Bakings is The Bakehouse’s new online literary magazine – poems submitted by invitation alongside recordings of featured poets from previous Bakehouse events. Trawl through the site to find fine poetry from Scotland and beyond alongside film poems and illustrations.  Items are in the order of most recent first, or use our index to see a list of items arranged alphabetically by author.
Alphabetical Index by Author

Beyond Criffel : Peter Roberts

for Acky

I’m on the other side of Criffel now.

At Glencaple’s old tobacco quay,

the moonstruck river flows backwards,

a clock unwinding into memory.

The tide spools away from Criffel’s reel,

upstream, threading this other country,

where we climbed Clougha as child’s play,

became infected with longing

for the high fells across the bay.

Followed them north to Grasmoor,

from where Criffel, on a farther shore,

signalled where to go next.

I think of Liatach, running the scree,

our best, our final climb, the last day

it was all aligned, the hill,

you and me, our hill-made mind,

coming down fast in the sun’s last rays.

A fragile freedom, giving way

to a life that led, fifty years on,

beyond Criffel to this riverside,

looking back to those hills of youth

across time’s irreversible tide.


Curlew for Christopher : Peter Roberts


Your last email arrived with the curlews

the day of spud planting   late   the spuds

and the curlews   after the easterly blast

and I wished your message later still or never

only two or three months you said and I heard

a new acceptance in the way you phrased those words

colder than the spuds’ damp trenches

and the cooor-lee call shivered down my spine

wings folding like angels as they landed

in their water meadow nesting place

spearing me with spectral sounds to the moors

of childhood like spirits of springtime past

whilst the postcards from your migrations

to Baltic summers and the world’s lecture halls

were messengers from possible futures

so leaning into my digging I was held

in perfect balance between root and growth

though I didn’t know it or make the link

until I knew that you and perhaps one day

the curlew would be no more and my world

will be quite unkiltered without you both.


The Third Coming : Debasish Lahiri


I always come thrice.

I meet the door-bell, --

In my thick carpet-slippers

Warm night coat about my shoulders

That keeps me safe from the quietness

Of night’s disquiet, --

That I have myself sounded,

Winter’s last rags

Are my bone hair

And my feet bruise the memory of this earth

That I walked

All night

All winter

Outside my own door.

I do recognize

The warmth of indoor smile

And the ghoul of cold

Picking its way round the stubble of grimace

Across the breadth

Of the door’s looking glass

On my face.

I see myself

In cities estranged by memory

Under skies endeared by light

Looking up at clouds

And wondering

What I was doing

When light touched earth lightly

On the shoulder


Everyday since

Light came thrice

To rouse

A loneliness

That even my third coming

Does not allay.


9th January, 2020

Butter : Ross Donlon


Wið geswell, genim þas ylcan wyrte myllefolium mid buteran gecnucude.  ‘For a boil, take the yarrow plant mixed with butter.’  

(This is the first recorded use of ‘butter’ in English.)

The Greek boutyron joins bous (cow, ox) and tyros (cheese) to make our word for butter.

Cow’s Cheese might sound loony as a cow jumping over the moon but there it is, original butter.

What do you think of when you think of butter? I remember Nan buying a stick of Norco,

something almost alive in the ice box like a delicious piece of sun. Or sin. Ah butter.

50’s memories. No Butter Bloke but there was the Bread Man. Horse and cart parked, he galloped

upstairs to our bread box. We waited in the flat like brigands, ready to mug hot bread with butter.

We eschewed the crust (later used to make curly snails) and dived into a wheat-warm womb

slathered gold. Then with marmalade, honey or jam we added bliss to the blessing of butter.

And so to sex. Has essence of cow cheese never occurred to you as you reached for the heights?

Yet far beyond pharmacy’s plastic packs waits the original lubricant of Eros. Hellooooo, Butter!

My friend’s thing was shaving cream. He loved to brush love poems on his lover’s pelt.

Me, I dreamt of fun couplings with the glory of Norco, but could never wait for the butter…

    to melt.  


Fables for Our Time: Sheep-Dog : Ross Donlon

for Hugh McMillan


She tells me the girlhood story of the orphan lamb

she loved and raised on the bottle in their house

and I wonder if there’s a moral or metaphor in this.

The teenage girl growing maternal, her baby-like

pet’s eyes, the fleecy blanket’s sticky, milky touch,

I sense there could be a moral or metaphor in this.

The lamb docile in the house, sleeping with dogs,

content with the family, tv and a pack of kelpies

I think there might be a moral or metaphor in this.

Time grows, she grows, the lamb also grows but -

into a ram, still so dog-like they called him Dog.

So touching, I think there must be a moral or metaphor in this.

But wait. While lambs might live in houses, rams may not.

Rams like to ram - legs, doors, china cabinets, grandma.

I am perplexed. Can a moral or metaphor come from this?

First day interned in a paddock Dog eschews the ewes,

but breaks his back leg chasing a tabby cat up a gum tree

and I feel sure a moral if not a metaphor, must come from this.

First time for everything. The local vet makes a cast for the ram

hobbling pirate-like in a sheep paddock. So poignant, amusing

and sad, I ponder what moral or metaphor might come from this?

Cast off but still outcast, Dog greets the missus’ returning car

by ramming her door shut. Then the passenger door, boot and hood.

This unexpected development makes me query what moral or metaphor

could come from this.

Marooned in her purple Gemini, Mum yells and phones Pa, but his mobile is

switched to silent while Dog looks for more blameless panels to ram, and I

imagine Nietzsche, Jung and even Sigmund Freud quarrelling with Plato and

the School of Athens as to what moral or metaphor might be drawn from this.

Sunday dinner in the country is a time of calm.

Baked meat and vegetables fresh from the farm.

Talk subdued, apart from courtesies, ‘Pass the ram.’


Moral: I remain quietly confident there are morals and metaphors to be drawn from the tragic story of Dog the Sheep but at the time of writing, March 6, 2020 I have absolutely no idea what they might be.

Knife : a word of uncertain origin : Ross Donlon


…and origin is uncertain, perhaps, since we’ve been for so long with Knife.

How soon after we crawled did flint, shell, stick and need make knife?

Oldest tool. Oldest weapon. Hurting and helping. Which came first?

Food- shelter-death-maker in peace and war - the uncertain story of knife.

Before steel was stainless it was stained grey, colour of stone, cold sea, dead 

skin, sky at certain times. Colour and form depends on the life-time of knife.

Blade length varies with use, owner-gender, thickness and shape. Culture curves,

straightens. Ornate or utilitarian, it wears the wearer, heralds the bearer: My Knife.

Sharpening curves steel, faint waves indent, stop and start. Blades shape ways

of make and use. Skill, care and time are primal tools for the creation of knife.

Grandfather had his made in a railway workshop. His knife, like him, roughhewn.

Rivets on cold steel. Its handle not from bone, wood nor plastic. Mystery of his knife.

Never used. Never made to carve, cook or clean. It waited. Sheathed inside him

His kitchen throne room. His servants and lackeys. His joker. His hidden knife.

A voice can cut. Words can slash. Time deepens the spoken wound weeping.

Threats survive in dreams, even if luck rescues survivors from the knife.

I retrieved it rusting in the past. What did it mean to me now? So many had died

other deaths. Cleaned and sharpened, its memory glows grey. What is life to a knife?


Road Kill : Ross Donlon


Sunday morning on the Calder 

two bodies rise with the crest.

One, foreground left, unattended,

the kangaroo’s back is turned away

with what looks like embarrassment.

On the opposite verge, 

someone at the dead biker’s chest

makes the bloated belly bobble and hop.

Momentarily, it seems like disrespect

and we all slow          eyes right

to see legs and arms splayed

by the morning tide.

His mates wave like leather scarecrows

on a windless day, witnesses to a perfect time

for a ride into the almost unknown.

But their Harleys still spread like a threat -

diamond torque - arc of black - broken chain.

One bike still on its side, wheels stopped

in a turn of roulette, I shock myself

wondering why I feel as much or more for the roo

that had hopped through a copper morning

innocent as a penny, all grace and life intent,

to be marked with the rough cross of road kill

and grieve thinking how its day will end,

where be thrown as landfill.


Jack Russells : Celia Purcell


Two dogs are curled around their space,

sharing the same patchwork coat

and flicker of ear. They sleep, both

close to my father’s after dinner work

with a spade, his shadow over them.

Brothers making trouble mostly,

who know how to run and somersault

faster than their legs can carry,

who rummage noses far below ground –

get buried. Then shrill through yards

of soil, each barks like a Baskerville hound

to come up bleeding at the nose.

Now they lie quiet as if life began

here with this garden and will always be so,

small paws taut in anticipation

of my father’s spade hurling the earth.


Wildwood : Deborah Harvey


It’s time to leave this house

Glancing up as I cut the grass

I see three apples, green in leaves,

the first-ever crop on the tree I grew

from the seed of the final fruit

picked in my grandmother’s garden

I’ll watch them swell and ripen

take the pips with me when I go,

plant a tree that might not blossom

in the years that are left

There are millions of seeds in pots and jam jars,

spilling from mouths of paper bags

one for each minute of each day lost,

copses, forests, wildwood

falling through my fingers

I reach for the hands of my children, my sisters,

our dormant stories stir in earth

make for the light


Published in ‘Breadcrumbs’ (Indigo Dreams, 2016)

Oystercatchers : Deborah Harvey


One day

the day she’s been waiting for will come

and she’ll take these words with her to the sea

unzip her coat, pull open her ribcage

let them fly as purposely

as oystercatchers

pulling the strings of the sky

and tide

lifting the weight from each blood cell

giving her permission    


Published in ‘The Shadow Factory’ (Indigo Dreams, 2019)
Winner of the 2018 Plough Prize Short Poem Competition