DAY TWENTY-FOUR – Stuart Paterson


1979, 1997, 2014, 201…

Ochone a ri, ochone a ri,
it’s the time has come for the grand telling…..

Sit down, haud furrit, cock a lug to me
in Dumfries, in Dingwall, in Dores & Dundee,
in Australia, New Zealand, the US of A,
feel the tide of an old freedom swelling.

Gather the remnants from king to collective,
rip up the plaids of the past thousand years,
shake off the stoor that’d blind you forever
& wipe off your jockodile tears.

Ochone a ri… a by to the moaning
& puke out the language that gies us the boak,
cough up the shackles that weigh down the race,
rid your harns of the legends that smother this place,
that’ve grown more important than folk.

Cock a lug to the swirl of the kilts and the drums,
to the snash of the factories and belch of the lums
& remember, our ‘betters’ would rather the clan
of one brain than one free thinking woman or man.

Puke out the language & gralloch the sounds
of the clanking old shackles still weighing us down.
Once & for all take a look at the lot
we’ve been sold to console us & make us The Scots.

The mist, the midges, cockade & claymore,
Gordonstoun, Loch Lomond, Braemar,
haggis, neeps, the Wee Free Kirk,
a wedding kilt with a plastic dirk,
Holyrood, Mon’s Meg, Glamis & Cawdor,
Rangers, Celtic, Harry Lauder,
Culloden, Flodden, Prestonpans,
the wee white rose, the Drunk Man,
the working man, The Vow & Labour,
whisky, woad & michty cabers,
The Monarch of the Heathery Glen,
the lassies, rashes, lochs & bens,
The Corries, porridge, Brigadoon,
Rob Roy, Braveheart & The Broons,
The Tartan Army, qualifying,
thinking, drinking, not qualifying,
Aly Bain & Norman McCaig
Gartcosh, Seafield, Ravenscraig
Wattie Scott, Rab Burns, Will Fyffe
Murphy, Darling, Brown, Forsyth
Dr. Findlay, Para Handy
Yarrow, Fairfield & Ferranti
Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Silvery Tay
Torness, Corpach & Dounreay
Highland Marys & Missus Macks,
Tie ups, Trident, Bedroom Tax
The Big Yin, Still Game, Frankie Boyle
The Barnett Formula, North Sea oil
Maxton, Gallacher, Maclean
100,000 hungry weans
The Daily Record – Scotland’s Winner!
& so the lines get longer, thinner…..

New road extensions bypass schemes,
McDonalds, Poundworlds, blues & greens
that don’t belong this side of Ireland,
islands now no longer islands,
Auld Reekie, Festival & Fringe,
a dearth of trawlers on the Minch
& families in port and town
with less than nocht to go around
sit cowered before the foreign telly
ignoring rumbling, empty bellies…..

Rip up the postcards, the tea towels & place-mats,
empty the biscuit tins, flambé the scones,
burst open, break down & demolish the walls
& the yetts & the towers & splendiferous halls
of the crumbling, ancestral old pile we call home.

We’re canny, no cannae, we’re aye and we’re aye,
we’re Scottish, we’re British, we’re World, we’re I.
The bullet of hope fired into a box,
the bomb of the future explodes in a cross.



Stuart A. Paterson is Scottish poet whose work has been widely published in anthologies, newspapers and magazines throughout the world. He received an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 1992 and, most recently, a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship from the Scottish in 2014. ‘Saving Graces’ was published by Diehard in 1997. He was Dumfries & Galloway writer-in-residence 1996-98 & returned to live by the Solway Coast in 2012 after 14 years abroad. ‘Border Lines’ will be published by IDP in 2015. ‘Preferendum’ will appear in Scotia Nova: Poems For The Early Days Of A Better Nation from Luath Press.


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