Poetry: Jim Mainland

eftir Les Murray

I starred dastreen, I shon;
I wis fitwark an firewark in wan,

a rocket oagin up ta spret da mirk
wi a sprickle-shooer o brichtness
an a whaup-pleepse on a bulderit bit;
I wis blashy blinks an blibes blue-litt
fae da boddim ta da croon ida lift;
I wis a reeky taand ida heevins’ hert-sten,
da mirrie dancers geen halliget;
I wis a slester o lowin pent, lowsin
gowd an siller, cloorin een anidder,
an endin wi a rissenin, rid-tongued aze:
wan hoor o a yallicrack, boye!

An as aye happens eftir ony victory,
naethin can aese da döl I dree.

dastreen: last night; oagin: crawling; spret: burst; mirk: darkness; sprickle-shooer: spray; whaup-pleepse: plaintive call; bulderit: unruly; blashy blinks: sudden lightning flashes; blibes: bubbles; blue-litt: indigo; croon ida lift: zenith; taand: firebrand; halliget: wild; lowing: glowing; lowsin: letting loose; cloorin: clawing; rissenin: shimmering; aze: blaze; wan hoor o a yallicrack: some bloody commotion; döl:grief, woe; dree: suffer


Pickit Proil
eftir John Milton

Mammon led da wye, lowest o da baand
at fae heevin fell. Even dere, dey said,
he gied aye lookin at da grund, twa-fauld,
huntin eftir traisir, mair an mair
blinnded be da nyaagin gloor o it –
an aye missin whit wis boannie abune.

An he first saa profit in plunderin
da earth, hockin an rivin, layin at,
owre-steer, doon ta da very shakkins,
an aa spöllied, aa in roogs: pickit proil
fae a bellin wound better left alane.
Dunna be surprised if hell is möld-rich –
whaar better ta preeve its unlippened swee?

pickit proil: dirty money; twa-fauld: doubled up; nyaagin: nagging ache; gloor: glimmer; abune: above; hockin: digging; rivin: tearing; layin at: toiling; owre-steer: over-zealous; shakkins: last remnants; spöllied: wrecked; roogs: heaps of spoil; bellin: festering; möld-rich: filthy rich; preeve: taste; unlippened: unexpected; swee: sting


eftir Miroslav Holub

Twa thoosan fags.
A hunder mile
fae daek ta daek.
An age an a half o waitin
fir somethin ta click.

A mird o wirds
flachterin lik birds.

A hunder books we didna write.
A hunder brochs we didna bigg.

A year lost ida moorie o da mind.
A twalmont sequestered in a sooth-wast wind.


An it swees lik da beginnin
o da world.

Hear me whin I tell dee,
it wis boannie.

mird: throng; flachterin: fluttering; bigg: build; moorie: blizzard; möld: dust; ess:ashes; swees: singes, stings



He went directly and unhurried and scanned the smattering.

Wingbit snagskin throatlap furthew clawlid eyespit oarfire.
Oarfire? No, that’s just dreams talking. Pure dreamtalk.
But sinew and pinion, yes.
Scale and ferrule, yes.
Printflake. printflake. printflake.

And he simply upped them one by one
and cradled them eachwise in his hand,
and stroked them whole and hale.

And every single sundered heartbeat struck.

Jim Mainland is a writer and former teacher from Shetland. He has published widely in The New Shetlander and other magazines. His first poetry collection was A Package of Measures in 2002, and his second was The League of Notions, published by Hansel Co-operative Press in 2013, from which these poems are taken.