Bessy Bell and Other Irish Intersections, Twenty-one poems old and new, Gordon Jarvie, Harpercroft Books, Crail, 2013, 40pp., £5.95

Gordon Jarvie is a prolific screiver, editor an poet. He tyauves herd at his craft an haes a mardle o buiks til his nem, mainly publisht bi his ain imprint, Harpercroft. This ingaitherin o poetry luiks back til his student days in Derry an Dublin an it's obvious the Emerald Isle's haed a deep impression on Gordon, an haes inspired his wark. He sterts wi a nice poem in whit ye micht cry non-rhymin, free vairse tercets; it's cried 'Ballast Bank, Troon';

They told us Troon's coal-boats
used to return from Ireland empty
apart from a dark ballast of Irish soil.

It wis said it wis the ainly place in Scotland whaur wild shamrocks grew, but Gordon, as a bairn, nivver fand ony. Daes that maitter? I thinkna; the tale anent Troon's Ballast Bank bein upmakkit wi Irish syle's eneuch in itsel. Botanic pruif wad kinna spyle it.

'Crossing the Border, 1960' luiks back til a time whan ye gaed throu a customs post traivellin frae Derry ti Donegal. It tells hou ye cuid get stopped bi airmed gairds gin ye wis traivellin efter midnicht.

A lot of the boys had attitude,
expressions that said, 'I dare you!'
I learned early about this, one night
in maybe my second Irish week.

I gaed throu Berlin's Checkpoint Charlie back in 1988, afore the Waa cam doun, an it kythes lik border gairds is border gairds aa ower the warld. The poem tells o gaein throu whit kythed ti be a tuim checkpynt, ainly tae get stapped bi a mannie wi a gun.

A boring Q & A ensued, and that was that.
The following week a wee man in a dog collar
invited me to join the B Specials, no less.
At least I now knew what they were.

But I declined his inexplicable proposal
while the Reverend gave me the eye.
Stiffly he told me I was now a marked man …
I know that, I thought. Interesting times.

Gordon's poetry is a wee bit unsure whan he screives in Scots or in metre an rhyme, but aa the same, this buik is a rael guid read.

David C. Purdie