Glasgow Kiss

In this poem which is my first post of the year I look at the impact of geography on both sectarianism and sexuality. I’ve titled it Glasgow Kiss at the suggestion of my good friend Paddy Callaghan. I hope you enjoy the read.

Glasgow Kiss

In Templeton Street
I threw in a coin
and said a silent prayer .

Geography matters in this part of town,
where the Gallowgate and Bridgeton
both border the Merchant City .

This is the Glasgow
where nobody is sitting pretty.
where conformity and diversity
reluctantly agree to co-exist

These are streets where being kissed
may not be quite as romantic.
as some folk would like you to think

As I pass by the fountain
I wish for a better tomorrow
free from the sorrows and tears
of far too many yesterdays

on walking a carefully mapped route
a driver toots their horn
as dignity blares out the window
the irony doesn’t escape me

not in this place
where hardened regulars
drink pints in their pubs
refusing to sip from any cup of kindness

And old habits die hard
as they find new victims to stalk
in the name of tradition

© Gayle Smith 2022

Solstice

On the shortest day of the year I’ve written this poem the winter solstice which funnily enough I’ve given the title Solstice I hope you enjoy the read

Solstice

The darkest day brings hope
light will return to our skies
as we prepare for the mid winter feast
to celebrate the solstice
excited, children talk about Santa
and the presents they requested
in the letters sent just after Halloween
and being off school for two whole weeks
we dont need no education not during the holidays
at their age they know not of the solstice
or why there is so little light
when school finishes
yet in summer it never gets dark
till almost midnight

© Gayle Smith 2021

When The Bugle Calls

In my remembrance day poem I remember not only those who fought for our freedom in war but also those poets, playwrights, and activists,  who continued their fight and honoured them in peacetime by campaigning for a kinder more equal society. This is my tribute to them and the role they played in winning the vision the services  fought for. I’ve titled it When The Bugle Calls I hope you enjoy the read.

When The Bugle Calls

When the bugle calls
I fall silent .
I use the time to think
not just of those who lie on foreign fields
but of those who fought closer to home.
those fighters who never lifted a gun
but one by one fell
like leaves from autumn trees
after a lifetime of fights
to gain better rights for us all
when the bugle calls
I will honour the ones
who used words as weapons of choice
to give voices
to those society others
on discovering their difference.
religion, race, gender
used to promote agendas
and build barriers to a better world
by those who send
armies to war
to protect what they don’t want to change
in my silence I remember those labelled eccentric or strange
the poets whose words won victories 
never mentioned in parliament or  press
but were nonetheless important in changing the way
we see the world
when the bugle calls I will remember the fallen
who used language to be justice warriors
and their skills with words
to fight in the name of equality

© Gayle Smith 2021

Post Match Analysis

In this poem I look.at supporting Celtic in times of Covid and how it’s been very different from what we consider as our normal match say reality. I’ve titled it Post Match Analysis at the suggestion of my friend and fellow Celtic fan, and poet and born and bred Baillieston bhoy Charlie Gracie. I hope you enjoy the read.

Post Match Analysis

Celtic scarf wrapped round her neck
she has a spare one to fly
for the Fields of Anthery, Walk On ,
and the Celtic Song
she feels a sense of belonging
when she reaches Celtic way
it’s part of her cultural DNA
she treasures memories of Cesar, Jinky, and King Kenny
then it was McStay, Burns, and MacLeod
she remembers times when McGarvey did us proud
like the cup final winner against United in 85
and the dark days of the 90’s
when we fought to keep our club alive
and that glorious day in 98
when history was made against the Saints
and Henrik and Brattbakk brought the title back
to it’s rightful place at Paradise
she remembers dancing on tables
that night
as she partied at her university union to celebrate the glorious day
then there was going to see her team
at the start of a brand new season
filled with optimism but prepared
for whatever it would bring
these memories wrap her in warmth
she clings to them as tightly as she grips on her scarf
in these dark days when nothing is
quite the way that it seems
memories and dreams are all she is allowed to see
she views classic victories on DVD
her home games are watched on Celtic TV
or highlights on Sportscene with the sound turned down
to stop her screaming at the same four walls
she returned to at god knows o’clock
when the post match analysis had finally ended
this was always where the most heated debates took place
and the greatest friendships were
made
as the 90 minutes we had played
were dissected by experts you’ll never see on the box
but you’ll hear them united as one voice
to cheer on our bhoys
when we sing The Fields Of Athenry
Walk On and The Celtic Song
on home ground safe among our own

© Gayle Smith 2021

Dolled Up

On National Coming Out Day I’m taking a trip back in time to the winter of 1973 when I took my first real steps on a very long road. Coming Out is a gradual process but when your a pre teen trans girl the hardest part of the process will be the day you come out to your mum. This is a day which you know you have face but nothing quite prepares you for. It is also a day when your mum has to admit to herself it maybe isn’t going to be the phase she hoped it might be and you learn the art of negotiation quicker than most politicians. I’ve given it the title Dolled Up , I hope you enjoy the read.

Dolled Up

It was the winter of 73
when I knew my secret
could no longer remain a secret
well not in the usual way
In the days when three day weeks
meant half days from school
my mum caught me trying on
a pink top and navy skirt
god knows she was never a style queen
though I tried to doll myself up
as best I could
with the cast offs from her wardrobe
this was harder than you could ever imagine
for a 12 year old who was in to her fashion
I blushed that first time she saw me
as the daughter I knew she should have had
though my guilt soon turned to relief
she never gave me too much grief
agreeing I could get all dolled up
when nobody else was home
as long as I only wore the clothes
she would never wear again
she said I could keep them
in a bag of tricks
where they would never be found
by those with prying eyes

© Gayle Smith 2021

Mosi Oy Tunya (The Smoke That Thunders)

The idea for this poem cane from Glasgow Zimbabwean Tawona Sithole who related the story of what we in Scotland or the UK refer to as The Victoria Falls at a poetry workshop he facilitated on behalf of Seeds Of Thought Spoken Word writing group. In this particular workshop Tawona got the participants of which I was very lucky to one to look at photographic images and see which one inspired us. I think the image of the Victoria Falls or to give it its proper African name Mosi Oy Tunya was the one which provoked the greatest creativity and it certainly got me taking down some notes. You know, I always did promise Tawona I’d get a poem out of those notes and almost 14 years to the week I finally managed to write the poem I started on that Saturday afternoon all those years ago. I’ve titled Mosi Oy Tunya. (The Smoke That Thunders ) I hope you enjoy the read.

Mosi Oy Tunya

The Smoke that thunders
majestically roars to its land
saying I am here do not ignore me
or re-name me
do not bring shame on my people
or you will be the evil one
so as sure as the sun shines above me
remember to love me with all that dwells within you
It is you I respect
it is you I protect
my waters will never run dry
for as long as you have breath
I will ensure you survive
long after the death of colony
I will help you eradicate poverty
on the days when the sun shines on you
my daugjters, my, sons my children
you will answer when destiny calls
you are born to make me proud
of you and what you can do
believe me in me and my power
to give you back what was taken
by those who were dishonest
I will keep my promise to you
I am Mosi Oy Tunya
I will be the smoke that thunders
and I will stay with you
to watch over my land
till the last bloodstained hand has gone
I will remain a force of nature long after Victoria falls.

© Gayle Smith 2021

Ashes Of Hope (My Reflections On 9/11

It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since that awful attack on the Twin Towers. In this poem which I’ve titled Ashes Of Hope I finally offer my reflections on that day. I hope you find it a thought provoking read

Ashes Of Hope

They were part of New York
you saw them dominate the skies
in every T.V. show
or movie set in the
buzzing metropolitan multi cultural city
that it was and remains
it was a sunny day
when a customer arrived to pay his rent
and asked if we had seen what was happening in America
I confessed my ignorance
said I hadn’t heard anything
on making his payment
he told my boss
to switch to the news
the twin towers
had been targeted by suicide bombers
folk were crying
whilst others fried to their deaths
with no means of escape
as a city burned
with casualties
buried amongst the rubble
on a day when the ashes of hope
lay side by side
with a skyline forever changed
by terror, tears, and tragedy

© Gayle Smith 2021

Lilac Lada

I wrote this poem 20 years ago and just came across it the other day. I hadn’t seen it in years and wondered about its place in my folio. Then I heard a socialist complaining about Keir Starmer and I realised it’s as relevant now as it was when Blair was a Labour Prime Minister, which only goes to show that the more things change the more they stay the same. At least they do in UK politics . Scotland, I’m glad to say has changed for the better. It’s titled Lilac Lada for reasons I think you’ll understand. I hope you enjoy the read.

Lilac Lada

My yuppie neighbour bought a car it only cost five grand
he thinks that it’s a bargain which I just don’t understand
he didn’t buy a silver ghost or a crimson mini metro
and as for big black cadilics he says there far too retro

He didn’t even think about a lemon
Ford Capri
A shiny red Mercedes was not his cup of tea
A sky blue BMW was voted far too Tory
It’s musical doorbells always played
A land of hope and glory

A bright pink Porsche so wasn’t his style he claimed it’s far too flash
A plain beige jeep would signify he didn’t have any class
He wasn’t quite Mondeo Man especially in Green
But my neighbours Lilac Lada

Yes he bought a lilac lada and and it does stand out a mile
it sends the world a message that he has no sense of style
but like the emporer’s birthday suit my neighbour thinks his car
is perfect for a bloke like him
he’s his party’s rising star.

He truly thinks that he’s top man and his car makes him unique
though it drives his friends to road rage and they lose their powers of speech
but he proclaims he’s made his choice to praise New Labour’s Britain
Because lilac is the colour which promotes his leader’s vision

He proudly claimed I’m Tony’s boy New Labour through and through
So I bought a lada to express my chosen point of view
you see my father’s working class he hates the bistro kids
and if you mention wine bars he’ll really flip his lid

So I believe this compromise will help to save the day
I’ll soon have dad converted and he’ll see things Tony’s way
well socialism’s in the past
It’s a dinosaurs convention
And I’m New Labour’s candidate
to fight the next election

Congratulations I replied they’ve made a first class choice
But I’ll probably vote for a party with a much more Scottish voice
the Teflon Tories aren’t my type there really rather bland
they don’t have any policies there just a one man band

Well think about the personal vote I’ll see you right he said.

though your rooms are painted Saltire blue and mine are pinkish red
I will I lied but I think you’ll lose you really must try harder
And you’ll never win any support for your cause till you ditch that lilac lada

© Gayle Smith 2001

Dividing Lines

To those who say Scotland has never had a problem with racism my latest poem may suggest otherwise. I’ve given it the title Dividing Lines I hope you enjoy the read

Dividing Lines

They fled from fear and poverty
they fled from bombs and tanks
the refugees who are settling in on Clydeside’s bonnie banks
where migrant groups had come before
to seek a new beginning
seduced by those who promised them
a better way of living

The Irish and Italians were
the first groups to arrive
they were met by hostile locals
and they struggled to survive
eventually they felt at home
as the Clyde was painted red
then as the Poles and Asians came
we turned on them instead

With colour now replacing creed
as the new dividing line
We refer to them as other
and not like me or mine
as prejudices all long held
yet never well explained
were used by those with power and wealth
and those with most to gain

By preying like vultures on those groups
the ones they feed with fear
to fight against the great unwashed
who’ve never been wanted here
In the past we had no welcome mat
to our eternal sorrow
so let’s swap the Scotland of yesterday’s tribes
for a better land tomorrow.

© Gayle Smith 2021

3-0 Down With Five Minutes Gone

With the new football season having just kicked off I thought I would share this poem from my back catalogue Written in 2007 it relates the story of the worst starts to a season any football team can ever endure. Fortunately it’s never happened to Celtic or Glasgow City and I hope it never does. Well to give you a clue about where it might be set think in the direction of Lochburn Park and the famous Maryhill Juniors or Maryhill FC as they are now known. I can’t honestly remember this fate happening to us but I can remember us inflicting a few early goals on our opponents on that first league Saturday of the season and failing to score for about the next six weeks . It’s written in the voice of the goalkeeper of the team and titled 3-0 Down With 5 Minutes Gone I hope you enjoy the read.

3-0 Down With 5 Minutes Gone.

3-0 down with 5 minutes gone
just 85 more to go
this team are worse than useless
and it’s cold enough for snow
our midfield can’t tackle our forwards can’t score
our defenders keep running away
every time we get faced by a wee bit of pace
we’ll get worse with each game that we play

So forget so-called dreams they just don’t exist
it’s muscle and sweat at this level
and the fans are all tempted to murder the boss
well the idiot talked of a treble
now the game’s barely started and I’m broken hearted
I’m no longer the calm voice of reason
no goalie on earth
should be feeling like this
when we’re 5 minutes in to the season.

© Gayle Smith 2007