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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 

I’m Back From A Break I Had To Take When Life Got In The Way 

As you may have noticed things have been a wee bit quiet on here in the last few days so I thought I’d better explain why I have taken my longest ever blogger break and why I’m delighted to be back.

As regular readers will be aware my last post was my final poem of this year’s NaPoWriMo. As any poet whose tried to write 30 poems in 30 days well tell you it is not an easy task.Whilst it may be enjoyable, it is also very challenging and can be emotionally draining. However draining though this was there were other factors at play  not least of which was the fact that just a few days before the end of NaPoWriMo I had a very bad fall just yards from my home as I walked home from the shops after purchasing my lottery ticket.  

The fall which occurred as I walked down a lane I have walked down thousands of times in my 15 years living in the area had a catastrophic impact on my social life and on my mental and emotional well being so I was shall we say a wee bit under motivated as I focused on my recovery from injury.  

There was also the not so small matter of the run up to the Scottish local elections to consider. Though I have my own very definate political views and will share them on here from time to time it is not uncommon for me to take a break of a few days in the lead up to the campaign as I am usually out assisting my party in whatever way I can but this year I couldn’t even do that and to make matters worse I couldn’t even jump up to celebrate Celtic’s goals in our 5-1 demolition job against Rangers at Ibrox and when I can’t celebrate our  second 5-1 thrashing of our main rivals this season ( we had already  done a job on them at our place last September) then you know that something is definitely wrong. 

Indeed it is fair to say that my social life has also been shredded since my accident and  it wasn’t just Celtic and the SNP who didn’t get the benefit of my natural cheerfulness and repartee my injury stopped me  from attending church last Sunday and also meant I had to cancel this month’s edition of Words and Music which was scheduled for  Tuesday evening. This was a very difficult decision to take but bearing in mind my inability to walk for more than a few paces it was the one I had to take. Well when the host can’t get to her own event there really is no other choice they can make. I mean things were so bad for a few days that I was given time off  from campaigning in the local elections a lift to my local station in order to cast my vote by our former constituency chairman Lachie McNeil. Needless to say I was grateful for the lift but was gutted that I couldn’t do my shift at Swinton Primary as I had hoped as I always enjoy the banter on election day with both voters and political opponents. 

On the subject of the local elections I  was going to post about them yesterday but with emotions still raw I decided to make this my comeback post and when I eventually do post my thoughts on them it will not be the usual analysis of results and  will be slightly more personal in tone as my blog is my space for me to share my thoughts and believe me that is exactly what I’ll be doing now I’m back on tartan tights.  
Finally I will end this post with an admission. I didn’t actually mean to take a blogging break it just kinda happened when life got in the way  and you know what , I’m glad that I did.  Looking back there are other times when I could and possibly should have taken one but plodded on regardless and I’m sure my content must have suffered at those times. Maybe I didn’t take a break because I was scared you would forget about me and I would  lose a readership I have worked hard to build. Now however I’m a more confident blogger and if I need to take a break I’ll do so and I’ll do confident in the knowledge I’ll come back refreshed and writing better content because of it. So that’s my self imposed blogging break over and it feels really good to be back writing and doing what I enjoy. I hope you’ll enjoy reading this post as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. 

Till Next Time 

Gayle X

Speak To The Night

On day 26 of NaPoWriMo my poem looks at women’s safety and is based on the story of what  happened as I waited for a bus on my road from an enjoyable Last Monday at Waterston’s and why I was grateful to have the companionship of another woman at the bus stop as drunks and beggars stopped to give us their chat. Like it or not I do feel vulnerable in this situation and if there is one thing I’ve noticed since I started living as a woman it’s the fact that  you never see men get this kind of unwanted attention. This is as every woman knows one of the perils of living in a blatantly patriarchal society. Believe me the need for feminism in 21st  Century Scotland/ Britain is as strong or maybe even stronger than it’s ever been, I wish it wasn’t but it is. 

 As you can imagine thinking of a title for this poem wasn’t easy which is why I called on the services of my friend and National columnist Nadine McBay who suggested the title should be Speak To The Night which I think describes perfectly how my companion and I felt as the drunk guy approached us, so that is the title I’m running with. 
Trust me when I say that this is a very difficult topic to talk about as no woman should ever feel vulnerable on any streets in a so-called civilised society but the fact is many of us do and that’s why I had to write this poem.   I hope you find it  a challenging and thought provoking read.  

Speak To The Night 

At a bus stop, two women wait 

for different buses to take us

on homeward journies 

in the distance a drunk man appears 

we show no fear 

but hope he won’t stop for a chat 

unfortunately, he does exactly that 

evening girls he says you alright 

the silence broken he speaks to the night 

I worry my tartan tights may attract attention 

he slurs words beyond my comprehension 

my younger companion assures him we are fine 

 eventually he gives up  taking the hint 

we just want to be left alone 

he staggers on convinced we are either lesbians 

or a mother and daughter out for some women time 

as he goes in whatever direction

the wind blows him 

a begger approaches asking if we have any change 

we politely say we have none 

he shuffles on his way 

as we both complain about the unseasonably cold weather

we enjoy a blether 

 about what men would call women’s stuff 

finally a bus arrives 

I feel  guilty on leaving 

a girl I don’t know 

to face the night alone 

and like a mother I pray 

she gets home safe 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Slice Of Faith 

​On day 16 of NaPoWriMo I celebrate Easter Sunday and the inevitable chocolate feast which marks the end of lent. Those of you who know me well will  know that I not only have a strong Christian faith you will also know that  I am a chocoholic. Therefore it  will not come as a  shock to know that I dived straight in to the Easter Eggs almost as soon as the clock told me the time had come to do so.

 Truth be told I   waited less than five minutes before consuming  my first chocolate in six  long weeks (Yes Jamie-Lee I did take the Paddy’s Day amnesty but that’s allowed) and for that to be my only chocolate in six weeks is I think proof that far from being dead, the age of miracles is alive, well , and living in 21st Century Scotland. However , it wasn’t the chocolate eggs that got my tastebuds moving it was the greatest conception known to humankind aka The Blue Chair Brownie and it was when I was enjoying that culinary delight at our monthly spoken word Sunday that I knew lent was finally over for another year. I’ve given this poem the title Slice Of Faith I hope you enjoy the read. 
Slice Of Faith 
When the clock struck midnight

and  Easter Sunday had arrived 

I knew the saviour had risen 

so I think he would have forgiven me 

for only waiting three minutes 

before a cream egg broke 

my six week chocolate fast 

there was no way could I have lasted till after church 

this had to be done at the earliest possible chance 

but it wasn’t the early Easter eggs

which made my tastebuds dance 

that came in the  afternoon 

when I tasted heaven without bread and wine 

the sublime blue chair Brownie 

lingered on my lips 

briefly I thought of my hips 

and the damage this could do

but as I looked at the plate 

I knew the wait was over 

my sacrifice made 

I could now enjoy my favourite temptation 

served up with a slice of faith

 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Disciples 

On day 15 of NaPoWriMo my poem is on the topic of faith and was inspired by my friend and fellow poet Janet Crawford.Like me Janet is a woman of faith and church plays an important part in her life  so it really was no surprise that when I asked for suggestions for potential topics she  came up something which is deeply personal to both of us and enables me to write my personal take on the Easter story. As for  the title , there really was only one logical choice and that of course is  Disciples I hope you enjoy the read. 
Disciples 
Hanged on a cross 

an innocent man 

paid the price for our sins 

as Pontius Pilot washed his hands 

of the truth he knew 

in the heat of that Friday afternoon

he turned his face to the father 

pleaded for sinners

 asking forgiveness 

he interceded on our behalf 

the crowds laughed and cheered 

when the spotless one 

the lamb of God 

was brutally put to death 

by those who didn’t understand 

saw him as a pest 

but God knew his mission 

and that come Sunday 

he would be risen 

the conquering  son 

would give him the glory 

the tomb would be empty 

and death would lie defeated 

faith triumphant 

he would once more walk among us 

till ascending to heaven 

at the time he knew was right 

and the father made disciples of us all 

@ Gayle Smith 2017 

Ingredients 

On day 9 of NaPoWriMo My poem was inspired on enjoying a bowl of soup after church this morning.  In it I reflect on the fact that we are all made up of many parts, ingredients if you like and it is when these ingredients are blended together they are combined in to the recipes which makes us who we are. I’ve given this poem the title Ingredients I hope you enjoy the read. 

Ingredients

When it comes to the  recipe 

which was used in my creation 

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration

for me to claim 

I am a mixture of ingredients 

I am gabby wee Glaswegian 

who says things as I see them 

 I am a poet,  a thinker,

a coffee drinker who is concerned

about cash crops ,cash cows, and sustainability 

I try to use what abilities I have to help others 

I have discovered myself 

and I like who I am 

I tend not to plan 

but live in the moment 

savouring every experience 

life has to offer

I campaign for an independent Scotland 

not for wha’s like us shortbread and tartan 

my yes vote wasn’t born cheering the team at Hampden 

it was a product of the schemes 

Tory governments destroyed 

I get annoyed with those won’t take a stand against poverty 

because they are doing alright 

fairness is everyone’s fight 

I won’t write poetry on nice safe subjects 

nor do it for family occasions

Hallmark do celebrations so much better 

I have a poetic agenda and yes it is political 

some would say overtly so 

but I have always believed 

as you sow so shall you reap 

I weep tears of anger at the not so great unthinking 

who think that acting tough 

in front of their drinking companions 

gives them credibility 

it doesn’t it just makes them look thick 

diplomacy is not one of my skills 

honesty however night be 

whether they  like or not 

I will enlighten them 

by shattering their fragile sense of self 

if that is what it  takes

I will use humour to break them 

if they even dare to start 

their sexist , racist, misogynistic, or transphobic crap 

believe me this would not be a smart move 

I am a fighter who knows

 what tactics to use and when to use them 

that said, I have a kind heart 

for those who really  matter 

I’m not attracted to patter merchants 

who think they can talk me in to bed 

when I like someone intellect 

rather than my hormones 

will make the decision 

ambition is my biggest turn on 

I want someone who smart and successful 

confident in themselves and in  others 

as I said I have discovered myself

and I like who I am 

more importantly I like the ingredients that make me 

and gave me the recipe for success 

© Gayle Smith 2017  

My Mother’s Daughter 

On Mother’s Day I have written this poem in tribute to my late mother  Mary Russell as a thank you for being a better role model than she ever knew. I have given it the title My Mother’s Daughter I hope you enjoy the read. 

My Mother’s Daughter

It happens on  the fourth Sunday of lent 

the date for mothering Sunday never changes 

on this day when we remember our mothers 

with chocolates cards and flowers

we celebrate who they are

 and what they have brought to our lives 

as for me I remember a woman 

with whom I have more in common 

than I would ever have thought 

my mother was a women of her time 

she found it challenging 

that I wanted to be a girl 

and grow up to be a woman like her 

though maybe an updated version 

this was something she couldn’t understand 

convincing herself my identity was just a phrase 

I refuse to blame her 

she worried what her neighbours would say 

I tried to explain wanting to be a girl  

was not the same as being gay 

which she classified as a sin or a waste 

depending on the looks of the man 

a kind heart hidden beneath her apron 

my mother was an amazing cook 

feeding us with with soups, stews, and steak pies 

empty plates never lie 

but show the proof of her skills 

when I asked to help I was told 

cooking was for girls 

boys should play games 

that teach them to be men 

she worried what they would think 

if they ever knew 

her son preferred pink to blue 

liking Donny and the Bay City Rollers 

would have served as a hint to some 

as would my stockpile of Jackie 

and other magazines of the day 

but my mum was content

 to stay in her bubble 

being a trans teen troubled

by the manufactured sense of self 

I was forced to create 

left emotional scars and a bond 

which though fragile was still strong enough to survive 

knowing the truth was no barrier to denial 

as I gained confidence I gradually stepped out 

 in bars, and clubs 

the kind my mother had heard of 

only in stories on TV or in the press 

the fact I went dressed to ‘ these places’ 

only proved I was easily led 

a target for some sex maniac to take to bed 

chance would be a fine thing I suggested 

she should have remembered 

I was her daughter I had her morals 

and wouldn’t do anything I felt to be wrong 

it wasn’t the way I was raised 

Sundays were the post, the roast , and songs of praise 

so it should be no surprise 

that I’m now in the pews on Sunday mornings 

like her friends in the area I grew up in  

though on the fringe of the city 

it had that village mentality 

it was the kind of place 

 where gender and sexuality were never discussed 

eventually we watched the Chippendales together 

though  I blushed when 

 I told her about the first time  I kissed a man

and liked it because it felt right 

I went in to detail about that night 

I confessed that though he was younger than me 

 it was me who made the move 

I didn’t wait to be asked

there was a difference between being nice  and being scared 

I wasn’t prepared to sit back and wait 

being respectable was over rated I claimed 

now no longer ashamed

 I was sharing mother – daughter secrets

though it had taken me  till my forties  do it 

even in private 

publicly she maintained my identity was a phase 

she was scared of what the neighbours would say 

that mattered more to her generation 

than it does to mine 

I remember the night she zipped me 

into my wine tafatta dress

her smile said more than any words ever could 

I was the daughter she knew wanted 

even though she could never admit it 

not even to herself  

it wasn’t her way 

I think of her on mother’s day 

and thank her for meals served with a diet of rules 

most of which I still respect 

I am my mother’s daughter after all 

© Gayle Smith 2017