Militant Thistles

polemical poetry to prickle the politics of "permanent austerity"

atos Poor Doors Sheriff Stars spikes

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle bedroom tax Disrupt and Upset

Jim Aitken

Am Bradan Allaidh

(The Wild Salmon)



Riverrun, not Anna Livia

but a highland torrent of whisky

golden brown from bracken, heather, peat

off to the ocean distillery


where all things merge in the global sea

all’s the same though the moods may differ

uniformity blended by salt

no more fresh water, dancing river


following the flow and the current

going the way all things are going

the triumph of mediocrity

the victory of late reaction


in the sea of globalisation

we are all so pretty in pink now

farmed salmon in overcrowded tanks

swallowing all the pellets they throw


tamed, memories eradicated

of deep pools, jagged rocks, waterfalls

heroic journeys against the flow

spawning at the very source of things


so get back to where you once belonged

cast off the flabbiness, captive state

and rediscover muscle and flesh

the spirit that once made you alive


observe our own am bradan allaidh

leaping and pounding the Falls of Shin

a silver sword shining through the spray

disdainful of any obstacle

Jim Aitken is a former English teacher who now tutors in Scottish Cultural Studies in Edinburgh. He is a poet and a dramatist as well as being a member of the Radical Independence Campaign. Aitken has written poetry pamphlets for Palestine Solidarity and for Stop The War. He also edited a poetry pamphlet by fellow teachers called Magistri Pro Pace. In 2012 the Scottish Federation of Socialist Teachers published the journal of his last year as an English teacher and EIS activist called The Last Calendar of Events. In 2013 he brought out a DVD of his poems called Our Foolish Ways, produced by First Reel Target. In 2014 his play Letters from Area C was produced by SpartaKi Theatre in Leith and earlier this year his play Leaving George, a play about Scotland’s Referendum, was produced again by SpartaKi for the Leith Festival. He has also had poems published in A Rose Loupt Oot (Smokestack, 2011) celebrating the UCS Work-in, edited by David Betteridge and in Scotia Nova, Poems for the early days of a better nation, edited by Tessa Ransford and Alistair Findlay 2014.

watch it glide like a hawk through water

informed by an instinct we once knew

that said such sacrifice was worth it

constant glorification a sham


no mere consumer this gallant fish

as it reaches the shallow waters

reclaiming an ancient heritage

that guarantees continuation


no goldfish in a murky, glass bowl

no inert, bored version all tanked up

a truly free individual

truly a revolutionary


and truly one we should emulate

ignoring the water’s empty rage

the foolish flow to fathomless grief

for the silent solace of belief.