Tag Archive | Homelessness

Bonfire Of Promises 

On a night when some people celebrate the capture of Guy Fawkes with celebrations and firework displays I take a slightly different look at bonfire night. I do this by  taking an alternative look  at the issues of austerity and the homelessness it can and does to lead to. In this poem I explain why I believe the I’m alright Jack mentality has resulted in a culture of apathy in which people are content for others to suffer so long as the suffering doesn’t reach their door and this allows the more reactionary Conservative forces within the UK establishment to have a bonfire of promises. It is with this in mind I have titled my poem Bonfire Of Promises I hope you enjoy the read. 

Bonfire Of Promises 

As I stand in the cold

watching fireworks explode

 a cavalcade of colours

light up the evening sky

like a rainbow

but with no pots of gold at the end

I am lucky when the evening concludes

I will return to the shelter of my flat

after time spent with friends

enjoying the warmth of their company

as the weather turns colder

I walk past a homeless girl

checking my pockets to see if change can be spared 

on this occasion only goodwill can be shared 

and that won’t fill empty stomachs

or remove hunger pains 

in a world where nobody listens

and politicians feed the public a diet of slogans 

designed to blame others for our problems

scapegoating is the road to ignorance

and acceptance of rules

made by others to tighten their grip 

on us and our circumstances

till we believe change is no longer possible

and as long as we’re alright everything is going to be fine 

all we need to do is shut the door

on the outside world

and pretend it doesn’t exist 

but there is a warning in my words 

if we do take this road it will be the vulnerable who suffer 

as we start to view minorities as others 

and allow governments to make

a bonfire of promises

 © Gayle Smith 2017

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The Coldest Season 

On day 10 of Blogmas I share a poem where I look at the the commercial side of our so-called festive season and why when we are wandering round the shops we should stop for a moment and think on others who may not be as fortunate as we are and what if anything we can do to help those abandoned by a society which is becoming more individualistic by the day as Conservative values take hold of western democracies and demonise those in need of genuine help I’ve given it the title The Coldest season I hope enjoy the read.

The Coldest Season

Winter, the coldest season 

where those discarded by a society 

in which winner takes all 

are refused access to the festive cheer 

whilst the rest of us spend 

more than we can afford 

on relatives we’ve ignored 

since last Christmas when we had that argument 

and brought up things best left unsaid 

or if we’re still not talking to them 

we’ll spend  our cash on  new friends 

get in to more debt that a small country 

all because that advert was lovely 

and filled us with the joys of the season 

it is after all time for glad tidings

silver linings of comfort and joy 

we’ll be in good voice singing carols 

at the church we attend once a year 

It’s Santa not Jesus in whom we place our trust 

to meet our needs in the season of goodwill 

but what about the old, the homeless, the ill

thrown to the wolves so others can jingle tills 

in the name of profit 

 of which they will see just enough 

to pay the bills and not a penny extra

this is the not so secret agenda 

of those who would kill the Christmas spirit 

by taking others to the brink

watching them sink from a world 

so immune to their pain 

we don’t see the irony 

when we hurry through shopping malls 

in this the coldest season of the year 

and the song we hear is do they know it’s Christmas. 

@ Gayle Smith 2016 

Playing The Game

Hey Readers

In my second poem in my series of the Homeless World Cup I look back on chats I had with players from many nations on the pride they had in playing for their country. Now as I relax at home in the still of an autumn evening I only hope their countries are treating them with the same respect and they will gain a better life having worn their national colours than they did before they were honoured. I have given it the title Playing The Game I hope you enjoy the read.

Playing The Game

As I mixed and mingled with players of all nations
Poles, Romanians, Irish, Norwegians
in the gentle heat of a Glaswegian summer
I discovered their ambitions and dreams
they knew the value of being part of a team
the friendship the sense of belonging
the pride in the jersey
and more importantly in themselves
I hope they’ve kept the belief they had for that week in July
when playing the game brought smiles from the faces of strangers
I pray they are safe from danger
have been given opportunities
valued as part of their communities
in the countries whose colours they wore with pride
I hope they were kept onside
with no flag happy uncivil servants to stop them
and their goals were allowed to stand

Two of the team from Team Romania
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@ Gayle Smith 2016

Samba In The Square

Hey Readers

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This is the first of a series of poems on football with a difference and the football I’ll be writing about is the Homeless World Cup which took place in my home city of Glasgow this summer and brought a carnival atmosphere to our city centre as 64 teams from 52 countries took part in a footballing fiesta which was one of my highlights of what was a very busy and enjoyable summer. This poem tells the story of my first game of this street soccer tournament a nine goal thriller between Brazil and Bulgaria. I’ve given it the title Samba In The Square I hope you enjoy the read.

Samba In The Square

On a sunny summer Wednesday
I saw my first game of the Homeless World Cup
Brazil and Bulgaria the teams
in a miniature theatre of dreams
It kicked off on a Sunday afternoon when I was otherwise engaged
but as I watched the world in Glasgow
there was a carnival atmosphere when Brazil took the stage
and samba came to the square
just like their big team
they had the same artistic flair
and similar frailties at the back
attack was their only form of defence
nothing else made sense
to the masters of the beautiful game
whose yellow strips matched the warmth
of the early evening sun
It was my first game
at this global football fiesta
Brazil won 7-2
despite their dodgy defenders
I wanted them to win the title
if Scotland didn’t get to the final
but somehow I sensed
after just one game the title wouldn’t be theirs to claim
and another team would take the trophy

@ Gayle Smith 2016

We Lived To The Mex When The World Came To Glasgow  And  I Said Yes To A Night With The Girls And Memories Made By Music 

Hey Readers

It’s now almost a third of the way through September so why I am just getting ready to post my photographic journey through July? Well this can be explained by one simple fact which is that as from the 1st day of August all roads lead to Edinburgh and the fringe takes over my life. For anyone who doubts this I would ask you to talk to my flatmate and she will gladly confirm the truth of that comment.

This is only my second post of this nature, my first being on my journey through June. At first I thought this would be a one off but it proved far more popular than I thought so I’ve decided to make it a regular monthly feature.

Like most months though there will be the odd exception my July started at the Words and Music event I host at the Pollok Ex-Servicemen’s Club which is known to us as the Tin Hut and the first picture shows our featured writer for July in full performance mode.

Picture (1) Anna Crow has the audience hanging on every word during a magnificent set as featured writer.

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Picture (2) Shows featured musician Steve Clark as he makes a welcome return to the Words and Music stage. This was Steve’s first appearance at our event for far too long and he reminded us what we’d be missing with an excellent which concluded with his unofficial anthem Jock Tamson’s Bairns getting everyone singing along.

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Picture (3) Is another from the Tin Hut. This one shows Alex Cuthbert looking serious as he focuses on the stage. In this picture Alex is joined by A C Clarke seated closest to the table with Robin Cairns looking on from the back

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Picture 4 Was taken on my first visit to the Homeless World Cup which was held in Glasgow between the 10th and 16th July and shows Brazil and Bulgaria showcasing their skills in the George Square sun and though Bulgaria had their moments the game was won comfortably by the samba boys as Brazil won 7-2 

Picture (5) Was taken at another high scoring game between two of Europe’s most powerful nations when it comes to the 11 a side as Germany and Belgium showed us their skills in the sunshine. I can only think that the poor attendence might be due to the fact their game clashed with the Brazil one. 

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Picture (6) Shows yours truly in a selfie with with those lovely  lads from Northern Ireland who insisted I have my picture taken with them and since they were such nice lads this was an offer  I couldn’t refuse 

Picture (7) Shows a happy smiling Scotland team before their match with Indonesia later that night.

Picture (8)  Shows my friend and fellow poet Derek Read in thoughtful mood as he concentrates on the quiz at the Rainbow Spoon event at the Spoon Cafe. I have to commend the wee man on his form that because he was in my quiz team and believe or not we actually won.

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Picture (9) Illustrates multi culturalism Glasgow style as a member of the Mexican coaching staff swaps his Sombrero for more local attire and embraces his inner Weegie in a See You Jimmy hat.

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Picture (10) Shows the power of women as Frances McGlinchy in green and Catherine Baird in red stand proud at  Buchanan Street steps  against the twin evils of  Trident and Racism.

Picture (11) Shows a woman with a message for a better world as Green Party Councillor Martha Wardrope addresses the gathering on the dangers of racism and scapegoating those that the mainstream media would have us see as other. 

Picture (12) Demonstrates the diversity of those attending the protests with banners representing both the LGBTI community and the Scottish Green Party 

Pucture (13) Shows one of the most familiar and welcoming sights in our city a Saturday afternoon busker. In this case the busker Anna Shields had a lovely relaxing style I really enjoyed listening to and since picture was taken I have checked out her music on the internet and I recommend you do the same. 

Picture (14) Shows Argentina playing to the crowd by displaying both The Saltaire, and The Lion Rampant, before the plate final against Gteece which they went on to win 3-1 

Picture (15) Scotland do the huddle before our ladies take on Chile in the their Homeless World Cup third and fourth place play off 

Picture (16) Shows Scotland on the attack in the early stages of the game. If memory serves I think we scored from this build up but it wasn’t enough as Scotland lost a thriller on penalties after a 6-6 draw.

Picture (17) Scotland and Chile take the applause of the crowd together after their third place play off 

Picture (18) Shows Women of all nations whose countries played their part in the tournament but failed to reach the final including Argentina,  Chile, France ,India , The Netherlands , The USA, and Scotland. This is a particularly powerful image it shows Women forging friendships in the name of both sport and sisterhood and destroys the myth that football is just a boy’s game.  

Picture (19)  Team England players are happy to pose for the camera after playing their final game which by a strange coincidence was against Scotland who won 6-4 much to the delight of the very neutral home crowd.  

Picture (20) Shows Hannah from Team England cheering from the stands during one of the games. I promised her I would put her picture in my review of the month as you can see I’m a woman of my word. 

Picture (21) Shows a cracking example of Double Dutch as Tess (left) and Mandy (right) show that for the Netherlands total football also means total equality.

Picture (22) Shows Me in a selfie with Tammy from Team America as we form The United States Of Womanhood.  

Picture (23) is one of my favourite ever pictures as I proudly pose with Diana from Team Argentina who told me she felt like a real star because I wanted a picture with her. Well as far as I’m concerned she is a real star and always will be I just hope things go well for her now she’s back home and I hope she has the kind of life I would wish for her.

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Picture (24) Is definitely one for the Blue Chair gallery as finally get a selfie with the only footballer I know whose sang songs in her Scotland strip the one and only Courtney Lynn

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Picture (25)  Shows the men of Chile and Russia as the battle it out in the bronze medal play off which was eventually won 3-1 by the Russians. 

Picture (26) It was time for women to shine and contest the Women’s World Cup Final where Mexico Kytgyzstan who had beaten Scotland in the semi final Mexico however were a far more difficult proposition and though Kyrgyzstan were deserved silver medallists there was no denying the Mexicans as they won 5-0 in a one sided final.

Picture (27) This picture shows the Kyrgyzstan girls receiving their runners up medals after their defeat by Mexico in the Women’s Homeless World Cup Final. These women were a credit to their country and their sport during a tournament in which they made many friends and put their country on the map when it comes to this version of the beautiful game.  

Picture (28)  The Mexican women go on their lap of honour after being crowned Women’s Homeless World Cup Winners 2016 after  their 5-0 victory against Kyrgyzstan   

Picture (29) Shows Brazil lining up for the men’s final in the Homeless World  Cup against the highly rated Mexican team who were chasing a double with their women already having won their tournament in very impressive style. 

Picture 30 Sees the Mexican team on what Lady GaGa would call the edge of glory as they get ready to face Brazil in the Samba Saturday showdown. 

Picture (31) Shows Brazil on the ball in one of their rare moments of inspiration in a final in which Mexico had the majority of the ball and the moves as they won the men’s Homeless World Cup 6-1 so for all their entertainment  the final to paraphrase a well known bit of Glasgow chat was not Pure Dead, Braziliant and they had to be content with the runners up medals on this occasion. 

Picture (32) That Champion Feeling Mexico Players celebrate with the crowd as the Brazilian players wait for their runners up medals. 

Picture (33) As poetry rock star Jenny Lindsay is captured chatting to one of the rising stars of the spoken word scene at the Extra Second event at the Blue Chair Kieron Murphy poses for the camera.

Picture 34 Shows Molly McLachlan telling it like is at Extra Second. 

Picture 35 Shows a woman of words of and wisdom take an East End voice to the West End of Glasgow as Victoria McNulty demonstrates why I believe she is the best new talent on the Scottish poetry scene during her featured headline act at Cafe Rio on the last Monday of the month

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Picture (36) If poetry is the new rock ‘n’ roll no one has told Gabriel Featherstone who is the best dressed comedian in the history of the Blue Chair where this picture was taken in the calm of summer’s evening whilst I was waiting for the fringe to start.

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Picture (37) It could only happen in Glasgow. If you can’t afford a guard dog to watch your car get a seagull. Well there a lot more independent and there cheaper to feed. Whilst dogs demand their dinner this lot are happy with crumbs of comfort 

Picture (38) This is one of Glasgow’s top tourist attractions. As the Duke of Wellington sits outside the Gallery of Modern Art he’s always had a cone on his head for a good few years. So when the city’s ruling Labour Party tried to remove it the move was viewed with such anger by the local population that an imeadiate petition was started to demand they do no such thing and was signed by 15,000 angry Glaswegians. Now call us schemers if you like but I think the fact that Glasgow citizens have also given his horse a cone sends out a very clear message to our city guardians you may mess with us but you will never ever beat us.

Picture (39) Sees me posing for a selfie and that selfie resulted in me posting my first outfit of the day post. 

Picture (40) Was taken at the square as I call George Square on the final Saturday of the month at the latest march and rally for independence. The picture shows not only the flag of Scotland but those of Catalonia and Palestine which like Scotland are also ruled by governments which don’t have their interests at heart. Indeed in the case of Palestine the people are ruled by such a ruthless neighbur they would even make the Tories look good by comparison. 

Picture  (41 ) Shows a collection of motorbikes parked in the square that it would be a boy or girl racer’s dream. These however are no ordinary bikes they belong to Bikers For Yes who provide cracking displays for the independence movement whenever they are needed and always add to the occasion at all our marches. 

Picture (42) Shows some of the merchandise on sale at the stalls.

Picture (43)  This T-shirt has to be my favourite fashion item seen at the march. I think I’ll need to get one so that unionists will stay out of my way and keep at a respectful distance from me.  

Picture (44)  Has a very clear message and neither May or Corbyn or any of their heirs and successors  will ever be able to change it. We will never give up on our country and we will never be defeated. The fight will go on until they get this message loud and clear.  We are and always will be 

And finally Picture (45)  Was taken later on that evening  outside the Kings Theatre as the music had switched to music or to more specific musicals and I had enjoyed one of the  best ever shows I’ve ever seen as along with loads of other women of a certain age I rolled back.the years  at Jackie The Musical which was based on the popular magazine of that name which was compulsory reading for teenage girls for the 25 years between 1964 and 1989 and peaked in the 1970’s when the now fifty something women like myself made up the bulk of the Jackie Generation. This was a night of unashamed nostalgia when I and the rest of the audience which was about 97 per cent female and 90 per cent women who are now mums and even grans  found our singing voices as we travelled back to our youth remembered the golden days when all we had was puppy love and the occasional summer love sensation and Donny Osmond and the Bay City Rollers were the poster boys of our dreams

With this final picture I completed my journey through July and it’s fair to say that this month offered me more variety than I ever thought possible during a month which for me at least has always been one of my quieter periods  of the year. As I look back on my birth month I think I can say I had a enjoyable and entertaining time in which we lived life to the Mex as the world came to Glasgow and I said yes to memories made by music. 

Love And Best Wishes 

Gayle X 

17 Poets

Hey Readers On day 22 of NaPoWriMo I look back on a wonderful night of spoken word at Extra Second. This is a night I can’t recommend highly enough and to celebrate my first appearance at this excellent evening I have written a poem entitled 17 Poets. Though I have already written a poem with the one word title Poets which was inspired by my friend Audrey Marshall, this is very different in content and though I was tempted to change it I was reminded that there were the three versions of The Power Of Love and none of them sounded remotely similar. My thanks to Paul Wardrope for confirming that my original choice of title was the right one.  So here it is, 17 Poets I hope you enjoy the read.

17 Poets

When poets speak with authentic anger
the audience listens 
as tales on Europe
homelessness poverty and unfulfilled ambitions
proved the personal is political
Now I don’t mean to be critical
of the older generation
but there are occasions
when they need to wind their necks in
and realise that just because they are a certain age
they do not have a right to rage
about not getting a seat on the bus
this culture of entitlement
is not an enlightened attitude
I am sick to death of their platitudes
of how it was better in their day
it wasn’t there lying
it’s not cool
and voting SNP both votes
will not be enough to free Scotland
from Westminster rule
despite Facebook campaigns
to the contrary
capitalism will never cure poverty
it magnifies the gap between the haves or have nots
and just because someone has bouncy hair does not make them an optimist
so make sure you have no regrets
the law doesn’t work for women
or at least not yet
and male ego doesn’t mean
that you are the smartest man in the room
I heard all these tales and many others
on a night when the world discovered what happens
when words danced to the tunes of ranters
and the only recruiting Sargent’s
were from the army of 17 poets
whose dreams were  shared on the stage
even though the final poet raged against rage
we were the voice of authentic anger.

@ Gayle Smith 2016

NB This poem was written on day 22 but couldn’t be posted until now due to the usual technical issues like my phone needing charged.

Cold Comfort

Hey Readers This poem is another one from the back catalogue. Written in 2011 it documents how we tend to feel as we leave Christmas behind and begin the journey back to reality. I hope you find Cold Climate an interesting and perhaps even a challenging read. 

Cold Climate

I’m standing at a bus stop
in the bitter winter snow
my happy face has disappeared
I’ve lost my Christmas glow
which kept me warm and comfortable
all through the festive time
I see a bus approaching
I pray it might be mine

It’s going in my direction
though it’s not the one I need
I read the tabloid billboards
which scream of  bankers greed
cold comfort for the rest of us
on an Arctic Glasgow night
I think of those without a home
they’ll know when winter bites

@ Gayle Smith 2011