top of page

SHORE CRAB ( 2017 )

Available at Amazon

Like jigsaw pieces to an
unfound puzzle,drawn up
from where we lie now we
were each a bud that swayed
on the blue and white, then
made all summer a
submarine shade with our
rustling high society.

Now we are colours of blood
and butter and bronze,
wind-shaken down from
our lofty tree,
and not to be shamed
by our last flamboyance
before we re-enter
mud’s democracy.


Rattle down the shutters, cast away the key,
Relinquish the rivers at last to the sea,
  Old Jock of Lochranza,
  Taut as a stanza,
Can come no more for me.

My eager sole visitor was planted this week,
Six decades beyond his potency’s peak;
  He was the salty, last
  Proof of my glorious past;
From here, the sea looks bleak.

It’s out with the pension, no more red heels
To clack down the pier among wet nets and creels;
  I can’t turn a head
  ( When they are all dead )
From the sea’s late purples and steels.

Hang up my whip, my scents, the tools of my trade,
That kept the fish-scaled men unstaid;
  From the tedium of wintered lives,
  Beyond the scowls of island wives,
Released them, glad-afraid.

Young men of Lamlash, Blackwaterfoot, Corrie,
Be you built like a rabbit, a shark, or a lorry,
  It’s off with this make-up
  That let your dads wake up,
And I am sorry.


Haw, Jimmy, dinnae mess wi me.
Fancy yer chances eh? Eh? We’ll see.
Naw, they dinnae caw
me Shug the Claw
fer naethin. Mon, square go then. Srang,
ye feart? Ahve taen a haill gang
o the likes o ye at wance.
Dinnae reckon yer chance
noo, eh? When ye get tae hell
ah’ll be waitin there fer ye. Caw
me a scroonger, eh? Aye, awa
an rin ti yer maw
ya wimp! Mind o Shug the Claw.



I’m the minister of air,
And I’ve no care,
A sleepy sculptor’s error
Saved me from his terror
  Of underground.

In the vertical miles up here
I gallop or poise, quite clear;
I lounge in the light’s bounty
Above the whole spring county
  Shining round.

I’m the minister of air
Not of lips or bone or hair:
No taut nets of the flesh
Catch me in their mesh –
  I’m free as rays.

I sparkle about you now,
The rustler of the bough,
The vessel for that star
Whose blistering rays you are –
  And envier of your days.



It’s not the rivers but the burns—
their unexpected dips and turns
like a poets verse inspired—
I like the most, chuckling alive
not gravid; shallow, mainly, an happy with it,
clean on their gravel beds, too quick
to suffer the reflection of a star.
Each with the happenstance of lyric,
like the burn at Candymill
punctuated by dippers,
that;s never still
except in drought, lovely liquid syllables
weaving their sentence of life around the hill;
startling me into the world from my head out
under the starry gossips.
Or this burn at Stronchullin
in Argyll, day and night
its flow of light and dark
Through the glen of lichens and emerald mosses.
It’s not the rivers but the burns....
Where the sweetest water runs.
Where the spawning salmon go.


The thought of snow,
       At least, I like, because —
Despite what it makes
      Of the world below
(Or that world makes of it) — it starts
      With the aim of perfection:

      Building itself to a lattice of white
On every mote of dust
      Miles above, in cold —
Though it dies in disgrace in the streets of towns:
       A tramp who had known big ideas,
A genuine artist, once,
       A wasted prodigy, but beginning well.


Under the sea
by day and night
The Gem anemone
which needs no light
no bigger across than a fingernail
captures the plankton.
While, in our peculiar air,
we multifariously
live, eat, sleep
the Gem Anemone
attached to its constant rock
down there.
in the tides
like a dancer,
mortal as us,
To it’s unheard music that will have no end


The blintert snawdrap can manage wi’oot
thae dowless flooers yirdit wi doot;
Fir it can match Orion’s pooers
richt throu the skinkling wee sma oors;
sae up it cams, an mebbe gies
thee laggard bauchles, bi degrees
smeddum frae shame ti cam up tae
intil the air an the sin’s ray;
but it’s the yin that sterts the spring.
It sets the sun abune aa thing.



Words by Gerry cambridge
Music by Neil Thomson
Neil Thomson:

Guitar, low whistle
bouzouki, keyboards,
two octave piano accordion
Gerry Cambridge: Harmonica

Special thanks to:
Aiden O’Rourke, Fiddle

on ‘Nature of Burns’.

Nick turner for the use of his
underwater Audio sample
featuring on ‘Gem Anemone’.  
recorded 30 feet underwater off Ardnamurchan Point featuring the  sound of ‘Pistol Shrimps’ shooting water jets to catch prey.

The recording forms part of the Deep sea light project:


Shore Crab artwork:

Design links
Nature photography:
Gerry cambridge


bottom of page