Poetry by Hugh McMillan



In the square  

is a giant tree 

hung with lights.

Through the branches


a blood moon 

has come 

and gone,

and now 

a chain smoking 

player rasps 

a wonderful song.

The man next to me 

has teeth

dark with wine.

It is about a man

who leaves

his suitcase 

in a cupboard,

he says.

Under the tree 

an English girl 

is weeping,

she has anxieties,

while a step away

a man is 

slapping a child 

hard on the thigh.


says my friend 


the bottle, 

they are about love.


The Nature of Art

Art was always a thing in our house
or artiness: we were thought of
as bohemians,

had the qualifications: 
poverty, scandal, a frisson of madness.
My father, stuck in rage and guilt 

wrote a short story about a soldier 
in a desert stuck in rage and guilt
and painted birds that could not fly.

My sister drew a landscape 
she walked into.
I wrote a poem about snow 

that never fell, filled gaps like that 
with empty words.
My mother tore a photograph 

of the MV Columba from a brochure
or the People’s Friend ,
stuck it on the wall,

with sellotape that yellowed 
as the years passed, 
wished she was there.


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