John Glenday – Alba: Poem into song thanks to Luci Holland:

dune grass in january

if only I could give a name to the fierce, wild grass which thrives between the lighthouses and the seaworn dunes, then I could stop thinking of her

how it glows a fulsome ochre even in the winter when the light sleeps; so many oars dipped in a salty flame;

how it bows and acknowledges the wind, but nothing more; always springing back into itself again, always needling and standoffish, daring to be touched; promising nothing in return.

The Walkers

As soon as we had died, we decided to walk home.

A white tatterflag marked where each journey began.

It was a slow business, so much water to be crossed,

so many dirt roads followed. We walked together and alone.


You must understand we can never be passengers any more.

Even the smallest children had to make their own way

to their graves, through acres and acres of sunflowers

somehow no longer pretty. A soldier cradled a cigarette, a teddy bear


and his gun. He didn’t see us pass, our light was far too thin.

We skirted villages and cities, traced the meanderings of rivers.

But beyond it all, the voices of our loved ones called

so we flowed through borders like the wind through railings


and when impassable mountain marked the way,

soared above their peaks like flocks of cloud, like shoals of rain.

At last the fields and woods grew weary and the sea began –

you could tell we were home by the way our shadows leaned.


We gathered like craneflies in the windowlight of familiar rooms,

grieving for all the things we could never hold again.

Forgive us for coming back. We didn’t travel all this way

to break your hearts. We came to ask if you might heal the world.


Quotes about John Glenday
‘His highly crafted lyrics are like wrought iron.’ (Griffin Poetry Prize)