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 The Year Of The Christmas Songs

In continuting my recent trend of posting Christmas themed poems I’ve written this one on Christmas music as I take a trip down memory lane and recall my last Christmas at primary school. I’ve titled it The Year Of The Christmas Songs I hope you enjoy the read. 

The Year Of The Christmas Songs 

1973,  my last Christmas at primary school

the first year real Christmas songs 

dominated the charts 

Elton John, Wizard, and Slade 

fought it out for the number one slot 

in the days when we all watched top of the pops 

before listening but not really listening to the Queen’s speech 

it was Slade who eventually reach the coveted number one position

though not hearbreakers like David Cassidy or Donny Osmond 

they had Noddy Holder with his booming voice and funny hat 

at 12 I thought Christmas was made for that kind of fun

and in the year of the Christmas songs 

they created something to last 

far longer than just one Christmas

© Gayle Smith 2017 

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Runrig For Millennials

This poem was inspired by a comment from my friend and flatmate Janette whilst we were watching at my insistence the Scottish Traditional Music Awards (aka #NaTrads) On  seeing the band Tidelines and being more impresed than she thought she would by them (It has to be said traditional music is not Janette’s usaul area) she claimed they were the world’s first Gaelic boyband. It has to be said that this set me thinking and I’ve written this poem which I’ve titled Runrig For Millennials. I came up with this title purely because of the enduring popularity of Runrig over the years and I can assure you it has nothing to with the looks in which Tidelines definitely have the edge I hope you enjoy the read. 

Runrig For Millennials 

I  saw them at Na Trads

my flatmate called them a gaelic boyband

they can sing in two languages

stardom beckons within the traditional music world

and if enough girls follow them

they could be Runrig for millennials 

shining a light on the future

with songs for the 21st century

with positive progressive lyrics

and an identity shaped for the modern age

they will help to make our ancient language

relevant for a new generation

multi culturalism isn’t just confined

to gaining knowledge of Polish or Arabic

sometimes it can be found closer to home

in the understanding of our own language, culture, and traditions

so often mocked by those who beg for privilege 

and call our culture feinian talk

the colonials who walk in the loyal marching season

give no reason for their misplaced allegiance

I question why they give their loyalty to another country

but ugly shouting as all they’ve got 

meanwhile a new band shows the way forward

promoting understanding through stories told in songs

they cannot change the wrongs

of a past written before they were born

but instead tell the stories of this time 

their time to shine

like the stars you see

shining on a hebrideen sunset 

© Gayle Smith 2017

A Good Result

This poem is written with love and respect for all who attend St Andrew’s Church in Baillieston and tells the story of our recent and highly successful Christmas Fayre I’ve given it the title A Good Result I hope you enjoy the read.

A Good Result

In a church rooted in the local community 

the Christmas fayre was busy 

my half 11 start meant I had missed 

the chance of picking up a bargain 

far from disheartened I spent my money 

on home baking and small gifts for others 

as I shared some chat with stallholders and a Rangers supporting Santa

who said l was on the naughty list 

for supporting what he called that other mob 

and telling me Santa didn’t come to Celtic fans on Christmas day 

I said that was fine as long as brought our presents in May 

in the shape of flags and cups 

on hearing this he gave up 

as friends smiled and the only other Celtic fan  in the parish

gave me a knowing look 

next morning I was told we took in over four thousand pounds 

on the day with money still being counted 

so I think you could call it a success 

and at a time when finances are streched 

this is a good result 

for a church that doesn’t stand still 

and with boys and girls brigades and an active guild to support

we are rooted in our community

and when it really counts  I am pleased to report

our community is rooted in us. 

© Gayle Smith 20217

The Alt Right Claim That Snowflakes Are Delicate Little Creatures But The Truth Is They Are The Delicate Ones When You Look At Their Fragile Beliefs 

 Earlier this month it was my privilege to be part of a very interesting and very lively night at Extra Second. Well when the subject is philosophy it is shall we say bound to lead to a lot of stimulating discussion and debate and that was certainly the case on this occasion. 

Being more in the tradition of a philosophy cafe than a normal spoken word event was a significant departure from tradition for Extra Second you were allowed to challenge performers during their set and I faced one such challenge from an audience member with regards to my poem Snowflake. 

On finishing the poem I was quizzed by a very charming and polite middle class twenty something  male who asked if he could ask me a question on the poem. I said that I had no objection to him asking whatever he wished and I would attempt to answer him in the correct and proper way As I gave the floor to my inquistor I steadied myself in readiness for his take on my poem. 

My questionner asked that since I had inferred that the Alt Right referred to the those on the liberal left as Snowflakes and implied that we were delicate little creatures was is not hypocritical of me to then say towards the end of the poem that the Alt Right were in fact snowflakes and they were the delicate little creatures or was he misunderstanding my poem. 

I replied that he had indeed misunderstood the context of the poem as to get it you have to understand the psychology of the bully and why they not only fear change they are actually terrified of it.  This is why I referred to them as delicate little creatures because as soon as you put them under any sort of pressure they fold like a piece of paper . I went on to say that these people like to intimidate others but are not so keen when the groups concerned fight back and use the same assertive tactics on them and as long as there are racists, homophobes, transphobes and those who discriminate against others on the grounds on factors such as disability, gender, or anything else they think they can think of to make themselves relevant then I will continue to call them out for there actions. 

Having been challenged on my first poem I must to being genuinely shocked that I wasn’t challenged on my poem Mirrors Of Time as it showed both empathy to a younger poet who was experiencing what he described as his political puberty and also how my political views have changed over time. 

If lack of a challenge on that poem was surprising it was an even greater shock not to be questioned on my final contribution which was a very personal blog post written to celebrate the 21st birthday of a certain blogger to whom I have become very close. I say this was a shock as being a poet this was a massive step out of my comfort zone.  To be honest I would have welcomed challenges on both these pieces as this could have led to a tough but enjoyable cross examination of how I’ve evolved over time as friends would have taken the opportunity to ask about the events that shaped the changes in my thinking which both pieces illustrate. Indeed I would have been happy to take questions on them. 

That said however it seems that those in the audience got those changes from the context in which the pieces were set and only Snowflake caused anyone to misunderstand the meaning of what was being said.  This I must admit baffled me as I thought it was easily the most relatable topic of the three I had time to cover but it seems that someone who appears to be on the pro unionist right of the political spectrum didn’t get the fact that those they call snowflakes may not be quite as delicate as they would like to think and the fragility of their own beliefs may mean that in reality, the Alt Right are in fact far more delicate than those they choose to mock. 

Till next time 

Gayle X

As I Get Older Death Stalks My Poetry 

As yet more well known faces from my childhood and teenage years go to their final resting place David Cassidy being perhaps the most surprising of them I am beginning to think that death is stalking my poetry. Whether it be celebrities or those closer to home I have noticed the increase in the number of memorial poems I have written in the last 18 months or so. It doesn’t escape my attention that what was once a once in a blue moon occurrence is now becomming a far more regular one. This is I think one of the inevitable consequences of aging and it is for this reason I have written this poem which I have tiled As I Get Older Death Stalks My Poetry. I hope you enjoy the read. 

As I Get Older Death Stalks My Poetry 
As I get older death stalkes my poetry 

I remember those gone from this realm 

who in some way shaped me with beliefs rooted in values

 friends,  family members , and occasionsl celebrities

 all played a part in building  the identity

of the woman you’ve come to know 

I am like most others the combination of two parts 

the private which only real friends will see 

and the public which is or at least can be put on for show. 

If I view my life through the scrapbook of my memories 

I know I am no longer as young as I would like to be 

music has claimed icons  from my teens 

stolen dreams I thought I’d keep forever 

I dont know if there really is life on mars 

and will be till the twelfth of never 

but I realise the world has lost a star man and a daydreamer 

and Saturday night stars from television screens 

have also been taken from our view

as my dad once claimed fame is only temporary 

a glimpse into the promised land of others normality 

the wealthy have an every day reality 

far removed from those in the schemes

only in heaven will ever know equality

in Scotland the gap between wealth and poverty gets wider 

due to the British class system remaining in place 

the priviliged are never challenged 

and always get more than their share

I despair of a  society which has never been good at rocking boats 

sitting uncomfortably and accepting their lot

this Scot comes from a family of fighters 

but many lights have gone out in the last few years 

I know one day mine will also cease to shine 

meanwhile I attempt to make the best 

of whatever days or years I have remaining 

when I see injustice I will be complaining loudly 

when a cause I believe in needs supporting I will do it proudly 

when my friends need me I will not be wanting 

the ghosts of my past will not need to haunt me 

in the darkest of nights 

now a poet I fight with the deadliest weapon of all

and as I write between sips of coffee 

I realise that as I get older 

like an unwelcome visitor 

death stalkes my poetry 

stealing my memories 

which she adds to my chain of life 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

 

We Have To Mind Our Language And Not Sow The Seeds Of Hate (My Blog For Common Space On World Transgender Remembrance Day)

I wrote this post for Common Space to commemorate International Transgender Remembrance Day and have made only a minor alteration to the title just as I did last year, for the purposes of reblogging on here. 

It is a tremendous privilage to have undertaken this task for the site I consider to be the best most ground braking news site in Scotland for the second year in a row and as such it is a responsibility I don’t take lightly. With this in mind I wrote what was originally two posts which Angela Haggarty the editor of Common Space and known for her innovation managed to combine in to one.

The main body of this post is in the form of an article on the impact of language in shaping attitudes to and about trans people and the concluding part of it comes in a poem Sometimes It’s The Little Things which was specifically written to commemorate the day and the small acts in life that can have a positive  or negative impact on a trans person’s quality of life. I have titled it We Have To Mind Our Language And Not Sow The Seeds Of Hate I hope you find a challenging and thought provoking read.

Till next time 

Gayle X

https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/12039/gayle-smith-media-needs-understand-consequences-its-words-trans-people

Sometimes It’s The Little Things 

On Inernational Transgender Remembrance Day I hope you will have remembered in your own way any transgender friends you may have among your circle Wheather it’s a kind word on social media or remembering them in your prayers or in your thoughts if your not known to pray because somdtimes it’s the little things which mean the most to people. It is for this reason that I have titled this year’s memorial poem Sometimes It’s The Little Things I hope you enjoy the read.
Sometimes  It’s The Little Things. 

Sometimes it’s the little things that matter 

little things like an older person

getting your gender correct 

a young guy treating you with respect 

a teenage girl’s smile on remembrance day 

these are memories no one can take away 

sometimes it’s the little things that matter 

Sometimes it’s the little things that count 

like a stranger complimenting you 

as you enjoy a night out with friends 

or that time a neighbour called you hen and not son 

sometimes it’s the small battles won 

Sometimes it’s the little things that count 

Sometimes it’s the little things that scare you 

when you hear how those like you 

are treated in other countries  

in Brazil , Colombia, Honduras,  Turkey  things can and do turn ugly 

for people like you and I 

 we are often condemned to die 

lying slaughtered like discarded rags on empty streets 

 you weep with sorrow and fear

you worry it could happen here 

Sometimes it’s the little things that scare you 

Sometimes it’s the little things that make you angry

the causal but deliberate misgendering 

the spiteful use of words like tranny 

the unwanted comments the cat calls the stares 

the threat of  passing skinheads glares 

sometimes it’s the little things that make you angry 

Sometimes it’s the little things that make you remember 

where you once were

 and the journey your taking 

and with each little victory

see the progress your making 

sometimes in silence on days of remembrance 

we commemorate the fallen in our thoughts and our prayers 

Sometimes it’s the little things so often unnoticed 

we recall with most fondness when our stories are shared 

Sometimes It’s the little things that matter 

Sometimes it’s the little things that count 

 Sometimes it really is the little things 

that make a difference to us all 

© Gayle Smith 2017