Document 514

The Toad on the Rock's Opinion

Author(s): Sheena Blackhall

Copyright holder(s): Sheena Blackhall


The Singer

Hard-duntit nails bigg best ava
A bonnie haa, a bonnie haa;
Smeddum an virr will bigg it braw,
Nae scrattins sma, nae scrattins sma.

Sae is't wi sang. Ma faither skailt
His marra, banes an sowel intil't
An in some auld Scots waefu lilt
Wi hertbrak, grue an swat he'd fill't.

Syne, fin fowk say,'Ye sang yon weel,
It gart me greet', like tyke tae heel
I ain ma faither's guidin plan,
That early gart me unnerstaun,
The singer's bit the barley's beard -
The sang's the pith, the sap, the weird.

In sang, ye maun brakk doon the boon
Atween the listener an the tune,
Till luv or grievin, like sma rain,
Wauchts throw their consciousness like pain.

It's nae the singer, bit the thocht
That draas fowk roon, like gowd unsocht,
Sae fin ye sing, yer bit the stem
The sang's the flooer, the croon, the gem
That boos an shudders in the win,
An fin ye feenish, they sud fin
The fitprints o the wirds alang
Their rig-banes o some auld Scots sang.

Deid faither, fin I steek ma ee
The singer that I hear is ye
Oh gie me pouer, tae touch the hairt
As ye did wi yer airtless airt.

New Year's Resolution
published by Anchor Books in 'Worlds of Wonder'
Caution says, "Look before you leap".
But Ambition lunges from its cage
With a lion's pride, wearing its battle dress.
Teeth and claws lust after
The red and dripping trophies of success.

Writing a poem's like that...
Like going into war, in no-man's space.
Die well. ..they'll pin a medal on your chest.
Die badly.. .they'll shovel dirt upon your face.

Oh what a beautiful morning!
The TV set sings out, my phantom family,
Whose lips, carved melons,
Curl like the Kaiser's moustache.

If Achievement was a cake
I wish my slice was bigger than all Australia,
As monumental as the Wall Street Crash.

Caution says, "Look before you leap!"
I bury my fear of falling, off I go,
Straight down a chimney stack, not waiting to see
If a red inferno crackles down below.

Better a moment's flame, than years of guttering
Better the drawn blade and the glory charge.

First off the Mark

Lilac, lavender and thrush,
These are images that rush
Forward, when folk speak of spring
Gay flags, that wave like anything.


In the beginning
Was the epiphany of the seed
Tall it grew
Towards the scythe

Millstone ground like a doubt between sour walls
Grey rat bared its teeth behind the sack.

In the mouths of many
Young bread lay like a lily
On my split tongue
It festered like a wound
And nothing rose
Like a God from a sacred book
To hang the stars
Like lamps along the cave.

I put my faith
In the pomegranate
In the red walls of its tomb
And the wasps
That devoutly savour its resurrection


Today, the heavy stone that sits a little way behind my eyes
Rolled back. I turned a corner down to the river
And a great weight shifted.
I lifted my eyes to the mountains,
Rising up in a throng to greet me
And a wave of joy surged up, so close to grief
So sharp and strong and sweet, it threatened to unseat me.
And like a lark, my heart flew high
And hovered a little, over my father's land
My childhood Eden, rich with my people's dust.


March onslaught. Ranks of petals open wide
A glut of stars, a swaying urgent tide
Of daffodils, they cram the green hillside,
Though I did not invite them, they appeared.

Town trees hold posies. Each, a buxom bride
Of Spring, these pastel nuptials belied
The bitter months when sere precursors died
Ancestral snows those virgin blossoms reared

To merry nests swift mated starlings glide
As puss on dewy paws with killing stride
Her ancient skills rehearses true and tried
To snap some beak a wriggling worm has speared

Unstoppable, leapt from October-dried
Torn flags of Autumn, like a lion's pride
Gold, rampant lilies bound while sour inside
My aging bones sap rises slow and queered

Each feathered songster of Spring's vanguard cried
As if it sought my tardy steps to chide..
Time ploughs new troughs and furrows in my hide
Though I did not invite them, they appeared

Mandala o the Sizzens

First a bud on a tree's lang cleuk, cud makk a besom tae swype a neuk.
Secunt, a tap like a pixie's toorie, blossom breenges in weather, shooerie.
Third, a wallop o sonsie green, fullin the wids neth Simmer's meen.
Heestergowdie, last ava, tapsalteerie, awa they blaa
Wheerily, eerily, ower they gyang, the wee, the muckle, the weak, the strang,
Sooked like a dram bi a man blin foo, intae Winter's gluggerin moo.

Climbing Mortlich

Heron stands like a statue cast in lead
Pines thud seed grenades within the forest
Dead in a ditch a pipistrelle spreads its wings
A hawk hangs like a new-oiled guillotine

Pines thud seed grenades within the forest
Toadstool has opened up its cream umbrella
A hawk hangs like a new-oiled guillotine
Fern is seaweed pulled by a rip-tide wind

Toadstool has opened up its cream umbrella
Domino-dots, the dark rain sows the earth
Fern is seaweed pulled by a rip-tide wind
Frog breaks from a cloud of sky-blue puddle

Domino-dots, the dark rain sows the earth
Heron stands like a statue cast in lead
Frog breaks from a cloud of sky-blue puddle
Dead in a ditch a pipistrelle spreads its wings


Dh I can see the shaddas shift, an I can smell the hey,
Fresh cuttit in the simmer park, new- rochled up tae dry.

Noo, ilkie leaf on ilkie bough, showds in the simmer win,
An I can hear the teuchit's sang ayont the yalla whin.

In yon blue sky abeen the lea, nae pick o cloud nor rain
Time hauds its braith. The meadow-puil is clear's a windae pane.

The moosie creeps, the birdie cheeps, an aa the warld is weel,
Midsimmer, fan the sizzen's cairt turns easy on its wheel.

Mormaer o Mar

The broon-blaik bluid fae the Bens has swallt the burns
Mist wyves throw the wids, an aidder that winna shift.
The win is snell as it sets the aik leaves dauncin,
Aff in the Daunce o Daith that nocht can stop.

It sets the copper clouds o larick prancin,
It gars the waves lowp by like lang tint years.

Rin Dee rin, like a watter shelt richt brawly
Ben the banks that are close tae ye's a wife!
Ye are the gene that crosses the generations
Cairryin pouer an virr, the Sire o Life.

Tho I maun staun, a puil wi deid leaves fillin
My watter is the muir's communion wine.
My Covenant, the Braes o Mar, aroon me
Stinch an strang fae the first Crack o Time.

What Summertime Does Best.

Windows rubbed cobwebbed eyes.
A sheep sat by a dyke. Its woolly stare,
Was like the place. ...not going anywhere.
Cold crows, and stone-grey skies.

And then the sun came out!
Leaves of the cherry danced down chutes of sun,
The honeysuckle wedded to the wall,
So full of colour, perfumed leaves and light
So full, it seemed the house itself might fall!
What Summertime does best
Makes a hosanna out of a waterfall.

December Song

Snow's diamond tiara sparkles in the clouds.
Her visit radically changes the Spartan wood.
Baroque ice-runnels sculpt cold curlicues.

Sky's Ebineezer gray, River is coffin-lead.
The old high sun opens the creaky doorway of December
Waves gleam like Midas gold.
Everything's muffled, swaddled, beautifully dead's
A stillborn wooly lamb.

In the hollow heart of the wood
I watch slow snowflakes fall
Like small dumb griefs, they wet my cheeks with ice.
Far away, in the houses up on the hill,
The glittering baubles turn like poisoned planets
Cardboard reindeers' hooves rear cash-till high.

Out of the tinsel frost,
A single blackbird bobs,
Opens its yellow beak
From its feathery cage,
And pours out music into the firry firmament.
The edges of the pine trees blend and blur
The silent woods fill up with sable song,
And like a child, I flood with wonderment
As one by one the Evening Stars appear.


The flame's a lupin, blue with a gold tip. The stamen's the wick
A tiny hand holding a living brand

November: Coastal Journey

The peetiless snaw drifts doon like grains o san,
The train rins ram-starn on ben iron tracks.
Wauchts o Winter wheech frae the jeelin sea,
The tinny voice on the tannoy tells we're late.

The train rins ram-stam on ben iron tracks,
A passin train is a bawd wi flanks raked reid.
The tinny voice on the tannoy tells we're late,
The scaldin tea sea-saws in its plastic cup.

A passin train is a bawd wi flanks raked reid,
Steadins are harled wi snaw like fleecy oo,
The scaldin tea sea-saws in its plastic cup,
The tide is weety as dolphins, grey an skyty.

Steadins are harled wi snaw like fleecy oo
The peetiless snaw drifts doon like grains o san.
The tide is weety wi dolphins, grey an skyty,
Wauchts o Winter wheech frae the jeelin sea.

Wytin fur the Bus

This mornin, as I wyted fur the bus,
I watched a wyver crunchin up a flee.
Nae serviette
Nae flooers on the table.
Nae saft lichts, backgrun music,
Nae waiters, fuss,
Nae skinklin cutlery
A mediaeval banquet o a brakkfast
It munched awa the flee's mortality.

Echt chopstick airms
Drew the morsel in
It chawed the gollach,
Left the wings ahin.
Like rings o bacon,
Or roast chukken skin.
Syne, kyte weel stappt
Sank back, in its web-hank.
And frae its mou,
There danglit Ae Lane Shank.

The Excommunicated Hand

As a hand you were as much good
As a bird with a wooden heart
As a plastic flower
As a paper streak of lightening
As an aeroplane of fire
As a feather scissors.

Why couldn't you paint me a fresco like Leonardo?
Why couldn't you draw me a dream like Fragonard?
Why do you make each picture grey and bland,
Heretic member, excommunicated hand?

Queen Street Station

Pea-hen and peacock
Pea-hen, dowdy and motherly,
Soft paunch and greying hair
His partner, gorgeously flamboyant
In a suit so Mediterranean blue
You expect a waiter to step from the lapel
With a tray of drinks
Peacock's fingers wear more rings than a curtain.

They were a matching set
It wasn't the overdress
That set these two apart from the mainline travellers
Rather the butter and breadness
The tenderness they couldn't help but show.


Senorita, or Senora, Mademoiselle, or la fillette
Puella, Caileag, Cailleach, wad be even better yet

Bit in Scots ye are a Soo, a Doo,
A Hen, Aul Goat or Coo
As a mither o the nation,
My response tae this is MOO!

Journeys (i)

Door bangs shut. Outside,
In taxi, bus, or train
The day begins to fill itself with words.

Taxi's a closed pod.
Its seeds of speech may ripen
Or stay in their quiet comer.

Crossing the border
Crossing the boundaries
From home to the public domain
Even the rain is often English,
A shower, and not a doonpish

A mind in transit's a letterbox
Awaiting the arrival of the mail
An invisible magpie's sits on Anyman's shoulder
Called Perception, it feeds upon ideas.

'Journeys (ii)

Wee peesies link ben lichtsome clouds, their journey's heich an quick
I envy them thon element, the lan o win an rikk

Blythe treetlin trooties sweem the burn as swack as lowpin glegs
Bit here I'm anchored on the lan, a steen amang the seggs

There's puckles traivel aa the warld yet niver move ava
While ithers reenge frae Pole tae Pole chyned tae a stirkie's staa

There's mony a steen is made o fire, an ithers, made o ice
The sickle meen brings sleep an dream. Kent circles shakk an splice
Syne we may walk a Netherwarld, throwe stories dwined an deid
An gaither up their stoor an aisse tae gie them flesh an bluid

Train Journey

Grey clouds crawl slowly over racing trees
Back yards blur shrieking over streaks of miles
Train slits the evening like a knife through silk.
A swaggering brace of schoolboys toe-dip puberty

Back yards blur shrieking over streaks of miles
A fleshy palm taps out a laptop tune
A swaggering brace of schoolboys toe-dip puberty
Teasing horizons never keep their meeting

A fleshy palm taps out a laptop tune
Four housewives slip their leash, away - day gigglers
Teasing horizons never keep their meeting
A black bag flutters like a mourning band

Four housewives slip their leash, away - day gigglers
Grey clouds crawl slowly over racing trees
A black bag flutters like a mourning band
Train slits the evening like a knife through silk.

Seen from the train,
A flying cow,
A stone white horse,
Tall fields of wheat.

Seen from the train,
A rain lashed bough,
Low lines of trees,
Where two farms meet.

Drizzle and blizzard and hail and sleet,
Splittering splattering on the pane,
Whoosh of steel and the flash of wheel,
Thundering forward roars the train.

Meditation on a Train

Five crows drop in a clutch,
Shiny's a woman's varnish
On wet nails.

My ticket's punched, one way.

The train chinks like a crate of jiggled milk

Just sitting,
I see from speeding thorns
Hideous billboards rising
A slag-heap fills the horizon.

Just sitting,
Lungs pump wind through bones.

Just sitting.
Words ply their trade, like dockside whores.

Just sitting,
The night train speeds on darkening sleepers,
Clickety clack,
The train and I
Clickety clack
Into the great round eye of the Autumn moon.


When's the next train due?
Peep peep peep peep
Stride luggage stride luggage stride luggage
platform-queue platform-queue platform-queue
end/line end/line end/line end/line
When's the next train due?

Following Van Gogh's Star

Following Van Gogh's star,
A flock of writers
Put up at an inn in Callander.

At the annunciation of dinner,
Toes splashed, a flurry of fish
In a hot-cold shower
A spider on hairy stilts
Filled a sink with screams
On landing number two.

Shoes walked down shag-pile carpets,
Settling in pairs under the dinner table,
Their tongues lolled idly at anchor
Baring their soles.

A very salacious slander
The colour of marmalade
Spread deliciously on toast.
Tea slopped round twenty stomaches
Earl Gray infusing heated coversation.

Moon's monocle eye
Peered through the window
As four tall pints of export
Pulled their froth caps down.
Lagers simmered in lime.
Flights of glasses
Floated on clouds of trays

Following Van Gogh's star
An Arthurian unicorn cantered into my head
Then stalled coming out of the
Stable of my mouth,
Not astonishing two Scots publishers
In Downtown Callander.

Airport Ambience

Lichts, flichts, fathoms o heichts, towrists hopin tae see the sichts
Far's the aeroplane. Fit's the cost? Fa's the loon lookin feart an lost?
Fit like presents in duty free? Somethin flashy, or keech, or twee?
Fit'll the weather be like in Spain? Birsslin beaches or drookt wi rain?

Fit if yer hyne abeen the seas fin the engine suddenly ups an dees?
Fit if a terrorist jynes the crew? Think o the fleg an the hullabaloo!
It's ifs an mebbes that are tae blame fur keepin the Cautious safe at hame!

The Gasman Cometh

Bulldoze music crashed like a tank offensive
Matchsticking conversations.

Holding the black prick of the microphone,
The pop star worked the crowd, a showbiz Hitler
Fame was a Halloween moon, white as the powdered faces
Of groupie girls, using their unripe sex to trick or treat.

Doubts mushroomed, critics sniped.
In no-man's land the applause died by degrees
Now he's a meterman for Scottish gas,
A shriek reduced to a peep

Church Hall

Walls are dingy, stark.
The ceiling's high.
A battered piano's here, with chipped brown feet.
Hard years have left their mark.

The lino's thin.
So many share this room,
A pot of gruel with one communal spoon.

Outside the wind flows round the church like waves.

The Whale in the Boatie

A gale blew up in the Firth o Forth
Aa aa the waves grew gurly
As a roller coaster carnival ride
Or a washin machine sae furly
The watter walloped the waves aboot
Till the fish war fairly wabbit
Fin the gale deed doon, the whale looked roon
An a passin boat he grabbit.

'Oh will ye gie me a hurl ?' quo he
Tae the skipper o the boatie,
'Tae a quaeter sea in a far countrie
That winna rend ma coatie?'
'Climm in,' said the skipper cheerfully,
'I'm gaun that wye masel,
An fit's mair fine, than tae spen the time
In the company o a whale?'

Proletariat of the Future

Bathing belles will bronze themselves on Mars.
Spare parts of us will stew in pickling jars.

Future Brits may have Dialect make-overs, skill transplants,
Shop in virtual realities of infinite un-real orchards.
Sky cars will zoom through aerial highways,
Intergalactic byways.

Redundant hamsters slump by silenced wheels.
Treadmills of work are stilled.
The death knell's tolling now for nine-to-fivers.
Away day seats to Venus are all filled.

The Story in the Corner

There's a story in the corner of my family
It's a real sob story, a beaut, with all the trimmings.
Get out your hankies. There's going to be boo-hooing
It's wooing your pity. Sympathy makes it purr.
Now, it repeats like onions, like a stuck record.
It's dead of course, dead as a tailor's dummy
But I love to take it for outings...It does so love its outings
Wearing its best coat.
Though its glass eye frightens the relatives to fits.
If it went too long unsaid, I'd have to admit it was dead
And so, though the spider is building a nest in its grizzled hair
I'm letting it stay in the comer.
Did you notice the albatross wings I wear round my neck?
It flew in from an ancient rhyme.
What's this story, you're wondering,
And what's it got to do with a mouldy albatross?
Didn't I tell you? Once upon a time ...

Stories (i)

The silence o the muckle trees
The lazy bizzin o the bees
The burnie far it takks its ease
They tell the finest story

Like oo that's snagged on barbit wire
I'm tethered noo, bit sweet's the hire
That brings me tae this seely shire
That tells the mountains' story

The sooty craa flees heich an black
I hitch a lift upon his back
Tae share the muckle erne's crack
Winged seannachie o glory

Stories (ii)

Some stories are like rosebuds
Soft as the toes of babies.
Others are hard as a factory's polished lino.

They were young once, these stories.
Some have callouses
Some missed the railway track
Some grow sour.
Others improve with years.

Some, you have to get down on your knees
To coax from a dusty corner under an iron bed.
They roll out, rusty and dusty,
Rhematicky and stiff...
But take them out. Encourage them to run

Watch as they blow the cobwebs
Out of their mouths and ears!

Little Red Riding Hood's lovely furry suit

Faither's back wis hairy as a wolf.
The fur aneth his sark
Blaik fuzz, wad gar him scrat, an flech betimes.
'Tae ma anely dother, I bequeath ma pelt'

Hirsute Celtic weemin,
Little Red Riding Hood's wolvine legacy.
This tide o bonnie fur
Shrunk tae the isles o oxters,
Peninsulas o dowp


Trees hear whirring wings
Dove croos
The news of leaves
The grumble of wheels on tar
Rumbling onward often against their will,
Whilst paving slabs attend to
Brush strokings,
Spade scrapings
Snail smashings
Wrecked mid-voyage
Crossing the garden path
Cracked by a thrush's bill.

Words, like birds
Must find a suitable roost,
Somewhere to perch, to preen
To beat their feathers,
To test-flight thoughts and dreams

Rose opens her velvet ear
To the squawks of day.
Into her focussed petals noises sink
Each bird call is allowed to have its say.
Her silent petals listen, only listen.
It is enough to tilt her head and glisten.

I am a seashell,
Letting the sand pour in
From a broad bay

In the rest of evening
When the ascending moon
Pulls back the tide,
Lights up each prickly star
My pearly whorls empty
Fill with ocean echoes
The cool and sinister breathing of the haar.

Red River, Red Sky

Here, swallows dressed in scarlet
Flash over sunset pyres.
The sophistry of sapphires!
The solitude of spires!
Here, storm clouds scud the heavens
Like sunbeams wearing shrouds
Where strollers in the shadows
Cross the wet grass like clouds

Here, flowers of hurt and sorrow
Their bitter perfumes yield
Like unhealed scars we carry
From suffering's battle-field

Here, like drowned wreaths of roses
The blood-red moments float
Like pitter-patter petals
That circle round a moat.

Eird Hoose

I wad hae me an eird hoose, an eird hoose, wi shaddas fur ma bed
A cailleach - lair, wi its reets fur hair, this bield tae the Derkness wed
Here, Winter wadnae enter, nur ae ae heich wird be heard
Like a mowdie-skin, the pitmerk, blin, wad ring me like a gird

Ooto the wye o the aidder, the erne an the peckin craa
Nae storm will iver fin me. Nae breengin breezes blaa
I'll turn ma jaa tae the moosewabs, like the stoor an the blawn caff
Fae the warld's merrimatazie, sae lichtsome I'll step aff

The Toad on the Rock's Opinion

Wetland's drained away by locust suburbs,
Hills poke up from torcs of masonry,
Like seals, ringed by a strand of human muck.

This rock my flipper's on, holds Gaelic whispers,
Bubbling up from the tarn's peaty throat.
The lub-lub of the loch is thick with echoes
Only a toad hears, silting into the dark.

What the Anatomist didn't say

Hairt dunts like a drum, a pulsed rhythm, tapped on a streetched skin.
A reid bellows wirked in a derk smiddy,
Fired bi the sook and blaw o miracle braith.

The Spitfire Veg
Aipples gie me the pip.
I'd raither be an ingin, culturally spikkin
Nae some wee berry ony craa can shakk

An ingin is the the spitfire o the veg
Ye think it's gaen...
It ay comes roarin back.


A book's a wood.
A chair's a tree
The grain holds good.

They preach to me
That like that book,
The wood, the tree
As I am them
So they are me..

Girl with a Pearl Earring

Vermeer's model; cheeks like mother of pearl
Head, a closed snowdrop
On the brittle stalk of her neck
Stands barefoot in her clogs
Quietly breathing through the canvas centuries
Sleek peasant Miss his brush strokes caused to purr.

A Bit of Embro Rough

A Cypriot sundial, casting a long shadow
Demetrius stepped from a myth
Into an unhinged day, that was swinging quaintly ajar.
The genii in the Retsina conjured him
Smack into the middle of the eatery
For the titillation of Embro office snackers.

In the mind of an unwed girl
He would swirl like a fine brandy
His eyes stalked every women who crossed the door
Mopping them up like yoghurt
Sweet and creamy.

His dark kebabs,
His sweet strong Turkish coffee
Made secretaries hunger for more.
The curls, dark on his brow
The olive oil in each fillette's baguette


A cacti spinster bristles, a prickly succulent.
A surgeon plays with a fish knife,
Tenuous connections are made across the soup.

From the kennel of his mind a councillor barks an opinion.
Like a gentle whiskered mare,
An elderly lady nods across her starter.

Theatre Visit

Puddles on pavements mirrored the passing queue,
Rain pelted gaberdines, or wetted calf-length fur,
Brillcreamed dads with razored cheeks bought tickets.
Permed mums with post-war faces powder-puffed.

A statue, pointed the way to pantomime,
Lip-sticky Romance, sealed with a smoochy kiss,
Kilted tenors' tremulous performance,
Knicker-showing can-can ladies' twirls.

Tier upon tier of families teetered above
Like layers of a wedding cake, a special treat
Lights dimmed to the in-drawn breath, the opening curtain.

The audience laughed and cried at tilting shadows
Farce was all the rage.
Strange feel of velvet seat on infant legs,
Swinging sandaled feet above a drop.
The paint-faced people frightened me, like dolls
That smiled although you knew they weren't real.

Hannibal Lecter's Alternative Christmas Denner

The precedent is Sawney Bean, the Scottish cannibal fa'd clean,
The puddens ooto Jock or Jean, wi potted heid, fur snacks atween.

His neb cud gyang on Monday's plate...a treat, fit fur a potentate
A culinery tour de force, atween the broth an trifle course,
Wi's tossell sookit like a sweety, he'd brichten up the cock-a-leekie

Insteid o bubbly jock's gee-gaws, Lecter wad feast, wi slivverin jaws
On Santa, roasted wi paw-paws. Feed fur a wikk on Mister Claus!

Of course, the reindeer wad be free tae makk a documentary
Aboot their lives as postie-beasts, afore they left their chimney-roosts!


The card was quite specific,
Private viewing at 10 pm.
Admit one only.

It was a lonely spot.
Gray gargoyles peered from plinths through wreathes of mist.
An eccentric laird had raised a temple there, marble, beside a loch.
Gothic moths gigantically fluttered through trees
And one drowned boy, eyelids like floating petals,
Steeped the water permanently black.

Nobody else was there when I arrived
Though a glass of red wine rested on a bench,
And two grey doves croo-crooed a little welcome.

It's never sunny in that dismal place,
But there was light enough to see the sculptor's work.
Near to the ground, hedged in by ivied oak,
And rhododenron bushes, thick and dank,
The statue squatted, hunched, its head bowed down
Like a tormented crab dredged up from some sick sea.

The gleaming wax of the statue shone like bone.
Two burning candles by it, making a moonlight river
Of its piano-key anatomy. Strange, that the sculptor had chosen
To melt the frozen creature of his own design.
I looked. The name on the plaque was mine.

A Real Doll

I was a perfect girl child
Ay, a real doll. Never spoke out of turn
You could have put me out on display
Next to the shiny mirror, the china ornaments.
Not a hair out of place.
Maybe that's why I got to stay.
Maybe they really wanted a teddy.

The Hermit and the Raptor

Owl, tears at her tethers. Raptor, all wrapped up
On her perch, her outlook, shrunk.

The hermit paces his flat. Options shrunk to a giro
All wrapped up in himself.

Outings widen vistas, opens doors.
Off the leash, owl flies on exultant wings
Face and feathers alight
An outing to the country
Part funded by the social
The hermit comes alive

High on a Huntly hill,
Benefit-land could be on planet Mars.
Tethers forgotten, bird and hermit soar.

Open Day, Waldorf School

Honey glows in the jar,
Strawberries flaunt their kissable lips.
Burgers sizzle and hiss.

Ribbons meet and pleat,
Tabors rattle. Thin high notes of a flute,
Greet cloud-high bubbles,
Bright balloons of joy.

Lupin, foxglove, circle the wattle fence,
Sycamores rain from the skies,
Futures rustle underneath the leaves.

A hundred stories hatch.
Imagination flexes growing wings.
Mud and stone give birth to mysteries

Inspired by Sir Edwin Landseer's painting, 'Flood in the Highlands'

The derkenin cloud. The spit o rain. The burnie bigger growes.
The lichtenin teirs the lift in twa. The larick boos an soughs.

The Heivens teem. The lochans ream. The cooerin yowies bleat
A broken gate's a burn in spate..a warlock, wud an weet.

The spring that treetled doon the braes is noo a roarin linn
Wi ragin kelpies gaun afore, the horned Deil ahin.

Flood in the Heilans! See the craft wi watter at its croon!
A Heicher Haun than mortal man dings ae wee faimly doon.

An bits o gear that they haud dear, claes, gee-gaws o the best
The risin tide casts aa aside like plooshare throwe a nest.

The worsit plaid wi'ts tartan braid, the greetin tittlin's cradle
Are heelstergowdie on the reef wi chitterin tyke, an table

The riven blanket in the wins is tom tae threids an thrums
Like a bodhran in warrior's haun the thunnerin doonpish drums

Aa draiglit in the dubby glaur, a precious christenin goun
A mither's snawy petticoats, bumshayvelt, heid tae foun.

Buik, buit an pan, the hale jing bang, gyang furlin ben the wave
In smithereens fine crystal speens sink tae a stormy grave.

The heichest lum, the stootest waa, rich herds o milkin kye
Are bit as nocht, fin aa unsocht, Misfortune cries inbye.


Screivin's anaesthesia fur livin.
Whyles I screive like a Maori war canoe.

Efter the screivin
Fin the mind is teem o thocht
Peace showds like a wicker coracle,
Lapped by a quaet loch.

Deid an Alive

Bawd, killt on the road's
An ugsome frozen cloud o bluidy fur
Ahin its glaiss een
Maggots meeve an heeze

A bonnie butterie's furlieorum tongue
Rypin gowd fae poppy bi a zebra crossin,

Micht reest a meenit on the bawd's stiff lug
Brakkin its journey, winnin back its pech

Two Couplet Persian Ghazal

Houses in towns are places people hide,
In skyscrapers like specks they seem, so small.

Moon in the city, hanging bound and tied,
To streets where light-gleams fight in shopping mall.

I like wild things that fly against the tide,
Although I know their destiny's to fall.


Grippin anither's haun (a skeleton's glove o skin)
Is nae great shakes. Is merely pumpin win.

Hochmagandie's a cocktail mix
O juices. A quick fix.
Twa meenit pick-me-up fur ennui.

Bit thocht, dear bocht, that bares the sel itsel,
Yon's intimate, fin harns thegither mell,
Thochts sweeled thegither sharin the same shell.

The Furniture takes stock

"How has your day been?" asks the waiting dark.
"Rest, for you must be weary", sings the chair.

Like a draught, like a silhouette, I cross the floor.
I sit like a pebble, washed up on the shore,
Sit till the moon comes up to fill the room
Watching the stars drop down on the river's back
They ride the waves, so bright, so full of joy,
A tribe of gypsies, shining gold and black.

Last Portrait of George Mackay Brown

Cheeks are hollow's a Viking longboat
Eyes have a dark, metallic glow
Face is etched with the storms of living,
Dried by the winds from a sullen Voe.

Hair is withered, for Winter's come.
With it, the season of the crow.
Ice is the frill on the blowing curtains,
There, in the room where dragons go.
Under his brow with its deeps and furrows
Thoughts like the grey tides ebb and flow

King Canute at the Gym

Grip and grab... .fight the flab
Designer slim... fit and trim
Metal thruster... .gut buster
Poking, stabbing... .punching, jabbing
Sagging bums... .squidgy tums
Wobbly belly... .give it welly.
Whack and thud... .pumping blood
Faster, faster... .mind is master
Dehydration... .perspiration
Flapping laces slapping paces
Armpits, damp... .moving ramp
Boxing fist... .masochist.
Jiggling breasts... .see-through vests
Bulging veins... . cricks and sprains
King tune, old flute

Still Life Movie

A pensioner's bus tour stops at a North East beach.
They step down tenderly, helping each other out.

This is a brief hiatus in their lives.
Bemused, caught in the sea's headlights
Folk stand still as cliffs

Their short emotional seasons, sulks, frowns, smiles,
Dimple and glint on faces hacked like rock,
Hands gnarled like driftwood struggle with headsquare knots

Grey wisps of hair escape, fly up like birds.
Sea pulls their attention in. Stock-still, they watch it move
Threads in a needle, woven into the whole.

Orange Slice in a Cocktail

Mother fruit, dead slice, all killed up, chewed dry,
I remember when you were fizz, were froth, were flamenco kicking-legs

Drops all drunk, squeezed flat, Mother fruit you gonna die
Orange brown, Mother fruit. All killed up, chewed dry.

Orange of the sliced thin mouth, wet as a watery eye
Squeezed leak, your rind is a disappearing horizon
Your fruit is wrinkled-tan
You trickle down my throat.
A soon over pleasure
All washed up on the rocks.

A Thing Worth Knowing

Sweet rot, that cradles the earth
That fills its belly with leaf, with queen, with bird,
If I press my ear to your mouth
Will you whisper me one dark word?

Where does the last sigh go from a dead man's mouth?
Does it melt, like April snow?

The weight of a single tear.
Is it leaden's a tolling bell?

First leaf of Spring,
Will you drop first in the Fall?

Deer Skull

Twinned horns reeted in ae white cave,
Coral-smeeth, the colour o bleached linen.
Keenin wins abseil doon comes o been,
Glissade like fite birds cairriet on wings o snaa
The shocks an whorls o teem ee sockets glent
Far glances quick an blate aince berthed an blinkit.

Caledonian Antisyzygy

Whole cultures turn to dust
In the spacious catacombs of un-becoming,
Miniature selves, splitting semantic hairs
Peering out through Pictland cracks
The debris people leave behind their backs.

When you enter ancestral vaults.
Hope may sip a brandy, pack, and flit.
There may be a blessing, a curse
Or there may not.
There may be a Norseman there, beside a Scot.

One day a postcard will come, sent from your past,
Written in your own hand and you won't know it.
From a self you waved farewell to at Heathrow airport
From it, or the one above, or the one below it.

The Song of the Corn

The sky is limitless, the wind horse rides it.
The sea is fathomless, the dolphin swims it.
The land is bottomless, the mole ploughs it.

The oak is the acorn, the thing and its beginning.
The feather's the eagle, the bird and its ascending.

The field is a mandala. For death it's born
Alpha and Omega. The song of the corn.

Suicide Lady

Dropped in the river like a burst car wheel,
Neat laces tied in bows..pretty, rubber shoes,
Hair, waving in water like a big hello,
The suicide lady rolls jelly baby eyes.

Lost property, No takers.
Waiting to be bagged and tagged and binned.

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The SCOTS Project and the University of Glasgow do not necessarily endorse, support or recommend the views expressed in this document.


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The Toad on the Rock's Opinion. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 19 April 2024, from

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The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 514

The Toad on the Rock's Opinion


Text audience

General public
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Handwritten
Word count 5941

Text publication details

Publisher Self: Limited Edition / Thistle Reprographics
Publication year 2004
Place of publication Aberdeen

Text type

Other Collection of poems


Author details

Author id 112
Forenames Sheena
Surname Blackhall
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1940
Educational attainment University
Age left school 16
Upbringing/religious beliefs Brought up Protestant, now Buddhist
Occupation Writer and supply teacher
Place of birth Aberdeen
Region of birth Aberdeen
Birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Aberdeen
Region of residence Aberdeen
Residence CSD dialect area Abd
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Manager of Deeside Omnibus Service
Father's place of birth Aboyne
Father's region of birth Aberdeen
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Private Secretary
Mother's place of birth Aberdeen
Mother's region of birth Aberdeen
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes
Gaelic; Scottish Gaelic Yes Yes Yes Yes Elementary. Gaelic choir. Poetry.
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes