Brian Johnstone- Scotland

Brian Johnstone- Scotland



You return to the township your family had dwelt in

  for years. Years that brought changes

     none would have imagined

even as house after house was closed up, doors locked,

  keys trusted to neighbours who, in their turn,

     did the same. So few left now

the language has withered away, the stories they told

  have dissolved; there’s nothing to grasp

     but the map, the web of relations

who lived in this place, gave some meaning and sense

  to the stones. For that’s what remains:

     four walls, if you’re lucky,

some rafters, a rotting of mortar and thatch, thresholds

  you tread on, remembering those

     that had dwelt here, and all

they recounted lifetimes ago, when you listened, a boy,

  laid in store what no-one can take from you,

     none can bring back to these stones.

                                                Brian Johnstone


Brian Johnstone is a poet, writer and performer from Scotland whose work has appeared throughout the UK, in the Americas, Australasia and Europe. His poems have been translated into over a dozen languages and are included in the UK Poetry Archive website. He has published seven collections, most recently the pamphlet Juke Box Jeopardy (Red Squirrel Press, 2018), shortlisted for the Callum MacDonald Memorial Award 2019, and the full collection Dry Stone Work (Arc Publications, 2014). A further full collection, The Marks on the Map, is due out from Arc later in 2020. His memoir Double Exposure was published by Saraband in 2017. He is a founder and former Director of StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival where he now holds the position of Honorary President.