This week’s theme was inspired by this ring of sea glass, artfully arranged by some unknown beachcomber, on the picnic table at the town end of Sandwick’s shingle beach. I was entranced by the subtle colours which seemed to complement the February light perfectly.

So I looked for a poem to go with the picture and came across Flip flotsam by  Edinburgh based poet, Elspeth Murray.

Anything less relevant to subtle sea glass and icy oceans is hard to imagine as it is about plastic flotsam in the

Indian Ocean but, well, I liked it so much that I wanted to share it:

Flip flotsam by Elspeth Murray

This is the beach
where the flip flops come
at the end of their
flip flop trip.

And where does a
flip flop trip begin?

the floor of a flip flop factory;
on the shelf of a flip flop shop;
or the foot of a flip flop fan?

And what snaps the strap
of each flip flop
that finds its flip flop fate?

a flip too far;
a flop too fast;
or a slip that
flapped it back?

And what does the sea say
when she sees another flip flop fall?

‘Oh, flip flop and flotsam
fair and foul,
I’ll freely float you all!’?

Or, do the waters, wavey and wide
curse each clutch of clutter
that comes on each tide
and storm up the sand
with curses that worsen
at each
flip-flopping person?

reproduced with the author’s permission

“With a strong record of collaborative work in education, health, business and the performing arts, Elspeth Murray is a writer who enjoys the unpredictable. Her poetry residencies have taken place in shopping centres, distilleries, international conferences, hospices and schools. Her workplace residencies feature in a 2008 BBC Radio 4 documentary Blood, Sweat, Tears and Poetry and a 2009 Third Way article Shall I Compare Thee To a Sunny Delight?”


2 thoughts on “Flotsam

  1. Flotsam

    It seems a funny little word
    And its sister jetsam
    Both are to do with debris
    In water or wherever
    Left over scraps or people
    Nets and bouys and bits of wood

    The sea has gathered them together
    In heaps on the beach
    They have flowed down in the burns
    Blue plastic strong bags
    Bits of plastic drains and pipes
    On my croft the wind has blown them around
    They have found places to embed
    So I do not bother clearing them up before a storm
    They stay in their own little places
    Under bushes or by the shed

    All this flotsam needs picking up and sorting
    To be put in the recycling bins

    Now we are even accumulating flotsam in space
    All these years of space exploration and
    Sending out rockets which were then left
    In orbits as the shuttles descended
    There are many satellites littering the place
    As they wear out
    Will they get collected and recycled ?



  2. Cairo

    On the pleasure boat we floated lavishly downstream on the Nile. Bright flashing coloured lights, even in daylight, festooned our barge. Loud Egyptian dance music boomed out from garish speakers. We felt like gods in an ancient time warp.

    To the left on the bank, huge towering modern buildings hugged the skyline. Our guide Lilly telling us their purpose. One was a 7 star, not 5, but a 7 star hotel. It had it’s own helipad on top of it’s grandiose roof.

    We looked on in disbelief. Then i noticed small wooden boats, if you could call them such, so dilapidated were they. In these boats were gnarled, brown skinned old men, maybe young ones too, their eyes like sparkling coals. They were throwing threadbare nets into the deep Nile waters. My gaze settled on the right side of the bank. Tiny wooden shacks,some looking like they were falling into the water with women and children clinging onto the dark earth above the slopes. Just sitting, squatting. Looking into eternity. So thin, so gnarled, so hungry.

    Lilly explained that these fishermen were desperately trying to catch fish to sell to the 7 star hotel kitchens across the way in order to make a meagre amount of money to feed and clothe their families, their women and children, who like human flotsam lay scattered on the banks of this sacred river, the Nile.

    I felt a terrible surge of guilt that i as a day tripper could’ve felt so elated sitting on this gaudy barge as i sailed past them not being able to do anything but wave and think silently “I see you!”

    I noticed that day that Cairo, it’s streets. it’s crazy roads and it’s river is full of flotsam, like cities all over the world. Yet this flotsam has a strength, a power, a unity. A higher purpose. it is connected in it’s humanity.

    Cathy Macleod

    Liked by 1 person

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