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Poetry

Helpless

The low drizzly cloud

resembled smoke –

Smothering the water –

As the car came round the bend.

Heroic d(r)ivers searched

In the gloomy depths for the children

Hidden

By darkness, depth, despair

Sinking lower, lower into the loch of despond

Lost, forever in the inky-black icy murk

Not giggling, but drowning.

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When You Are Old

 

When You Are Old

BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

When we met

Again, years later, you said how you’d had a

Breakdown after we broke up

Taken to staying indoors and mithering

I

Just

Couldn’t

Understand.

Because dear heart, you were the one who left

With the “it’s not you, it’s me” narrative ringing in my ears.

 

Except, in this case it was true.

You were just not that into you

 

 

 

 

Life

turns on a sixpence. The two and fro

of work-life balance comes to a clattering halt.

Trying to meet targets and create impact crashes down

When the real impact comes.

Crash, bang, wallop what a car crash!

A rubber-necker’s delight.

On the radio before the emergency crew arrive

And when they come, they keep asking you

Name, date of birth, what happened… over and over

While inserting wires under clothing, clips on fingers

Apologising for bumps on the road and reminding you how

To take gas and air.

Life turns on a sixpence, and sometimes

You actually get lucky

And live, to tell the tale.

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New Year

Scotland leapt into the New Year

Everyone with their own bottle, black bun, a tidy home and an open door.

Sausage rolls, sandwiches and that big pot of soup to keep the revellers up all night.

Our needs were small.

Younger, fitter folk first-footing

Greeting their friends, laughing from house to house

While the elderly got maudlin in the corner till,

Kisses at Midnight and the hope of that lucky dark first footer.

Dancing and drinking would go on till the wee sma’ hours.

Now, New Year is organised not organic.

By invite or paid entry only.

Forced gaiety with glad rags on,

Going out for the countdown to one.

A Guid New Year, when it comes.

Hearts and minds

And the Marshall Plan has been replaced by

Bomb them, quickly and often.

No matter that a year ago we were

On the other side

All that matters, when all is said and done,

Is that we did our bit and bit the bullet.

We shelled the shell shocked

We pummeled the beaten

We showed them that life matters

When we took their lives away.

Because we are modern, enlightened

And they are barbaric monsters.

Gemma, it will only get worse

Storming away from the champagne flutes
And silver-bell-covered butter curls
He strode from the restaurant while
She, meekly, followed after him.

Embarrassing!

The waiter brought the full plates
To the empty table and, appearing flummoxed,
Took them back through the kitchen door.
While fellow diners whispered behind hands.

Captivating!

The general hush when they returned
To reheated fare and an ongoing squabble
Only served to make it obvious this was a control scenario
Designed to suck all joy out of an alleged treat.

Wounding!

He will only get worse.
He’s isolating you barb by barb from the world.
Once behind closed doors, his anger will grow.
Leave him now, before you reach that point.

No return!

People Make Glasgow, Home

Book-ended by tragedy,
Screaming headlines read
Helicopters and bin lorries punctuating a year that
Should have been great –
A flag-waving year of home-coming, Games and political engagement.

Glasgow’s always risen, phoenix-like
To the challenge
Welcoming, nurturing, taking on unexpected triumphs and unimaginable sorrows
As our own –
Pausing to reflect that, there but for the Grace of God…

Amidst the lights and carousels, isn’t this where we came in?

Everything you ever wanted to know about Dulce Et Decorum Est

DULCE ET DECORUM EST – Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen

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