Orkney Odyssey 3: Time Tells

Feeling the need to return.

City Jackdaw

There is a romanticism and a melancholy to the islands.

An echo of times past. A hint of meaning that lies just beyond the wind. Meaning whose origin is adorned by labels: Norse, Pictish, Neolithic. A procession of markers that will outlive us all.

I wonder if living here day after day, year after year, causes you to be blasé about it all? Do the markers become invisible, blending in with the rest of the storm-shaped landscape?

I remember seeing a documentary a few years back about people living in the Scottish Highlands. Among all that natural beauty and dramatic vistas, the young ones were bored to death. They said that visitors would tell them how lucky they were to be living there. They would reply that there was never anything to do. They would amuse themselves by sending travelling tourists in the opposite direction of the landmarks that they…

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Midsummer. Evening.

On the evening of  this longest day, 2014.

City Jackdaw

Everything still looks the same, but a line has been crossed.

Any change, any shift, will for a while be imperceptible. But things, as always happens, will gradually gather momentum until all is transformed.

“Time and tide wait for no man,” my father used to say.

They didn’t wait for him. He never attempted to outrun, or withstand. Once you reach a certain age, there is an air of inevitability about things. But there is no great hurry. We can live riding the rhythms of seasons, of tides.

The sun begins to set, it does not appear any different to the way it set last night, or the night before. But a person knows. That is our curse. But it is also a blessing.

Today has been a good day, shared with family and friends, and the things that count.

In the morning the rising sun will place another bead…

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Seven Winds

Seven Winds

The seven winds.
Are there seven? 

Stapling 'Missing' posters to telegraph poles
sweaty black leather
and the odorous stink
of sex and B.O.

A slip with a girl's number on it 
found in the pocket of an old coat
ragged and threadbare

could she still be out there?
a fixed point
in a perishing dream.

Coffee. 
Caffeine doesn't keep you awake

it's a myth
it's the toilet trips
that need to piss every goddamned hour

slipping through the tincture of light
that crawls from the horizon 
with a Kirlian glow.

There are friends long gone
who festered for a while
couldn't take the hint

but maybe I was their project
grasping for words
as the dying gasp for breath

carving my affections
instead
into the flesh of trees.


©AndrewJamesMurray

New Year Carvery

You know, things go on. The world still turns, the seasons follow their customary order, stretching ahead from those first, unwitnessed moments. It is man’s tendency to carve time up into chunks, allot measures and names and meaning. Apparently this is the year of the monkey. But only until the portion we call January 28th, for then it becomes the year of the rooster.

I’ve even heard that this year we are adding an extra second-a leap second, to compensate for a slowdown in the Earth’s rotation. That’s going to cock the fireworks up, isn’t it?

I’m not sure if we make it up as we go along, I put my trust in the experts. Maybe we could add an hour-give everyone some extra drinking time?

The days are gone when I spend New Year’s Eve in a pub, congratulating everyone after the countdown with a firm handshake, a kiss, and “Another year closer to death.” But that’s just me-I temper it with a smile. But you guys know that, for you follow City Jackdaw.

But I will join in and welcome (after impatiently waiting that extra second) the carved segment that we will call 2017. And 2016: close the door on the way out.

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Hope you all have a great New Year’s Eve, however you want to mark it.

See you on the flip side. Let the segment begin.

Twilight Time #1

The time-between-time. Still my favourite.

City Jackdaw

I overheard a conversation today between two people. I didn’t intentionally listen, but they were sat behind me on the bus, and so I was a captive eavesdropper. They were talking about what their favourite time of the day was.

By favourite time, I don’t mean 2.34am, or 15.12pm. Rather, the portion of day that they preferred.

One announced that he was a morning person. The other snorted, claiming that he had always been a ‘night owl’.

As we carve up the year into seasons into months into weeks into days into hours, I suppose we cannot help but hold them to comparison and have preferences.

My favourite season is Winter. My favourite half of the year begins with Autumn. Or Fall, as they put it more poetically across the pond.

But what about my favourite time of the day?

I love twilight, that time when the daylight noticeably…

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The Playthings Of Man

Those of you who have read my book will have come across a namecheck in the foreword of a certain Kenneth White. White introduced the term Geopoetics, the meaning of which has informed both my writing and the way that I see the world for a long time-long before I had even heard of Geopoetics or knew what it meant.

Being an admirer of White’s poetry and his waybooks, this afternoon I was sat outside in what is perhaps the final ebb of summer, reading House Of Tides. This quote, of an old Japanese saying, stood out:

In youth a man plays with women, in middle age with the arts, and in old age with a garden.

I put it in context for myself.

Here I am: happily married; playing at being a poet; thinking about peas.

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