The Shore


by Rob A. Mackenzie

It’s why the tourists arrive and why
Time Out called Leith “one of the world’s
coolest neighbourhoods”; why
the sky is permanently blue and the sun
flaunts the burnished stonework; why
a red light area with two habitations in 1980
had three Michelin restaurants
less than twenty years later; why
the employment exchange where Spud interviews
in Trainspotting is now a renowned
purveyor of luxury cakes; why
gastropubs flood the port in summer
with seats by the waterfront; why
Festival time in August means any blow-up paddling pool
becomes an Air B&B; why
the old men who’d drink pints
from early morning in the Duke’s Head
now drink alone in single rooms; why
the only people buying houses are landlords
and young folk who wear suits in their sleep; why
every third person seems to be an artist
and the shops are full of craft ale; why
the world needs more takeaway coffee,
more chia seeds and acai berries,
more variations on the poshburger; why
the Volunteer Arms, rebranded as The Mousetrap
and tastefully lit, maintains an air of rarefied menace
with every cocktail lifted to lips; why
a night moth’s wing on the other
side of the planet ripples its waters; why
waxwork Queen Victorias float into the Firth of Forth
like upended canoes; why
nine out of ten avocado pizza lovers voted Leith a global
centre of culinary excellence; why
southern consumers demanded
obligatory subtitles for people with accents; why
the path of the destitute is cleared for the president
before they re-elect him; why the locals
are moving to affordable hinterlands halfway
up the Himalayas; why
they’ll never return until the mountains
are levelled as a plain, why
the plains sprout an overwhelming abundance
and those left behind
no longer need to ask why.

About the Author

Rob A. Mackenzie was born in Glasgow. He studied law and then switched to theology. He spent a year in Seoul, eight years in Lanarkshire, five years in Turin, and now lives in Leith. He is reviews editor of Magma poetry magazine and runs literary publisher, Blue Diode Press. His reviews and articles on poetry have been published in many magazines and he occasionally translates poems from Italian.

His pamphlet, The Clown of Natural Sorrow, was published by HappenStance Press in 2005, followed by a collection, The Opposite of Cabbage (Salt, 2009). Another pamphlet, Fleck and the Bank, was published in 2012, a second full collection, The Good News, in 2013, and a third, The Book of Revelation, in 2020 – all published by Salt.

Post Image

Rayan de Zeeuw: Shore, Edinburgh, 2019 (Unsplash)

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