Silver Branch series

Andy MacGregor

Andy MacGregor photo.jpg

The Silver Branch project showcases writers who have an outstanding body of work across Black Bough Poetry editions.

It's a privilege to showcase the work of Glasgow-based writer, Pushcart Prize-nominated Andy MacGregor, with work from past editions and also poems and prose exclusive to this feature. Andy's work is fresh, inventive and often veiled with humour. His natural landscapes are imbued with microscopic detail and atmosphere.

Andy is an ecologist and philosopher from Glasgow, where he lives with his wife and two teenage kids. He finds his inspiration chiefly in nature and writes a lot of poetry about insects.

Twitter and Insta: @macgregor_andy

"What do I aim for in my poetry? Mainly I'm trying to capture a sense of the deep wonder and strangeness of life - the same sense that has driven my interest in biology and philosophy. It manifests variously in my poetry: often a focus on nature, sometimes a departure into myth, and not infrequently a whimsical and surreally comic turn. Writing has, I think, both a communal and a therapeutic purpose: on the one hand to convey this sense of wonder to others (and share a recognition of its value); and, on the other hand, to reacquaint myself with the same sense - something easily forgotten in the humdrum of daily life."

andy 2.jpg

Fossil               (click title for audio)

As the world hardens around me

I have become my own shadow,

a mere impression of myself,

flat and unmoved, waiting

for the one with a deft touch

to free me from these stone walls.

 

Where did all the colour go?

And I was never this twisted.

Please, if you reconstruct me,

 

I did not look like this in real life.

 

 

Published in Black Bough Poetry's ‘Dark Confessions’, 2021.

Tango

 

There was only ever one.

The band was on fire

and not a soul in the room

had the faintest idea

 

what would happen

when the music stopped.

Not a soul except me,

for we had been so close:

 

we had watched the sunset

all the way to sunrise

and embraced the darkness

that came between

 

in that perfect time

before the rains came.

So if I left alone last night

without a backwards glance

 

know that it’s because

there was only ever one.

 

Exclusive to The Silver Branch series

The Fly

 

A fly alit uninvited on the page

and promptly threw itself

into a paroxysm of personal hygiene

as if my words had sullied it.

 

I caught a fleeting glimpse then

of a poem just as finely-honed,

with all that agility and presence,

but inevitably as I moved pen to paper

 

it was gone.

Dunmore             (click title for audio)

 

Reaching the dark age

with a hollow belly

and fire in my legs,

I make my stronghold

 

among ruined walls,

the spoils of old battles

lost in rockfall and peat.

All that remains now

 

is an ancient onslaught

of bracken marching upslope

to the steady drum

of a grasshopper horde.

I surrender.

Published in Black Bough Poetry's ‘Deep Time’ Vol. 2, 2020.

A leaky tap

I got to thinking about knowledge. Of course, this requires one to begin from a place of special ignorance. I steeped myself in it.

The bath tap dripped, steady and wasteful. A tired old washer, no doubt. The sun was low now and peering in through the frosted glass. Each drop gleamed like a smooth jewel, gathering up the rays glancing off tiles and mirror, and pooling them in the warmth around my feet.

I got to thinking that the drips would gradually absorb all the light from the room – from the street, from the world – until I was immersed in water lucent as the moment of birth, and the rest was plunged in darkness.

By this point the bath was decidedly tepid.

Exclusive to The Silver Branch series

Winter’s lockdown  (click title for audio)

The north wind’s a crooked jailer,

rattling ash keys in the barred wood.

 

Autumn was a riot, the rooftop ablaze;

down to embers now as all turn in

 

for winter’s lockdown. Keep an eye

out the window on that empty branch:

 

the song thrush will return.

Published in Black Bough Poetry's 'Christmas and Winter' volume II, 2021 and nominated for the Pushcart Prize by Black Bough.

blackbird art.jpg

'Blackbird' by Andy MacGregor

High window         (click title for audio)

Away in the walled garden a blackbird is rhapsodic, bursting with colour. Meanwhile, I’m head down among the topiary, in and out of late sunshine, paring a deep thought down to its essence. We walked here once, if memory serves. You weren’t much interested in my deep thoughts, or the blackbird, but by God you were luminous.

 

Dusk falls blossom-soft;

reflections in the window

fade like old letters.

 

Truth be told, I’m not really sure this is my garden, but the house seems empty and the night is thick with honeysuckle – honeysuckle and something else. You would call it regret, but when I look closely it’s just the cool evening air settling on the lawn. Didn’t you say you’d seen a figure in an upstairs room? Or was it just imaginings?

 

Attic curtains part:

shadows cross an empty street.

February dreams.

 

Exclusive to The Silver Branch series

lagrima.jpg

'Lagrima' by Andy MacGregor

January moon

 

On a night barren of dreams

and bereft of inspiration 

I listen for the sound

of frost lifting ploughed fields

and stare out of the window

 

to where that noctilucent fruit

hangs out of reach

above a black ground

scattered carelessly

with glittering world-seeds.

Exclusive to The Silver Branch series

 

 

 

 

Filter-feeders

 

A clutch of oaks crests the knoll,

winter-bare and bony;

 

filter-feeders grasping at small signs

of life, sifting a shower

 

of titmice and finches from grey air,

shaking them down

 

for loose chatter and a morsel of song –

starter for a spring feast.

Exclusive to The Silver Branch series

Peat bog 

 

Skyfuls of rain and air rise underfoot 

in this place that is neither land nor loch,  

but a fathoms-deep intercession 

between heaven and earth. 

 

Here I bring the hidden to light: 

quaking footfall spilling snipe from pools, 

opening new wounds in the blood-red moss 

that feeds this dark and all-consuming flesh. 

 

Where life returns softly in a place of burial, 

I come seeking rapture. 

winter_oaks.jpg

Winter Oaks, by Andy MacGregor

andy 4.jpg