Stewart Moss

Hogmanay, Edinburgh
March 18, 2019 Moss Stewart

Hogmanay, Edinburgh

Past the iron fence on Princes Street
and up the Mound to the pale clock
on the steeple of St. Giles,
the denizens of this old town stumble
in weaving druidic lines,

chanting half-remembered ballads and dirty songs
bleated and belched off key,
guttural greetings, och ayes and halloos,
and hiccupping the music
the earth might have made

when it was drunk from its own first rains,
becoming what Burns called the “dews distilled,”
a liquor so smooth
it makes the tongue purr, stretch
and prowl for more

beneath smoke spuming from breweries
in the malty midnight air,
brine riding in sheets of mist
above whiffs of rust and turf
and the sweat and perfume of “C’mon, lass”

as lovers fumble in alleyways,
their damp backs pressed against stone and brick,
then their first hard kiss, their first moans,
these falling creatures the church bell summons
shivering and blinking into the New Year.

As a former Executive Director of The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Stewart Moss helped establish creative writing programs for adult immigrants and members of the military being treated for neurological and psychological trauma. He has taught literature and creative writing in both the USA and abroad; Scotland, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Nepal are among the countries where he has lived and worked. Moss has essays included in Retire the Colors: Veterans & Civilians on Iraq & Afghanistan, ed. Dario DiBattista (Hudson Whitman/Excelsior College Press, 2016) and Plume Poetry, and poetry in Plume, Goss 183 and Origins Literary Review. His chapbook of poems, For Those Whose Lives Have Seen Themselves, was published in 2021 by Finishing Line Press, and his collection Arrivals & Departures: Poems will be released (also by Finishing Line Press) in 2023. Moss has been awarded an Independent Artist Grant by the Maryland States Arts Council; he has also been featured in “The Poet and the Poem” podcasts at The Library of Congress. A native of Boston, MA, he resides in Annapolis, MD.