Tag Archive | Dreams

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 



Secret Cinderella

With Glasgow Pride coming up next weekend it’s no surprise that this month’s edition of Extra Second is focusing on sexuality. As I’ve been billed to perform I thought I had better get cracking and write some poems on the topic. In this one I travel back in time to the summer of 1974 and recall the day I  started secondary school and the first real stirrings with regards to boys and being aware of being a socially awkward trans teen before I knew the term for it. I’ve given it the title Secret Cinderella, I hope you enjoy the read .

Secret Cinderella

It was the day that Nixon resigned 

and the Bay City Rollers made number one on Radio Clyde 

when I started high school

I tried so hard to fit in and be cool 

it didn’t work 

I wanted skirts not the trousers that were my fate

I hated being made to be a boy 

I couldn’t play the part 

my heart wasn’t in it 

there were limits to my acting skils 

I tried to play football but would sooner hang out with girls 

talk about what really mattered 

make up, boys, and teenage dreams 

the centrefold in that week’s Jackie magazine 

but when you lived in the schemes 

these stirrings had to be calmed if not completely quelled

Catholic or Protestant both guilt trips 

had the same destination 

a one way ticket on the road to hell 

and a child of a mixed marriage would be condemned to it twice 

secretly I would wear tights and dresses 

when nobody else was watching 

well Scotland was a different place back then

where men were men and no boys were ever allowed to cry 

even if denying the truth would have them climbing bedroom walls 

the secret Cinderella’s who never even made it 

to the school disco let alone the ball 

and wouldn’t kiss Prince Charming till their 40’s 

© Gayle Smith 2017

Mirrors Of Time 

​This poem was inspired by my good friend and current tartan tights man of the year Johnny Cypher as he gets ready to vote in his first General Election and has to make a choice between two contrasting visions of the future. In the poem I look back I hope with empathy at the 1983 UK General Election when I was in the same position Johnny is now. I’ve titled the poem Mirrors Of Time I hope you enjoy the read.  
Mirrors Of Time 

An intelligent thoughtful twenty something

contemplates his decision 

as yet unsure as to where he’ll place his cross on election day 

though he does know 

it won’t be for Theresa May 

and her selfish brand of conservatism

hatred and division are not his way 

he seeks to help others 

building bridges rather than barriers and walls 

he is aware of the fact 

his dreams may fall under a pile of ashes 

yet still he clings to them

hoping he might see change 

live in a better society 

than the one he has grown up in

this is someone who does something 

many people don’t 

he listens to opinions

in a way that others won’t 

taking an extra second to think things through 

before deciding what to do 

I understand him 

I respect his point of view 

I look back to 1983

and the women he knows 

can see herself 

through the mirrors of time 
© Gayle Smith 2017

The New Cruyff

​On day 12 of NaPoWriMo my topic is fate as I write a poem for a football loving poet whose friendship I value and whose work I greatly respect. The poet in question is Stephen Watt and though he may never have reached the heights of some of his footballing heroes I believe that by writing poems on the most challenging of subjects the impact he will leave on Scottish society may very well be greater than many of those he’s cheered on whilst supporting his team or should I say teams as both Aberdeen and  his home town team Dumbarton for whom he is official poet laureate have played and will continue to play an important parts in  his life I’ve given it the title The New Cruyff  I hope you enjoy the read

The New Cruyff 

Our  environment shapes us 

especially in the formative years

so when a well mannered child 

contemplates the fact 

that the beautiful game

may not be so beautiful after all

you have to realise 

he’s not daft just neutral

which is why the boy who likes his football 

supports two teams 

rather than make a choice 

between blue and green 

he decides to support Aberdeen 

whilst also following Dumbarton 

his home town club 

his character shaped by rocks and granite 

he spends his Saturday’s travelling

for 90 minutes of dreams

he never quite became the new Cruyff 

 the Dutch genius who almost signed for his team 

 his pen and his voice 

have been to him 

what boots were and  remain 

 to the heroes he cheered 

and still does 

they are the tools to hone his craft 

you have to understand 

the lad’s not daft 

he’s  a poet who uses words 

to score goals for  a better world 

It’s what he does

he asks questions in his work 

on topics others ignore 

he knows the score 

on issues on polite society ducks 

he’s been on the night bus

he knows what it’s like 

the poet who brings words to life 

with the bite of a tough tackling defender

delivering rapid fire rhymes 

with the pace of a flying winger 

this is the man who still plays  fives 

there’s nothing like keeping the dream alive 

on floodlit Tuesday nights 

though to me his place is on a bookshelf 

or rhyming behind the  mic 

this is where he really makes an impact 

in the way Cruyff did for Ajax, Barcelona, and  his national team 

some five a side players

may have dreams of following their heroes 

but this one was destined for a different path 

I am glad the pen replaced his boots 

and the new Cruyff became the voice 

for a kinder country .

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Stiff Upper Lipstick 

Hey Readers  In this post I share a poem on the topic of mental health from highly personal perspective which is that of identity  in particular relating to gender. As  a trans woman, I do not believe nor have I ever done that my gender identity is a mental health issue, but I do believe  where an identity is repressed it can trigger this type of issue and I will openly admit that coming out and living as my real self probably saved me from not only an episode but from a complete meltdown. It is with this in mind I have written this poem on pressure to conform to what society sees as the acceptable cultural, social, and political norms and why sometimes you have to defy them to be truly happy and live the best life you can. I’ve have given the poem Stiff Upper Lipstick as challenges the dangerous and potentially damaging myth that people in the UK are not allowed to show emotion and must remain controlled at all times. I hope you enjoy the read 
Stiff Upper Lipstick 

you must keep a lid on emotions

it’s for the best 

you understand 

you were raised in the British school of thought 

Scottish identity suppressed 

deemed unworthy of recognition 

by those and such as those

who fantasise that a united kingdom 

can be anything other than a fairytale 

these people ignore reality 

any discussion of sexuality 

would be bound to make them blush 

god help them with gender identity 

to them  it wouldn’t matter

if you knew from an early age 

your body didn’t match your  brain

preferring pink to blue

tights to socks

and skirts to shirts and ties

a conservative society tried to downsize your dreams 

as parents, teachers, and youth leaders 

focused on  reinforcing the dominant cultural theme 

boys were boys and girls were girls 

you couldn’t be somewhere in between 

let alone change sides

someone born a boy 

couldn’t dream of a big white wedding

let alone being a bride 

this was something you had to hide 

and you couldn’t complain 

you had to  wear stiff upper lipstick 

whilst reading secret copies of girl’s magazines 

you kept hidden under your  bed 

and only you knew why your face went red 

when you saw that boy you liked 

and had to keep the door to your heart closed 

even if you wanted to open it 

and show the world 

the girl you knew was real 

feelings ignored but never quite crushed 

you blushed as you went in to your room 

dressed yourself in your mum’s old clothes 

and wore stiff upper lipstick 

as your heart cried tears 

and you longed for a kiss from a prince.

@ Gayle Smith 2017 

The Music Made Us Think Of Our Teenage Dreams But Jackie Helped Make Us The Women We Are (My Review Of Jackie The Musical At The Kings Theatre Glasgow 30-07-2016)

Hey Readers



Having told you in my last post, how I spent the early part of last  Saturday I now move on to let you know how I spent the evening.
Believe me girls this was one of the most  enjoyable nights I’ve had in a very long time and I know I’ll smile every time I think about it.

Right you lot, get your minds cleaned out there was nothing like that involved and if there had been I wouldn’t be sharing it on here.
Seriously though  last Saturday night was a truly  uplifting experience and I didn’t even need a push up bra to get the power boost it provided. I will however say before you ask that my uplift was of the cultural variety and has nothing to do with anything i may or may not have bought in Anne Summers.

You see I went to the theatre for the last night of a musical about a magazine. This however was no ordinary magazine, this was Jackie, the magazine which was the must read for girls growing up in the 1970’s and for a trans teen as I was at the time this was as close to the bible as I got at the time. So when I heard there was going to be a stage production based on it I decided I simply had to see it.

As soon as I entered you could sense the party like atmosphere which would be such a feature of the evening on a night when over 95 percent of the audience were women and at least 90 percent of them were original Jackie Girls or daughters of Jackie Girls. Believe me this was an audience which wouldn’t just have scared any would be wide boys it would have absolutely terrified them.

Our story starts when Jackie played by former EastEnders star Janet Dibley, is now in her early 50’s and has been recently divorced from John, her husband of 20 years who left her for another women or Gemma the whore as Jackie calls her.  As she ponders going back on the dating game for the first time in a generation she decides to seek advice not from her friends not even her best friend Jill but from the pages of her Jackie magazines and annuals.

As she starts her journey to the rest of her life we hear for the first time from the voice of her younger self who tries more often than not in vain to be the voice of her conscience. Like any younger voice she asks how she’s done in life and as the David Cassidy classic Could It Be Forever gets the audience singing along Jackie tells her younger self that yes she did get a house, she did get job, she did get child well a son and of course she did get married. Unfortunately however she is dismayed to learn that she is now going through a divorce

As the hits kept coming there was something for everyone as Jackie girls walked down memory lane to the days when Cathy and Claire solved all our problems from friendship issues to dating dilemmas. From the soft rock of Osmond’s Crwas Horses, to Barry Blue’s feel good classic Dancing On A Saturday Night. Wizard’s See My Baby Jive to that girly favourite from Tina Charles I Love To Love But My Baby Loves To Dance, every song found the audience in good voice it was if we’d all discovered the white tights and mini skirts we hadn’t seen since our 1st year school disco. You know when we kissed a boy and made our secret wedding plans. Thank god there was no facebook in those days as our mother’s may have found out some secrets we really didn’t want them to know.

As the story continues we are introduced not only to Jackie’s ex and his new woman but also to her son David who she wants to go to college but who dreams of being a rock star and teen idol heartthrob. I think someone had been his mum’s old copies of Jackie a bit too much for his own good. Meanwhile as Jackie prepares to get back in circulation John is having to put up with Gemma and her bucket list of things to do before she hits 40 next year and one of her targets is to learn a musical instrument.

It’s at this point in the story that Jackie tried to look up her first crush but didn’t know where to start until she thought Google was bound to know where he was and it did. Jackie however was to put not too fine a point on it gutted when Google pointed out that he was gay.

Undaunted Jackie ventured in to the world of Tinder where after several disappointments she met Max (Nicholas Bailey). At first this looked a match made in Jackie heaven and even tempted Jackie to read through her old copies of her favourite magazine and get advice from Cathy and Claire on how to get and keep a boy or in her case a man.

On meeting her new would be beau Jackie is at least initially smitten. A woman who wants believe in love Jackie is swept away a tidal wave of love and wonders what Cathy and Claire would say to her with regards to keeping him. As the first half of the show comes to an end we left wondering has Jackie found love? and as David Cassidy plays in the background we are asking ourselves the question every woman has asked since the dawn of time Could It Be Forever?

As I queued for the ladies during the break there was a real feel good factor and everyone said how much they were enjoying the show. As woman of the Jackie generation, we chatted on our memories of the songs we had heard and about what Jackie meant to us growing up.

At this I related what it was like to be a trans girl in the 70’s and making sure that I kept my secret stash of Jackie’s under my bed and out of the way of intruders and a woman who was around a similar age to me Donny and The Bay City Rollers being the musical clues said that whilst Jackie was an essential read for her it must have been even more important for me as I would have learned a lot from it on the things I needed to know. Trust me the woman concerned spoke the truth and possibly to a far greater degree than she realised.

As the Second half starts a lovestruck David and his friend Keith are still dreaming of stardom and attempting to write songs based on some of photo stories and problem pages of his mum’s old magazines blissfully unaware that his mum and dad’s relationships are about to fall apart. Well any boy who doesn’t believe that girls of a certain age did and probably still do practice kissing on our posters of Donny or whoever it is we fancy the pants off (In my case I was Donny and Les McKeown of The Bay City Rollers) definitely doesn’t know the inner workings of the female mind. Believe me I swooned as I sang along to Puppy Love and I wasn’t the only one.

As the story progresses it isn’t long before Jackie is given the it’s not you it’s me chat by Max and John blurts out Jackie’s name when he was with his new and soon to be former love of his life Gemma. As everyone’s world’s are turning upside down with the chaos it was significant that the key song during this part of the story was the 10CC hit the things we do for love. though I will admit to tapping my toes to Tiger Feet. At this stage Jill tries console Jackie and says that if she read through her back catalogue of Jackie’s she could get advice from Cathy and Claire on how to deal with break up’s. A despondent Jackie shrugs and with a touch of bitterness not to mention irony says what would Cathy And Claire know about break up’s I bet they were both men. This is all the funnier because in reality the Cathy and Claire columns actually were written by men.

In the show’s next twist we are taken to Frankie’s cafe where a newly single or should that be newly dumped John tries to win Jackie back. This leads to a testosterone tussle with Max who has by now did what most men do and realised his mistake far too late. This time however the only winner is Jackie who decides with a newly found confidence, that she is an independent woman and gives both of them a knock back and to the backdrop of enough is enough declares that it’s time to get on with her life.

As the story ends Jackie is back at her home, packing her boxes and getting ready to move on to wherever life takes her. David reveals that he is going to college and Jill tells him that he’ll get so many girlfriends that he won’t have time to work and with last blast of Could be it forever the story of Jackie is brought to an end.

You know it is fitting that I waited till the final night of the show to see the story of my favourite magazine brought to life.
I say this because as the old saying goes it’s not how you start it’s how you finish and a superb cast made sure that while the music made us think of our teenage dreams Jackie helped make us the women we are and gave us the feel good factor to finish on top of the world. It is my opinion that no magazine or indeed no show can ask for a better ending than that.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle XXX

In Defence Of Patrick Harvie (The Thoughts Of An SNP Activist).

Hey Readers It was with a sense of bemusement that I saw some on the more fundamentalist wing of my party express what I can only describe as their self righteous anger at the fact that the six Green Party MSP’s did not vote for Nicola Sturgeon in her ultimately successful bid to be re-elected as First Minister of Scotland.  The fact the party did not vote for her opponent Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie and instead choose to  abstain  seems to have been conveniently ignored by those concerned

Let me say that I do approve of this kind of politics it is not my way of doing things and though I may have got a wee bit tribal during the referendum it was mainly because I had to as I was faced with hostility which was based on my gender identity and my perceived religious beliefs by some of the less enlightened unionists. These however are different times and Scotland has returned more towards party politics rather than a politics of
causes and campaigns which dominated Scotland in the two years leading up to the referendum vote.

The fact that some people on both sides of the divide haven’t yet moved on is something which personally I find very sad especially when those doing the sniping are taking cheap shots against a party with which many SNP supporters have a healthy degree of affinity. This is why I as an SNP member have decided to write this post in defence of Patrick Harvie a principled politician I admire and respect

It is with some degree of sadness that I have to say that some of the comments I viewed on my twitter feed regarding Patrick’s decision not to support Nicola in her vote to be re-elected First Minister were to say the very least annoying. I found the anger directed at Patrick to be both unjustified and offensive.  The idea that somehow the SNP supporters who voted green on the list loaned the greens their votes and that means that Patrick and his fellow MSP’s must therefore back Nicola on every vote is to my mind ridiculous and does nothing to advance  the cause of independence, a cause on which the greens stood shoulder to shoulder with my party two years ago and as they will again when the comes. In the meantime, we should respect the fact that the greens are and an independent party who are under no obligation to the SNP be it leadership or voters. 

You see I have a real problem with this kind of high handed attitude from SNP supporters and I’ll explain why. To me the cause of independence means nothing if it is not about building a better nation and doing so on the four pillars of equality, diversity, fairness, and inclusion. The key to this Scotland is the acceptance of all shades of political traditions even those we profoundly disagree with to quote the words of Voltaire ‘ I disagree with what you say but will defend until death your right to say it ‘. This to me is what true freedom is about and the right to make our choices is a fundamental part of any truly free society. 

Now I won’t lie and say that I wouldn’t have liked Patrick Harvie and his colleagues to have voted for Nicola Sturgeon yesterday. I mean let’s be honest I would have liked Willie Rennie to have voted for Nicola yesterday but I live in the real world and therefore accept that that you can’t always get what you want on every occasion If you could I would have been married to Donny Osmond since the 11th July 1981 the year of my 20th Birthday I would have at least 10 children, Childbirth would be pain for every woman men would have time of the month plus interest,  Celtic would have won so many league  championships and European Cups it would actually be embarrassing, an independent Scotland and fully united Ireland would be the two richest countries on earth, no-one would ever go blind, or be in any sort of pain and all our dreams would come true every day of our lives. Tragically such a world is not possible if it were I would be a Scottish version of Marilyn Monroe with a bit of s Madonna thrown in to the mix for good measure. That however is a wish list, the stuff of dreams and to me at least wish lists are the preserve of poets and idealists.
Meanwhile in the adult world of politics, people are often forced to make some more realistic choices in which they will hopefully be guided by value based principles as Patrick and his colleagues were on this occasion.

The fact he and his party choose to abstain rather than vote for Nicola shows that whilst both he and his party’s wider membership may admire many of her personal qualities including her style of leadership he does not believe that the SNP are friendly enough to the environment on the issues that matter to green party members to  merit his party’s support just yet. This decision was not a personal slight on Nicola Sturgeon nor was it an insult to the SNP it was a balanced verdict made on behalf of the party he leads. 

I make this point because I believe it needs to made and made loudly and clearly. Despite what some zealots may like to believe the SNP does not own the yes movement nor does it own the votes of the yes movement. The yes movement that glorious movement of which I was so proud to be a part was and remains are diverse movement in which people from all political hues were and must continue to be made welcome. I state this purely because if we spend two and a half years attempting to and in my opinion succeeding in convincing the people of our country that voting yes was not a vote for the SNP or my party’s then leader Alex Salmond we can hardly say now oh we’ve changed on our mind on this and all yes voters must vote yes as an article of faith.  This is not the way to win friends and influence potential voters in fact to go down this road could lose the cause of independence votes which people like me fought far too hard to win and I’ll be damn well dead before I let that happen. 

It is in my opinion very good news for the long term aim of independence that greens did make the decision to abstain in this vote as proves to the unionists that you can have two or indeed more parties on the yes of the independence movement who may have very different visions of what they want the future independent Scotland to be like.

Finally I say to those who would criticise the actions of Patrick Harvie and the Green MSP’s take a step back and think for a minute. I have often supported you when you have said that the pro unionist parties in Scotland are no more than branch offices of their UK parties who will always put the needs of Westminster before the people of Scotland. So having said that I now ask you this do you want to give the unionists the chance to say to the voters of our country that the Scottish Green Party are no more than a branch office of the SNP who will put the electoral needs of the SNP before the greater concerns of how best to protect the environment.  I know I don’t and I don’t think you do either. Let’s celebrate the differences that make our yes family such a great inclusive place to be and remember that even the closest of families won’t agree on everything and that is exactly how
It should be

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X