SCOTTISH CAT AND SCOTTISH MOUSE
The very first Because
(no paws or claws
but logic’s laws)
came once upon a mouse-click
slick as any electronic
tick . . . tick . . . tick . . .
through Time’s deleted was.
Binary YES and binary NO,
the cursor showing where to go
(its heartbeat is what matters most
to touchscreen lives
But oh! Oh! OH!
that once upon a long ago
that’s brought us from entropic high
to less entropic low!
Never mind the why and how
only that we’ve come at last
to now –
i.e. what this cat and mouse allow.
Scottish cat and Scottish mouse
play hide-and-seek about our house –
no walls, no floors,
no stairs, no doors,
and nothing in between,
just me and you and you and me –
our hopes for what will never be
our fears for what has never been.
While Scottish sun and moon and star
make us who and what we are,
all histories of this and that
are better left to Scottish mouse
and Scottish cat.
We live in a glass kingdom that seems each day to become more fragile. Should we worry? After all, our elders and betters are determined to take care of us.
A HISTORY OF THE GLASS KINGDOM
Back then, High Priests would breathe on every surface
of our sacred heart-stone;
lesser priests breathed
on the everyday transparency of streets,
buildings, billboards, trees, grass
and falling rain.
They breathed and they polished,
they made our precious kingdom shine!
(Beyond our borders lay a thanklessness
of darkness and division
where local deities clawed at the sky,
and stamped on the earth
to get attention.
Matters of life and death were settled
by divine clumsiness.
Small gods and smaller men – envy
gave them strength.)
Meanwhile, the light streaming from our
sacred heart-stone’s core purified
and protected us.
Our dreams were forgiven,
our longings and regrets (the mess
of fingerprints we’d smear on whatever
were painlessly erased.
Contented years, contented centuries. Until –
This morning, the sun has come to a standstill.
Beneath us, the permafrost contracts.
We feel it crack.
Feel it split.
Glaciers and polar icecaps are
breaking off, slipping
(so far away from us, we hardly
hear a sound)
into the warming waters.
Our priests assure us they continue to breathe
and to polish every single moment
of every single day.
They say they breathe and polish harder
than ever before.
They have new incantations, they tell us,
Do they think they can move the sun?
Computer simulations show our kingdom
catching fire. Such an electronic crackling,
such a roar from the surround-sound speakers!
See-through roads and bridges melt.
Glass-hard girders buckle in the heat.
History’s a sentence left forever
incomplete . . .
The Ninth Roman Legion invaded Scotland c.120AD. They were never seen again. It was all so very, very long ago, and yet . . .
THE ROMAN INVASION OF SCOTLAND
Thanks to the ruler-straight road from here to Rome
and back again, we saw them coming miles away.
Call up the bards to verse and curse!
And Druids to stop the clocks, freeze-frame
the weather, make screen-shots of the day
ten cohorts of six hundred men
came clambering over the Wall.
That was the Roman invasion of Scotland,
the one and only.
2,000 years on they’re still here, still wandering
the Celtic mist, still taking wrong turns
on the wrong tracks in the long-gone
Forest of Caledon.
For them, it’s a late November afternoon,
and always will be. Darkness falling,
night ahead, and always,
Sinister . . . dexter / Sinister . . . dexter . . .
The Pentland Hills in summer –
a cloud passing over the sun.
Sudden chill. Sudden skirl of sleet
from an empty sky.
Here they come – IX Legio Hispana!
So worn-out now. So skin-and-bone weightless.
Their buckles, belts and body-armour
tattered air; their shields
and swords trails of rust . . .
We watch them march march
march across Flotterstone Water
making hardly a ripple.
(Not the sort of invasions we view on YouTube –
Blockbusters wars with blockbuster budgets!
SHOCK AND AWE, and the sequel
OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM
with its drones, its jets,
its PR threats –
all for $77 billion.
Tomahawk missiles at $1 million per,
delivering freedom and democracy . . .)
Sinister . . .dexter / Sinister . . . dexter . . .
Look close. How many lifetimes does it take
to read what’s right before our very eyes?
Pictish runes, sprayed graffiti,
hidden landmines . . .
The future’s scripted everywhere around us –
Carefully then, so very carefully, let’s brush aside
these last few grains of sand . . .
One day soon (give or take a million years),
Scald Law and Carnethy will have levelled down
to folded layers of white-heat, seared-red
rock that ebbs and flows,
cooling to form its new geology.
Ancient lives and ours have come, and gone.
The Pentlands freeze over once again. The cold sun
barely risen, makes evening shadows
of all that has been said and done.
Sinister . . . dexter / Sinister . . . dexter. . .