Northwords Now Issue 39

The FREE literary magazine of the North

Honest Graft

by James Sinclair

Lang an curved gunmetal
clackin scimitar blades
rive, dey taer at carrion

Wi ten men apo da capstan
an wan aesy swing o da derrick,
wir catch laanded wi a dunt apo da daek.
Dan hit began, da slash an cut
o da flensin knife as weel wint haands flayed
blubber laek muckle slivers o butter.

We gaddered hit itil wir scurts
an filt da boilin pot ta lipperin.
Gurr melted doon itil a stinkin brö.
Da cooper plied his trade, knockin
taggider barrel staves, afore he slippit
da iron baands aroond an shappit dem doon.

We filt barrel eftir barrel as day kerried on
trowe nicht. Da sun wis niver laek ta slip oot o sicht,
an whin wir labours wir bye wi, an aathing stowed,
da maister opened da rum ration
an geed wis a double tot ta celebrate.

A accordian appeared an a tin whistle.
Johnny fae Nestin layed da bow across his fiddle.
We sang sea shanty an ballad alaek.
Someens performed a jig airms i da air as dey jimpit fae side ta side.
I girded me loins an back-steppit ta Johnny’s Shetlan reel
me haands apo me hips an me heels clickin,
as da sun climmed ower da yard airm.


The Hull whaleship Diana, trapped in the Greenland ice

A sequence of Shetland dialect poems as an interpretation of the ill-fated voyage of the Hull whaleship Diana, trapped in the Greenland ice over winter 1866-1867.

Back Fae Da EdgePoem by James Sinclair
Honest GraftPoem by James Sinclair
Laevin HamePoem by James Sinclair
Lang LippenedPoem by James Sinclair
LossPoem by James Sinclair
Lost SowlsPoem by James Sinclair
Makkin a Run Fur HitPoem by James Sinclair
MellishonPoem by James Sinclair
Mirrie DancersPoem by James Sinclair
Shaestin a FeynessPoem by James Sinclair
Shaestin wir PreyPoem by James Sinclair
Slippin AwaPoem by James Sinclair
StarvationPoem by James Sinclair
TrappitPoem by James Sinclair