Caroline Mackay

Another Perthshire Writer

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caroline mackay

Caroline Mackay lives quietly in Perthshire with her husband and family. She enjoys writing for pleasure.

She has appeared on stage at the Edinburgh Festival as part of the Lippy Bissoms poetry performance team and has had a number of poems published.

She does not pursue publication but has recently started a blog at Stories from the Shed in order to share her work with others.


Granny-Gap-Year hitches up her backpack
Gives Grandpa-Stay-Here a peck on the cheek,
A last look at her checklist and she’s off down the road,
Her freedom pass in her pocket with
Her camera, phone and notebook.

Granny-Gap-Year didn’t go to Uni
They said she wasn’t bright enough, you see.
Instead she took an office job, married young,
Ran a home, and in her Twenties became Mum
To several round-faced, merry offspring.

Granny-Gap-Year passed two decades
Washing dishes, baking cakes, changing nappies,
Ironing uniforms galore
Granny-Gap-Year knew every aisle in Tesco
And was on first name terms with all the staff in-store.

Before she knew it, Granny-Gap-Year
Ran the Beavers, took the chair on the local PTA,
Organised the annual bag-pack for the
Brownies’ Christmas party,
And collected for the RSPCA.

Then came the day when Granny-Gap-Year
And noticed that her children had all gone.

‘I’d really like to travel,’
She said to Grandpa-Stay-Here,
Who looked her up and down, shook his head, and said,
‘It’s really not for me, dear, so I think I should just stay here
‘To tend the house and garden while you’re gone.’

So Granny-Gap-Year hitches up her backpack
Gives Grandpa-Stay-Here a peck on the cheek,
Off down the road with a jaunty little wave,
She shouts, ‘Take care, love,
‘I’ll be back next Sunday week!’

Room For A'body

Man! Ah cannae hack it ony mair.
It's makin' ma heid a' woolly and sair.
Ah didna cum here tae be made wee-er
Wi' a this talk
O' essays an' form an' academia
It disnae suit some folk.

Ah ken ah'm wantin' in ma ed-u-ka-shun,
Ah ken ma offerins are o' a lower sta-shun,
But is poetry nae about projectin' pah-shun?
An' a' they wurdz!
Photo - syny-thingy - formulaic fah-shun?
Let the reader judge!

A poem's a cratur nae keen on bein' ower teased,
Squash it intae shape an' it'll nae be pleased.
It has tae hae some room tae be let breathe
An' see whaur it's gae-in'.
Whit use is yon cratur, a' chopped an' squeezed
Syne it touches nae-yin?

room to breathe

Room to Breathe, Embleton Bay, Northumberland by Pam Harrington

Things That Go Unsaid

Soft as spun gold, colour like honey and
Wrapped in an elegant chignon; how
I loved to unwind and brush out the length
Of my grandmother's hair, setting aside each
Kirby grip with care.

A woman of Sunday roasts and marrowfat peas,
Terry's All Gold and Mabel Lucie Atwell,
Strength and comfort were garnered on those
Family afternoons. But it's best not to dwell
On what was and might have been.

Disappointment drained that sweet honey and
Stiffened the gold into iron grey.
Losses hardened her. Silenced her.
She presided for years within our walls,
Treading the space between
Daughter, mother, grandmother.

In the absence of husbands,
Generations clashed in cutting remarks
And sly stabbings, unable to voice their needs
For shame of admitting weakness.
Then craters appeared where there
Should have been bridges.

When the rain-lashed driver swept her
Off her feet, we were surprised
By the smallness of her.
Tucked in her hospital cot, no kind words
Could recover her from slumber.

On the day they finally switched her off and
We carried her coldly home, we cleared
Drawers stuffed with all she couldn't say.
Children's colourings, homemade mementoes,
Old sepia photos and Mabel Lucie Atwell.

Father’s Song

After Louise Gluck, "Nurse’s Song".

It used to ail me,
coming home to find her gone.
I’d spend the evening in a whisky glass,
batting back and forth like ping-pong balls
the whys and wherefores.

Often I’d fall to sleep,
hunched in the fireside chair.
Sometimes, I’d waken to the sound of
her key in the lock; but sometimes not,
stumbling instead to bed
in the wee small hours

to find her already spread there,
her fragile face framed by her
golden hair, as if a dream, or
some spirit sent to try me.
I see you wonder why I stood it.
Yet, what had I to offer her,
except myself?

She was a better class than I;
patrician, expectant, impatient.
I thought when the child came
She would be different, set behind her
the temptations of girlhood
and welcome parenthood, as I did.

But that headstrong pride
which first attracted me
turned to indignation, spite,
then, finally, contempt.

So, I went to work, tediously, in well-worn
tweed; tiresomely provided her with an allowance
I knew her father supplemented;
supplied a wet nurse to ease her ennui.
Dully, unobtrusively, resignedly,
I let her wind the noose around her pretty neck.

That’s her there, captured in monochrome.
How sharply it emphasises her finer features.
She holds our son close, see?
But note her expression; she’s already left him.

And here is my good lady!
Have you met my present wife?
Before our marriage, she
earned her living as a nurse.

International Love Affair

I know you’re out there . . .
somewhere . . . in the ether;
thousands of miles away,
and five hours behind me.

I switch on the PC.
My fingers caress the keys,
remembering the smoothness
of your chest as I rested lightly
against your perfumed flesh.

Ticka, Ticka, Tap.

I sit before the screen,
drinking American coffee,
imagining you asleep.
Dawn breaks and

I recall your silky "girls-
would-die-for" eyelashes,
tight closed in dream;
my lips softly pressed to them,
inhaling your scent.

Ticka, Ticka, Tap.

But in the next door room
lies warm flesh, hard and here,
lips ready kissed,
scent ready breathed.

When you awake,
I’ll break your heart.
This long distance love
takes too much effort.