This article is taken from Stand 229, 19(1) March - May 2021.

Andrew McNeillie Five Poems
The Social Contract

I saw it with my own eyes, and put it in my notebook.
Tabernacle Row on the slide, its gardens washed
away in the Amman. They would not forsake
home for safety, what home meant to the last,
what could not be recreated. Slag overhead
and Aberfan in recent memory, to be always so.
The slippery slope of neglect and unintended
consequence. The ‘authorities’ prone to let things go.
To cut corners. To meet targets. To be expedient.
I climbed down among the rocks to dramatise
the camera angle and wrote my story. It didn’t
make the front page. It took no one by surprise.
Certainly not the wheezing young men
who struggled to make it to the benefit office
and struggled harder to make it back again.

The North Star

The harbour light lowered and lifted –
a canary in a mine-shaft fluttering
guttering but unquenched. Lead kindly
as she wrangles and haggles for passage
through wheeling collisions of light
flashed at death’s threshold, hell’s mouth,
heaven’s gaping gate, the narrow strait
and close scrape, Davy’s Locker and lamp
together, rocky seamark and landmark
vying on a soul’s darkest before the dawn,
gull and gale crying until depth do us part –
glass-eyed cod, haddock, monk, on ice –
the crew, lids propped, dying to ...
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