Read the poems…

John Mallaghan’s poems are vivid, lyrical and perceptive. Steeped in authentic Scottish dialect and a wry wit, they tell tales of the larger-than-life characters that live in and around Holytown, where John grew up, and Calderbank, where he settled and brought up his family.

Click a link to read a poem in full, complete with an introduction from the poet himself. Or see all the poems in one pdf file by clicking the button below.

The Knitter

“Lo! she, with some infernal magic rife, Entwined her needles with my passing life.” The poem that inspired the book of the same name.

We Didna Forget & Why Can’t They Understand

These two poems were included in a fundraising wartime leaflet designed by John Mallaghan. They’re referenced in Chapter 10 of the book, and here is the original leaflet.

The Stiff Hutch

The beurocrats ‘One Hunner’, ‘Two Hunner’ and ‘Five Hunner’ make a simple job more difficult for the mining boys.

Daddy Duff

Another baby for Daddy Duff? Better warn the local pubs!

Bobbie Lumsden

Death and Bobbie Lumsden have a chat about a wee misunderstanding that could see Bobbie cut down in his prime.

Johnny Craig

Local ranting bard, Johnny Craig, has a pop at Rabbie Burns. Is he right?


A tale of young talent snubbed out tragically early.

Jock the Lum

Meet Jock the Lum – miner, rag man and local character extraordinaire.

He Never Hurt His Mother

A drinker, a gambler, a fighter – but he never lay a finger on his ma.

The Chapper-Up

How did you make sure not to miss a day’s work if you didn’t have an alarm clock? Why, just wait for the Chapper-Up to come knocking, of course.


A wee poem about Charlie Tully.

Twin Baillie’s Salvation

A funeral, an argument and a march.

Ben Ledi

A haunting song heard from the side of a mountain.

The Travers

Dedicated to the Shaws – descendents of the doughty Scottish clan, The Travers.


Solemn, staunch Davie pulls the yoke in the mines. But what’s his crime?

Wee Ann’s Fairies

“Up the chimney
‘Neath the door
Thro’ the keyhole
More and more.”

The fairies celebrate the birth of Wee Ann.