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Robert Crawford

Robert Crawford, 27 October 1988

... You’re interrupted in the book of the film By someone ringing who’s just seen your name As the title of an opera. You remember that doctor in Mallaig Born long before Disney and baptised Donald Duck. What could he have felt? Normality’s strange – Always more of it gets delivered in cartons With the names washed off. Maybe next century We’ll have extra labels: a noun for the sensation Of hearing Philip Glass while being driven in a Citroen Or of sitting down to eat a bag of chips With two historians of mesmerism near Inverkeithing ...

Native Questions

Robert Crawford, 6 July 1989

... Ghosts with lightning eyes, peeled Aboriginal corpses Gather insects through imported gloaming Catechised in Auld Kirk Gaelic. After Culloden this land was possessed, Settled in a trance of cash. Mraat, ghosts with interrogating eyes, Go walkabout in Caledonia Australis ...

Conditions of Employment

Robert Crawford, 4 November 1993

... Middle-managers drowned while whitewater-rafting Will be promoted posthumously. How can you expect to succeed in accounts If you’re scared of the bobsleigh? Jackie, When you’ve finished the MD’s filing And watered his plants, just open a window, Slip into your lycra shorts And abseil down to my office ...

The Dalswinton Enlightenment

Robert Crawford, 21 January 1988

... Dalswinton Loch. A landscape painter, Alexander Naysmith Perches on deck beside his good friend, Robert Bums. It’s a calm, clear morning. The painter will later invent The compression rivet, and work out the axial arrangement Between propeller and engine. The poet will write about the light Of science dawning over Europe, remembering how Cold sun struck ...


Robert Crawford, 19 August 2004

... after the Gaelic of the ‘Carmina Gadelica’ Monday at 6 a.m. I heard a lamb, And then, while I sat by, A snipe’s kid-cry. I saw the cuckoo, grey as slate Before I ate. On Tuesday, late, A slimy flagstone shone Where snails had gone, And the wheatear, like Ash off a dyke, Flapped where the old mare’s black Foal stumbled and turned its back. I sensed right there, Right then a right bad year ...

Male Infertility

Robert Crawford, 24 August 1995

... Slouched there in the Aston Martin On its abattoir of upholstery He escapes To the storming of the undersea missile silo, The satellite rescue, the hydrofoil That hits the beach, becoming a car With Q’s amazing state-of-the-art, State-of-the-art, state-of-the-art ... Suddenly he has this vision Of a sperm in a boyhood sex-ed film As a speargun-carrying, tadpole-flippered frogman Whose vizor fills up with tears, And of living forever in a dinner-jacket Fussier and fussier about what to drink ...

Jesus Christ endorses the new Hillman Imp

Robert Crawford, 5 August 1993

... I was in our works canteen when a call Came over the tannoy to watch him endorse the new car. As he bent and touched it, he said, ‘This product will save your area For another decade; it will be loved Equally by US management And families whom its air-cooled rear engine Will power to school. I’m saying this That you may take a pride in your work ...

Two Poems

Robert Crawford, 23 September 2010

... Piano If I could read music And play the piano I’d interrupt you With no notice Wherever you are In some seminar In Edinburgh Or sitting alone In your office. Today I’d haul my piano In medias res And play Like Géza Anda, Like Alfred Brendel, Like Frédéric Chopin, Like Claude Debussy, Like all the alphabet Of subtle pianists So impossibly When we kissed It would make us both cry ...

Love Poems for Alice with Old Cars

Robert Crawford, 25 April 1991

... In the new dream I give you a big-radiatored 100-miles-on-a-gallon-of-water steamcar Exported by the White Sewing Machine Co, Cleveland, Ohio. You scoot with aplomb Through Alexandria to Loch Lomond past the indigenous Argyll Motors Factory with its built-to-last Stone car over the door. People call you odd, Determined, unchaperoned, ‘fast’. Your wheels cover Scotland, familiar and intimate, Tin-Lizzying Right up Ben Nevis, mass-produced, Laughing with the dash of the woman driver’s TS1, first car in Dundee ...


Robert Crawford, 24 January 2008

... Hi I’m Lois I’m lonely I live near the motorway on Lewis Want to chat with me? I love chatrooms You might have seen me on TV I’m really feral I’m twenty-one I love chatrooms Want to chat with me? It’s so hot here I love Paris I used To dance there I’ve just washed all my hair Hi I love existentialism Want to chat with me? I temp as an a ...

Two Poems

Robert Crawford, 20 March 2003

... Ferrari Student poser, presbyterian swami, When Being and Nothingness ruled the Kelvin Way, I rebelled by carrying a rolled umbrella To lectures. I never finished La Nausée. Chaperoned through suburbs by my virginity, My act of Existential Choice was pie, Beans and chips at Glasgow’s boil-in-the-bag Student Ref. Couscous? I’d rather have died. Nightlife was homelife, the tick-tock soothe Of a bowling club clock, long darning needles’ hint Of suture, so homely and sharp; Each birthday, a wrapped after-dinner mint ...

Two Poems

Robert Crawford, 17 February 2011

... Herakleitos eftir Kallimachos Herakleitos, Whan they telt me Ye’d deed Wey bak I grat, Mindin Yon nicht We sat oot gabbin Till the cauld Peep o day. An sae, ma auld Halikarnassian pal, Ye got seik And noo ye’re someplace Deid in the grun – But thae sangs, aa Yon nichtingales o yourn Still soun Lik they sounded Then When we set oot An sat oot, Twa young men ...

Coming to France

Robert Crawford, 17 November 2005

... after the Latin ‘Adventus in Galliam’ of George Buchanan (1506-82) Badlands of Portugal, bye-bye For ever, starving crofts whose year-round crop Is lack of cash. And you, fair France, bonjour! Bonjour, adoring sponsor of the arts, Your air’s to die for, and your earth’s so rich Vineyards embrace your warm, umbrageous hills, Cows crowd your pastures, glens gabble with burns, Broad, open meadows fan out fields of flowers; Sailboats go gliding down long waterways, Fish throng your ponds, lochs, rivers, and the sea Where, left and right, your harbours greet the world With open arms ...

Three Poems

Robert Crawford, 21 June 2001

... The Mithraeum God-mulch. Apollo. Coventina. Snapped-off moons and pre-Christian crosses Pit the tor. Comeback king, Midas-touch Mithras, his moorland shrines Dank caves or knee-high proto-kirks North-west of Hexham, waits First for microbial, then feather-thin, Then skull-thick, unscabbarded dawn Butchering the bull-black darkness, Cutting Christmas Eve’s throat ...

Three Poems

Robert Crawford, 24 June 2004

... Measurement Nine and Seven, one by one, Lay face down on a home-made skateboard, Hauling it forward, inch by rope inch, Into the Tomb of the Eagles. Seven glissaded down Maes Howe’s Five-thousand-year-old chute, Walked unbowed down its entrance passage Whose stone slabs weigh forty-five cars. Nine chased Nine with dog-track speed Round Orphir’s circular kirk, Dropped down rung after midnight rung Metres into Wideford Hill ...

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