Posted 9 months ago by John
Ringside, countrymen huddle close, rubbing, touching,
their words are a stone thrown in a muddied puddle.
I listen for a ripple but cannot break the tweed coven
unwritten bond, mingled scent of hard work and beasts.
I’m left to glean for scattered grain at the field edge
pick up a grunt that stands for a paragraph, the next
a decade and a death, inching closer to place my ear
a cuckoo fledgling in their nest – greedy to be fed.
This common ground is leaching nutrients from soil
in heavy rains Drive shaft, udder clap and draft
Bitter laughter, raw emotion, sweating conversation
through pores and I the stranger trying to keep it safe
savour swear-word flavoured Slurry, stirk and straw.
With a crossbill’s twisted beak, I’m desperate to unpick
prise open, release the seed of meaning inside each cone
before the auctioneer’s staccato chatter silences their talk.
Jim Carruth’s verse novella, Killochries (2015), was shortlisted for the Saltire Society Scottish Poetry Book of the Year. His most recent book Bale Fire came out in 2019 and is the second part of the trilogy that started with Black Cart. He is the chair of St Mungo’s Mirrorball and is the current poet laureate of Glasgow.
Market Talk was specially written for the Conversations website.