WHEESHT by David Betteridge
Image by Bob Starrett
Sleeping, and waking,
and in the twilight states between,
I hear the world’s new Herods
incessantly give voice.
Their hatred for the world reverberates.
They dominate the TV screens,
dirtying and disordering minds.
Wheesht, my troubled soul.
Ignore these stridencies of power.
Can you hear a gentler voice,
one that rings kind and clear,
that goes against the louder strain?
It calls and calls for justice
and for peace, holding them dear?
Can you attune to this quiet urging,
as it makes its ceaseless
and its never-granted claim?
Wheesht, and listen,
as a parent searching for a child listens,
or as a shepherd, cocking his ear,
concentrates to catch the sound
of his lost lamb’s bleat,
until he finds the place at last
where a burn has carried the poor mite
down, from a windy hill
to a wet peat.
DAVID BETTERIDGE is a retired teacher and teacher-trainer, whose poetry has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Agenda, Acumen and Chapman, as well as in anthologies, including The Dynamics of Balsa (New Writing Scotland), Scotia Nova (Luath Press) and A Kist of Thistles (Culture Matters).
With the graphic designer Tom Malone, David Betteridge has produced more than a dozen poetry pamphlets under their Rhizome Press banner. Countervailing, an elegy for the crew of the lost trawler The Solway Harvester, published in 2010, was short-listed for the Callum Macdonald Poetry Pamphlet Award.
Selections of his poems, mainly political, but not exclusively so, have appeared over the years, starting with Granny Albyn’s Complaint (Smokestack Books, 2008), followed by Slave-Songs and Symphonies, with drawings by the cartoonist Bob Starrett (Manifesto Press, 2016). A third selection, looking at the world in an interlinked kind of way, from the vantage point of Scotland, appeared in 2022. It is Notes from an Infinite Land (Rhizome Press).