All posts by Jim

Old Dickie Dog

Old Dickie Dog

(He’ll No More Cross The Bar With Me)

Now, while I raise his stiffened leg and place him on the sheet,

I think of the times he used to beg for bones or chunks of meat.

His old paw raised, blind eyes glazed,

His nose would search the scent.

His ancient paw will raise no more.

His time has all been spent.

And he’ll no more cross the bar with me

Beneath the billowed sails.

For he’s passed beyond that western sea

Where the water’s calm and the trade wind never fails.

Now, while I place the links of chain beside his rigid form,

I think of the walks along the docks when still his breath was warm.

His sailor’s stride, legs set wide.

His tilted, stubborn head.

His days have passed before the mast.

Old Dickie Dog is dead.

Now, while I bind the rope around and tug the lashing tight,

I think of the times I woke and found him on my feet at night.

He’d keep the cold from taking hold

When wintry winds would moan.

His warmth is gone, and from here on

We both must sleep alone.

‘Cos he’ll no more cross the bar with me

Beneath the billowed sails.

For he’s passed beyond that western sea

Where the water’s calm and the trade wind never fails.

Now, while I row the dinghy out to where the seagulls fly,

I think of the time we ran about, Old Dickie Dog, and I.

He chased the stones, his tired bones

Seemed younger there at play.

But then last night, at dawn’s first light,

Old Dickie went away.

Now, as I row back with the tide, a breeze stirs from the west.

And on that breeze the seagulls glide.  Old sailor’s souls at rest.

One circles slow then swoops so low

Just passing close astern.

Then out to sea.  So small.  So free.

And never to return.

And he’ll no more cross the bar with me

Beneath the billowed sails.

For he’s passed beyond that western sea

Where the water’s calm and the trade wind never fails.

Copyright © Jim Scott  1983

(Revised version) Copyright © Jim Scott  2008

If I Could Change

If I could change one day it would be this day.

I’d make it the day when we could see the wrongness of our destiny

So we might try to change the course we’ll take.

So we might stop and look behind with eyes that can no more be blind

To all the depredation in our wake.

So, through our blood stained tears of guilt for all the wastelands we have built,

We’ll mourn the wondrous beauty that’s now lost.

And we’ll account our selfish ways of unchecked greed that filled our days

No more in terms of profit, but of cost,

And recognize the debt we now must pay.

If I could change one mind it would be my mind.

I’d start to believe that I’d be heard and so would shout out every word

That told of where our attitude was wrong.

I’d start to trust these thoughts I bear that yet, with effort, we’ll repair

The damage we’ve inflicted for so long.

With confidence I’d find anew the strength to share with all of you

This true direction humankind should go.

And, never doubting I might fail, I’d lead toward that Holy Grail

Of balance; though that path I do not know,

But trust, that with your help, we yet will find.

If I could change one heart it would be your heart.

I’d open it up to what once was, to love the Elder ways because

There lived the time when man and earth were friends.

When all of nature, all of man, fit well within that master plan

Ordained to satisfy our mutual ends.

Not as we see our world’s now turned where we ignore the lessons learned

From evolutions omnipresent school.

Where we believe we have the right to take all we desire on sight

And shatter every natural golden rule

The universe decreed right from the start.

If I could change one dream it would be our dream.

I’d centre our vision toward the day when we might wake to quietly say

We’ve found the new tomorrow at our door.

When we can see we can remain amid The Balance we’ll sustain;

So we can also be sustained once more.

That here’s a place where we can live where, yes, we still can take, but give

Yet more back to the Earth than that we took.

That here no more we tear apart her very soul, her very heart

Upon which all of us depend, but look

Instead with eyes that see how wonderful our lives can be

Unthreatened by our own unsated greed.

Now driven not from want, but basic need;

Allowing earth to heal instead of bleed;

To worship not the harvest, but the seed,

And so from avarice be ever freed

To join once more the Universal scheme

If I could change one day it would be this day.

I’d make it the day we’d start to see the rightness of our destiny

The day we changed the course we choose to take.

The day we stopped and looked behind upon the years when we were blind

And smiled that they are now all in our wake.

The day we made the pledge that we are never going to break.

To join once more The Balance, and within it ever stay.

Copyright © Jim Scott 2012

Feral

Feral

searching through my garden

discouraged

angry 

hurt

the feral beast treads slowly where the squash and peppers grow

it crouches by the onion patch

primordial

alert  

connecting ancient instincts

with the universal energies that flow

silently

its footsteps fall soft upon the earth

aware of all the natural souls

that climb and interweave

from whence the bounteous soil

afforded each their dream of birth

to manifest as mortal beings

first to grow

then all too soon to grieve

searching for its quarry

with nostrils flaring wide

exploring every scented breath

that rides the evening breeze

it hearkens to the nuanced lyrics

nature’s songs confide  

observing every gentle movement

processing each subtle hue it sees 

there

amidst the berries

the vegetables and flowers

it closes on its victim

where no other eye would see

and hungrily

and greedily

that damaged beast devours

its prey

….. untamed serenity

……… the feral beast that finds it there

………….. is me 

To an F.N. Rifle (Rhodesian Memories)

To an F.N. Standard Issue Rifle
(Rhodesian memories)

Night had settled quiet round the yawning ridgebacked dogs.
The gates were locked. The reading chair pulled near
To where my rifle rested in the shadow of the logs.
There should uninvited guests appear.
No bullet in the barrel,
The safety catch was on.
Relaxed we sat and warmed before the flame.
No bullet in the barrel,
It’s menace all but gone,
Its company gave comfort just the same.

Hours before we’d made a kill, though neither’d gone for sport,
We’d dropped a charging sable neatly dead.
Cornered there and gut shot bad, he couldn’t run, so fought.
The hunter’s gun had jammed, or so he said.
We weren’t there for the hunting
But needed just in case
The terrorists should think to make a play.
We weren’t there for the hunting
But hunters learned their place
As merciful, my rifle had its say.

It came from many miles away to help me in the wars.
He’d sneaked behind the backs of those in wait.
And crossed a dozen borders closed, and through forbidden doors,
And busted every sanction, not too late.
I’d camouflaged his woodwork
And I’d camouflaged his steel.
And even camouflaged his magazine.
I’d camouflaged his woodwork
But I couldn’t hide the feel
Of latent strength, now dormant. Stern, not mean.

Then, while I traced his history, the dogs began to bark.
I killed the household lights and hit the floor.
I can’t remember grabbing him, but hidden by the dark
Stealthily we both moved to the door.
The safety catch was off now,
A bullet in the breach.
The belt of magazines was slung behind.
The safety catch was off now,
Maybe danger within reach.
His heartless steel had cooled my boiling mind.

And then I saw the danger stand, but didn’t squeeze a shot.
It could have made no difference to the war.
The dogs had sniffed a kudu at a nighttime feeding spot,
Where Jeb, the stable lad, had stored some straw.
There wasn’t any danger,
But one of us had scared,
Though feeling somewhat foolish in the end.
There wasn’t any danger,
But such adventure shared.
Can only serve to make a gun a friend.

For if he hadn’t lived with me I doubt I could have slept.
Nor walked alone or worked about the farm.
I’d move away, for he alone is all that quietly kept
Me feeling safe from terroristic harm.
He’s just an issued riffle
Like twenty thousand more
The government distributes every year.
He’s just an issued riffle,
A soldier in a war.
But one who never knows the taste of fear.
He’s just an issued riffle
Whose thanks is sparse and poor
For one that guarantees I still have breath!
Not just an issued riffle,
He’s peace. He’s upheld law.
A means of living. Not a source of death.

Sunday Morning

Sunday Morning

It’s Sunday morning bright and clear with no alarm I have to hear
No long commuting drive to fear that’s causing me to hurry.
No need to tie my ugly tie or lunch to grab as I dash by.
No business plans to satisfy about which I must worry.

I could go back to blissful sleep. I’ve no tight schedules I must keep
Or profits I must try to reap before the competition.
No staff to try to show the way nor fires to fight or minds to sway.
No bloody corporate games to play to safeguard my position.

To close my eyes again seemed right; no futile battles I must fight
Or bloody long reports to write or boss to whom to show ‘em
No reason I should leave my bed ……
….. So why’d I rush downstairs instead?
…… To catch these thoughts inside my head
….. And write this stupid poem!

Great Book Review from prominent sailing magazine

Sunday Morning

It’s Sunday morning bright and clear with no alarm I have to hear
No long commuting drive to fear that’s causing me to hurry.
No need to tie my ugly tie or lunch to grab as I dash by.
No business plans to satisfy about which I must worry.

I could go back to blissful sleep. I’ve no tight schedules I must keep
Or profits I must try to reap before the competition.
No staff to try to show the way nor fires to fight or minds to sway.
No bloody corporate games to play to safeguard my position.

To close my eyes again seemed right; no futile battles I must fight
Or bloody long reports to write or boss to whom to show ‘em
No reason I should leave my bed ……
….. So why’d I rush downstairs instead?
…… To catch these thoughts inside my head
….. And write this stupid poem!

 

This review was published in the prestigious Caribbean sailing magazine “All At Sea”.

All At Sea Book 2 review

For the Seasons Come and Go

For the Seasons Come and Go

 

Now the trees upon the ridge shed their autumn shrouds.

See the fallen red and gold.   Feel the nights start turning cold.

Bring the blankets from the drawer.  Watch those northern clouds,

Now the nights are getting longer every day.

Fetch the cordwood from the yard to a dryer space.

Check the water pipes won’t freeze.  Feel the sharp edge to the breeze.

Take your son on one last camp to your favourite place,

Then put canoes and summer thoughts away.

  

For the seasons come and go,

And you have to take the changes as they turn.

Winter freeze or summer burn.

When the warmth has turned to snow

You should have the winter planned out in your mind.

You should never fall behind

For the seasons won’t be kind if you don’t learn.

 

Bring the snowplough from the barn to the garage door.

Buy the wife another fleece.  Watch the southbound flights of geese.

Lay the feed in for the heard, order plenty more

For the weather channel’s warnings are severe.

Feel the ground start turning hard when the rains don’t fall.

See the silver on the lawn glisten more with every dawn.

Watch the squirrels build their nests.  Hear the ravens call,

Telling soon will be the ending of the year.

 

For the seasons come and go

And you have to change to suit their different needs.

Reap your crops or plant your seeds.

And their moods you have to know

For you must obey each need that they demand

And you have to understand

That when nature’s in command you can’t be slow.

 

So zip the lining in your coat.  Bring the seedlings in.

Check the lad’s boots aren’t your own, for his feet have surely grown.

See the salt trucks standing by as the snows begin.

Think of everything you still might need to do.

For your parents taught you well, through your growing days,

As you learned of nature’s truth, through the lessons of your youth.

So bring your boy up to the fire, teach him well those ways,

The time is come for him to know them too.

 

 For the seasons come and go

And the same as summer sun gives way to frost

So young innocence is lost,

And each year your son will grow

‘Till the day when he’ll be standing on his own,

Facing winter’s cold alone,

Giving thanks for all you’d shown he’d need to know.

 

 So now prepare him for that change as the seasons turn.

Fill his head with all he’ll need.  Plough the earth and plant the seed.

Show him well at every chance all he’ll need to learn,

For the winter will be here before you know.

See him grown to be a man.  Breath a saddened sigh.

Now you’ve helped him all you can you must follow nature’s plan,

And shake his hand and turn away as he says good bye.

For like summer’s warmth in fall he’s bound to go.

Tropical ….. by Courtney Scherer-Scott

Here is my daughter, Courtney’s, take on her birth place on a Tropical island.

This appears as a guest entry in Book 2 of the Wanderings and Sojourns series, “On Tropical Islands and Sparkling Seas”.

The cool breeze ignites my senses

Refreshing my busy mind

Only the sound of the gently crashing waves can bring such tranquillity

Palm trees create dancing shadows across the beach

Immune to the stresses of the outside world

Coastlines coloured with white sands and emerald seas

An artist’s dream

Living is easy in a place of perfection

(Used by permission of Courtney Scherer-Scott ….. Copyright © Courtney Scherer-Scott 2010)

 

Setting Sail

You see it etched upon his face as he looks out across the seas.

With the thirst for far horizons in his eyes.

He is watching from the shore like so many times before

Where he hears the wandering seabirds’ haunting cries.

And while he pulls his collar tight against the salty on-shore breeze

He is staring out beyond the windswept bay

Where across the white-capped waves rides the vision that he craves

Of the ship that’s going to carry him away.

 

Right then his heart starts pounding harder as he sees her tops’ls furled,

The t’galants, royals and courses gathered in.

With the stays’ls, fore and main, she falls off the wind again

So the reach toward the sea buoy can begin.

Then she’ll be making for the waterfront from half way round the world

Laden down with spices, cotton, tea and gold.

With her voyage almost run and the captains work but done

All that’s left is for her cargo to be sold.

 

Then she’ll replenish and set sail once more to seas and countries new.

There to open up more distant lands for trade.

And with her he must sail where the tropic winds prevail

And the tales that filled his childhood all were made.

Now he’s been waiting nine long days for her with nothing else to do

Since the owners said they’d sign him on next trip.

But now she’s come in sight as she sails across the bight

And by evening he’ll be safe aboard that ship.

 

So now the man upon the shore starts striding back toward the town

To the tavern by the dock where she’s to berth.

And he orders there a beer while his ship is drawing near,

Caring not how much he pays above its worth.

He sees the pilot climb aboard, the jibs and mains’ls taken down,

While the crew prepares the dock lines, bow and stern.

Once the channel marker’s passed then the tugs start making fast,

And he watches as she makes her final turn.

 

And then the heaving lines are thrown and all the ropes are hauled ashore

Then the ship is winched in snug against the quay.

With his kit bag in his hand he looks back upon the land

And then turns to breath the fragrance of the sea.

He then calls out to the Mate and tells him what he’s come there for.

Then he asks that he might be allowed to board.

And he’s shown where he’s to go to the quarters down below

Then they tell him where his kit should all be stored.

 

Now he can feel the subtle motion of the deck beneath his feet.

As he smells the pitch and linseed on the breeze.

He can hear the timbers creak and his fellow sailors speak

In the language of the people of the seas.

He feels a glowing deep inside himself, contentment now complete,

For he knows he’ll soon be ocean bound once more.

Where horizons never show of the next place he’s to go

Where no other ships have taken him before.

 

For he’s returned to live the life to which his vagrant soul was born,

Seeking each new land and ocean he can find.

Where the whims of wind and tide will his destiny decide,

And he’s no regrets for what he’s left behind.

So now he’s casting off the lines and heading out to meet the dawn.

Hoisting every sail to catch that morning breeze

And he turns to see the shore where he stood and watched before

Then he turns back to the freedom of the seas.

For his spirit’s now at rest as he steers toward the west

Where the calls of life and destiny prevail

Where the winds of fate and fortune and adventure never fail

In the isles beyond his farthest dreams where now his ever wandering soul may sail.

 

Angus Donald and the Gale … Part FIVE

This epic sea poem is published in Book 2 of the Wanderings and Sojourns series “On Tropical Islands and Sparkling Seas” and posted here in serial form to celebrate the release of that book.  A new episode of this saga, each comprising 10 verses, will be posted here each day for 12 days. The book is available at the link below and will soon also be available from Amazon and all e-book formats as well as being available to order from almost every bookshop in the world.
 http://www.friesenpress.com/bookstore/title/119734000000426983/Jim-Scott-On-Tropical-Islands-and-Sparkling-Seas

Angus Donald and the Gale

Part FIVE (verses 41 – 50)

 

41

Young Angus told Old Murdoch of the work that lay ahead;

The problems now with which they had to deal.

Was then when Murdoch said the younger man looked all but dead

And told him that he’d better take the wheel.

“If you’re your father’s son then you can steer this boat all right

“No matter that it be a raging gale.

“You have no strength left lad; though you’ve the heart, you’ve no more fight.

“I’ll go up for’ard now and help them live to tell this tale.

 

42

And so young Angus stood to helm while Murdoch went on deck

And worked toward the bow through wind and spray

The first time he had ever worn a life vest round his neck

Spoke full the fear he’d not known ‘till that day.

He’d trusted Angus this far so would let him choose the wave

On which to drive up to that jagged wall.

For Murdoch had to be there just in case he had to save

His son should things go badly when he made that final fall.

 

43

Through driving rain young Angus strained to see the craggy height

Where now the mother braced against the storm.

He saw young Murdoch check the rope about her waist was tight,

Her frailty dwarfed by his gigantic form.

Young Murdoch gave the signal they were ready then to go;

Young Angus watched the waves to pick the one

Would raise them up to meet the falling mother from below

Where Murdoch would take over from the efforts of his son.

 

44

The big one came; he throttled hard and shouted out his plan

Above the wail of wind and crash of sea,

And lunged into that ancient fray of ocean versus man

Surviving where they knew they shouldn’t be.

The waves were on his quarter so he had to angle high

Allowing for the leeway they would give.

He knew they’d be no second chance, the mother there would die

If he misjudged the desperate run to try to let her live

 

45

He felt the big wave lift them up with unrelenting force.

He revved the engine more to keep control

And took his mark along that cliff by which to hold his course

To guide them past each jagged rock and shoal.

He daren’t look up to watch the scene unfolding on the wall,

He had to focus then upon the waves.

And trust the elder Murdoch to control the mother’s fall

As Murdoch trusted him to keep them safely from their graves.

 

46

He rode so close beneath that cliff upon the crashing sea

It seemed there’d be no chance they’d stay alive.

But holding ‘till the final second underneath that lee

Was needed for the mother to survive.

He felt the wave begin to drop and spun the heavy wheel

And backed down hard to get her going astern.

The engine roared, the bow swung clear and rocks scraped hard her keel

As out he steered.  There was no time the mother’s fate to learn.

 

47

When frantically he cleared the rocks and reached the sound at last

He spared a fearful glance upon the deck

To see a grim-faced Murdoch clinging tight about the mast,

The mother clinging tight about his neck.

He turned the wheel and faced the seas to ease the way she rolled

So Murdoch then could make it to the stern.

The children and the mother all were soaked and freezing cold,

Their spirits though were warmed as they enjoyed her safe return.

 

48

“Four down and two to go.” Young Angus forced a smile, and tried

To cheer the elder captain in his doubt.

“That rope is getting shorter,” tersely Murdoch then replied.

“Be too short when my son’s turn comes about.”

And Angus saw the truth within the words old Murdoch said,

For every person saved they’d cut the rope.

Without enough to reach the boat young Murdoch would be dead

To save the father now meant that for him there was no hope.

 

49

The elder sighed, his shoulders sagged, his brow was furrowed deep.

“He’s got no choice, regardless of the cost.

“That’s how I raised him. Murdoch, see? There’s rules we have to keep:

“To do what’s right no matter what is lost.

“That’s how my father raised me too, and his dad did as well,

“When honour of the clan is what’s at stake,

“If that means end it early with a noble tale to tell

“Then be it so, ’cos that’s the choice a Murdoch has to make.”

 

50

Young Angus’ heart was pounding hard, his mind was running fast.

His friend had risked his life to save his own.

There’s no way they could let this day become young Murdoch’s last;

To die beneath the storm tossed sea alone.

He held the old man with his eyes, and clenched his stubborn jaw.

“Then he must spend the night up on those rocks.

“He has the strength of three grown men; tenacity of four.

“There’s reason why you wife bore you no man-child, but an ox!”

 

This epic sea poem is published in Book 2 of the Wanderings and Sojourns series “On Tropical Islands and Sparkling Seas” and posted here in serial form to celebrate the release of that book.  A new episode of this saga, each comprising 10 verses, will be posted here each day for 12 days. The book is available at the link below and will soon also be available from Amazon and all e-book formats as well as being available to order from almost every bookshop in the world.
 http://www.friesenpress.com/bookstore/title/119734000000426983/Jim-Scott-On-Tropical-Islands-and-Sparkling-Seas