Song of the Clyde

Posted on Posted in Guest Post

Guest post of a poem by Rob A. Mackenzie, from his new collection ‘The Opposite of Cabbage’.



Nuclear Submarines


One day they will surely betray me.

For now, they seem content to drowse


resolutely without wit or purpose

like autistic sharks balooning


through seaweed, rock and sand

of fish cities deep in blackout.


While I’m trying to trust, one breaks

the Gareloch’s surface and fixes


its stunned gaze on the mirrored sky.

Things are as they should be –


the clouds, the flotsam, the stranger

peering from the shore with my face.


The second it drops, I no longer exist.

It has no memory, no plans.


The water rises, the sky falls,

and I am as blue is to the fish.



Song Of The Clyde  (mixed media construction)


“I’ll sing you a song of the beautiful Clyde”. I spend most of my time in Scotland on the Clyde coast or islands. I have a love/hate relationship with the area, and one of the dislikes is the nuclear presence on the river. I find the enormous power of these  black ships one of the most frightening things I know.

Due to several incidents with fishing boats on the west coast, the submarines now have to enter and exit the Firth of Clyde on the surface. Previously, they would submerge in the river, or as with the first experience I had of one, pass with only the ‘sail’ showing. I was drawing on the west shore of Great Cumbrae on a typical misty dreich day when this black object passed silently offshore, before disappearing below the water. It was almost like witnessing some kind of mythical sea creature coming up for air.


“There are other towers on the Sound

mocking the tower that fell

from the top of Castle Rock,

towers worse than every tower

that violence raised in the world:

the periscopes and sleek black sides

of the ships of the death”

extract from ‘Screapadal’ by Somhairle MacGill-Eain


Perhaps on day we will be able to write new lines as we ‘Sing you a song of the beautiful Clyde”



Many thanks to Rob for permission to post his poem. Rob’s book ‘The Opposite of Cabbage’ is available from, or from any good bookseller.


Read Rob’s blog Surroundings at


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