WILD NATURE POETRY AWARD competition now open.

Elspeth Brown has had several pamphlets published and two books of poetry, 'A Crab in the Moon's Mouth' Markings, and 'Skunk Cabbage', Indigo Dreams.  


Particular writing interests are James Clerk Maxwell, John Muir, and Green Men.


Her play, 'The Spectrum', concerning James Clerk Maxwell, has been performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and read at the Edinburgh Science Festival.


Elspeth has been involved in Creative Writing tutoring in Edinburgh and has enjoyed reading in many venues.



Cover artwork by Ronnie Goodyer




138 x 216mm




£6.00 + P&P UK


ISBN 978-1-910834-94-7


PUB: 26/11/2018










Starling and Crane


Elspeth Brown



The poems in Starling and Crane connect memory, wildlife and industrial cranes and  also explores the healing power of nature.  




* * * * *

“With subjects ranging from industrial cranes of the docks and city to the wild birds of the seashore, these are poems to be enjoyed for their vivid observations.


Elspeth Brown has not only a wonderfully imaginative and sympathetic eye but, as in the marvellous poem about a blind woman negotiating a trip to the beach, she relishes

all the senses.


Her poems express a joyful delight in the world but are also alert to  the illness and death that accompany the passage of time.”


Vicky Feaver


Starling and Crane

Leith Docks, Edinburgh


Like a bird making a nest, each strut

was carried up and angled in.

Sometimes a smaller crane,

more agile than this giant,

beaked pieces up.


Now the massive cable drum,

once smoothly woven,

is stuck in track, red rusted,

fluted edge too old to turn

towards the water.          


Like an exhausted pterodactyl

the working arm reaches

tall above the buildings,

abandoned in the sky,

blind to the busy dock.


At the very top, a starling

in her nest surveys the city.




The Titan Crane



You lifted engines into ships,

where rivets were hammered in,

furnace blazing, dust and smoke.  

Your driver high above the ground

reading hand signals from below.

You swung towards the Clyde,

ropes steadying the bucking boat,

held like a nervous horse.

Every piece of you solid,

mechanical, reliable, redundant,

overtaken by technology,

and the shipyard’s decline.

Now you stand restored,

A defiant icon by the river.




Lesser Things


I don’t want to write about Bass Rock

though it looms in front of me

its lighthouse tucked under its shoulder,

as I stand on the warm sand of Belhaven Bay.

I want to think about the small rocks

scattered randomly along the river.

Seaweed and moss covered,

the crumbs of a larger rock, dark and layered

like small memories that drift through a life,

sparrows, celandines, sticklebacks, field mice.

A lone gannet far from Bass Rock lands on a boulder,

swallows his fish, and  rises to fly  to the open sea.

An incoming tide laps on the rocks,

soon to be covered by the splash and slap of waves.

Kittiwakes on John Muir Way


Kittiwakes are restless

on the castle rocks,

shifting in their crowded nests,

flying out and back, landing  

on sandstone and out again

above the fishing boats

and fierce-eyed herring gulls;

circling upward to view

the sea over the harbour wall,

their round eyes fixed

on the route to the horizon.


Walkers below feel unsettled,

a nomadic instinct stirs,

a wild desire for change

flits through a few staid souls

before they walk  back  home,

perhaps to plan a holiday,

rearrange their house,

or fill a backpack,

tie on  mug and metal plates,

don anorak and walking shoes

and take the John Muir Way.






She follows the first swallow through the glen.

Knows he has found his way from Africa.


She’s not exactly lost, misplaced,

the path is somewhere here or there.

The trees have changed alignment.

The river rushes out of sight

flowing past a stagnant pool.

Grey light suggests day.

No sun to show the hour,

it could be any day in spring,

yes spring, scent of coconut,  

yellow flowers, maybe gorse?

Nothing is clear or understood,

yet she melds into the habitat.

Surely a route will become clear

among the uncurling ferns.

A mud clarted path is entangled with weeds.

She settles among celandines in the haar.


Wonders will she recognise the first swallow’s

red cap and bib in next year’s spring?





Each of us holds a locked razor…

        ‘Waking in the Blue’ by Robert Lowell


Do all of us hold a locked razor,

a hidden anger we keep within?

We hide this worm in the bud

with petals of peace, mostly

we flower lopsided, incomplete.

With luck a blackbird pecks

the worm from our flower’s core

before we darken with disease.


Some nurture the worm and turn

their rage on man. Feel the need

to spew detritus out on film  

and point their razor at the world;

a killing frenzy with knife and gun.

More sorrow, they are someone’s son.




ElspethBrown-021-e1503832046800 9781910834947