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Chapman - Cold Night Lullaby

Cold Night Lullaby - Colin Mackay

Bosnian Village

By the banks of the Drina
the pale village floats beneath the moon
and the muddy river turns its pebbles
into treasure.
At night the workfield is hidden.
The smell of it sinks back into the old wood,
and along the stony path
come the village heifers
in a heavy scent of byres
and warm straw.
At night, only the owl hunts
in the moon-way,
in the time of small screams.
Night is soft with forgetfulness.
Tomorrow boys will fish corpses from the stream.


Cold Night Lullaby should never have had to be written. In a good world it would have been unthinkable. It is a personal odyssey: a shy, rather anti-social man decides, with a friend, to do something for Bosnia. They load up a van (’Muriel’) and take off down the A1 for the Balkans. There he falls in love – but … Stories of war atrocities abound – the horror scenes are familiar but distant and maybe we have become impervious. These poems are not an easy read – the misery of civil war and a tragic love story. What happened is recorded here. We are lucky to be able to read this book in comfort and safety. Various people have performed a selection of poems from this book, to the accompaniment of original music by the Croatian genius composer, Predrag Maric, including through the auspices of the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, and Scottish PEN, to raise money for victims of the war against Kosovo in 1999. The toute ensemble has, on almost every occasion, reduced the audience to a stunned silence; a gathering of people irreversibly moved. Colin Mackay was born near Edinburgh in 1951. Despite his first in History from Edinburgh University, he eschewed all career opportunities, preferring to devote his time to writing, looking after his increasingly-ill mother, and working as a Night Watchman at Meadowbank stadium. He wrote three novels: Song of the Forest (1986), Sound of the Sea (1989) and House of Lies (1998), as well as several other works. He died on 28th July 2003. His story is still to be told.

August 1998, 88pp, 215 x 140 mm, pbk, ISBN-10: 0-906772-86-9 / ISBN-13: 978-0-906772-86-7 £7.70 inc p&p