Category Archives: News

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!

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

Angus Donald and the Gale … Part FOUR

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 FOUR (verses 31 – 40)

31

The father’s strength was ebbing fast and no way could he climb,

Nor could his arms support him anymore.

Adrenaline was all he had to give a little time

Before his lifeless body washed to shore.

But when he was too weak to face just one more breaking sea

He felt another’s body at his side,

And turned to see young Angus braced and working stoically

Until he had the rope about both waists securely tied.

32

They hung together by that line that Angus had secured

To solid rock above them at the peak.

He’d found the strength to clamber down despite all he’d endured,

Though knowing that the odds were more than bleak.

The father had no strength or will to help with the assent.

Now Angus bore the brunt of every wave.

He wondered how much time there’d be before his too was spent

To ultimately die beside the man he’d come to save.

33

Though try with all he found inside he couldn’t bear the weight

Of both of them to lift them from the sea.

The father had accepted what he knew would be his fate

So told the younger man to cast him free.

But Angus was of stronger spirit, born of rock and tide

And raised on storm and hardship.  He’d keep on

Until he knew each hopeless chance was well and truly tried,

And every final ounce of strength was absolutely gone.

34

But when he knew the storm had won he felt the line draw tight.

He looked up but he could not trust his eyes.

For Murdoch’s son was standing there to help him in his fight;

He felt his strength and spirit start to rise.

He let a wave roll by then lifted all that he could take

While Murdoch’s stalwart son took up the strain.

They gained a foot then braced against the next wave that would break.

They let it pass, then climbed once more, then braced and climbed again.

35

Though slow, they made that summit and were hauled to level ground

Beside the mother’s pale and trembling form.

They placed the father at her side.  Though neither made a sound

They hoped each one might keep the other warm.

While both young men regained their strength young Angus asked his friend

Why had he come just when all hope was gone?

His dad had sworn no Murdoch clan would ever condescend

To let another fall alone if they could bear him on.

36

They’d figured it was too long since the second child he bore

So knew the task too tough for only one.

And so they’d driven back to where young Angus leapt ashore

And there young Murdoch leapt as he had done.

He’d climbed the jagged cliff face till he made the storm torn crest,

And fought against the howling wind and rain

Until he saw young Angus start to fail that final test.

Was then he saw the rope and so began to take the strain.

37

The young men looked about them at the couple where they lay

And saw within their eyes rekindled hope.

Young Murdoch helped the woman stand amid the wind and spray,

While Angus helped the man and coiled the rope.

Half carrying, half walking them they moved back to the lee,

Though resting twice to let them find more strength,

Until they reached the shelter where the trawler rode the sea.

Young Angus took the rope and slowly measured off a length.

38

He told them there was no-one now could catch them when they dropped;

For Murdoch’s son was with them at the wall.

His dad would have to drive the boat to hold her where she’d stopped.

They couldn’t risk an unattended fall.

He said he had to climb back down and try to get on board.

Young Murdoch, so much stronger, must stand fast

To ease them down the cliff face from that windswept ridge toward

The trawlers rising bow just when the highest wave rolled past.

39

The bigger man belayed the rope around a fissured crack

While Angus tied the end round his own chest.

Young Murdoch waved his father in and then took up the slack

As Angus started downward from the crest.

They watched the swells come rolling in ‘till Murdoch made it clear

Upon which one he chose to close the wall.

The bow rose up; the line was loosed as Angus, gripped with fear,

Pushed outward from the cliff to start his fall.

40

Young Murdoch though was trawler bred and handling ropes he knew,

So, skilfully, he gauged his friend’s descent.

Before the deck was hit he whipped an extra turn or two

Just as the trawler’s upward surge was spent.

Though hard, young Angus landed well and swiftly cut the rope,

Then grabbed the rail and headed for the stern

And climbed into the wheelhouse to the kids, now filled with hope,

And told them of their parents, trying to lessen their concern.

 

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 TWO

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 Two (verses 11 – 20)

11

Then Fergus saw another flare to guide the rescuers on,

And cautiously he edged toward its light.

But when he saw the turmoil where that stricken boat had gone

He felt the storm had surely won this fight.

The yacht was at the mercy of the gale forced wind and sea,

Its mast and shrouds hung tangled over side.

So close upon the breaking rocks that family seemed to be

He knew to try to reach them would mean more men would have died.

12

He radioed the others there was nothing they could do.

They’d found what they were seeking just too late.

Was then that Murdoch’s trawler through the storm came into view,

Right when old Fergus sealed that family’s fate.

“There’s no way in to save ’em, boys.” The saddened Fergus said.

“I’ll risk no man to try to do so now.”

Was then young Angus saw the rocks and put aside his dread

And said to Murdoch “There’s a way, and I alone know how.”

13

“If you’ll just let me guide you we can pass down to the east

“To where I harvest barnacles and kelp.

“That channel runs much deeper there, those currents run the least.

“I know those folk are not beyond our help.

“We’ll not be windward of those rocks, we’ll come in from behind,

“And use them to provide us with a lee.

“The entrance though is tricky and the corners there are blind.

“You’ll have to forgo caution and just put your faith in me.”

14

And Murdoch looked upon this man who hadn’t half his years

And wondered if these words were brash or wise.

Then looked upon those jagged rocks but overcame his fears.

And said “They never wins that never tries.”

Despite old Fergus’ countermand he steered that youngster’s course

And found that hidden deeper channel’s mouth

And using both the engine then and nature’s furious force

He spun that boat between the rocks and headed to the south.

15

The angry sea broke mightily upon those jagged teeth

That seemed to want to tear that boat apart.

And more than once they felt the hull scrape hard the rocks beneath,

But Murdoch stood his ground with pounding heart.

Young Angus yelled the lay lines that the skipper had to steer

And called each rock and reef and shoal and bar,

Until the channel widened and the yacht they sought was near,

But Murdoch felt no ease because he feared they’d come too far.

16

The sea inside was calmer, though it still ran pretty rough

With breaking crags and banks on every side.

But Angus knew that channel well and Murdoch knew his stuff;

Between them they survived that treacherous ride.

And now they saw the sailboat was to windward of the reef

That gave to them some shelter from the waves.

That she’d yet kept from smashing on the rocks defied belief,

But Murdoch reckoned still they’d all yet find their watery graves.

17

“That boat is lost!”  He yelled above the wind’s relentless wail.

“There’s absolutely nothing we can do.”

And Angus said he knew that when he’d seen her through the gale.

They hadn’t come for her, but for her crew.

“It matters not.”  Yelled Murdoch.  “For their fate is yet the same.

“They’ll all be smashed and broken by the sea.”

But Angus said he knew a way; the reason why he came.

“I brought you safely this far; will you finish this with me?”

18

He pointed to a rocky wall where wind and sea combined

To carve out several ledges over time.

And told of many niches there and fissures he could find

That made it not so hard for him to climb.

Then pointed to an overhang at one end of that bluff

That jutted many feet out from the wall,

And said he thought the trawler could be brought in close enough

To catch someone that’s lowered there if he controlled their fall

19

When Murdoch saw the younger man begin to shed his gear

And coil, then tie a line about his waist.

He told his son to help him, though his heart was filled with fear,

Not knowing what new challenges he faced.

Old Murdoch steered the boat in close then waited for a wave

To give the trawler’s bow some extra height.

Then Angus leapt toward the wall, more foolish there than brave,

To land upon those jagged rocks and hold with all his might.

20

That wave crashed hard upon him as he desperately hung.

He hardly could maintain his tenuous grip.

The next one though was bigger yet, but frantically he clung.

Still Murdoch saw his feet begin to slip.

But as the wave receded he stretched a blood stained arm

And grabbed again, though higher now this time.

And though he was convinced this gallant man would come to harm

Old Murdoch quietly prayed and watched him slowly start to climb.

 

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

Past Readings

  • Weaving Words Story Telling Festival … Sharon, Ontario
  • Bookapalooza … Oshawa Ontario
  • Art Bar … Black Swan Tavern, Toronto, Ontario
  • Holiday Arts Fair … Black Swan Tavern, Toronto, Ontario
  • JustDzrts …
    • Newmarket, Ontario
    • Bolton, Ontario
    • Richmond Hill, Ontario
  • Best Originals … Toronto, Ontario
  • Alton Mills Centre for the Arts … Alton, Ontario
  • El Macombo … Toronto, Ontario
  • Westmount Gallery … Etobicoke, Ontario
  • Arts Society King …
    • Schomberg, Ontario
    • Nobleton, Ontario
    • Pottageville, Ontario
  • Loose Leaf Poets and Writers … Toronto, Ontario
  • Library readings, symposia, lectures, etc. …
    • Sutton, Ontario
    • Newmarket, Ontario
    • Markham, Ontario
    • Bolton, Ontario
    • King City, Ontario
  • Word on the Street … Newmarket, Ontario
  • Whistle Radio … Stouffville
  • Rogers TV … Richmond Hill, Ontario

Excerpt from “Doctor’s Orders”

Excerpt from a story from English Harbour, Antigua, in Book 2 of the Wanderings and Sojourns series “On Tropical Islands and Sparkling Seas.”

Last night on one if the Face Book pages I follow inhabited by fellow former (and some yet current) yachties ….. that is to say those of us former and current professional sailors who captained and crewed other people’s boats for them, as opposed to the “yachtsmen” who owned them …. I saw someone had posted a photograph of the contenders of a wet tee shirt contest in what looked like a very familiar setting.  On questioning the person who posted it, who was actually one of the contestants in the picture, it turned out I was correct and the picture was taken during “lay day” at one of Antigua’s legendary Sailing Weeks, or Race Week as it was known back then.

Further questioning led to the confirmation that it was not only taken at one of the many Race/Sailing Weeks in which I have participated, but was the one during which I had my appendix removed, the somewhat unusual story of which appears in “On Tropical Islands and Sparkling Seas” due to be in print in May of this year.  In that story I gave mention to the very same wet tee shirt contest portrayed in the picture on Face Book.

So, in support of that brave Face Book post and the ensuing discussion among several members of that group, I have extracted from my story the reference to the contest in question and include it below as another sneak peak of what awaits in the book when it comes out. This is obviously not the whole story, just the bit that refers to the photograph on Face Book.

And if you do read it, how about going to the Guest Book on this website and letting me know you were here?  If you want to leave your email address there I’ll add it to the list and let you know when, how and where the book is available when it hits the streets.

Cheers!

Jim.

…………….. His mind was still a little cloudy as he tried to remember the events that led up to emergency surgery in the middle of the night. He’d been in pretty bad pain on and off all day but reckoned it was too much of that gassy American gnat’s piss lager they sold as beer at the after-race party the previous evening. That was until one spasm stopped him dead in his tracks, doubled him over and forced such a moan from his mouth it caused everyone within range to turn and stare.

“Think there might be something wrong.” He’d said, somewhat lamely.

The owner/skipper of one of the other boats racing was a surgeon from Tortola and a friend of his. Overriding his protests one of his fellow crewmen walked him to the doctor’s timeshare at the Copper and Lumber Store to find out what was wrong. There was a fair crowd there and on arrival they suspected a party was underway before noticing the doctor and two of his nurses, all in shorts and, with the exception of the doctor, bikini tops, working intently on a young woman’s foot. Only it wasn’t her foot that garnered the attention of the two new arrivals. 

That day had been the lay-day half way through race week. There had been no races, but a lot of other activities were taking place. These included a wet tee-shirt contest in which the young woman had evidently been competing when she stepped on a broken bottle and opened up a deep gash in her instep that the doctor was studiously suturing. Appreciating her competitive advantages the man in pain had temporarily forgotten his own discomfort, which was a good thing for it took quite a while and several shots of anaesthetic from a vodka bottle for the suturing job to be done. True to form in such circles there was no payment involved but one of the girl’s sailing buddies did leave a bottle of Barbadian rum as a thank you for the doctor’s help.

Washing his hands the doctor turned to his new patient. With a wink he said he thought the woman would have had a larger than average chance of winning had she not had to withdraw injured from the event. His patient agreed enthusiastically. The doctor asked him what was wrong and, after a couple of prods in the right places had solicited an explosion of expletives announced firmly “Right then. That is coming out and it’s coming out just as soon as we can get it out!” …………