‘Journey into Light: 1. Tollcross Spring’ – An extract of a long poem from Derek

This week on the blog we are sharing an extract of a long poem written by Derek Read, one of our community correspondents. Derek came to our recent creative non-fiction writing workshops and contributed some beautiful poetry, as well as trying his hand at personal writing. At these workshops, Derek shared his long poem, ‘Journey into Light’ which was written almost thirteen years ago. He said that the poem as a whole is about: 

Journeys actual and spiritual. The poem is set in Tollcross, Glasgow and the Isle of Arran which is one of my spiritual homes and a place I have visited often. Some of my friends who live there have sadly passed since this poem was written. I was sad when I was writing the poem, and it just appeared over maybe two or three sittings.

The first section of ‘Journey to Light’ titled, ‘1. Tolcross Spring’, is below. I especially enjoyed this section due to the visceral imagery of the weather, the occasional slide into Scots dialect and the brilliant description of what it feels like to be in a rowdy pub. Get settled with a cup of tea and dive in.


Journey into Light

1. Tollcross Spring


Winter, snow and chilled rain.

Returns after a brief spring air

Wafted into frozen consciousness


Will it not be done this dreich

Reminder of dark days, dark hours

And the clackety-clack of passing judgements?


A sparse cupboard, little hope

Sunlight, strong in light but chilled bones remain


The cat flits from patchy warmth

To patchy remembrance of warmth

Is sick on the carpet, a critique, p’haps

Of worn threads of past prosperity?


And yet, this may still turn

Blazes of bright spars of fire

Rekindle the embers of desire.


I launch a paper boat on oily waters

a shadow of another’s dream

a journey of sorts in another’s wake

wave upon wave


In the pub, the usual noisy voices

Moans, the hubbub and hubris of east end concerns

Local disputes.

A landlocked paddle-steamer

anciently preserved to work its magisterial way

“doon the watter”

serves as a reminder to myself

that as I write my memories

I stir in death and distant echoes of a life

lived a decade or more ago

into the bitter-sweet mix.


I live in a cardiac nightmare

this threat of sterile health statistics

and feel a sort of contentment

yet wail at ignorance

a sea of fucks and cunts

unshocked but assailed

by the injustice of it all

bright barriers of tribal division

the green , the blue , the orange,

a few voices of untrammelled reason

the unrealised potential

We speak in different languages, different modes

I write, can speak of current affairs with some sort

of objective analysis,

or so I kid myself oan

relate, record but am lost in practicalities,

lost in my own head.


Shettleston now boats a book club

acquainted with Madame Bovary

agreed an historical oddity

but with little sympathy

for the erstwhile heroine

spoilt brat of country aspiration

self-indulgent bourgeois waif

So snow falls, my bills and balance unresolved

The faith, the seed, stirs in discontent

One shout too many, one drink too far.

So, there you have it! The first part of Derek’s wonderful poem. This poem was truly a joy to edit for the blog, with 8 sprawling sections and elements of lyric and epic poems. Although like all great poetry, in my opinion, it breaks traditional rules and defies definition. I’m sure we’ll be sharing more of Derek’s poetry on the blog soon, and we’ll definitely be sharing the rest of ‘Journey into Light’. I would love to share more creative writing on the blog in general, (as that’s definitely my niche!) so if you have any creative work you would like to share, please get in touch by emailing me at maddy@mindwavesnews.com, messaging us on Instagram at @mindwaves_scot, or DMing us on Twitter @MindWaves1


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