Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

‘Salmon Farm Blues’ – a poem by Andrew McNeillie

Photo by Datingscout on Unsplash


Andrew McNeillie’s New and Collected poems, Striking a Match in a Storm, is published this week by Carcanet. There will be an online launch reading on Wednesday 30th – details here.



    Salmon Farm Blues


Call me old-fashioned, as you will,
but I prefer the struggle to be uphill
running the gauntlet of net and line
and on through boulder and bracken
under oak and rowan, towards the pool
with its whorls and frothy scribbles and
near Bible-paper midge-shadows,
to watch and wait, until I am there
as if not there and what was disturbed,
as I leapt and plunged, settles again.
The dipper dings his anvil. The wren
proclaims his kingdom. The blackbird
skulks towards evening, listening
for his inaudible cue to sing. Call it
God’s chorus if you want to. And
what I brought from the head-banging
Atlantic, rushes away to oblivion; with
rain-trace from moor and mountain
– crystal-pure, peat-based, distillation
filtered at threshold and hearthstone,
beginning to wash through my gills.
What do they say? Live well and die
where you were born. Not an option
for so many nowadays, enslaved
on the plantations as they are.