The Island City

This sky darkens

Heat oppressive

Along the avenue

A leaf falls to the street

Cats forgo territorial rights

Stretched out immodestly on neighbouring walls as only cats can

Silence lays on silence

Doubled like thick cream

This silence flows into every pore

Lays as a cushion

Now a blackbird lets loose a burst of evensong

Children’s playful talk rises softly along the backyards

They sit out on the kerb-stones, feet in the gutter dust

From the main road, several streets back, a police siren splits the heavy air

We wait

Rose petals, hollyhocks, the fresh rosemary leaves float, held soft on the humid pillow

We wait

Light diffuses

Golden beneath these glowering clouds

An aircraft rumble

Like thunder

We listen, keener

Was it thunder?

Goosebumps rise to a sudden downdraft

We wait

And wait

In the silence

We wait


CLP 07/07/2019

On Rain XII

It rained this morning

Not enough to fill a glass

Half full? Not even that


n.b. A Scottish, family lucky enough to own land with its own spring, has admitted that they have had to halt whisky production for a period as that well was dry. Apparently they are not the only whisky producer facing such difficulties.

This raises many questions, not least who “owns” the planet? Who has a right to exploit the natural resources found in the land for profit? Who should benefit from such resources?

Much of the rain in Spain ends up in the Teja river. Obviously the people and businesses (for people and business firms are two distinct legal entities) of Spain use the water that courses along this river. Further along the Teja crosses into Portugal and is known as the Tagus where it eventually flows into the Atlantic Ocean on the southern side of Lisbon. The people and businesses of Portugal need water from this river too, but they have less than previously. The two countries are in prolonged dispute about how this natural resource is being drained.

Returning to whisky production, the family owned distilleries have a challenge that may make whisky a seasonal product, but the corporations which have bought up numerous small businesses to exploit the highly profitable, long-established whisky brands have to sustain production, maintain growth and generate dividends for shareholders every financial quarter. How will these businesses cope with climate crisis and water shortages? Diageo plc says about the Scottish water crisis that “contingencies are in place.” Pernod said nothing, but both corporations leave the details to the imagination.

Personally I have little sympathy for the whisky industry that was happy to smuggle its products into the USA in partnership with murderous gangsters such as Al Capone during the period of alcohol prohibition in the 1920s. capone-helped-whisky-barons-beat-prohibition-1-536957  Like tobacco companies today, international boundaries and national legislation were matters to circumvent in order to sustain profits.

Maybe the fashion for marketing gin is a way for the alcohol industry to shift tastes away from whisky, grounded as it is in the very soil of a parched Scotland, to a drink with ingredients less specifically geographically set. I understand the flavours of gin are drawn from different flower types, which is lovely. Now talking of flowers brings us onto bees…

CLP 02/05/2019