Roy Moller 1968
by Roy Moller

About the time they brought me home
from the ward of the Church
and the horn-rimmed nurse,
youthful Henry John Burnett
went plummeting through a trapdoor
on new gallows at Craiginches:
the last man to swing on
judicial rope in Scotland.

I fell through the rest of the decade;
the panoramic palimpsest
of Edinburgh swung me
in and out of the realisation
the city was cast more solid than me,
was visited by my adopted existence,
was casual, always, to my vexations.
Now I’ve grown into that notion.

Throughout the sixties an honesty plant
was strung like rope the length of the stairs
that bore my stomping tantrums
which amplified as I started to bristle,
amplified as I rummaged and rustled
through drawers and files for identity
as I was pinioned and made ready
to dangle through adolescence.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: This is a photo of me at age five with my friend Susan in her back garden (Edinburgh, Scotland, 1968). I look quite innocent here, and I was.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem came into being when I realised that the date in August 1963 of the last man being hanged in Scotland was around the time I would have been brought home from the adoption ward of the Church of Scotland after five or so weeks as Baby Jamie Hoffman to became Roy Moller for the rest of my life. I have felt quite stateless throughout my life, probably stemming from my adoption, and in early adolescence I tried to find out more about where I came from and obtained some details including my original name. I tried to trace my family bloodline but was too young to really go about it properly. The images of swinging and dangling come from my feelings of lack of control of my own identity, feelings which persist in me today.

Roy Moller 2015

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roy Moller is a poet and songwriter from Edinburgh living in Dunbar, Scotland, whose first collection, Imports, was published late last year by Appletree Writers’ Press. In 2014, his  musical about growing up under the influence of Lou Reed was presented at the Edinburgh Fringe and his album of the show’s songs later gained a 10/10 review from Louder Than War magazine. Most recently he was asked to write and perform a poem for A Celebration of Nina Simone at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Visit him at