Dundee renga for June

The least promising runs,
like years, map insight onto sight –
near half-way: elderflower!

Behind puffy skies
a partial eclipse is clipped still more.

Glenisla Hotel:
over car park, a red kite’s
dance delays the pint!

Snail moves at snail’s pace,
crossing the lawn’s palm with silver.

Cycling the road bridge walkway,
leaning into a Westerly wind,
wobbling like a tipsy teenager.

A yellow ball blows along the Kingsway,
has the slow lane to itself.

Pupil with a cough
is friend to every Euro fan:
pinged home for a week.

Two doos coo at 4 a.m.;
not changing their tune for June.

Grey on the Tay, ruched taffeta;
small yachts skim the waves,
sails unfurled, riding the wind.

Two deer hidden in barley;
only ears above ears.

Under Balgay Hill’s
green canopy, birdsongs swell –
fuguing, dense and lush.

Magpies are early risers –
oh for a later dawn!

An iris opens,
chrysographes, black fall
with a golden script.

Sound of broom pods exploding
then oxalis seeds in a round of applause.

On esplanade, pause –
bacon rolls, aircraft fuel, seaweed –
where all scents mingle.

Clark’s pushing for a Michelin star:
I double down on peh and doughnut.

Licked finger held high
to tell the wind direction:
every side is cold today.

Terns calling in the blank sky
like bickering tin whistles.

Tail end of the month,
flat headed elder and wild
roses dog the hedgerows.

July steps lightly into June’s shoes,
mindful of the earth’s tilting.

Kate Armstrong, WN Herbert, Andy Jackson, Gail Low, Beth McDonough, Peter Marshall, Loretta Mulholland, Rhoda Neville, Ann Prescott, Lydia Robb, Nikki Robson, Harry Smart

Dundee renga for May

Come on, blowy blue May,
cast out these lowering clouds
that set our panes awash.

Alyth Square, cherry blossom
billows over the chippy queue.

Plodding through a sheaf of essays,
a woosh through the half-opened window,
words and papers suddenly airborne.

Stretching from earth to sky, old
ash, last to leaf, first to fall.

First in a lang time:
in a cafe, withoot ma mask on,
eatin an ingan peh.

Cattle sit firmly, ruminating
on rain in all its variations.

Mowers and jet planes
fill skies with harsh buzz and roar.
Bee hum sweetens air.

The city throws wide its doors,
exhales three seasons of stale breath.

Long-awaited lunch,
healthy appetite for friends,
meal incidental.

Wha wid jalouse that a bosie
wid mean so muckle, bit it diz!

First bookshop visit:
disinfectant mingles with booky aroma,
urge to gorge on new titles.

My green list is announced:
Tesco, Mennies, Magdalen Green.

Low sun over water,
silver in the falling
soft rain.

Return from first Tay crossing
to sandbanks bare of selkies.

A neighbour chops at the wet lawn
with a pair of kitchen scissors:
a ragged haircut.

Fisher waits for breakfast bite,
sipping coffee in the car.

Spring has turned its back;
ferns clench furled fists
trying to keep warm.

That hedge-witch, Solomon’s Seal,
offers to heal wounds and breaks.

A copper penny
of a moon pays the fee
of season’s crossing.

Haar lifts to clear summer skies –
insects and swifts claim their domain.


Fran Baillie, Forbes Browne, Erin Farley, WN Herbert, Andy Jackson, Gail Low, Peter Marshall, Rhoda Neville, Ann Prescott, Lydia Robb, Nikki Robson, Annie Rutherford, Harry Smart

Dundee renga for April

April’s the most Easter
ly of months: all bright whale clouds
and Arctic chitters.

The horizon heists its hem up on the Tay.
Windblawn wee boats daunce a wattery jig.

Hailstones evaporate from a ploughed field:
mist shimmies like dry ice and gulls
strut their stuff in the grooves.

Wren slips in by greenhouse vent,
zestful hunt for juicy worms.

Seasons collaborate on a to-do list:
flurry some snow; burn upturned faces;
pelt lawn with hail; storm-rattle gutters.

My bike chain rusted red and clunking
I ride towards your battered heart.

Tay sparkles in spring
sunshine; oil rigs awaken,
whirr, grind, stretch and sway.

The weekly delivery turns famine
to feast.  Fridge and larder groan.

A loop of rose stem
snagged around your arm,
not the first thorns nor the last.

Foraging in wet woods,
nose led by the scent of wild garlic.

Pale, unassuming,
pear blossom seduces
bees of mixed stripes.

Mingled waters, sea and Tay,
jolt currents in wintered flesh.

An otherness of smirr
dowses new scents from soil,
dampens last year’s nest.

Dog’s tooth violet bares no canine snarl,
only a kindly, lemony smile.

A fine line is trod
between the sunset through trees
and a pitch-black wood.

The spade chops into loam.
A new shine on the steel.

After a winter’s lockdown indoors,
bodies in all shapes and sizes lounging,
peely-wally in the noonday sun.

Heedless of streams of cyclists,
migrating toad perseveres.

Hairdressers effect their alchemy
and tables are booked; the scene is set
for moderate exuberance.

The first of the ruby-red strawberries:
Promise of summer on my tongue.


Fran Baillie, Forbes Browne, Gavin Cruickshank, W.N. Herbert, A.Z. Jackson, Gail Low, Beth McDonough, Peter Marshall, Loretta Mulholland, Rhoda Neville, Anne Prescott, Lydia Robb, Nikki Robson, Annie Rutherford, Harry Smart,

Dundee Renga: March

How to stop stopping
in, holding back, when the sun
seems to want to shine.

A familiar cyclist bristles by,
one layer thinner than last week.

On Victoria Road, two
hazmat-suited men
unload a flat, a life.

When shall we three meet again?
Friday, at last, alfresco.

Debris on the path,
loose fabrics gone astray from
house hunting in the rones.

Washing on the line, t-shirts
flap like prayer flags.

A stiff wind, fine sand grains blown
like rivulets across East Sands beach;
‘saltation’, ordained to leap and dance.

Fragile flickers of candles
become yet beacons for change.

White-throated crocus flowers
wide open, stars in sun and wind
demanding to be seen.

Squirrel bounds on Balgay Bridge,
pauses to admire gorge view.

The sunshine today
is enough to consider
not wearing a hat.

Brightest day lost to vaccine
fatigue mixed with jab of hope.

The road to Kirrie,
stubble side-lit, tawny
as a nip in the glass.

Paddle boarders stripped to waist
rashly, seduced by Spring sun.

Bro’ty Ferry, twin rigs berthed quayside;
twenty thousand ton steel primates:
Rowan Gorilla five and seven.

A walk with two not
from our household; heady excitement.

Sun shines on wind-tossed
washing: may the March morning
be herring gull-free!

A liverish Tay slaps high tide at the new flood wall,
spits at bikes and hard-hatted men.

March out like a lamb?
Hailstones dancing on the lawn,
Then sun erased by rain.

Dundee is full of babies
out to see people.


Kate Armstrong, Fran Baillie, Forbes Browne, Gavin Cruickshank, Erin Farley, WN Herbert, Andy Jackson, Gail Low, Beth McDonough, Peter Marshall, Loretta Mulholland, Lydia Robb, Nikki Robson, Harry Smart

Dundee/StAnza renga: February

(This month’s renga was done in collaboration with StAnza Poetry Festival. Many thanks to Annie Rutherford and Eleanor Livingstone for all their help and support.)

All shakes and shivers:
tree, birdfeeder, hand. Snowflakes seek
unchancy twins.

The brae: kids sledging, a Breughel’s living spit
come squalling with delight to life.

Above the vaccine queue
at the Municipal Hall
the sky’s in scrubs

The land wears its muffler,
bringing stillness to a frantic world.

The lunar new year is ox-stubborn,
Lockdown or no, home pulls on a long line,
‘Gōngxǐfācái’s from Dundee to Singapore.

Wade through drifts for bread and eggs.
One slip scrambles the whole meal.

Ice floes on the Tay,
the snow crunches underfoot,
sunset pinks snowy roofs.

Single-figure temperatures feel warm.
A £15 meal for two. On Zoom. Slush.

We’re caught between registers:
Fantasia on a theme by frost, or
Adagio for streams of meltwater.

Blood orange for breakfast
predicts a bright day – sunrise, sunset.

In Botanic Garden
chance chat about tree creepers
and frilly aconites.

The tiger lillies wilt to mourn Tipu
at Lalbagh, where histories pollinate.

Sodden seal sculpture,
protecting young hawthorn buds –
wooden-eyed wonder.

Grey sky: freed from flowering grass,
the sundial throws no shadow.

Hills’ white bunnets shrinkin oan ther heids
but the cauld still strikes. Nae lang
i the gairden till yer nithered.

Pale lantern of a sickle moon,
cut in two, by an arrowhead of geese.

A boisterous Westerly steps in,
wind under one arm, rain the other,
in its pocket a recipe for squall.

Rooks wise to shifts of weather
defer breaking twigs for nests.

Up on Reres Hill
pushing up amongst beech roots
snowdrops, daffodils.

February, seeing its own foreshortening,
trips over itself to cram everything in.


Fran Baillie, Arjun Bali, Helen Boden, Janet Gutteridge, W.N. Herbert, Andy Jackson, Gail Low, Lindsay McGregor, Peter Marshall, Loretta Mulholland, Rhoda Neville, Anne Prescott, Lydia Robb, Nikki Robson, Harry Smart