Read Raw Ltd
Promoting Creative Writing in Scotland
Jim Carruth was born in Johnstone in 1963 and grew up on his family’s
farm near Kilbarchan. His poems have been widely published and anthologised and his debut collection “Bovine Pastoral” was runner up in the Calum Macdonald Memorial award. He is a powerful reader of his own work.
He is one of the founders and current chair of St Mungo’s Mirrorball the Glasgow network of poets and poetry lovers and is a committee member of StAnza Scotland’s national poetry festival.
“Carruth is an unusual Scottish voice and, consequently a very distinctive one, a direct and clear poetic voice that is able without compromising his huge technical ability, to reach out and engage those who rarely, if ever read poetry”
“His poems give voice with subtlety and compassion to the silent decline of dairy farming”
“Jim Carruth is Scotland’s leading rural poet, an activist and farmer whose poems are moving testaments to a fragile way of life.”
Baxter’s old ram sang the blues
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Bridge of Weir
The Big Mistake
the shepherd on the train told me
is to clip hill milking ewes too soon.
I put my newspaper down;
he'd got my attention.
Nothing puts the milk off them quicker
than just a day like last Wednesday.
And when it goes off at this time of year,
it never comes back .
His warning continues
They never get so rough in the backend,
and have less protection
against the storms and winter chill.
He glances up,
checks his crook in the luggage rack
And another thing
is that the wool neither weighs so heavy
nor looks so well. It's the new growth
that brings down the scales.
A fleece from a ewe that's near
hasn't the same feel as one from a ewe
that has plenty of rise and a good strong stoan.
In the beginning of July the new wool on a thin ewe
will grow more in one week under the fleece
than it will do in three with the fleece clipped off.
He summarised his argument for me
Experienced flock masters never clip hill stocks
before the second week of July.
In terms of the sheep's sufferings
a strong sun is little less severe than a cold rain.
He stopped there
looked out the window at the passing fields
then fell asleep to Waverley
content that a stranger in a suit
had listened to his wisdom;
this wisdom I now share with you.
(from the collection - Cowpit Yowe)
Conversing with angels
Recently you’ve glimpsed them more often
as you drive quiet roads to your son’s farm
through the black mornings before dawn.
Your headlamps launch these night guardians
from flashes of eyes and ruffled feathers
into silent prophets of white-winged flight.
Last night you stood on the cottage doorstep
at the boundary where village becomes field
offered up a wordless invocation to the stars.
A messenger high up in the old bell tower
delivered an answer: unearthly and hoarse
as many have done throughout your life.
You replied and another one joined in
echoing from a small congregation of oak
and a third spoke up from beyond the river.
Today you recount to me those conversations:
a voice reaffirming its connection to the unseen;
and a faith that calls out confident of response.
(from the collection - High Auchensale)
A single dog is sent away by.
Mothers a day’s warmth in their bodies,
rise reluctant from nests of flattened grass;
barge hard squeeze, through to the narrow lane.
Ignoring collie and stick,
stiff legged stragglers stop,
Cough slurpy green splatters at my feet.
Steam rise, tail strands dab runes
Where eager flies blacken scab and wound.
The herd waddles on tender hooves
between hedges of hawthorn;
vein ridged udders swing milk-heavy;
cracked teats drip to cooling tar.
Bodies of coarse hair, stones on a river bed,
bump and rumble in the gentle flow of their lowing
The sun dawdles a slow decline.
Light stretches a blessing across their backs;
draws me into the undertow
that’s pulling us all back home.
(from the collection - Bovine Pastoral)
All poems on this page are the copyright © of Jim Carruth