Inspired by the Landscape

Although we have travelled to very many places in the UK over the years and further afield – even to the other side of the world in New Zealand – as I look through my collection of poems there are far more inspired by this corner of Dumfries & Galloway than anywhere else.

Here we have the sea and so many different types of coastline where we enjoy sandy beaches, clifftops carpeted with nature’s own patchwork of spring squill, thyme, saxifrage , bluebells, celandines and then there are miles of merse, salt marsh or inks as they’re known locally. Here in winter, we get huge flocks of geese grazing.

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A version of the following poem was published in an anthology ‘Singing Over the Bones’ in 2010 to celebrate Wigtown Women’s Walk.

Salt Marsh Defined

 They call it merse, salt marsh, inks

where there’s the boardwalk and a stone

marking the two Margarets’ death.

That  black sulphurous layer

they call merse, salt marsh, inks.


A feeding ground for Greenland’s geese;

land for grazing Galloway cattle;

where granite marks the deaths

of one eighteen, one sixty three,

they call it merse, salt marsh, inks.


Margarets Wilson and McLaughlin

Eleventh May 1685.

Now we hear the cries of birds,

shiver in cold sun, remember them

by the merse, salt marsh, inks.


The martyrs’ stake marks the spot

So we remember how

By the merse, salt marsh, inks

These women stood defiant,

Proud of their covenanters’ vow.


The Martyrs’ stake commemorative stone was surrounded by sea after an unusually high tide.



The Curse of Plastic

Thanks to Colin Will for publishing my poem Desecration on Poetry Scotland’s Open Mouse website earlier this year. I took the following photograph while doing a Beached Bird survey for the RSPB.









Waves wash

over the wintry shore.

Worm casts punctuate sentences

along lines of sea- sculpted texts.

Waves wash

higher reaches, shining pebbles

polished smooth by years of tumbling,

glisten with salty gel alongside sea glass.

Waves wash

these gems of blue, green, brown,

that lie waiting to be gathered;

our treasure amongst detritus.

Waves wash

ubiquitous plastic used by man then

washed up on every shore. Those

bright colours belying a deadly outcome.