For John McCain, Ernest C. Brace, & Alexander Solzhenitsyn

I season my pen with the sonnet’s blood,
And do not reason with a moonless sky,
Thus, in durance, we hearken to the wry
Whisper of words from the drifting brood
Of dreams courting a wistful brotherhood;
Ah, now I need more words, words with the sly,
Careful murmur of thought, coy incubi
That spread, so softly, throughout mien and mood,
Words forged in moments, penned upon pale
Pages of the mind, plucked from Time’s scrip,
Detailing secret rites that shall unveil
Night nymphs dancing as they Petrarch worship.
I seek repose where Doric dreams prevail,
To bronze truth, with questing quill, nib a-drip.

© Sam Gilliland.


Residing in Scotland, Sam Gilliland is a champion of Lallans (the Scottish language) poetry and a recipient of Sangschaw’s prestigious MacDiarmid Tassie. With three previous collections of poetry published his work in Scots includes A Rickle O Banes (Penny Wheep Press). Founder/Secretary of Ayrshire Writers & Artists Society the organisation became the home of The Scottish International Open Poetry Competition, to which he devoted twenty eight years of his life as co-administrator and judge.

NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here.

7 Responses

  1. William Krusch

    I have read this poem ten times now, and I am still left in a complete sense of awe and wonder – I am speechless, and I know not how to even describe the brilliance of this composition. The musicality of this sonnet excels that of any living poet, and this poem deserves far more attention and praise than it has received so far. Compositions such as this sonnet are the works of art that prevail for centuries – no further words can do this sonnet justice.

  2. Jack Beaulieu

    I think it deserves comment too, for several reasons: the dedication (to three people who went through hell of a kind most of us can’t even imagine); the period shift that pops out of nowhere in the closing triplet (and bangs you in the eye); the indisputable subtlety and cleverness of the piece, from beginning to end.

    I didn’t immediately fathom its depths. When something suddenly dawned on me, a faint rumble of mirth rose up from my gut.

    “I…do not reason with a moonless sky”…”Ah, now I need more words”… “a wistful brotherhood.” Then that spectacular sudden shift into reverse to lend zip to the drips.

    Thanks for this. It gives inversion a new lease on life.

    • James A. Tweedie

      What an interesting and intriguing suggestion, Jack. I have just re-read the poem back to front and found new meaning and cohesion where I had stumbled at first. Is it possible this was intended or is it a serendipitous coincidence? How odd to find a poem that reads magnificently well in both directions!

      • James A. Tweedie

        A word of clarification to my previous comment. I am not suggesting that the poem reads well backwards grammatically (in this sense it reads best forwards) but that the sequence of thought and image flows equally well in both directions. After reconsideration I cannot see how this could have been intentional. Even so, it remains an interesting observation—a curiosity that only makes a powerful and well-crafted poem even more interesting and compelling.

  3. Jack Beualieu

    Yes, that would sure be rare, and show a two-way flair.
    And yet, it’s subtle as Rilke, but Rilke with a tortured twist. Observe the wry inverted orderist.
    Scramble a bit, says it, contrive a backwards line
    sublimely writ for the backward to test their wit.
    The prisoner’s message is mist,
    lost in shadows of Sanskrit.
    It’s like a secret tryst.
    And who could regret it? Who could but in humble reply, shout out an aye to the comatose sky
    for such a gimlet-eyed opening gambit?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.