Linda Jackson


Hair black as night memory,
our desks close - and distant
only for a time,
stuttered introductions led to laughter
	My home is Syria – it’s beautiful there.

Studying long late nights
in our Modernist malaise:
Woolf and Lawrence
intensity and challenge.
We had deadlines to meet,
conferences to prepare,
the special mint tea ever
there with her chat and 
Do you love your home, Scotland?

Syria comes alive when I think of Rania.
Her descriptions draw me closer to the River
Euphrates, Khan As’ad Pasha, the Umayyad Mosque –
the oldest mercantile city of the world, Damascus.
And the hazelnuts and pears, the shawarma and breads,
olive trees and flowers amidst long hours of bells
and busyness – the market crowded and crammed
with everything that grows in her land
of plenty.

And a Syrian tapestry, your gift to me – silk
to the touch and woven through with metallic thread,
perfected technique of a celebrated ‘mill’ worker,
Zok, the artisan Aleppo weaver.

All this before the new war, before the interference,
before the country needed new suspect ‘allies’
to depose Assad and his style of killing.

Some it seemed were willing to worsen the civil upheaval,
let violence and bloodshed bathe the streets as Obama looked on
biding his time, but not long till the might of America rained down
bombs and death on every town and city.

The West celebrated the Arab Spring, now ten years gone,
delighted in the spoils of turmoil they could feed on
after half a million dead, fifty-five thousand children killed
and over seven million fleeing their beloved Syria.

And you, you had to leave – dear Rania.
In Italy, you teach about Modernism
that movement a transformative reaction
to the waste of a European war.
Modernism? progress, human evolution?
		You must weep.

My desk is near and distant, I dream commune,
hair black as night memory,
a smile like light as we studied till two.
One day through the dust storms of another decade, I
will travel to you, Rania/Syria.


‘Speakin weird’, the perfect sound 
where boats bed into the streets.
Tankers, trawlers, buses and prams
throng the long and busy city
of granite and grey.

Into the hubbub of ‘Spin’ and song,
poetry and performance,
a long night of thinkin and drinkin,
political talk with folk open and aiming
to call it all out:
misogyny, alignment and 
world leaders who   cannot   do   a decent    fuckin  job.

The night street later lit in green,
university emerald spires sky blue
Like weans, we point, all fun and futures –
Wanderlust Women on the run.

Heading for the bus on a sky-wide morning,
and for the first time, longing to make a return,
smiling as a boat comes up the road
with buses and buildings in between,
I’m sun-bright and weirdly
vibrant, vivid in Aberdeen.


Janet got oot the Refuge and walked roon by the park,
the moon was high to lit her wey – oot the daurk 
tae a safe hoose.
Turnin a coarner, she saw polis, hoarses– like a film,
that many lights, a motorcade. – A voice fae this toon

What are ye daen and where ur ye gawn, a polis asked.
Ahm tryin tae get tae that hoose there, I’ve goat an address.
Yer no gawn doon that wey, absolutely nae chance.

The park was cauld as she stood there,
the ‘men’ o the world in Kelvingrove,
she remembered a ‘Cops’ thing thit wis startin
and snapped her coat roon tight shut.

It was…
a global gaitherin ae aw the ‘great and good’
an wan wummin, just wantin to feel safe in any fuckin hoose.

Linda Jackson is the founding editor of Seahorse Publications, (, her own work includes The Siren Awakes (2020) and The Cabinet (poetry collection by Red Squirrel Press, 2021), she has been published in various anthologies, including New Writing Scotland. The second memoir, Siren: Wild in Me will be late this year as will her novel, The Mark of the Rose, she is currently working on a group of travel poems for a title Wanderlust Women, out in November 2021. An academic in a former life, her doctorate was a comparative study of Virginia Woolf and Friedrich Nietzsche. she has been a teacher and a writing tutor for forty years, a lifelong musician.

Linda Jaxson on Facebook.

RANIA IS SYRIA was first published by Seahorse Publications in the collection Wanderlust Women

Flights, Issue Four, April 2022