Category Archives: birds

world tales


On Top of the World



After the rain,

three herring gulls on

chimney pots;

now

sun’s blazing

Anderson’s slates.

In

between

two rounds of

showers,

blackbird voices,

raw

arc-en-ciel. 

young maa



out of wharf, ripples & ruffle,

it comes to dip among

brown kelp;

bobs

up

&

down

water surface

and finds solace amid

islands,

where clouds

harness silver edge

tides… Where wings wrangle

herring gull pride.

Where they

come to

feed

at

present.

The Edge

Look at the edge of your own world.
Free your heart & feet from tarmac,

where gutters offer

no relief.

Untie your boat, grab your

own oars.

Hear the call of the

waterline,

everlasting song of rollers

melts in white

sand –

some call it a desert

island,

but to my heart,

it is music.

Either side of the shining

edge,

we find our prints tied around kelp:

on the dry side of the mirror,

men have wandered among knives and

white broken

shells spewed offerings;

so few can listen to the wind,

the song of seasons inside wings

of a kingdom made of

lush Land,

where the sun rests

after crimson.
I hear you

say,

“you’re a dreamer” –

“time is money to all of us.”
I say “throw your coins to a sea, paper to oblivious

limpets..

The world you live feeds from

despair, liars and lice;

they gave you dreams as

tasty bait.

Tied to a tree inside concrete,

sea rockets smell so alien…

We imagine resolutions

and yet

shackles

locked around feet,

with their keys kept inside

boardrooms, between

the

hands of

their makers –

make no mistake,

they will not give them easily;

magpies like anything

shiny.

This world I love has its

pure gems.
© Nat Hall 2017

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wheel of life

hairst b and w.jpg

September, month of smiles and tears.

Yesterday, I congragated with friends and fellow writers from the Westside as well as the Waas community to say agoodbye to one of us. I loved the way his son spoke of my friend, and the way Janet somewhat managed to conceal some of her grief. The service was very poignant. I, among so many of us, will miss the good doctor who animated our monthly friday nights in Weisdale, as well as the many facets of everyone who was connected to his life. But he lives in our hearts, and his writings testify the life journey of a very brave, adventurous, life and children loving man. Rest in peace, Robin.

September, change of light.talking sky in Hairst.jpg

Weeks fly like lit gun powder; fridays tear down the pages of our almanacs like a develish, untamed child too eager to rid of school days. And the sky follows suite. Little have I noticed sunsets and sunrises shifted on the the great cosmic clock… That daylight had begun to shrink. The island now unveils those autumnal hues.  A more difuse light now clads everything on the island. The sky awaken and talks again.  Whereas swans are starting to flock at Spiggie, others are thinking to go… Northern wheatears, pied wagetails and meadow pipits, together with a few swallows still grace our fence posts, road verges and fields… Though they too will depart from our shores and let others replace them for the darker months ahead.

September, trade of wings. young wheatear.jpg

That juvenile northern wheatear will home itself south of my eyes for a few months, should it survive that great epic maiden flight south. I feel somewhat eager to reconvene with our winter visitors, whilst already marvelling at eclipse or winter plumage from some of our local avian friends. Guillemots certainly are noticeable from Gutters’ Gaet or Bressay Sound.  And if observation feels rather limited during weekdays, the odd visit to harbours, lochs, fields, voes and wicks (bays) rekindles that pleasure.

mute-swans

And as nothing remains the same, September will vanish in flames, and let October take over. With the tenth month, I too will trade land and migrate for precious time to the other side side of he North Sea, as I will reconvene with friends and fjords. That second collection of verse demands so, as my heart does.

With October, the more prominent return of darkness… And the almanac will obey the laws of the universe.

IMG_2854

 

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reviewing jackdaw’s songs of the north

img_8071Out of darkness, the bleakest point from the island, came cobbled thoughts, a flash of ink blended with salt – now nights have cleared, here comes my humble impressions of jackdaw’s blend of geopoetics inside his début collection, Heading North.

“Heading North”, by Andrew James Murray, is the second volume from Nordland Publishing’s Song of the North Series. Its author defines himself as a northern guy with a northern accent and attitude, yet attracted to even more northern latitudes, landscapes and who follows in the tradition of both geographical and inner landscapes – bleaker in places, mysterious and remote. His journey takes us from the comfort of his familiar Manchester world to the Ring of Brodgar on a far away archipelago bathed by both a sea and an ocean, via a myriad of known & unknown places – Berlin, Prague to the cobbled streets of Stromness. But it also takes us across gritty and sometimes wonderfully chiselled inner scapes.

It all begins at midnight in summer.

Blind to great masses / that dance in dark orbits. / And a soft, summer wind. Midnight, July.

There is game of light and dark as poems juxtapose the poet’s mood and sense of place. From the Spanish Hills to Backyard, we meander through light shafts at will to find ourselves in the scarce sunlight.

There is elegance in simplicity,

The sunflower / grows alone,/ […] and a penchant for flattery. Sunflower

And there comes the jackdaw.

The one robed in capes / swooping first over parched soil / and shrivelled roots – from Storm Coming.

Poetics scapes towering contrasts, I love the allieration from Row Mojo,

the bleak blushes of dusk, and from sensuality we find ourselves drinking beyond oblivion, sometimes eating death, tasting ash, eating a father. Brutal and yet poetical.

We are tossed at sea like guillemots inside tides; we know we are heading north. That’s when the zenith turns to twilight. From the dockland to the ocean to reach the realms of the northern lands. As we progress throgh the poet’s journey, we wander though dark lands. And then we hit winter, as we reach ravaged, savage scapes & its dwellers, the crows.

Yet we are tossed between seasons, as we are drawn to the blackbird that emerges with exquisite sensuality, songstress of the twilight / I am lost in your song.

I am sensitive to the poet’s observation of his surroundings, real or not. The raw beauty of a savage sky, in this rugged hour, / a low inter sun / glazes soft… From Savage Sky.

A solitary road, cobbled, winding, / […] engineered perhaps, to break the tumult / of wind and sea … From Stromness. I believe George MacKay Brown would have smiled.

Without a question or a doubt, Andrew James Murray’s poetic collection certainly encompasses key elements of geopoetical dimension, and gives the reader a sense of north. His quest took him as high as Orkney. Elegant in places, harsh and chiselled with flair and savagery in others, Heading North is an invitation to beauty. Very much recommended.

Merci pour ta poésie, mon ami :-).

Jackdaw sings with corvids, the rawness of a northern song, and a blackbird.

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fluttering (1)

 

12933134_1730950360525488_8546018913097351899_nPlease mark a date in your diary, Compass Head, available on Amazon, will be celebrated at the Shetland Library in Lerwick on Friday 20 May 2016.

We – the poet, our Shetland Librarians and friendshave the beginning of a plan.

More to come, as dusk slides into a starry night.

 

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loose

   My very first thought as I discovered Wednesday from mid-morning: 

Do we need to set alight replica viking longships to stop rain? …Let’s carry on, ’cause it’s working! 

The day after the great bonfire in Lerwick gave us all hope to stretch our legs in style, as a much calmer day overrode a miserable Tuesday (and the final Wednesday of January allows us that in the first place!) . 

Needless to say I would not stay put inside home, as the island was calling me out for an afternoon in the wild.

  
And it began with a great northern diver off Rerwick Beach, where a colony of common seals littered a good part of white sand.

  
From the roadside, they look like slugs…

   A family of whooper swans graced the dullness of Spiggie Loch in low light. 
  
And moorhens whizzed in between pools… 

  
On the North Sea side of the island, teals & waders foraged at will on what the bay offered to them. Every wild gale feels generous, as rollers bring forest of kelp to be picked on from the edge of our known world. 

Loose on a Wednesday afternoon, with the magic of the island.

  
That wonderful window of freedom felt a privilege, as well as penicillin to winter. 

Magic moment so beneficial to the soul – a sample of winter wildlife on my Nordic doorstep. 🙂 

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solidarity

It takes courage to speak out loud from the tip of an island.
Who are we to raise voices when all seems fine? Or is it? For years on end, people flee wars, in an attempt to save their lives. For months on end, the wheel of news feed us garbage—  by this, I insist on political spoon feeding on TV screens and newspapers… Where viewers and readers are bombarded with highly controlled news, (namely “intox”)
And then, it takes one image, one single shot of a toddler by the edge of the sea. The ball’s rolling.
For the second time, my pen responded to a world scale crisis. Call me an idealist (or a dreamer), but nobody wants to find themselves fleeing from war zones, or hanging between life and death at some railings by a frontier or a headland… Or a tunnel.
To this effect,
I was solicited to write and share verse, by friend & event coordinator, Wendy Sinclair, a month ago. The event, “Solidarity Through Music”, took place on Saturday 24 October 2015 in Lerwick, and gathered a palette of amazing local talent – including The Donald Anderson Band, Lisa Ward and The Dirty Lemons to name but a few – among which I, the only poet, was invited to perform.
Always daunting when in a crowd of musicians! Yet I rose to the challenge. …After all, performing among musicians, bands, is turning a kind of habit, since Open Mic Nights at Mareel Café feature mostly the sung voice.

image

image

image

What an experience! The atmosphere was fantastic. The audience turned up in good numbers (by Shetland standards) through the eight-hour entertainment marathon, gave generously through applause and money. Today, I learnt that the event raised over £1000.00 in donations and raffle ticketing… It may not read very impressive, however, it adds to the continuous generosity of island folk when it comes to humanitarian crisis. Already, folk have donated in kind – shoes, clothing, tents, sleeping bags, etc. – earlier on in the year, in an effort to help the stranded  refugees by Calais.
Shetland Supporta Refugees is well active.

Here, my humble contribution to the effort, through two stand-alone pieces, The Rift and One World, One Tribe.
Am a humanist with a pen, and so happy to contribute to such event. With renewed thanks to Wendy for including my work among the day, as well as to Alan McKay for the introduction.

We may live on the fringe of a troubled continent, but we listen to world distress.

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migration

They flock, they feed, they fare, they fly…

SO is the taenvolle of Earth’s winged creatures that dare to tame our meridians, gales, tides and cycles of the moon… This urge to breed make them undertake an extraordinary journey, from the estuaries in Eastern and Southern England to the more sub-Arctic region where I find them on my local mudflats. I, as many, am in awe to their ability to find their way, memorise routes, resilience in the face of danger(s), as well as their physical stamina for their size in this everlasting race for life and endurance.sanderlings are go

How do they do it? So extraordinary, for us, humans from the 21st Century, parked inside patches guarded by politics & bill in sandpassports…

Some even go further than that.

Take the Arctc Tern (Sterna paradisea) – a species that holds a formidable record in terms of annual migration. Its sttirrickory reads incredible. And yet terns remain one of many avian species that takes this immense risk to defy the rules of nature and undertake such vital marathon.

knots [1]

At this moment in time, autumnal migration has begun. Many waders – knots, sanderlings, ringed plovers, redshanks, godwits, to name a few – grace the edge of each tide, beach or pool, around the island. Some, still in full regalia, others, moulles daltonsting. They come to feed and prepare for the long journey. And then, they will take to the air and disappear…

flight

We really live on an extraordinary planet.

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Filed under 2015, 60N, Arcania, autumn, birds, celebration, earth, hairst, island, migration, scotland, shetland