Tag Archive | Empire

The Day The Phoenix Rises 

This poem draws on the stories of my ancestors who told me about the importance of the phoenix in guarding the laws of Scotland and Ireland and the belief that our countries will finally be free of British rule on the day the phoenix rises. It is for that reason I have given it the title The Day The Phoenix Rises. I hope you enjoy the read. 
The Day The Phoenix Rises

Outsiders

we were scorned on arrival 

in a cold uncaring place 

 locals claimed we were not the same as them 

using language and religion as excuses to label us 

boasting of their achievements

as part of an empire

they were unaware their own culture was scorned 

Scots or Irish a Celt can never be 

reborn as a Brit

when they were told this 

the new order got angry 

they were beyond unhappy

when the Irish community formed a football club 

which would be open to those of  all faiths and none 

when trophies were won we were feared and hated 

the angry brigade felt threatened 

that their fragile identity had been questioned 

there were suggestions we should go home 

as those with blood on their hands

conveniently forgot  it was they 

who did the clearing 

which left us dispossessed 

the victims of cultural genocide

in the Celtic heartlands from which I am descended 

 I’ve always known my blood is the blood of twin tribes 

both of which were marginalised 

the Irish  and the Islanders share 

a history of oppression

with stolen lands taken from the people 

and given to those who would obey colonial orders

without questioning why 

in Culloden and Atherny 

the pain lives on  in the lyrics of our songs

and the hearts of those who know 

the history the oppressers tried to ban 

along with our culture and traditions 

that however was a big mistake to make

in their determination to break us 

they inspired a spirit of resistance

they will not quell 

hell will freeze over before we ever accept 

the label outsiders 

It is not who we are nor will it ever be 

our freedom will come on the day the phoenix rises 

to take us home from the ashes of a ruined estate 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

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Lessons 

On day 3 of NaPoWriMo it is time for a political poem and it may not come as too much of a shock that the  topic of choice is independence. What may however be a bit of a surprise is that the tone of the poem comes as a warning to yes supporters to learn the lessons of history to avoid repeating the mistakes and indeed disappointments of 2014. In this poem I urge our supporters to offer the hand of friendship to those voters who voted no in 2014 and set about winning them over to Yes and winning a better Scotland because of it. I have given it the title  Lessons I hope you enjoy the read 
Lessons
If Scotland is ever to see the day 

when we become an independent self governing nation 

we must learn the lessons of the last campaign 

we cannot afford to win the day 

and lose the future 

economics may be not my seducer 

but it is effective for many 

and that penny needs to drop  

we have to recognise its power 

or the flower of Scotland will never truly bloom 

our country will not be won 

by slogans, clipboards, and demonstrations 

though they will play a part 

we must use the head and speak from the heart 

be inclusive of all communities 

and not be afraid of tackling deeply held prejudices 

amongst our own supporters 

as to why we think the way we do 

this will be a challenge 

but it has to be faced 

we can’t simply wish it away 

and hope our opponents are magically cured 

of the loyalties which bind them to  union 

this is why we never won last time 

we need to engage and say clearly and with honestly 

we can offer no guarantees 

but neither can our opponents 

and we need to call them out 

when they claim otherwise 

there are no such thing as certainties 

to pretend that the present is set in stone 

is not the solution 

we were told we would never leave 

the European Union 

yet Brexit and the isolation it will bring 

will turn us more selfish and right wing

as gradually the UK becomes ever more insular 

with xenophobia masked as the new patriotism 

this is a vision I do not share 

I despair that our civic Scotland will be under threat 

and every word we say will be scrutinised 

the smears and lies have already started 

winning the future is not a job for the faint hearted 

we have to offer the hand of friendship 

to those who voted no in 2014 

not accuse them of killing our dreams 

in moments of anger and frustration 

it is too easy to throw about words like independence and nation 

without explaining why we would better than Westminster 

at running our own affairs 

I want to live in a country that cares 

for our most vulnerable citizens 

not a United Kingdom based on wealth patronage and privilege 

that’s why my identity is Scottish not British

I don’t want to live a land which still fantasises  

about a past when they called other countries colonies 

whilst keeping their own people poor in the name of empire 

 telling them they should be proud 

they couldn’t feed their families 

I don’t want to live in a country 

where people are devalued due to race , religion , gender or sexuality 

where diversity is demonised 

and difference is viewed with fear 

to me  these kind of attitudes

are barriers to the progressive society 

I’ve always believed in 

I know there will be some in both the SNP and yes

who will be uncomfortable with me 

because of the way I dress 

and the fact I am a woman with a trans past 

but I’m prepared to take the chance

 that our very different versions of what independence should mean 

will be keenly contested in elections in which Scotland’s voters matter 

as for now I’ll accept them as allies 

in defeating the spin and patter 

coming from unionists with agendas 

the way the Tories have been behaving 

they might as well start singing no surrender or Rule Britannia

or giving pensioners free photographs of Margaret Thatcher

rather than trying to pretend 

they give a damn about our country 

we need to debate them on the issues

we need to win ugly 

by convincing those voters who are willing to listen 

that Britain belongs in the past 

though I admit it  may have been good for some 

 this battle needs won 

not for Auld Lang Syne 

nor memories of old 

we’ve got to be bold for the future generations

those growing up 

and others still to see the day 

it is their future that’s at risk 

we can , we must, we will do better than this 

when we learn our lessons 

the future will be ours. 

@ Gayle Smith 2017 

Tainted Gold

Hey Readers.

This poem looks at Britain’s history as the first industrial nation and how the past still shapes the present especially with regards to the class divide which was enhanced during that period and how this impacts on us even now when it comes to how we view our environment. I have given it the title Tainted Gold I hope you find it an enjoyable and thought provoking read.

Tainted Gold

As children we were taught to be proud
Britain was the first industrial nation
the first country to break
from the agrarian way of life
we took a scythe to communities
which had lasted for centuries in the name of modernity and profit
cottage industries died
and wealth was no longer shared
but concentrated in the hands of a few
the capitalist class had been born
and the gap between rich and poor grew wider
a trend that continues to this day
the bard would shake his head in dismay
at the destruction of what he called ‘nature’s social union’
all for the wealth of an elite
this revolution far from eradicating poverty
or at least driving it in to retreat
has made the situation worse
whilst destroying resources
both at home and overseas
lust for wealth led to an obsessive greed
as leaders hunted for colonies
and built an empire in the name of the crown
this we were told was something
on which the sun would never go down
lest we forget the real facts of the matter
the chattering classes can’t hide
no amount of propaganda disguised as pride
can stem the tide of nature
or change the narrative of the story
it’s embarrassing to see
a country which claims to be
amongst the most developed on earth
embark on a policy of apathetic indifference
when it comes to maintaining the health of the world
whilst city boys and girls rake in obscene profits
and the landed gentry shoot the grouse
on the glorious 12th
the mind thy self mentality
cares more about fictional characters
in TV soaps
than improving our quality of life
as our leaders yet again
use the scythe
to cut the earth
in the endless search
for tainted gold

@ Gayle Smith 2017

Kitchen Of Hate

Hey Readers

I wrote this poem in a state of shock, horror, and disbelief. You see whilst I was tucking in to a lovely meal with good friends some of our most disadvantaged and vulnerable citizens were being refused one of the most basic of all human needs. These Glaswegians were being discriminated against by a far right organisation on the grounds of race and ethnicity at a whites only food bank.

The idea of such an organisation being allowed to peddle their hate in this way is something I find so ridiculous, offensive, and disgusting that it is beyond the comprehension of any decent citizen. I’ve given it the title Kitchens Of Hate I hope you find it a challenging and thought provoking read.

Kitchen Of Hate

Shocked
stunned
and horrified
I couldn’t believe
what I read
the headline said
the was a whites only
food bank
at the weekend
whilst I tucked in
to a lovely meal
in the company of friends
discrimination was taking place
in our city centre
the far right Brits
better together never talked about
during the referendum
were dishing out parcels of ignorance
preying on the most underprivileged
no doubt hoping to recruit
the less politically aware
to their brand of Britishness
which I know my unionist friends
will condemn
no matter how much I disagree with their views
on Scotland’s future direction
I know those serving
at the kitchens of hate
do not, have not, and will never represent them
in the words of George Michael
I say it’s time to listen without prejudice
in this new Scotland
it’s important not to go back to the past
the empire is dead
we have to realise that
the days of apartheid
died with the victory of Mandela
there will be no golden dawn
with the politics of evil
only false ones
national affronts
we can live without
as we move on to tomorrow
and refuse to taste the poison of bitterness

@ Gayle Smith 2016

An Gorta Mor

Hey everyone A poem written on St Patrick’s Day about the so-called Irish famine. I say so-called famine because as far as I am concerned there was no famine. What happened in Ireland between the years 1845-
1853 was not a famine it was far worse than that, it was cultural genocide a holocaust by any other name. Yes the Brits were at it long before the Nazis they just used more subtle methods like removing a plentiful supply of potatoes from the Irish population to feed the British aristocracy who needed to be fed so they could go and exploit more nations and turn countries in to colonies digging their snouts in the trough of empire as they did so. This poem is a memorial to those who died in those cruel and hungry years and to those who had to start new lives elsewhere the global Irish Diaspora. I’ve titled it An Gorta Mor I hope you find it a challenging and thought provoking read.

An Gorta Mor

We call it An Gorta Mor
the great hunger
though in reality we know
this was murder
too many died
and many more fled
in all 32 counties
people sang of sorrow
for many
tomorrow would never arrive
victims of cultural genocide
a holocaust happened
in Erin’s green isle
a land of songs and smiles
became of a land of tearful goodbyes
as many journeyed to new homes
In nations both near and far away
they travelled
to avoid the grave
the despot attempted
to treat the locals like slaves
they scorned us for being what we are
this is a story of grief beneath the stars
so when I am taunted by the famine song
told to go home
I smile, a gesture of defiance
there are words in my silence
which give them an answer
that chills them to the bone
unlike cruel Britannia
we will never walk alone
we have friends in every land
you can shake your head in despair
It was the actions
of your ancestors
which placed us there
we did not want to go
we were sent in the name of empire
by those with power and privilege
I will never accept the label British
at my father’s funeral
my cousin spoke to me
but not my brother
saying be proud of what you know
and where you come from
you know what I mean
I understood only too clearly
what were meant by his comforting words
I am a child of the Celts
I am descended from no German queen
my line is a line of green
it comes from An Gorta Mor

@ Gayle Smith 2015