Sadly, Jim is no longer with us, but his poetry lives on. Its diversity and depth reflects and has its roots in his life experience.
Born in Ayrshire, he followed the West of Scotland tradition of engineering which led him into a successful career as a manager, industrialist, and University professor.
As far as he was concerned, the main theme of his many tasks and challenges was the behaviour, conflict and growth of individuals in the complex and frustrating context of work.
In his attempt to make sense of, and contribute something new to the many paradoxes he encountered, he sought clues in the fields of psychology and spirituality.
His writing, both prose and poetry, attempts to share some of these insights. Below you will find two of his most requested poems, 'Comma' and 'Old Hat'. Jim loved the idea of giving everything, however humble, a voice.
Did you notice me?
In that beautiful line,
that heart stopping phrase?
Did you notice me?
I bet you didn’t.
Just a comma, the lowest ranking foot soldier
in punctuation’s pecking order.
Smaller than a colon, the dictionary defines me.
A colon: two specks of fly shit on the page
But me, this tail of mine relates me to my
That flaming longhaired star, the comet.
So when next you hold your breath,
in that blissful hiatus that heightens desire,
think of me.
between this heartbeat
and the next.
Mistress Mildred Macumbie’s hat sits firmly on her head.
It hasn’t much option
pinioned fast, as it is,
to an improbable breaking surf of blue rinsed waves.
Despite this, with a freedom enjoyed only by better class millinery,
it scans the length and breadth of Glasgow’s newest Starbucks.
At the next table,
four Kelvinside matrons, carefully maintained
and in good running order,
and each other’s crow’s feet.
A couple, in the far corner, avoid each other’s eyes,
and exchange assorted silences.
The married kind.
The hat sighs nostalgically, and compares the scene, unfavourably,
with Miss Cranston’s Tearoom, half a century gone,
where etiquette would have ensured polite conjugal congress.
Conversation only, you will understand.
The next poem wasn't written by Jim but by Rowena as a tribute to him after his death. It was read at his funeral.
His Master's Voice
You gave voice to silent things:
comma, hat, rainbow,
letting them giggle, laugh,
shout out loud. Simply whisper.
On the page of time we shared,
you were more comet than comma,
ideas burning brightly as you dashed,
while your goodness outshone constellations.
Brimful of enthusiasm,
capping each suggestion with more of your own.
Every act adorned with faith’s peacock feathers.
Your poems no prentice piece,
but that of a master, carved sharp, stark,
richly shadowed with meaning.
I feel your voice in my heart
like a squash ball.
It makes me smile.
This was Jim's first collection, which came out in 2004.
It is available to purchase through the Makar Bookshop on this website at a cost of £5, which includes free postage and packaging anywhere in the UK (and for a small additional sum for foreign buyers).
You'll find it in the 'Poetry Pamphlets (assorted)' section - just select Small Voices from the drop down menu at the bottom then click add to cart.