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.
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.
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.
thistles stretch their prickly arms afar