Tag Archive | Donald Trump

As Lands Lie Bleeding 

On Remembrance Day I write a poem which is based on the concerns of a 94 year old veteran who served in the Second World War. This former soldier believes that we are now standing at the brink of a third world war and potential global catastrophe due to what he calls the greed and self interest of a group of sociopathetic leaders who have no compassion or empathy for those they lead or for the greater human race as they seek only power no matter the cost to the rest of us. I hope I have done justice to the words of Harry Leslie Smith in this poem which I’ve titled As Lands Lie Bleeding. I hope you enjoy the read. 

As Lands Lie Bleeding 

I can’t stand by and watch the world explode

these are not my words 

but those of a former soldier

in the winter of his years

who genuinely fears for our human race 

this is a man who has faced unspeakable horrors

the likes of which we hoped we would never see again 

like hearing whilst stationed in Germany 

that atomatic bombs had been dropped on japanese cities

and turned the souls of inhabitants 

in to what he describes as chalk marked stenciled drawings on pavements 

in the fragile peace of a cold war world

we had believed those days were behind us 

yet now we stand at a crossroads

not seen since the 1930’s and rise of Nazi Germany

as once more the conservative right 

squares  up for a fight without realising the consequences 

these people have a glorified sense of self 

but no sense of other nor compassion for their plight 

without a moral compass they play games with our lives 

in contrast to those who rebuilt a shattered continent 

at the end of the last global conflict 

who in this country brought us

The NHS and welfare state 

but now the politics of fear and hate are on the rise again 

as the disadvantaged look for scapegoats

to blame for their decline 

shortage of housing and rising crime statistics

blame it on the forigners not the British 

say those who preach exclusion 

as if by doing so we magically solve all problems 

I support an independent Scotland 

but I recognise that independence alone would not solve our problems overnight 

however in the dreamworld of the British Conservative right

they are prepared to make no such admissions about their United Kingdom

and by perpuating their delusions 

they are sacrificing the ambitions of their children 

to live in a better world than this 

an old soldier is warning us 

with autocratic governments in positions of power 

the world stands at the darkest hour 

since the days of Hitler and the reich 

life he says cannot go on like this 

something has to give.

we are standing on the brink of war 

he urges us to take a step back 

not for the Saltaire, stars and stripes, or union flag 

but for humanity 

he worries about the sanity of sociopathetic leaders 

with no respect  for others 

as they lust for power at all costs

and watch lands lie bleeding 

as they play war games by remote control 

 © Gayle Smith 2017 

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Snowflake 

On day 10 of NaPoWriMo I write on a topic suggested to me a few years ago by my good friend Arielle Dale Karro who said I should write on a snowflake. Little did I realise at that time just how political that term was going to become as it would be used as a term of abuse by the ultra conservative right against those of us with a liberal progressive set of social and cultural values however to quote a former First Lady of the United States Eleanor Roosevelt ‘Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent ‘ and that is something I will never give to the Alt Right or anyone else.  I’ve given the poem the title Snowflake, I  hope you enjoy the read.

Snowflake 

As the snow falls from the sky 

on the coldest and frostiest morning 

the world has been given a warning 

the ultra conservative right have found their voice 

wearing the mask of liberty 

and freedom of choice 

they encourage you to find yours 

targeting the gullible and the insecure 

they talk of a return to traditional values 

this would be fine if those values 

were yours and mine 

but they are not 

I do not want to turn the clock 

back to the 1950’s or even to  Victorian times 

when sexuality was repressed 

and women had to behave in a certain way 

when we talk of progress 

they refer to us snowflakes 

the implied sentiment being 

that we are delicate little creatures 

who can’t handle criticism 

believe me nothing could be further from the truth 

ever since the days of my 1970’s youth 

I have campaigned for change

to make my country and others more inclusive 

 it hasn’t been an easy fight 

from apartheid to the Indy ref 

racism to climate change 

I’ve taken stances others called strange 

I prefer the term visionary 

I always fought with dignity 

and I was never alone in my fights 

yet now the loners and sociopaths 

who masquerade under the banner of the alt right 

call me snowflake 

give me transphobic abuse 

call it home truths when they abuse others 

from different ethnic groups, races, religions or genders

can’t see the irony of chanting  no surrender 

when their ancestors  surrendered to Thatcher 

as they do to Mrs May 

If they think Brexit or Trump 

can save the day 

they are fooling only themselves 

like pawns in a game of chess

they are expendable 

to be used and disposed of 

once they have served their purpose 

for the blame game their leaders needed to win 

populism must always have scapegoats 

and useful idiots to  serve the cause 

it likes nothing better

than those not smart enough to know

there being conned

the terminally confused 

who parrot what they are fed by the established order 

in the press and on TV 

yet they call me snowflake 

thinking they insult me 

but they don’t realise 

no snowflake ever falls alone 

on its journey from the skies 

we arrive as a team 

sometimes there are  just enough of us

to send a warning that you shouldn’t attempt  to go too far 

but if you venture to places 

you were warned not to go near 

let us be clear we will send you an avalanche 

and you will see our power 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

The Global Events Of The Last 12 Months Have Delivered A Cultural Harvest

Hey Readers

As I reflect on the year which will shortly pass in to the history books I do so by saying that for me its been a pretty mixed bag.

Politically, 2016 hasn’t been the most enjoyable of years with Brexit Allepo , and the Trump victory in the U S presidential election being enough to make me weep tears of rage at the thoughtless actions of certain misguided human beings who seem not to care about the long term implications for our planet. There was however just one ray of light and that came with a third successive victory for the SNP at the Scottish parliamentary election. Thank God Scotland held our nerve and voted for a party which is continually told by Westminster minded Scots in UK parties to perform miracles on a shoestring and then manages to infuriate them by at least to some extent actually doing so.

Anyway, that’s the political section over, I now move on to culture and in particular spoken word. This started off on a disappointing when after 25 years Words and Music lost our home at the venue formerly known as Sammy Dow’s. This would have been sore under any circumstances but the fact that I wasn’t informed about it until the night before the February event was due to take place and this gave me less than 24 hours to make phonecalls and put the word out on social media and no one had the decency to inform me that the venue no longer opened on Monday’s left me with a very bitter taste in my mouth.

Naturally this came as a body blow and people wondered if the event would continue but though it was known by the name of its former home the proper title of the event is Southside Words And Music so I had every intention of continuing the night as soon as I could find a new venue. Fortunately after a bit of searching, I found a place in May and Words And Music had a new home at the Pollok ex-servicemen’s club which is known because of its military past by the nickname the Tin Hut Though we had to move the night from a Monday to a Tuesday we are now firmly established in a brilliant wee venue which welcomed us with open arms and are actually glad we’ve made a home there. (See picture of me and the founding mother of Words And Music Pamela Duncan below)

image

So if getting Words and Music sorted was very important to me and it was then devoting time to my writing, be it blogging or poetry was also a priority and believe me I put the shift in like never before. I think I have written some of my best poems in the last 12 months and I am particularly proud of the following which I list in alphabetical order and not in order of preference .It I think fair to say that 16 Cinderella’s, Advice To My Younger Self On Arriving Over The Rainbow, Dear United Kingdom, Dress Sense,Driving Instructor, Glasgow Girl, Prescription For Happiness, Self Made Woman, Through The Hoops, True Colours, Two Hours, and Vote Of Thanks To Martian Teansvestite, all come from a very personal place and set out signposts on a road map to my life.

With regards to my blog I made what I think was a very wise decision early in the year and that was to change the focus from topical to personal . By doing this I reduced the political input to my blog and made it more about me so that on the occasions I do post political content my readers will know more about where those views come from and the circumstances that shaped them. Whilst I acknowledge this will result in my stats falling a bit from the peaks of the last two years it should be said that this is a long term strategy and not a short term fix and the fact I was listed by a prominent UK blogger and as one of bloggers to watch in 2017 indicates to me that my decision however challenging in the short term will have longer term benefits.

Last but not least I focus on my performances and I have to say that 2016 has been an amazing year for me in this respect as I’ve appeared on more billed events than in any year since I started performing in 1993. Amongst many brilliant night it’s difficult to select highlights but if push came to shove I would say that the feminist night at Ivory Black’s in early March, the Women With Fierce Words event at the Scottish Poetry Library, and the Fair Play for Palestine benefit at McChuills, would be top of my list of readings.

So as I say farewell to 2016 I do so by thinking that like any other year it had it’s share of up’s and downs but though the global events which occurred in the last 12 months may not have been to my liking they’ve delivered a cultural harvest which given me hope for the future.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X,

Marching Backwards

Hey Readers

It is my considered opinion that there is something very wrong with politics in democratic nations. With regards to the UK, there has been a disturbing rise in the number of racially motivated attacks in the aftermath of the Brexit vote and there have also been a significant increase in transphobic and disability related hate crimes.

Whilst not everyone who voted to leave the European Union is a racist and many decent and honourable socialists voted to leave for a completely different set of reasons but there can be no denying that post Brexit Britain has unleashed a very unhealthy strain of right wing British Nationalism which if unchecked could see Britain more divided than at any time since the 1930’s.

As a supporter of Scottish independence some people might say this should please me but those who make such wild assumptions do not know me and will never know me. I may be a member
of the Scottish National Party but I was raised an internationalist and I will hopefully many years from now die an internationalist. So believe me when I say I take no pleasure in watching this horror story unravel and the recent victory of Donald Trump will I fear drive this right wing agenda still further. It is with this division and politics of fear clear in my mind I have written this poem entitled Marching Backwards I hope you find it a challenging and thought provoking read.

Marching Backwards

Good morning Britain

I am now going give you a wake up call

ignore it and one day you will be

welcome to the UKKK

an insular xenophobic
small minded island

led by a right wing authoritarian regime

where a very privileged few
will fan the flames of fear

Who needs the facts when you have cheerleaders

like the BBC and 90 per cent of broadcast media.

If we try to find the truth they’ll ban the internet especially Wikipedia

they may deprive us of our human rights

but they’ll do it under the guise

of keeping us safe at nights

whilst numbing our minds

by remote control

EastEnders and Coronation Street

are light family viewing

not manna for the soul

but this is their strategy

they want you to talk about some fictional characters

having problems with their sexuality

this will prove how liberal you are

to friends and neighbours in your street

and your drinking companions at the bar

providing nobody like that lives next door to you

that would to be too much to handle

in this new fantasy land

where the only scandal is getting caught with your morals down

It just isn’t right and all those Muslims and other foreigners

frighten granny’s in Gloucester,

though she won’t say that when visiting her Syrian doctor

or her Bosnian care worker

In this land of strivers and shirkers

her Polish bank manager is always so nice and eager to help

but in this gray unpleasant land

she and her fellow Brits tell anyone willing to listen

this is their United Kingdom

so everyone else has to look , think , speak like them

they see 10 Downing Street
as the epicentre of civilisation

believing that Jesus once walked in their nation

claiming foreign fields as forever English

forgetting or dismissing the fact Scotland Wales and at least a small part of Ireland

are still for the moment part of the United Kingdom

they talk about only when it suits

meanwhile as union flags, flutes and Nazi salutes

are dismissed as harmless fun

tabloid Tories like The Sun, The Mail, and Daily Express

make me proud I voted yes in the independence referendum

and if they think I’ll by led like sheep to Armageddon

they must be living in an alternative reality

televised trivialities will not stop me

 pursuing my vision of a better world

where inclusion and attainment are not dirty words

and aspiration is viewed as normal

not dependent on a formal by which I mean private education

we must remove walls not build them

to keep others out

this isn’t what progress is about

nor is it about labelling, demonising, or stereotyping

to provide the few with silver linings

at the expense of everyone else

this mind thyself attitude

which puts Britain first

is the refuge of the cursed

the curse which if ignored

could see the wolf enter through the back door

and wreck havoc if unchecked

this is supposed to be
a nation of fairness and respect

where all lives matter

but the shaven heads who hold their flags

and chant Rule Britannia

don’t agree

these poster boys for the BNP
Britain First

and others on that side of the political spectrum

are the kind of Brits who don’t contest elections

this type of subject has no time

for anything as complex as choice

only wanting one nation one voice, one race

the world will be a safer place
they claim

point the finger of what they see as shame

at any group they don’t like

disabled people, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender

people of different ethnicities

these people are not truly British

according to their way of thinking

as the sinking ship austerity

brings their ideas into the mainstream

if this poem doesn’t make uncomfortable reading

we have not learned the lessons of history

and will be condemned to repeat its mistakes

by marching backwards to the right.

@ Gayle Smith 2016.

From Puppy Love Till The End Of Time I’m Donny’s Girl And Proud Of It

Hey readers I don’t know how many of you will know this but the 9th of December is a very special day for me and since it is still the 9th December in the USA I can still post on this very important topic.

I wonder if you’ve guessed the significance of this date or why it’s so important to me. No it’s not my birthday that doesn’t happen till July, as you can probably tell from my naturally sunny disposition I am was born a child of summer. So what can be the reason for this cold winter’s day being one of my favourite days of the year?

Well since I don’t want to cause an international incident I think Donald Trump and Tyson Fury have done more than enough damage on that score, let me make it clear that though I do like the occasional trip down the Weatherfield cobbles my joy on this day is in no way connected with the fact that this day is when Coronation Street celebrates its birthday. 
I will however state that birthdays or to be more precise one particular birthday may be the reason why this day above all others brings a smile to my face.

You see it was on this day in 1957 that a certain Donny Osmond was born.  Yes the very same Donny Osmond who was my first ever crush when Iat the tender age of  11 finally admitted if only to myself that I was born to be a girl. Indeed like millions of girls in Scotland, Britain, and the rest of the world I convinced myself I was born to be Donny’s Girl. So much did I want to be Donny’s Girl I insisted to my mum that I had to get an increase in my pocket money as I wanted to join the Osmond’s fan club and buy Jackie which was basically the essential read for all teenage and some press teen girls  in the 1970’s. The fact that it may have your heartthrob on the front or as the centre page spread was also a welcome bonus.

Negotiating with my mother was not easy but I persisted and eventually not only did I get my increase I also got my Donny posters plastered all over my bedroom wall and my much prized membership card as my fan club goodies arrived in the post. In the Presbyterian Scotland of the time this was a big deal  and trying to convince let me have some of her clothes (it’s a trans girl’s nightmare growing up with no sisters) was an even harder fight though it was a fight I would eventually win and I would start a long
journey and travel a road which has finally made me the woman I am.

So you I have a lot to smile about on this day. It was Donny Osmond who was in many ways responsible for my awakening and all through the years as I have slowly but gradually progressed to the place where I can be the woman I am, that initial first crush grown in to a much deeper love and you know even now I still fancy him like crazy. So it’s official Donny Osmond my first ever poster boy can do things to my hormones that no other man will ever come close to. From the first time I laid eyes on him in the summer of 72 I knew he was a keeper and it was so much more than puppy love. If you need any proof on this then please go to some of the poems on this site particularly  Kilts And Kisses,  Poster Boy,  and Yesterday When I Was Young
and I think you’ll get where I’m coming from. 

At the start  of this post I said Donny made me smile as I conclude I smile again as I wish my darling a very happy birthday with lots of hugs and kisses. Why do i do this well I do to prove young love can last and also to say loudly, clearly, and with all my heart that from puppy love till the end of time I’m Donny’s Girl and proud of it.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

If We Listen To The People With Stories To Tell And Let Those Stories Be Told We Can End Forever The Pantomime Of Good Old British Values

Hey everyone This post is another from my backlog of articles from the National. This time the article, written by one of freshest most radical voices in Scotland Cat Boyd, claims we are witnessing the end of what she refers to as bigoted British values and we’re replacing them with a more compassionate and principled set of beliefs more fitting to the world we live in rather than our imperial past. Though the ever bold  Boyd, states that neither the UK government nor the mainstream media have anything to do with this change in people’s thinking.

Boyd starts her article with an attack on that most principled and humanitarian of Labour MP’s Frank Field who on hearing that the Conservative government were preparing to spend £ 100 million on refugees and economic migrants  said ‘Imagine the wall we could build round our country with that money. I do hope that people realise i was heavily ironic when i described this red Tory as being a humanitarian. For some reason known to me, Cat Boyd, a others on the yes side of Scotland’s independence  debate, and indeed many principled no voters that charge just wouldn’t stack up.  You see no matter our differences we shared one important belief which was so eloquently expressed by Boyd in her recent article. This was that Field was as she put it ‘a Westminster echo of Donald Trump’.

Boyd then slates his employers namely the party i refer to much to their great annoyance as the British Loyal Labour And Unionist Party by stating that no-one from the Labour Party was in the mood reprimand Field and reminds us that it was only a few months ago that Labour produced their ‘control on immigration mugs. This was in my opinion an absolute disgrace for an organisation which was and have no doubt about this pandering the rise in support for UKIP and by doing so gave up any pretence of being even a remotely social democratic party  let alone a socialist one and believe me when i say that not even Jeremy Corbyn can pretend the Labour Party are socialist anymore.

It seemed at least at the time of the election that to critique what Boyd describes as ‘the national consensus’ was to appear out of touch with the mood of the people, and this was certainly the case if you gained you information from reading the ‘traditional  UK press or listened to the whitterings of the chattering classes on the mainstream TV channels. Everywhere you looked there were reports of what Boyd describes as the main media story which of bogus asylum seekers or economic migrants coming over to good old blighty to milk our wonderful welfare system. Tabloid truths were as Boyd says presented as ‘Good Old British Common Sense and we witnessed what Boyd called ‘The Pantomime Of British Values

Whilst this may tickle the funny bone of a certain kind of pro British right wing journalist who secretly longs for the return of empire, the colonies, and servants where everyone knew their and did what their masters told them with unquestioning obeisance, it is no laughing matter for those labelled, and scapegoated, because they are at the other side of the story. Boyd however gets to the root of the problem by stating that one of the key reasons for the success of this narrative is that ‘working class  communities have seen no benefits from gflobalisation’ This means that they feel disenfranchised and disillusioned with a system which they perceive to be working for everyone else but them as are therefore opened to this kind of emotionally seductive rhetoric As our author points out however, the real problem is not the free movement of people that has always happened and indeed will to continue to do so. The real issue we need to face is ‘free movement of money.

Now before anyone says that this has only occurred since the election of 2010 when David Cameron’s Conservatives returned to power after a 13 year absence albeit with the support of the Liberal Democrats in what they called a unity coalition, i should point  out that Boyd correctly states that it was New Labour under the leadership of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown who were the champions of the free markets There is though no denying the mind thyself first politics of the Conservatives has exacerbated the situation dramatically and The Prime Minister of what is supposed to be one of the most developed democratic societies in the word referring to people as a swarm was very best cruel and at worst totally malevolent. Though even that comment vindictive, and nasty as it was pales in to insignificance when compared to Sun columnist Katie Hopkins who described them cockroaches.

This us and them mentality reflects badly on Britain and on the values we as a nation hold. The idea that there is not enough to go round is utterly ridiculous and in my opinion nauseating. The truth of the matter is that Britain is a resource rich nation and there is more than enough money to help not only those who live here but also those who want to seek shelter or have an opportunity to better themselves. Though as Cat Boyd there is a lack of political will to make it happen. It seems that a significant section of British society would sooner continue to perpetuate what Boyd refers to as ‘the disgraceful lie of scapegoating than help those in genuine humanitarian need’. or at least it did until fairly recently, though in the last few month something has happened and the mood in the country is definitely changing though as Boyd correctly states ‘the traditional media has nothing to do with the change in the public mood as the usual suspect continue to serve up the usual tripe’. Though in recent days David Cameron has , as Boyd states ‘been forced to curb his tough talk This is an improvement but how long it will last in a country shaped by war and a culture of imperialism remains to be seen.

Talking of war, the fact that Britain spend £37 billion pounds per year  on defence which is as Boyd says war by any other name shows to me that i live in a nation which has the wrong priorities for its people. This notion is further enhanced as Boyd mocks the government claim that their actions are justified by the fact that according the ultra right wing Migration Watch boldly pronounce that the British government spend £ 2 billion per year on  asylum seekers , whilst the far more respected British Red Cross claim that the figure is only £155 million, Now whatever way you look at it, those figures represent one common fact and that is that the even at the higher end of the scale the British Government would still be spending 18.5 times more of our money on defence than it would be on helping and assisting others. This to me is a shocking statistic and one which should deeply shame our nation The claim that this outrageous action can be justified because ‘it bring human rights to other countries is my opinion laughable and worthy only derision. If Human rights were the main motivation for war can i ask the British government why they have not intervened in Zimbabwe which is after all a commonwealth country. I think i and indeed the rest of the population already know the answer to that. You see Zimbabwe unlike Iraq does not have any oil or resources which could in useful to UK PLC.

Meanwhile people continue to seek refuge in what Cat Boyd calls Fortress Europe  and those who seek that refuge in the United Kingdom face what our author calls a most degrading asylum system in which they are barred from working and face the threat of indefinite detention at Dungavel or Yarl’s Wood which have been likened to prisons by those who have been through the indignity of being placed there.

There is though some light shining in this previously small minded post imperial nation As Boyd points the social media campaigns to raise those refugees who are stranded at Calais  has as she correctly states been tremendous and shown our asylum system to be a creature shaped by decades of scapegoating. This is something both Cat Boyd and I believe needs changing to reflect the world we live in and not one set in the mythology and nostalgia of TV programmes  such as Downtown Abbey. Boyd is i think right to optimistic that we can change the future for the better on this issue. There is as she identifies ‘a greater freedom to be rational than at any time in our past in this internet age of global communications, That alone however, will not change much if indeed anything without the political will to make things happen. Though Boyd like myself believes this could be our moment as there is a window of opportunity in which the will to create a more just and caring society may actually be there.

To capitalise on this change in the public mood we must act and act quickly. We must listen to the people with stories to tell and let those stories be told . As it says in a folk song so beloved by me and the rest of the Celtic supporters ‘let the people sing of their stories and their songs’ because by doing that we take action we listen and learn  and create a culture of respect. In effect we actually humanise people and by doing so we can have what Boyd calls ‘a humanitarian revolt against good old British Common Sense’  and finally confine to the history books where it belongs. You see it is and always has been in my opinion that common sense is not a British value it’s a global one and the sooner we realise that the quicker we can have the fairer, more inclusive, more diverse society we’ve spent far too long talking about and not enough time building.

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X