Glasgow

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To Let

 

Everywhere that Mary went, Mary went, Mary went

Everywhere that Mary went,

A building was To Let.

 

Gorgeous glass creations

cavernous and hollow,

no desks and files

disturb it’s pristine heart.

 

The fleece on those stone buildings

reveal its Industrial birth.

 

Walking through Mackintosh’s

white as snow bedroom

left me gasping, but no clouds of breath

rent the air like smog in this space.

 

Glasgow may have it’s share of sheep and Marys

but its no little lamb.

Royal Botanical Gardens

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Largest Collection of Chinese plants outside of China

Do politicians, when touring their cities

proudly declare largest collection of such and such population

outside of their home nation?

 

Or do they build hedges more solid than

the 8 foot high hedge round the Queen’s Garden?

 

Alpine plant growing well in your lowland home,

do you appreciate the dedicated care gone into your survival?

 

Carefully partitioned marvels grow here,

so please stay on your partition

and don’t touch the leaves.

Language

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Consonatic cairns

reverbrate under

lilting green growing.

 

Their vowels soar

through sky,

rest still as a loch,

crackle with the peat.

Doing You Justice

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Mercy, that I think I understand.

It’s a mercy that these forests get replanted,

that most of the land belongs to sheep,

that the McDonald’s don’t live beneath Golden Arches.

It’s a mercy that the lochs are still lochs.

 

It’s like. I mean, like when I saw that mountain

I was like. You know?

 

Ben Nebhais towers, with a naked cold shoulder to the world.

The landscape is like a venomous snake that no one wants to get too near.

But it’s not a snake. It’s like walking through a  mist into a fantasy novel.

 

Actually, it’s more like a land of liquid sunshine, where the sun keeps long summer hours,

but the mists work around the clock. When I think about what I like about this world,

I thought of an old, old mountain, covered in green with a narrow trail of white

running down the side. The trail was like the vein of the earth, pumping lifeblood.

 

Doing you justice would be removing all the likes. All that would be left would be silence.

Pigeon Lady, feeding the birds costs more than tuppence

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Tuppence, worth less than a thought these days.

No one offers pennies for the musings of your brain

when all anyone wants is to text, because that conversation

demands the least attention paid to the other speaker.

 

You sit at your park, asking for tuppence, but everybody’s walking

faster, driving, biking, ipods on, cell phones out. God bless you,

with your dog at your side. No one gives tuppence for the birds

but you might get a pound for the beautiful dog.

 

Pigeon lady, with your monastic ritual of feeding the birds,

Do you wake up every couple hours to feed the birds?

Do you scrub the sidewalk, or does that walkway belong to

a sphere beneath your concern?

 

It was a beautiful story I made for you,

until I saw you touch the birds

and then all I could do was worry for your health.

Fountains Abbey

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Camera to the eye, projecting majesty onto a small rectangle

to be shared. Grandmas and aunts, in the midst of wedding plans enjoy

Fountains Abbey, where nature crept into man’s work.

 

Funny how the ravages of time here don’t depress you

as you climb crumbling walls, poke your head through

doorless holes and find a room with a few faded tiles.

 

Stained grass knees from sitting

in the sunshine of a pane-less window.

 

Wandering away from Fountains Abbey

to sit by the nearby brook. I take my glasses off

and imagine the sparkling light flitting across

the rippling water is an eddy of fairies, come to play

amongst the flowers and faded stone.

Castle Howard

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Life at Castle Howard, with its expansive stone rooms, profusion of stair cases, and acres of land, is fit for the life of an Austen character. The 9th earl got to live a dream life-he was free to explore art without worrying about money. Unfortunately for him, his society measured artistic talent by paintings sold. The earl, in this beautiful castle and grounds, got to live within his dream.

Roy Wood, the forest that is also a garden behind Castle Howard, reminded me of childhood. When I was younger, I was obsessed with finding secret places, places that adults ignored. I loved the tiny copse of trees by a nearby park because there was a place for groups to gather. I loved my friend’s unfinished basements. I had a hidey-hole in my closet that I would curl up for hours with a good book, I stored most of my secret treasures up there. The one thing in my amassing of secret places that was missing was wide open spaces in which to roam. My dad grew up in a small town; hearing about his boyhood haunts made me long for untamed spaces. Walking through Roy Wood, I could imagine all sorts of games that kids could play in woods. Those are the spaces where you can imagine fairies and other worlds in.

The moors around Haworth also evoked a feeling of wondering exploration from my childhood. As I thought about the worlds the Bronte sisters created, I realized that the imaginary worlds of children depend largely on environment. Our imaginary worlds were houses, circuses, and zoos. Having the moors to run through gives children a space within their environment. Contained within a house, it’s easy for kids to remain unaware of expansive possibilities. Free to roam places like the moors, kids get a feel for how large the world is, at the same time they get a feel for how to operate in such a large space. I took my mystery places where I could find them, but I imagine for people growing up in Haworth and Castle Howard over the past century had mystery places vying for the attention of children.

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