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A Woman’s Choice

I have written this poem for one very simple reason and that is to express my support for the me too campaign which is highlighting the problems of harrassment and sexual assult against women. Trust me these are issues which need to be addressed if women are ever to receive full equality in society. I’ve given it the title A Woman’s Choice I hope you enjoy the read .

A Woman’s Choice 

When I came out as a woman 

I was asked inappropriate questions 

about who I’d prefer to have sex with 

in other words did my transition mean I was a lesbian 

I don’t think some people got it

so at the risk of what they called playing gender politics

I tried to explain that sexuality has nothing to do with trans identity 

I was making a decision to live my life my way

you know the way it works for me 

I would still support Celtic and The SNP

just as other women would support neither both or maybe one 

we all different but have some things in common 

and in 21st Century Scotland and the UK

one of those things is and let’s be honest about it

 the fact that women still get sexually abused or harassed 

as cavemen find it funny to make comments about bodily parts 

or what a woman wears

trust me I’ve received stares and  comments 

in bars and on the streets 

none of which were soliticed 

about my breasts and my bum

if you think wolfe whistles are welcome

your living in a fantasy world 

and to think I’ve heard people say 

I should be flattered as these unwanted attentions 

is beyond my comprehension

I can’t understand why anyone would enjoy this behaviour

it is like giving permission to be judged 

and that is something I reserve my right to reject

I claim the title woman and say loudly and proudly

Women deserve respect 

maybe you’ll get it on the day we judge you 

tell you what to wear to work

critisise the length of your skirt 

when there is no dress code for any other employee

yet the minute you wear anything an inch above the knee 

you are told men will look to see what they can see 

can they not understand 

that the problem lies with men not me 

a women should be free to wear she likes

and not be treated like objects of desire 

male lust is a fire  which is not

a woman’s responsibility to extinguish

they need to do that for themselves 

but the patriarchal structures in our society

somehow suggest this is a woman’s fault 

It is not and never will be 

we will not take the blame 

for attitudes so ingrained our country 

some men turn ugly when women say no 

claiming she really means yes 

so let me say it straight no women 

is ever asking to be raped, assaulted, or harrassed 

because of the way we are dressed

this is wrong it has to end 

we can’t go on pretending it doesn’t exist

and risk the next generation of girls growing up

believing it is acceptable to be treated in this way 

we have to say we are women 

not objects of desire

we will not tolerate being viewed 

through the window of male privilege

it is not your right we are not your toys 

so let make it clear when it comes to intimacy 

 or who we interact with 

it must always be a women’s choice 

© Gayle Smith 2017

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The Flying Winger

As this is Friday the 13th I thought I would share this newly written poem in memory of my late uncle Arthur Smith who was born on Friday 13th October 1929 . Arthur was my dad’s youngest brother and his story though challenging and the kind of tale that many families would sweep under the nearest available carpet deserves to be told as a mark of respect to a good man whose life was by blighted by the choices he made and the circumstances that shaped them. Due to the stories of his footballing skills I’ve given it the title The Flying Winger. I hope as he rests  enjoys the peace he never had in life. 

The Flying Winger 

Forgotton by an uncaring society 

which neglected those with issues

it was harder in your day 

some will say you brought problems on yourself 

you always had troubles with health 

the youngest son in the family 

you were named after your dad

the most talented footballer of the brothers

my dad always said you would have been discovered 

if only the flying winger had been 

more of a team player 

 you had the flair

but were far too greedy on the ball 

you were the boy who wanted it all

and could have had it 

when the chance came to take that job in England 

you should have grabbed it 

but you chose to stay to provide for the family 

as with brothers and sisters all married

you wanted to help your mammy

as your dad had been lost to cancer 

it was her death that broke you 

unable to cope you left a well paid job 

the calling off of your engagement

was a bitter blow which proved too hard to handle 

you turned to alcohol for comfort 

but your friend became your master

and would eventually leave you with only one kidney 

and living rough on the streets

you died in the great eastern hotel

a place where our city kept its lost sons

the ones that some would call scum 

but you never that 

you were a kind man who made choices 

you believed to be right at the time 

you are part of me and your story deserves to be told 

I wish I had known you better 

maybe been able to help in some small way 

on the day of your funeral 

only my dad and my aunt Betty

said their goodbyes to their brother

and comforted by each other 

shed a tear for the flying winger. 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

The Chance To Be Me 

I wrote this poem yesterday for National Coming Out Day to give my view as to why a day I wish didn’t need to exist is still actually necessary.  This is day for taking steps and having that conversation you know the one you’ve wanted to have with a college. friend or family member but never quite got round to or maybe it’s about them saying to you it’s okay I’m on your side and dont worry everything’s going to be fine. After a lot of consideration I have decided to title this poem The Chance To Be Me as that is what coming out gives to so many people the chance to tell the world this is who I am . I hope you enjoy the read.

The Chance To Be Me 

On national coming out day 

no doubt some people will say 

why does it matter 

well let me explain 

coming out matters so that no one will ever need to be ashamed

of who they are or who they are attracted to 

but it’s political correctness gone mad 

or so we’re told by those who claim 

being LGBT is a lifestyle choice 

when we try to voice our concerns 

at this myth 

we are told to sit down , stay silent 

think ourselves lucky we are tolerated

we should be grateful for this 

but kissing our partners in public 

that’s not on nor will it ever be 

tabloid press and TV decide the way society is mirrored 

yet for so long we were only bit parts in the stories narrated through soaps and plays 

those days are the days some people yearn for 

ignoring the fact that many a secret was hidden behind the net curtains 

people were hurting unable to be who they were

ask yourself is that the kind of country you want to live in 

where people are labelled and suppressed

because of who they love.

or that some of us dress diffently 

from what’s considered normal

by those with the biggest stake in society 

who preach sobriety whilst living alternate realities

they have the wealth and means to disguise 

coming out matters because it puts an end 

to lying  just for the sake of others

it’s about discovering yourself 

and having the right to be who you really are. 

coming out means I can go to church

or walk in to that bar as the woman I am 

there is no longer a need to pretend

to be someone I’m not or never will be 

I am still the same person you’ve always known

 I still write poetry and hate snobbery and inequality in all forms 

do not be afraid to talk to me 

or ask any questions you feel you must 

trust me to be honest in my answers 

know that I will speak my truth and own it 

coming out as trans was the best thing I have ever done 

it was the moment I stopped running away from myself 

and admitted who I was, am, and ever shall be 

It gave me the chance to be me 

and that’s why on this day and every day 

coming out matters and it matters more than you think

© Gayle Smith 2017

That’s Nice

This is a poem on that conversation that most poets will have had at least once in our lives when we’ve told a neighbour we’re going to a poetry night. I’ve given it the title That’s Nice as that’s the reply we are so often met with in that most awkward of moments but I’ve found more than once if you allow the conversation to flow there may come a moment when a light comes on and you change their perception of poetry. I hope you enjoy the read. 
That’s Nice

Whenever I’ve told someone I was going to a poetry night

I’ve been met with a standard reply  like that’s nice 

it’s good to have a hobby it helps pass the time 

the person is usually  trying to be polite 

but there struggling for something to say

there conversational ability limited 

by the fact they think Stanza is that team 

Celtic or Rangers beat a few years ago 

they even tried to name their star players 

I am greeted by blank stares when I add to their confussion 

by telling them Stanza has nothing to do with football

and is in fact a poetic form which poets use in our work

it’s like rhyming couplets I explain 

as the rain comes down from the heavens 

I attempt to make a run for it 

telling them that I need to be there by seven

even though the event doesn’t start till eight 

I need time to prepare my set 

they seem surprised that a neighbour they know 

will be on stage performing in front of an audience 

Oh I thought you were going to a reading 

maybe something to do with Burns 

I didn’t think you would be one of the turns 

so they ask  do you think  that poetry is for the likes of us 

of course I reply still smiling at the question 

well it showed a neighbourly interest in somebody from their community 

and that features strongly in my work 

I say I’ll let them know how the night went 

as I make a run for an oncoming bus 

it’s goes well that night it usually does

there was a good crowd the place was buzzing

as for my poems well what can I say 

I read them well my set went okay

but on the journey home I contemplate 

the events of an enjoyable evening 

and do you know my greatest achievement

It wasn’t the compliments I got from some well respected peers 

on my latest poems I had just debued 

it was that chat on my way to the bus stop

where I changed the way someone viewed my art 

I’m a girl from the schemes

who speaks from the heart

and see if by doing that I can open just one mind to poetry

as my neighbour would say that’s nice

that really is nice 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

The Hope That Kills You 

As Scotland fail to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Russia I’ve written a poem to sum up how it feels to be a Scotland fan as we miss out on a major football tournament I’ve given the title The Hope That Kills You I hope you enjoy the read 
The Hope That Kills You 

It’s the hope that kills you 

we always take it to the wire 

we’re always 90 minutes from glory 

but  happy endings have been absent from our story 

for too many years 

still we’ll cheer them on

it’s just the way we are 

we’ve had tragic stories of open goals missed

the shots that hit the bar with keepers rooted to the spot 

if only it had been an inch or two lower 

or we hadn’t been ball watching 

when they scored that last minute goal

we controlled the game but never put them away

god knows we had the chances

now as we look back on the campaign

we know we should have tasted success 

but yet again it’s the same old story 

when your 90 minutes from glory 

it really is the hope that kills you. 

  © Gayle Smith 2017 

As A Poet Talked Of His Mother’s Faith And The Dread Of A Black Forever A Musical Minstrel Made Memories As He Told Of An Amber River

There are sometimes when I really can’t believe how quickly passes and one of these times is when I write up my review of the previous edition of Words and Music . It seems like only yesterday I was preparing to welcome to our wee Tin Hut and now it’s time to tell you about the events of an very enjoyable and entertaining evening when we welcomed both old and new friends to our club . The fact I’m doing it two days after our October meeting is due a combination of a very busy life and my haphazard style of organising my notes 

At the clock struck 8 it was time to get under way. Since this was first night since the fringe I decided to kick off with Jewel Of The Clyde which is my take the events of 1990 when Glasgow was European city of culture.

Having done my duty it was now time to introduce the billed readers to the stage. First up was Susan McKinstry who though a recent addition to our team is a very welcome one. Susan read two poems Tolerance and Intimidation and both were excellently delivered by a writer with something to say about the state of both our nation and values. While I enjoyed both poems I particularly liked  tolerance as far from being what many people aspire to as the benchmark of democracy Susan explained in a carefully crafted way that tolerance should be the least we expect of others in a civilised society and that acceptance of others rather than merely tolerating them is the key to building the fairer more inclusive country we say we want to see.

As one Susan returned to join the company another took her place on stage and Susan Milligan performed two pieces Cats and Holiday In Heaven both of which had that quirky humour which has become Susan’s trademark. As usual Susan finished her set with a song. In this case the song of choice was The Carpenters classic Don’t You Remember You Told Me You Loved Me Baby after which she went back to her seat to enjoy the rest of the evening.

After two writers called Susan the next performer also had a similar sounding name and it was a pleasure to welcome Suzanne Egerton back to the stage for the first time since March having been absent from the company to a combination of holidays, hillwalking, and hospital appointments. I have to stress at this point that the hospital appointments were in no way related to either the holidays or the hillwalking . Anyway it was great to see her back where she belongs . Unusally for Suzanne,she started her set with a poem on growing older entitled No Mauve . This was followed by the tale of A Curious Incident At The Falkirk Wheel she then read a poem on hillwalking which she described is the lot of the older lesbian titled I Loved A Girl Wandering, before concluding her set with a story titled Autumal which was both enjoyable and appropriate since we were now in what the romantic poets described as the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. 

As Suzanne went back in to the body of the kirk,  it was time to welcome our first male reader of the night and Jim Ewing would take us to the bar break with a set of three poems Granny Barbour, Orange, and a poem on suicide written in memory of the late Catherine Walker titled  It Is Never The Only Solution. In this the final poem of his set Jim appealed to anyone harbouring these thoughts to speak to someone who may be able to help them and this seemed the appropriate time and place to take a break and enjoy the company of those in the gathering including what looked like half of Skelmorlie who had come up to support our featured musician Billy Pryce. 

It was due to half of Skelmorlie turning up for Billy and the cooperation of our featured writer Adam V Cheshire that I was able to make an intelligent adaptation to the programme and reverse the featured slots to suit the needs of the many not the few as some of the Skelmorlie crowd had to return earlier than they would have liked. This meant that instead of the featured writer kicking off the second half of the evening that task would on this occasion fall to the featured musician and as a seasoned Words And Music regular though he was making his first apperance at The Tin Hut , Billy delievred in the way I knew he would. 

Billy started his set with an old favourite of mine Spontaneous Acts Of Sorrow,  before moving on to Beautiful Suit. This was followed by  songs which could be considered ever so slightly topical and both The Invisible Hand, and Drones, have powerful messages contained within the lyrics.  After this Billy (Pictured Below) went for a change of dirrction with the more gentle Autumn Song. This was followed by Keep Talking, and the brilliant Amber River which has not only a beautiful  melody but stunning lyrics which move me every time I hear them. He concluded his set with Cats Contentment and showed why he’ll always be welcome at Words And Music and valued member of our family.

( Our Featured Musician Billy Pryce makes a welcome return to Words And Music as he enjoys his first appearance at The Tin Hut since we took up residence in our new venue in June 2016)


Having waited patiently for his turn in the spotlight it was time for our featured writer Adam V Cheshire to share his thoughts with us and he certainly gave us plenty to think about in a passionate and powerful set which that a featured set doesn’t need to mean a lot of poems if as he and Billy did you place the accent on quality rather than quantity. Adam who made history by being our first Welsh featured act in the 27 years of Words and Music started  his set by drawing on his roots with My Mother Is A Christian. This poem in which he talks with openess and candour about his mother’s life and how her faith has helped her through difficult times and how despite his own lack of belief he will still go to church with her on Christmas Day. In his next poem Poetry Is,  Adam (Pictured Below) gives his personal insight in to what poetry means to him and explains his relationship with it. Adam then moved on to a poem on Mental Health Issues with particular reference to depression  entitled The Pining Dread Of A Black Forever. This is a topic on which Adam has very intimate and personal kbowledge and this really comes home in as  authentic voice as you’ll hear on what has always been and always will be a highly emotional issue.

Adam V Cheshire makes history at the Tin Hut by becoming the first Welsh featured Writer in the 27 years of Words And Music. 


Adam finished his set with a brilliant polemic on capitalism titled Capitalism Is Eating Itself Alive. In this amazingly well thought rant our poet puts capitalism the world’s most globally  powerful economic system in the dock and makes a compelling case for the prosecution. This was a top class set from a quality poet and a principled compassionate man. A man I was proud to have at our club.  

After two great featured sets it Claire McCann who had the difficult shift of following them and she gave it her best shot performing a piece called Chalk before rejoining the company.

With all the billed readers having performed it was up to me to bring the evening to a close which I did with a set of four poems. I started with Ten Days,  a poem on  both the ski similarities and differences of two girls born only ten days apart. The two girls in question were myself and Princess Diana who was only ten days my senior .

I followed this up with Glasgow Boy,  a poem in memory of the late Glasgow folk singer Ian Davidson who died last Christmas and who for many years was a Words And Music stalwart gracing our stage on many occasions when the event was held at Sammy Dow’s.  As those of you who knew Ian will know he was a principled man of the left and campaigned fervently for CND so I’m sure he would have enjoyed my penultimate poem of the evening which used a combination of comedy and feminism to make the case against neuclear weapons in Tights Before Trident.  This poem in which I look at things from the legally blonde school of economics shows why we should focused on a millon little things rather than wasting money on an expensive white elephant. Well little things contribute to the  economic well being of the country whereas neuclear weapons only contribute to destrucstion of global civilisation and could bring about the end of the world as we know it.

I concluded my set and the night with a poem which was written about one of my favourite events at the Edinburgh fringe. The event is an alternative caberet which caters for those acts you won’t see too often on mainstream bills which is why it is called Other Voices and funnily enough so is the poem with which I brought the curtain down on this edition of Words And Music. 

You know after the excitment of Edinburgh and the fringe the September edition of Words And Music is a welcome reality check as it’s good to get back in to the routine of attending local events , especially when it’s my responsibility to host the night. Though it is seldom one of our busiest 2014 being the obvious exception it has that relaxing atmosphere that lets you know your home and whoever said 13 was an unlucky number wasn’t at a night where a poet talked of his mother’s faith and the hole of a black forever and a musical minstrel made memories as he told of an Amber River. 

Till next time 

Gayle X

Storm Of Sorrow

On the day of the Catalan Independence Referendum the Spainish state is tainted as Prime Minister Rajoy tries to deny reality and employs both sabotage and brute force to stop people exercising their democratic right to vote. These tactics are an insult to democracy and reminiscent of Franco’s fascist dictatorship As I watched the scenes unravel on my phone I was sickened to see pictures of people covered in blood and yet the UK government statement talked only of Spain and how valuable an ally they are to the UK without giving so much as a moment  to consider the victims of these unprovoked attacks. Having csmpaigned for Scotland’s independence in 2014 I remember the support we received from our Catalan comrades and outraged at their treatment I wrote this poem in support of both Catalonia and their right to exercise their democratic mandate. Ive given it the title Storm Of Sorrow I hope you enjoy the read

Storm Of Sorrow

Carnage in Catalan streets

citizens shot down by riot police.

as people go to exercise their right to vote

on seeing images of bloodsoaked protesters

British politicians gloat on social networks

unable to continue their glee

before removing their offensive tweets.

this will teach the SNP they claim

on the day democracy is less important than blame

and Franco’s heirs flaunt their hate

they should be ashamed to side with Spain

but they do

the red white and blue is bloodstained again

as democracy weeps it whispers the truth

with tears used as punctuation

you can judge a nation’s leaders

by the company they keep

and people who lecture others on internationalism

fall silent in the storm of sorrow

© Gayle Smith 2017