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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.

Jim Aitken

Late Leaves


All the leaves were later this year

with the extended cold and snow.

And when the first buds burst open

delight and relief became one.


Now in full flush they shine and sway

in sunlight as they always should.

Yet so many seem to take this

for granted as they always do.


In a world turned upside down

by the monstrous greed of the few

there is little of permanence

and much more precariousness.


Late leaves mean zero hour contracts,

a shuffling people on the move

from one bedroom just too many

imposed by those in their mansions.


Late leaves like the merging season

should be telling us something true

to challenge the drift to darkness

where stunted trees produce no leaves.


By leaves we breathe, by leaves we live

and through our dumb disharmony

we threaten the leaves' appearance

where all their wealth then turns to dust.

The Conditions


With all this sun these last few days

and the brightness late into the evening,

the sap has been rising with fresh scents

filling the air and colour bursting through.


And the whole world seems to have changed.

Colour begets colour and remaining buds

prepare for further grand entrances,

confirming the welcome arrival of Spring.


No with all these shades of green and blossom,

these pungent aromas after drizzles of rain,

the reasons for all this actually happening

recede to the point of never having been raised.


And the leaves and buds that become leaves

make me think of all the children that grow

through love, care and constant attention

while others wilt and wither through dark neglect.


Or while the adverse governance by the few

enable only the few to blossom and to shine,

the best of all possible governments

dispense nutrients that allow all to flourish.

Poor Doors
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
bedroom tax
Disrupt and Upset
bedroom tax
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
Disrupt and Upset

Militant Thistles

prickling the politics of "permanent austerity"

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