Death Sentence

Yesterday morning I got a brown envelope in the post. It contained the result of my mandatory reconsideration for my claim for personal independence payment and yet again the sociopaths at the Department of Work and Pensions have refused me. However you had better believe me when I say this fight isn’t over and will only end when I am given the justice I deserve. Now with me being me I decided to give my take on things by writing a poem on the topic but I don’t think they’d like it. Oh dear. how sad, never mind. That said I hope you enjoy what I think will be a thought provoking read.

Death Sentence

In plushly decorated offices
pen pushers sit at their desks passing death sentences
with every bloodstained letter
as the next disabled person
loses their to right to exist
victims of social death
the right to live was extinguished
long ago
now ghosts from the past murders
prepare to haunt the hearts of physco killers
as they circle the wagons
in this 92nd rate Banana republic
where the ugly politics of exclusion are so beloved by the vulgar and
the rich
this dis United Kingdom
which believes in equality
only for those who pay for the privilege
this British fair play is it seems
not allowed in housing schemes
as those who patrol the gates
are friends of the monarch
who has enough disposable income
to banish poverty but has no interest in taking the steps required
yet coats lies in sugar every year
in their annual speech to the nation
so eagerly watched by the pen pushers and their friends
who smiled as Santa Claus
placed gifts beneath the tree
on Christmas Eve
knowing that the bonus they received
was worth it’s weight in body bags

© Gayle Smith 2020

Take It On The Chin

Last night I was asked by my cousin Annemarie if I could write a poem for NHS Belfast Trust where she works as a nurse. On asking me to undertake this task she explained that the trust want to have memories of this time to store in their achieve and she thought I was just the girl to provide them with one. Naturally I was delighted to accept this challenge and this is the poem I produced I’ve titled it Take It On The Chin which you’ll recall was the initial reaction and I still believe preferred choice of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to the threat of Covid19. I hope you enjoy the read.

Take It On The Chin

This city has a history of dividing lines
where murals of past battles
show colour changes
quicker than rainbows
in the wizard of oz
and flags like geography
are contested territory
with beliefs worn like badges of honour
according to the church you don’t attend on Sunday morning
this virus gives no warnings
and doesn’t care what school
you went to
or the housing estate you grew up in
It’s quite something when two contrasting communities
are scared of the same thing
and both of them are right to be afraid

on the front line we wait to see
the latest information as to how to save lives
in the middle of a crisis which shows
no sign of easing up
yes lockdown is tough but it has to be done
trust me this is nobody’s idea of fun
we’re not doing it for laughs
our staff need more PPE masks
to keep us safe as we do our best
to protect our friends, neighbours , communities
yet a socially distant government
prays for herd immunity
and prioritises economic profit
for a few wealthy friends
over the people they pretend to care about
and our national health
don’t they realise the wealth of the nation
depends on the well being of its citizens
we do and believe me we deal with danger daily
face it in all aspects of our jobs
perhaps if the Prime Minister worked in the wards
like our doctors , our nurses , our surgeons, our orderlies
he would better understand the problems we face
in the fight against this pandemic
this global plague
and why we can’t afford to take it
on the chin
this is a fight we have to win
yet we are being asked do it
with one hand tied behind our backs

as two flags fly side by side in the breeze
death unites nationalist and unionist
in a way politics could never quite manage to do
green white and orange or red white and blue
the story remains the same stay home save lives
and stay alert to the dangers of Eton riffles
playing Russian roulette with reality

© Gayle Smith 2020

Squirrels

In this poem I look at the deflections politicians or their advisors use when they need to find excuses for mistakes or inappropriate behaviour. I’ve given it the title Squirrels I hope you enjoy the read.

Squirrels

Squirrels
the usual distraction
used by those
who want you to look
the other way
while they do what needs done
in their opinion
leaving you confused and bewildered
rulers continue to rule
and masters tell servants
their tasks for the day
with instructions to leave no trace
of the workings on screens
or on desks
tomorrow they will rearrange deckchairs
when the squirrels appear
with secret messages
to guide them to the iceberg
assuring them all will be well

© Gayle Smith 2020

Open To All

On this historic day for Celtic supporters when we are finally crowned Scottish Premier League Champions and our second nine in a row is officially confirmed, this poem is dedicated to all at Celtic Football Club but especially all players who played their part in delivering the titles to paradise in the years from 2011-2012 2019-2020 and of course those who brought the original nine to our club and set a Scottish record as they did it. So it is with the greatest of respect I dedicate this poem to those Celtic squads I’ve given it the title Open To All as it illustrates on this day and every day what our club is really all about. I hope you enjoy the read and if you’re a Celtic fan I’m sure you will

Open To All

The faith our founding fathers knew
had green and white dreams in saltire blue
as Pat And Andy shared a dram
the vision they had was a long term plan
the Sligo man who chose our name
didn’t seek fortune or glory or fame
then at last when the time was right
he unearthed the purpose for which we would fight
to serve a community which was starving from poverty
to play the game with passion and honesty
uniting the gaels of two great nations
to rise to the challenge on every occasion
in a football club which welcomes our friends
regardless what church you forget to attend
at Celtic Park the stars you’ll see
are guardians of a legacy
that legacy stands proud and brave
McGrory’s goals and Thomson’s saves
from Tully to Brown from the Maestro to Henrik
all have known what it means to be Celtic
the players and supporters united through history
give of our talents our skills and abilities
to honour a club that is open to all
we’ll always be there to answer the call
from Maley to Lennon the journey is long
but the pride in the crest lets us know we belong
Mr Stein and the lions
the best and the bravest
we thank all our heroes for the memories they gave us
through the years and the decades
and centuries past
we created a tapestry of a club
built to last
whenever you need us we’ll follow your faithfully
from Dunfermline to Dortmund
from Porto to Paisley
and now as we celebrate our title success
we remember our history, our hoops, and our crest
raise a glass to the champions toast the health of our team
and the founders who gave us our green and white dream© Gayle Smith 2020

Prayers And Promises

On international day against Homophobia, Transphobia Biphobia and Interphobia this poem challenges those who have irrational dislikes of anyone in the LGBT + community. That said I challenged myself during the writing process not to adopt a rant like style when tackling what is for me as a transwoman a potentially emotive subject. With this in mind I thought on the friend with whom I’m most likely to discuss my faith related poetry and that for those who haven’t guessed is the one and only Samantha Naidoo. You see Sam has form when it comes to encouraging me to stay on the right track and I knew she would want me to take a more considered approach to the matter. It was thinking along these lines that led me to the book of Matthew and the passing judgement on others and it was from this I have written a poem which I have titled Prayers And Promises I hope you enjoy the read.

Prayers And Promises

The fear in some people’s eyes

when they see two guys sharing a moment of tenderness

shows more than just hostility

it’s like their concept of masculinity

has been called in to question

and that can never be allowed

they are too proud to let it be

the unwelcome stares that lesbians get

when showing a public display of affection

leads to stereotyping and taunts from those

who believe they have the right to ask

out of curiosity you understand

if they want a real man or a threesome

no harm was meant of course

it was just a bit of fun

when your bisexual you are told your greedy

you can’t play for both teams in one game

you are informed that you either straight or gay

and have to make a choice or pick a side

by those who will never know

the meaning of pride or self respect

and lack to the self awareness to know it

when your a transwoman as I am

you are told you’re a man by those who’ll never understand

if you wish to be male you are reminded

that you’ll never be one of the boys

like gender identity was ever a matter of choice I think not

I was a girly swot long before

the phrase became part of the political lexicon

eventually you have to think of a world beyond the binary

of blue and pink gender labels

yet some seem unable to chart this course

or possibly and more honestly unwilling to try it

their attitudes mean people are dying because of who they are

cut down to suit the egos of those

who wear badges of conformity

like the medals they were never meant to be

you see in every nation there is

and has always been blood on the rainbow

many are killed or driven to the land of no hope

because strangers couldn’t cope with who they were

or how they lived their lives

and demonised and taunted those they considered fair game

to be blamed for the ills of society

in every land there has to be scapegoats

on this day we remember them in silent prayers

as a transwoman of faith I place my trust in the spotless one

the lamb who was slain for our sins and knows

language is the secret killer the enemy uses

to do the devils bidding

and how we who have faith and are LGBT

must stand on the promise of God

to deliver us from evil

© Gayle Smith 2020

The Poet Appreciates The Artist

In this poem I look at how poets interact with art and how that interaction influences what we see and how we view the world. I’ve given the title The Poet Appreciates The Artist I hope you enjoy the read.

The Poet Appreciates The Artist

The poet appreciates the artist

impressed by their meticulous eye

for even the smallest detail

the kind of thing only they can see

creative detectives they are truly forensic

in the way they view the ordinary

can capture images of affluence and poverty side by side

the canvass hides nothing

allowing the viewer to see

what they believe to be

a true representation of the scene they wish to capture

only in colours can we see

Thatcher ranting in front of signs

of picket line placards saying

fuck your poll tax no Tories here

with images of her burning in hell

while she brought it to life

for devastated communities

the artist does this in ways even poets can’t

but have the presence to admire

those who can and do

the ones who can make puddles dance

and rainbows look like catherine wheels

when the sky is painted black

with silver stars to inform us

that the pub in the painting

will soon be emptying customers

on to the streets

as the bar staff prepare to go home

at the end of an entertaining evening

as they gaze at the picture

the poet admires the artist

for achieving something beyond the realm of language

© Gayle Smith 2020

Bread Of Life

In this poem I examine the importance of what some would term small talk and others would call gossip to the local community and explain why it may not always be a bad thing. I’ve given it the title Bread Of Life on the advice of Baillieston boy and current Screiver of the Federation of Writers of Scotland Charlie Gracie. I hope you enjoy the read.

Bread Of Life

The main street is a hive of activity
most days, and nights at weekends.
friends and neighbours
exchange news in the street
this place doesn’t have or need
a local paper.
the villagers know what they know
as they find out what’s happening on the rumour mill.
so often a feature of places like this
you have to understand the stories shared
are exaggerated for effect
but it’s seldom done in malice.
some call it gossip
whilst others say it’s the bread of life.
shared after morning service
when people meet in kirk or chapel halls .
or after school in the shops
the young frequent on the journey home from school
as for me I obey the golden rule I keep myself to myself
well you do when you’re not a local
it’s the diplomatic way of pleading the fifth
in disputes over things that shouldn’t matter
this place doesn’t have or need a local paper
and it never ever will
for as long as the rumour mill keeps turning
it provides the bread of life
served with pudding suppers
or an after match refreshment

© Gayle Smith 2020