
each day a new ‘recruit’ is enlisted:
played out on a BINGO card –
but this is not a game.

In the anti-WORLD of military metaphors,
we make ‘opponents’ of each other.
The wounded ourselves.

The world makes equal of us all

Poets [Little Spartans or otherwise]
need not follow rules.

The philosopher [following nobody]
was heckled by specialists
for asking everyday questions.

The world makes equals of us all.

As time passes,
and death approaches,
there is no need for poets and Little Spartans.

The world makes equals of us all.


older [retired]
labelled [again]
shamed [by power]

We are greedy consumers of simple explanations yet the reality is anything

the noo [without end]

intellectual noise,
the wisdom of others,
isolation of

Fiction had disrupted reality

Sancho Panza recalls –
that a Russian doctor
mistook Peter to be
Patrick Geddes.

Sancho Panza recalls –
that the gardener who practised medicine and now plants trees
mistook the Russian doctor to be
Don Quixote.

With more errors made than atoms in the sun
all agreed that
fiction had disrupted reality.



Somewhere between
an ordinary artist, and
an ordinary scientist
[if you seek everyday-in-betweens]
you will find
something extraordinary

Last Monday

The following poem is addressed to Robert Hepburn who died in Temple, 1798. It is based on a stone gateway that has out-survived the house that it long since introduced.


Each year, sometimes twice, the Institution holds an Award Ceremony.

Award Categories have been agreed behind closed doors by a small committee.

This year, a new category of annual Award has been introduced, this will be for the ‘Brand Developer of the Year’

The Committee has agreed that last year’s ‘Whataboutery’ award should go to its Improver of the Year

It has been agreed that this year’s Soft Power Award will be for the best ‘Control of Narrative’

The Committee can confirm that the award for ‘Courage on Behalf of the Institution’ will be jointly received by several members, but that one of these members will also receive the medal for ‘Discrediter of the Year’.

The Institution has decided, as in previous years, that there will be no public vote on any of the categories.

divisive folly

I am the
most scientific poet
that poetry has ever known.

I am the
most artistic scientist
that science has ever known.

I do not feel my DNA

I feel
a presence of words
that do not begin to explain how I feel

I feel
a presence of yesterday

I do not feel my DNA


More than a little!

I have been told by EXPERTS
that I am not resilient e n o u g h.

I have suffered –
and I have learned from my suffering
– more than a little!

I listen to others –
learning from experience different to mine
– more than a little!

I am a die-hard scientist –
and a rebel romantic
– more than a little!

EXPERTS, please remember –
poetry has something to say
– more than a little!


Presented with uncertain symptoms
the doctor, a diligent scientist,
checked every bit of data that had ever been established:
evidence-based and randomised controlled.

This empathic doctor [a natural worrier]
re-checked every last bit of data and every guideline
[“Guidelines are not Tramlines”]

Always learning from the life of others
the doctor realised that there is more to evidence
than randomised controlled data.

It is by living that we learn:
or have I “perceived” this wrongly?

It is not uncommon to come across senior doctors describing reports of harmful effects of medical interventions as “perceived”. These same doctors then insist that the most important evidence is based on Randomised Controlled Trials.
This poem may be perceived as an ‘attack’ upon evidence. It is not. Evidence comes in all forms, and evidence-based-medicine, although necessary, cannot fully represent experience.

A Humble Gate

At Bovaglia,
Rachel opened a gate:
a gate to the mountains.

The passer-through smiled in thanks,
and Rachel smiled back.

Two smiles.
At a gate to the mountains.


Andrew, you beat the drum,
for others less fortunate.

Andrew, you fly the night:
second to the right, and straight on till morning

Andrew, you caught a star:

The next two poems are from a series ‘A Thousand Chances’ written in the Tarland Arms, May 2021 [the poems form the basis for several short films]:

An Electric Razor: Donated.

A fading Classic scene,
– cottage style:
in a bristly commercial woodland.

South Milton cottage,
yesterday, I visited you.
I had travelled far North to be with you
and the late Spring light was disappearing with the sun:
over the horizon.

The Acanthus leaves that you hand moulded
in concrete
are still there –
as your Doric pillars reach for the sky.

The woodland is dark now –
but your ARCADIA still brings magical light.

The Atmosphere.

Jist aifter lunch, on the first day of a new year,
ootside yer front door
you suddenly drapped deid.

John Glennie,
as the shepherd o’ Lochrie
you had woken each day o’ yer lang life
in this place and
and experienced,
it’s wunnerfu’ –

Naebody aiver found a hame for that
Highlan’ Ewe that found its way tae Lochrie
In the Spring of 1864

Aifter ye had gan [gan an deed]
Yer son Sandy
gae an illustrated talk to the
Strathdon Mutual Improvement Society.
He ca’d his talk ‘The Atmosphere’.



Empirical Science
has yet to research if ‘Uppityness’
may be associated with ‘MINCE’.
Empirical Science
when iron-bru fuelled
has found that gas rises from the base.

The MINCE Brand

Order your MINCE now!
The MINCE Brand
ready in just 5 minutes!

Alas there are no neeps, no tatties.
This is the MINCE Brand
ready in just 5 minutes!


Are the BEST in the World!

Are endorsed by the Royal College of Mincers.

Are the reality not the perception!

Reduce you to MEAT in 15 minutes!

A ‘Poster Boy for Psychiatry’

Provides an ‘empirical’ noticeboard for evidence-base:
displayed in NEON yellow [because natural light is not sufficient]

Provides an ‘empirical’ noticeboard for evidence-base:
because numbers matter more than experience

Provides an ‘empirical’ noticeboard for evidence-base:
the ‘Chemical imbalance theory’ was always a ‘trope’

Provides an ‘empirical’ noticeboard for evidence-base:
where followers of Hippocrates may not always be welcome

A ‘Poster Boy for Psychiatry’ provides an ‘empirical’ noticeboard:
but fails to say that your experience might be considered ‘BASELESS’.

Up the ANTI-

Up the ante!
Anti-this, Anti-that!

A binary absurdity dividing reality:
Making opposites of us all.

Up the ANTI-
Up the ante!

Standing outside the circle of listeners,
a Venn diagram without overlap
and we are cruel to one another.

Up the ANTI-
Up the ante!

A monstrously unreal Hydra,
where heads are chopped off
blood spills and stains.

Note: I was an NHS Psychiatrist for 25 years. This poem is a response to the rise of the term “The New Anti-Psychiatry”. This term has become widely used by a number of psychiatrists, often referring to anyone who has questioned the prevailing psychiatric narrative in any way. Unfortunately this divisive use of language has dismissed the opportunity to learn from real world experience of psychiatric interventions, and as such is “anti-science” in itself.


The EXPERT said:
‘I am an EXPERT in what is right and wrong.
I am an EXPERT, literally, GODDAMIT!’

The EXPERT said:
‘Hippocrates and all his followers were wrong.’
That’s what the EXPERT said, GODDAMIT!

Alas, there was no evidence-base to support the EXPERT’S ‘Literal EXPERTNESS’.
However the EXPERT said he was right, GODDAMIT!

Real world context: Tyler Black, MD, 12 October 2021 [retweeted by Prof Rob Howard]: “If someone cites ‘first do no harm to me as an argument, I immediately know they have thought very little about medical philosophy or ethics at all”

This is a poem written by myself as a ‘human of Scotland’. I am also a retired NHS doctor who worked for over 25 years in Scottish hospitals. As a doctor and as a citizen of Scotland I was invited to be part of a number of so-called “consultations” by so-called “independent” organisations. Invariably these organisations worked in “partnership” with the Scottish Government.

This poem is not based on any political views; rather it offers thoughts on how organisations use [or misuse] language. The poem also does not shy away of asking, behind all the ‘Spin’, where Power really lies in Scotland?


‘Alliance’ – a word we hear a lot aboot in Scotland.
But whit dis it mean?
In oor auld family dictionary ‘alliance’ is to be found somewhere atween:
‘allure’ and ‘alligator’.
But the dictionary defines it as:
‘a union by treaty or marriage: a partnership’.

Did ye ken that Scotland has it’s vairy own Alliance:
Health and Social Care ALLIANCE Scotland.
This ALLIANCE is in ‘partnership’ with the Scottish Government –
as set oot in a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’.

The ALLIANCE speaks tae us, the “Humans of Scotland”.
Promising that we are “at the Centre” –
and that as “trusted neutrals” the ALLIANCE will
“actively listen” with “intelligent kindness”.

The ALLIANCE-brand champions “courageous leadership” –
leadership that enhances ‘”trust and relationships” with the “humans of Scotland”.

“Have Your Say” the ALLIANCE invites.
Well this poem seeks tae oblige.

Orwell once said of ‘SPIN’, that as a word, it wis used as if it were:
‘no more harmful than a ride on a merry-go-round’.
In Animal Farm Orwell also reminded us that ‘the object of power is power’.
The ALLIANCE keeps reminding us that we are ‘humans of Scotland’.
[Although it has to be said, some humans are mair equal than ithers].

St Andrew’s Hoose in Edinburgh is where oor Government operates.
Wan of Scotland’s finest historians described this building as:
“brooding and authoritarian” just right for “an occupying power”.
Is it here that we find the real partnership atween ‘allure’ and ‘alligator’?

A poem [in its passing]

A logical thinker [few have your ability]

[we met] [and fell in love]

Logically, we should not have fallen in love!
ABSTRACTION, abstraction.


We were both just 17
on the bus home
to the student halls
I puked on your lap.

the day after
we kissed.

The next five poems were written in the Bridge of Cally Hotel, Tuesday 2nd August 2022. Inspired by the rivers and bridges of Perthshire. An equal source of inspiration was the poetry of Kathleen Jamie in her collection ‘The Bonniest Companie’.

This was not NEWS!

See for miles,
all the way hence
If you can!

Wander for miles,
all the way hence
whenever you can!

After all this activity,
has cleared a way just for you!

So wander, wonder, and be yersel’.

Note: Ruichlachrie is in Glen Bruar. It was once a croft but in recent times was turned into a pile of clearance stones. It was at Ruichlachrie that I had my unexpected seizure on the last day of 2021.


“The Blairgowrie Junior berrypickers weigh-in-lottery”

Back in the land of the Jeely makkers
I feel braw!

Saft-fruit is ripening now

A lifetime on from Drumdruills
and I am a hundred-punnets short of

But I am happy [SERIES II].


Take me to the river,


No need to find a crossing
As my love for you needs neither
ford nor bridge.

Take me to the river,


Come back the earth

[endlessly] I was stravaiging in the wrang gear!
an auld fairmer revealed this
to me!
Back came my Grumpa
in his SERIES II!


In my waking dream

Teddy bears rule!
[Series I to infinity –
I am a Scott]

and get it wrong

Number me
[I am numberless]

Label me
[I am labelless]

Judge me
[and get it wrong]


Last Thursday
to Callum

Dear Callum,
It was lovely to spend time with you last Thursday. Thank you for making this possible. My old Land Rover coped well including with the heavy flooding on Friday.

I have written a poem for you. It is called ‘Catterline’

I have attached an edited image of the Kinneff tombstone that caught my eye. I have also found some fascinating connections/coincidence/patterns in relation to Clochnahill [the place inscribed on the family tombstone]. I intend to share these ‘links’ in a blog post along with my poem.

aye Peter

The music of the Abbey

I returned today
to the Abbey,
30 years since
your daughter
married my magical friend.

Much Time has passed
and you are now a
to a wonderful choir.

I felt the presence of absence
and absence of presence,
as I entered the Abbey once again,
George, neither you nor your choir were there,
but the music of the past,
never silent in my mind
played again,
most beautifully.

nobody has to look for it,
light is friendly




my hairt fair beats for Sian

where Sandy magically reached out to me

together with Rab, a friend of Liberty

Random street:
where Richard’s stories moved me to tears, wonderfully so

hame of a Rebel and part-timer [time passes, listen]

the big braw cosmos.





Today has been wunderkammer,
a day where one idea inspired another.
I began this poem yesterday.








architecturally DEFINED,
visually ADORNED,
structurally SOUND,
metaphorically USED.
The corner of all things.