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‘Heartfelt, often nostalgic, these poems speak of Lorn Macintyre’s deep affection for his family and his childhood in ancestral territory “wrapped preciously in Gaelic.” Outstanding and pained is the final long poem about his mother, which disturbingly communicates the experience of old age, love, and irreversible memory loss.’

Robert Crawford

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HMS Sturdy

In memory of Captain John Kennedy

You told me this story nearly fifty years ago

in the bar in Tobermory, on a winter’s night

with the Atlantic running in the bay below

and the banshee shrieking in the chimney.

Home on leave in Tiree in autumn 1940,

you had been walking on the western shore

when you became aware you were among

a group of five seamen.

‘The hoods of their duffle coats were up,

and I could see against the setting sun

there was something wrong with their faces.

And I couldn’t hear their seaboots on the shingle.’

Two days later, you were called out to assist

a destroyer that had run aground in a gale,

breaking in two off the west coast of Tiree.

Five men had tried to launch a rescue boat

but it had capsized in the heavy swell.

The five you had been walking with

on the western shore were the same men

you now helped to lift from the sea,

their faces blemished with salt,

seaboots filled with the ocean.

‘They were making for their graves at Soroby,’

you added, trembling. ‘Give me another whisky.’

For other poems (not from collection above), visit Lorn at