Hugh McMillan

Hugh McMillan is a poet and author who lives in Dumfries and Galloway. He has written five collections of poetry, numerous pamphlets and has been anthologised and broadcast widely. He was a winner in the Smith/Doorstep Prize, the Callum MacDonald Prize and was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Prize, the Bridport Prize and the Basil Bunting Award.

“I feel poetry is cutting down to the very essence of things and this attracts me as an idea and an art form. I’m inspired by the country and history of Scotland but most of all by human beings wherever I find them.”


It’d been a long day,
the wind howling down the road,
the bulbs failing.
I was thinking in a way

what a trail and what’s the end
when you’re this age and
your weans polite but detached
and dreams somewhere

stashed in a drawer,
then in the kitchen suddenly
the oldest one
said do you know

the Canadian Barn Dance?
I swear the longest sentence
I’d had over a month
was eight words

but she went on: start
with that foot, walk
for three steps, hop,
walk back for three and hop,

move sideways, clap,
waltz, sideways again,
to the left then back,
dance round the room,

dance round the room!
What a speech,
and how her braces shone
in the failing light!

There was four foot square
to move in, only a space
between table
and piles of plates

but we danced and danced.

First published takahe 89
April 2017