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The Day The Phoenix Rises 

This poem draws on the stories of my ancestors who told me about the importance of the phoenix in guarding the laws of Scotland and Ireland and the belief that our countries will finally be free of British rule on the day the phoenix rises. It is for that reason I have given it the title The Day The Phoenix Rises. I hope you enjoy the read. 
The Day The Phoenix Rises

Outsiders

we were scorned on arrival 

in a cold uncaring place 

the locals claimed we were not the same as them 

using lsnguage and religion as excuses to label us 

boasting of their achievements

as part of an empire

they were unaware their own culture was scorned 

Scots or Irish a Celt can never be 

reborn as a Brit

when they were told this 

the new order got angry 

they were beyond unhappy

when the Irish community formed a football club 

which would be open to those of  all faiths and none 

when trophies were won we were feared and hated 

the angry brigade felt threatened 

that their fragile identity had been questioned 

there were suggestions we should go home 

as those with blood on their hands

conveniently forgot  it was they 

who did the clearing 

which left us dispossessed 

the victims of cultural genocide

in the Celtic heartlands from which I am descended 

 I’ve always my blood is the blood of twin tribes 

both of which were marginalised 

the Irish  and the Islanders share 

a history of oppression

with stolen lands taken from the people 

and given to those who would obey colonial orders

without questioning why 

in Culloden and Atherny 

the pain lives on  in the lyrics of our songs

and the hearts of those who know 

the history the oppressers tried to ban 

along with our culture and traditions 

that however was a big mistake to make

in their determination to break us 

they inspired a spirit of resistance

they will not quell 

hell will freeze over before we ever accept 

the label outsiders 

It is not who we are nor will it ever be 

our freedom will come on the day the phoenix rises 

to take us home from the ashes of a ruined estate 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Jewel Of The Clyde 

On day 11 of NaPoWriMo my topic of choice is culture as I look back to 1990 when Glasgow was European City Of Culture and look at the legacy this has left us. I’ve given it the title Jewel Of The Clyde. I hope you enjoy the read.  

Jewel Of The Clyde 
I remember it well 

  1990 

when Glasgow was cultural capital of Europe 

and we were told by our so called betters 

we were the Jewel of the Clyde 

this marketing slogan for the middle classes 

never sat well with ordinary lassies like me 

well not at the time 

though we eventually got used to it 

maybe even liked it 

we never got excited at the prospect the big ticket events 

not when the prices were at least a month’s rent 

we weren’t in to Pavarotti or Sinatra 

but a bit of Love and Money went down fine 

there were lines to be drawn 

between the Scotia Bar and the Tron 

my dad said 

though  I must admit I felt at home 

in both 

well one had ambience the other had heart 

less than a mile apart they symbolised the contrast 

between new and old Glasgow

the geography of conflict 

between socialism and gentrification 

where culture wars real and imagined 

began to be fought 

1990 showed the haves and have nots 

were warring tribes on the hunt  for new recruits 

aspiration and tradition the badges of honour 

claimed by opposing sides 

you could have one but not the other 

in the world according to my mother 

I wanted both and believed I could have them 

I was never wedded to the idea of class as identity 

my view that it was a bigger social construct than nation 

sat well with my radical dad 

but not my socially conservative mum 

who heard distant drums

 as a symbol of her white Protestant Britishness 

the togetherness unionists still bang on about 

even though its days are numbered 

2014 saw generational cultures colide 

but the Jewel of the Clyde voted yes 

to independence

and did it for MacLean and Jimmy Reid 

greed  has never been our way 

the big ticket events have their place 

but if 1990 showed us anything 

it was that our communities 

are what make us strong 

there were lots Glasgowing On 

to give us a sense of belonging 

and a sentimental longing for yesterday 

but times moved on 

and we found our voice

telling stories with authenticity and dignity 

 in plays in community halls 

and poetry nights in bars 

the ordinary people were the stars 

of the Glasgow show 

the roots we planted have grown 

we have flourished beyond recognition 

aspiration and tradition have married 

and the Jewel of the Clyde 

 is the voice they gave to their children. 

 © Gayle Smith 2017 

Sliver Linings 

Hey Readers I have wanted to write this  poem for more than two years, however only now have I managed to craft it in a way with which I am totally happy. The story relates to the first Monday after our independence referendum, which coincidentally was also the day after Donegal lost both senior and minor that’s (Under 18’s ) All Ireland Gaelic Football Finals.  Now as you know some people like American Football , and some people even like cricket , but Gaelic Games have always been a passion of mine and Donegal have always been my team. My loyalty stretches back to 1977 when we couldn’t win a raffle let alone an All Ireland title  so nobody can ever accuse me of glory hunting. As I’m sure you’ll understand by that Monday evening I was in real need of cheering up and attending  the launch of a new collection of poetry by  Jim Carruth and listening to some songs by Alan Citizen Smart before I reached the venue was I think the perfect pick me up after such a difficult few days. I have given the poem the title  Silver Linings I hope you enjoy the read. 

Silver Linings

It was the Monday after the referendum

still reeling from the aftershock 

of defeat 

I retreat to the world of poetry 

as I so often do in difficult times

I was attending a book launch 

of a friend’s new collection

the perfect pick me up  

after the dejection of the previous few days.

as I made my way to the venue 

I heard a smart citizen sing 

In a last act of resistance 

to a small gathering of supporters 

there were no reporters present 

to misreport his views

Buchanan Street never made the six o clock news 

as the curtain came down

 on the first act of an unfinished play 

I stayed till the last  song ended 

in the sun of an autumn evening 

I left believing the dream had not died 

it had just been put on hold till  later 

as I sat in the comfort of the theatre 

listening to the words of a poet 

who paints images with phrases 

which he places in carefully constructed patterns 

I thought not of tartan but the red blood of internationalism

and the clear blue skies a million tomorrow’s will bring 

when birds with broken wings fly again 

on my journey home I met a friend from Cork 

who informed me Sam would not be coming home to the hills 

he had a kingdom to visit this time 

on hearing this I looked for silver linings 

and was reminded that Sam like Scotland 

had taken a different path

 to the one I would have liked 

but on that Monday night 

I knew the dream had not died 

and when the time is right 

the bonnie blue banner will fly free 

in a nation cleansed from the stains of yesterday 

and dressed in green and gold 

Sam once more will see the hills 

@ Gayle Smith 2017 

The Verdict

Hey Readers

In this poem entitled The Verdict i aim my sights firmly in the direction of the UK Parliament and ask why our political leaders talk a lot of hot air and put profit before people whilst doing as a little as they think they can get away with on climate change. It is my opinion that lack of action will not be viewed favourably when these politicians meet their makar it is for this reason I’ve given it the title The Verdict I hope you enjoy the read 

 The Verdict 

It seems to me that British politicians

talk a lot of hot air

when it comes to making changes

trying to avoid them just in case

they might not work

we they claim, are by nature risk averse

preferring safety first

or better the devil you know

personally I think this is madness

you can’t keep doing the same thing

and expecting different results

that is not how the world works

but this is something Britain fails to understand

an isolated island we are told

we are a happy land

and those who want change

are viewed with distrust

or even suspicion

blamed for causing divisions

which in reality have always existed

no matter what Westminster thinks

you can’t paper over cracks

by wrapping everything in union flags

yet they seem to believe

that singing a chorus of Rule Britannia

will make everything better

there will be no surrender to the truth

facts will be dismissed

as lies which get in the way of a good story

the British establishment live in a bubble

unable to comprehend

the importance of taking care of the land

or that the world has evolved over time

and may not want the benefit of our advice

which will always come at a price

when it’s wrapped in corporate pin stripes

by the city of London

as gamblers disguised as traders

get away with whatever they like

it’s the way they play the game

meanwhile the ragged trousered philanthropists

live in poverty in areas where dreams died long ago

I thought they would have known by now

this is the inevitable result

of trusting Tories with democracy

it is they and their wealthy friends

who want to frack the land for profit

extract shale gas from under the ground

without a thought for the long term damage

this could do our environment

not to mention the impact

on our tourist industry

food crops or drinking water

whilst gullible sheep are led to the pen of self interest

and deliberately misformed by the press and media

to ignore these trendy liberal leftie causes

as many gladly will

preferring tabloid horror stories

which are exaggerated for effect

by journalists who know

there is always someone to blame

and that rule applies

whatever the problem may be

the UK leaders need to be made to see

what Scots Sudanese , Senegalese, and Swedes already know

this is not the time for showboating and grandstanding

we need to develop an understanding of our habitat

and stop referring to those who value nature

as tree huggers

those who put profit before people

are no better than muggers

stealing priceless gifts of nature  which do not  belong to them

if you think that sounds like

I’m singing a song of sustainability

then that would be correct

I value my world I treat it with respect

this plundering of the planet

cannot be allowed to continue unchecked

we need to learn where things are at

and see that next summit we attend

debating the problems facing the earth

we have to open our eyes and see the solution

if this takes a revolution in our thinking then so be it

we can’t just wish these issues away

global warning does  exist

we must open our eyes and actually listen

believe it or not the world does not revolve round the united kingdom

far less the stockbroker belt in the home counties of England

we have bigger issues to consider

than playing petty political games

where short term goals

are all that can be scored

a problem ignored is a problem doubled

if we don’t sort it out

we’re heading for trouble

we need to focus on cleaner greener energy

cutting down on waste

not acting in haste now

and regretting decisions at a later date

for the sake of humanity the future can’t wait

we need to act locally, nationally, and globally

or slowly like desertification

tomorrow will speak of our shame

when that happens the judge of the earth

will deliver a verdict on our environmental vandalism

and the scandal is that

on the charge of death by hot air

we will be found guilty of murder by apathy

@ Gayle Smith 2017

A Little Town Laments (The Story Of Christmas In Bethlehem) 

In my  23rd  Blogmas post  I honour a promise to the Scottish Palestinian Society which I made on a trip to Edinburgh last month when supporters held an information session in the chill of a November afternoon as on en  route to the Scottish Poetry Library for an all day  Women’s poetry symposium.  

As I chatted to one of the volunteers who was staffing the stall he gave me a Christmas card and asked me to put it up alongside the others I would get.  Needless to say I promised I would and not only that I promised I would I write a poem on the information it gave me and this is that poem I’ve given it the title A Little Town Laments I hope you find it an enjoyable and thought provoking read. 

A Little Town Laments 

It was in Bethlehem a child was born in stable 

laid in a manger to rest on hay

fast forward to the present 

ask what would Jesus say 

about the fact there are 22 illegal settlements 

where people stay in fear of their lives 

there, are barriers to movement 

no room for inclusion or improvement 

for those branded terrorists

ordinary Palestinian citizens

 are hemmed in by fortresses and walls 

bombs could drop on them 

at any time of day or night 

Isreali air strikes a permanent reninder

of the occupation of their lands 

Christian and Muslim both understand

 they cannot worship openly 

practising their faith is almost impossible 

restricted as they are 

by a rule which is in many ways similar to Herod’s 

at the time of Christ’s arrival 

when survival was the name of the game 

It’s sad to think the story’s still the same 

as a little town laments the causalities of hate 

In another bleak mid winter 

@ Gayle Smith 2016 

Sometimes We Need Reminding Of A World Outside Our Window 

Hey Readers

On day 18 of Blogmas I was on my way to a meeting in the west end and just before I went on the underground I witnessed a very interesting demonstration on the Buchanan Street steps. The protesters didn’t come from the Yes movement for whom the steps were such a meeting place in the run up to the 2014 independence referendum. Nor did they come from the trade union movement or CND for whom they have always been a powerful symbol of protest. These protesters were from the Sudanese community in Scotland who were protesting at the corruption and human rights abuses in their homeland. 

This was I have to say one of the more unique sights I’ve seen in the run up to Christmas and given the chilly weather one of the bravest It was however heartening to see that they thought Glasgow to be the kind of friendly and welcoming environment where they could make this peaceful protest to highlight they what they believe is wrong with their country 

The official purpose of demonstration was, to raise awareness of the corruption in a country which is so often overlooked when people talk of global trouble spots. However, I think that there may also have been a more subliminal purpose to this quiet , peaceful protest , and that is to remind us that in this festive season which is so often the busiest time of year for commercialism and consumerism, that there is as the Band Aid single so eloquently puts it, a world outside your window  and maybe just maybe we need to look outside it sometimes and I thank the protesters for reminding of it. 

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X 

Bloodstained.

Hey Readers

On this remembrance Sunday I attended church to remember those who gave their lives in war such as James Stokes who died whilst leading others to safety in the great war and gave thanks for those who came home from world war 2. This includes my dad John Smith who joined the marines just as the war was ending, his brothers Robert Smith and James Smith who fought with the Highland Light Infantry, My uncle Donald (Dan Russell) who was proud to serve in the Scots Guards my uncle Charles Hayes who was a member of the Enniskillen Fusiliers, and my uncle Arthur Timperly who served in second battalion the Lancashire Regiment. All were good men who were proud to serve and fight in the name of democracy and freedom in the fight against fascism.

In more recent times I am also proud to have known poets such as Jim Craig who served in the Second Battalion the Parachute Regiment 1962-1974) reaching the rank of corporal and Sean McBride who like Jim also served in the Second Battalion the Parachute Regiment from 1983-1995 and also reached the rank of Corporal. It is for these men and many more and women like them I have written this poem entitled Bloodstained and I make no apologies for having a swipe at the political classes of all nations as it is on their hands the blood of the fallen and nightmares of many others, must forever rest.

Bloodstained

I remember uncles who never talked about war
they preferred to talk of those actions that caused them
the horrors of watching comrades die
I remember a mother who told me
boys don’t cry
and a dad who said that real men do
when they see injustice and
hatred cause by fear
so let me make it clear
when politicians pose for the photographers in tanks
whilst giving thanks to God
by quoting poetry from the ruling classes
I remember my father’s words
I am angry beyond rage
when I see politicians
with blood stained hands
hogging centre stage
believing that wearing a poppy
shows they care
I despair at this Union jackanory
the glory hunting
which shows they never served anyone but themselves
and the arms industry
meanwhile nations
stand in dignity
to mourn those to who never came home
give thanks for those did
and watch the greedy make fools of humanity
by allowing this insanity
to happen time and time again
the political classes who send
the young to die
at the going down of the sun
we will see hands covered in blood
and in the morning we will remember
them

@ Gayle Smith 2016