the music of you

there has never been
a time in my life
when music could not
teach my listing lips
to hopefully smile
or my tired eyes
to fill with the tears
that longing sheds

and yet

i have never known
a more beautiful
song than the words
that you earnest speak
to this simplest me,
no music more lovely
than the very sound
of your vibrant voice

i suspect

you could not believe
this to be more
than mere romantic
rumination, me musing
on alluringly limpid
colors, textures, tones
that idealize more
than realizingly see

but i know

and in knowing feel
and in feeling, i am
so joyfully devoted,
my love, to you

Salt Lake City 20 June 2022


the music they adore

my weans whisper hopeful sounds
playfully panting giggling
as the chanter croaks in response
and i love it

how could i not adore this
having longed for ages for the art
to breathe rhythmic wonder
into hollow wood

i have sat in awe time and again
while acquaintances of old
have performed for gatherings
of family, friends

nothing so formal as would call
one man a patron, another a star
but for me it was all so magical
a dream to trace

laya, asena, laura, mark, halil, tuǧcan
i have in silence admired you all
for so very long with sweet memories
of your own music

i would my children should grow
wise and bold and even foolish
taking chances others might refuse
to discover themselves

i would have them be happy
beyond all measure of joy
and always imbued with the generous
gift of love

but more than this and all, please
may my beautiful weans all thrive
with hands hearts voices expressing
the music they adore

My Love is on the High Seas

I never truly understood how much joy my heart was capable of until it was touched by one whose own heart has known the greatest joys and the most tragic sorrows that human heart may ken.

With each plodding day and each mournful night, my spirit calls to her, my flesh craving her touch. My eyes seek high and low for a glimpse of her face, which once looked upon me with more love than I e’er deserved.

I think we all know what it is to be alone, don’t we? Adrift in a sea of harshest humanity, there endures such tremendous longing in the human breast for a true companion, for a tender voice, for a passionate kiss, for a warm embrace.

I have found my companion. She brought me the very peace that nourishes my spirit. And I need her now.

Now and always.

I know, I have shared the music of Julie Fowlis before, but what made me think of this song this night is this sense of longing, so well captured in the old Scots Gaelic Tha Mo Ghaol Air Àird A’ Chuain (“My Love is on the High Seas”):

On a quiet evening at the beginning of May
When the bat was in the skies
I heard a tearful young maiden
Singing beneath the shadow of the green branches
The sun was setting in the sea
And no stars yet graced the sky
When the young girl sang sorrowfully
“My love is on the high seas”

The night’s dew began to fall
Each bloom yielding softly to the droplets
The wind blew in a fragrant breeze
Bringing life and renewal to each field
The girl tunefully sang her song
Quiet and peaceful like the June dew
And this chorus constantly repeated
“My love is on the high seas”

Day darkened and the stars shone
Setting their course amongst the clouds
The maiden sat, burdened by her sadness
Her singing could not have been more soothing
I moved closer to the young woman
Singing of her love sailing on the sea
Oh sweet was her sad lament
“My love is on the high seas”

The music enticed me
Nearer to the brown-haired maiden of the warm eyes
And she prayed to the King of Heaven
“Protect my love on the high seas”
Her heart was breaking with love
When I took her by the hand
“Wipe your eyes, your love is safe
I have returned to you from the high seas”

Ajde Jano (Come, Jana)

Sometimes, when your heart is so full of love, as mine is now — and feeling so very blessed to be loved by one so beautiful and compassionate and kind — your body just wants to dance. Longs to dance. To move with the touch of the beloved, holding her in your arms. Feeling her heart beat with yours. With mine. … Come, my love, let us dance.

Here are the lyrics to this beautiful Serbian song:

Ajde Jano, kolo da igramo,
ajde Jano, ajde dus^o, kolo da igramo.
Ajde Jano, konja da prodamo,
ajde Jano, ajde dus^o, konja da prodamo.
Da prodamo, samo da igramo,
da prodamo, Jano dus^o, samo da igramo.
Ajde Jano, kuc’u da prodamo,
ajde Jano, ajde dus^o, kuc’u da prodamo.
Da prodamo, samo da igramo,
da prodamo, Jano dus^o, samo da igramo.

And the translation:

Come, Jana, let us dance the kolo.
Come, Jana, let us sell the horse.
We’ll sell them just so we can dance.
Come Jana, let us sell the house.
We’ll sell it just so we can dance.

for the old world

My thoughts return again and again to the old world, to the lands across the sea that my ancestors abandoned long ago. Well, not so long ago in fact, when my father left Germany to immigrate here to the U.S. As for my mother, God rest her blessed soul, she never knew the half of her own heritage. The Scottish, yes. But little did she know how many of her roots were settled in those ancient lands. And in England and Ireland and Germany and France.

I wish sometimes I could share with her all that I have learned. I wish I could take her hand and show her how large her world had been, this woman who dwelt so comfortably between four walls, so long as she could provide for her two sons. So long as she could make a safe and happy home in that small space. Little knowing how eagerly one of her own bairn would seek out the past she had lost.

She is only eight years old now, but when my dearest daughter arises to claim her life in her own voice, with her own hands, I pray she will abandon these walls and seek the world wide to find the life that suits her best. If it means leaving all this behind, my darling princess, then so be it. Create the life you will, and I will always be proud of you for it. For having found your own voice.

As for me, what time remains in this body still, what rhythm yet this heart may beat, what verses this mind may yet compose, I know it will not be here. My father left his home in the old world and hardly looked back to the heritage he had left behind. My mother barely knew hers. I will not die on these shores. I will afar. As far as this life may yet take me. And in the old world, in the company of true love, I pray I will at last find peace.

This, by the way, is the remarkable Julie Fowlis, and these are the words to this song, which I have copied from her website:

Bothan Àirigh am Bràigh Raithneach (A sheiling on the Braes of Rannoch)

Gur e m’ anam is m’ eudail
chaidh an-dè do Ghleann Garadh:
fear na gruaig’ mar an t-òr
is na pòig air bhlas meala.

O hi ò o hu ò, o hi ò o hu ò,
Hi rì ri ò hu eile
O hì ri ri ri ò gheallaibh ò

Is tu as fheàrr don tig deise
de na sheasadh air thalamh;
is tu as fheàrr don tig culaidh
de na chunna mi dh’ fhearaibh.
Is tu as fheàrr don tig osan
is bròg shocrach nam barrall:
còta Lunnainneach dubh-ghorm,
is bidh na crùintean ga cheannach.

An uair a ruigeadh tu ‘n fhèill
is e mo ghèar-sa a thig dhachaigh;
mo chriosan is mo chìre
is mo stìomag chaol cheangail.

Thig mo chrios à Dùn Eideann
is mo bhrèid à Dùn Chailleann,
gheibh sinn crodh as a’ Mhaorainn
agus caoraich à Gallaibh.

Is ann a bhios sinn ‘gan àrach
air àirigh am Bràigh Raithneach.
ann am bòthan an t-sùgraidh
is gur e bu dùnadh dha barrach.

Bhiodh a’ chuthag ‘s an smùdan
a’ gabhail ciùil duinn air chrannaibh;
bhiodh an damh donn ‘s a bhùireadh
gar dùsgadh sa mhadainn.

It was my love and my treasure
who went yesterday to Glengarry,
the man with hair like gold
and kisses that taste of honey.

You suit your clothes
better than any man on earth;
you look better in your garments
than any man I’ve ever seen.

You look better in stockings
and comfortable laced shoes,
a dark blue London coat
that cost many crowns to buy.

When you arrive at the fair,
you’ll bring home my gear,
my small belt and my comb
and my little narrow fastening

My belt will come from Edinburgh
and my marriage head-dress from
we’ll get cattle from the Mearns
and sheep from Caithness.

And we’ll rear them in a sheiling
in Bràigh Raithneach,
in the brush-wood enclosed hut of

The cuckoo will sing
its song to us from the trees,
the brown stag and its roaring
will wake us in the morning.

Divane Aşık Gibi

Quite some time ago, a group of musicians got together to share some rather traditional pieces of Turkish music, the kind of pieces that have been played and sung and reinterpreted by a great number of artists over the years. But there was a twist to how these musicians handled their interpretation. They were spread out across the country, bringing together not only a diversity of locations and voices, but styles and intruments that had never been used to play these pieces. Their most recent work has included musicians in several countries — seems the movement is growing.

I have shared this music before. So why do it again? Well, it’s not just that I enjoy this particular piece, but that I truly enjoy the diversity of voices and sounds. Worth sharing, I think. Worth encouraging when many voices come together in such a creative act. This is a video of the first of (currently) four works, published under the title of Doğa İçin Çal (Play for Nature). This piece is called Divane Aşık Gibi.

my love for thee

There is a lovely tradition among Celtic and Scottish folk singers of a cappella love songs and ballads. I’ve never written a song before, let alone recorded myself singing one. But having experienced such profound love, I find my spirit striving for new ways of expressing what that feeling is like. And sometimes my poetry is not enough, does not … sing as I wish it to.

The style of this song I’ve adapted from the sweet “My Faithful Fond One.” My recording I have uploaded here: AUDIO And here are the words. I only hope this may touch her heart. As she has touched mine.

on one fine morn she’s greetin’
a man she’d fell be meetin’
though time itself be fleetin’
‘tis time enough for thee

feel fair these winds a blowin’
o’er hill and vale a flowin’
so fine these flowers a glowin’
full with my love for thee

I see thy arms unfoldin’
thy grace of life so golden
pray kiss my lips, embolden
my heart with love for thee

though winter clouds are loomin’
bare not your heart a gloomin’
our path with petals bloomin’
ripe with my love for thee

unfair this world be seemin’
but faithful hearts are gleamin’
with joy and hope is teamin’
this home of love for thee

Salt Lake City 05 Jun 2012

Flowers along the shore of Ildırı, Turkey (05 Jul 2010)


May it be said that of all the lessons I have learned as the years have passed, one of the most important is surely this: that while I value the time I have alone to spend as I wish – to write, to read, to enjoy the peace of my solitude – there is a far greater time. A time that has been a blessing to me. The time that I spend with those I love – in laughter and in song, in intense discussion and in childish play, in the eager exchange of ideas and in the simple sharing of a meal. To my friends, my family, and to you, Babe – I thank you all from the depths of my soul for reminding me how wonderful life can be.

Salt Lake City 27 May 2012

Jamming with Reha in Salt Lake City (27 May 2012)