The Empty Chair

by Alex
 My cronies, I staun' here the nicht
 An ask ye for yer patience
 Tae tell ma tale and keep ye bricht
 Wi mair o' my orations
 I had prepared some stumblin' lines
 Wi thoughts o' referendum
 But news on Ne'erday change my mind
 Caused me tae amend them.
 For mair years than a can recall,
 Wi' humour, sangs an' clatter
 I've sat amangst ye in this hall
 Though Januar' winds might batter
 But this time roon' it's no the same,
 A feelin' hard tae capture
 An empty chair that bears his name
 Wha' held us a' in rapture.
 I wis a pair benighted chanter
 Wha hadnae played for ages.
 When, tae the folk club I did saunter.
 Tae try the Kestrel's stages
 An wha was I tae be sae bold
 It could hae been a blunder
 Ma knees were shakin' truth be told
 The strain that I was under.
 Ma e'en then lichted on a man
 Wha seemed tae hae some mettle
 He walkit up an shook my hand
 At once my hert did settle
 "Ye are a singer." he declaimed
 "Well that'll suit me fairly."
 "Whaur de ye cam frae? Whit's yer name?
 I'll pit ye on quite early."
 What I didnae quite ken then
 At that unsought encounter
 That Jack McCaig wid cam my friend
 An' be a guide and mentor.
 A count me lucky by a mile
 Twas me he took a shine to
 Cos he could be a richt thrawn chiel
 Wha said whit he'd a mind to.

 He'd work on fairms, he'd ploughed the riggs
 O' mony a fairmer worthy.
 And then at nicht he rest his legs
 Doon in the ploughman's bothy.
 An there he said he learned the sangs
 Frae men wha worked wi' horses
 Wi' tales o' woe and richts an' wrangs
 In thae cornkister verses
 Mony a day sat at his knee
 Regaled wi tales an' stories.
 The things he dae, the things he'd see
 While drivin' on the lorries.
 A big wheel man wha roped an' happed
 The cargo that he carried.
 Wi' coal an' steel an' a' sic trap
 That folk a' needed ferried.
 Balerno was his life lang hame
 He'd kent it since was wee.
 The Laird o' Glenbrook he became
 In his hoose beneath the tree.
 An' if ye took the time tae go
 Oot tae that stately pile.
 An' chappit at the the door ye'd know
 He'd greet ye wi a smile.
 An' evr'y Januar' at oor meets
 He' mak his contribution
 That had us rollin' in oor seats
 Wi muckle laughs an' hootin'
 An t'ward the end efter the turns
 As we a' kent he must do
 Tae gie "The Star o' Rabbie Burns"
 Roared oot wi' usual gusto.
 But sickness breaks the strongest herts
 As e'en oor Rob would find.
 The haughty laird, the lad o' pairts
 Still find themselves enchained
 An though he faucht it lang and hard
 Wi' a' his strenght resist it.
 Like oor Robin, Scotland's bard
 That mortal coil he slip't it.
 We've paid respect tae absent friends
 An' Jack he got a mention
 But here his story doesnae end
 And I'll hear nae dissension
 For though we hae an empty chair
 That nane o' us can 'herit
 I for ane still see him there,
 The least that he should merit.
 So fareweel then tae my pal Jack
 I liked tae cry him Faither,
 An' though my muse the pow'r may lack
 Tae 'scribe him as I'd raither.
 Ah'll ne'er forget a man like him
 I'm glad our paths did mingle.
 I wish him noo a hearty dram
 An' a warm seat by the ingle.

Jim Weatherston
BardMarchbank Burns Club
Friday 30th January 2015