Tag Archive | Power

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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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

A Triumph For Humanity In Spite Of The Greatest Of Obstacles As A Poet Asks The Questions On The Topics That Won’t Go Away (A Review Of The Other Side Of The Flood By David Lee Morgan) 

As regular readers will no doubt be aware due to my lack of posts on the topic, my Edinburgh fringe was a wee bit late in kicking off this year. This was due to the after effects of a leg injury taking longer than expected to sod off and so it wasn’t until the Tuesday of week three that  I finally got off and running but when I did I hit it with a vengeance As I got to the Banshee which is and ever shall be my Edinburgh local I settled in , having my first of many Diet Coke’s before going to see my  first show of Edinburgh 2017. 

The show of choice was The Other Side Of The Flood by David Lee Morgan (pictured below) This play in six voices set in the year 2035 was a beautifully constructed piece of theatre in which Morgan an accomplished poet , and musician narrates the story of a world on the brink of a global socialist revolution. Fighting has broken all out all over the world and all communication has stopped. To add to this the American government has used nuclear weapons on it’s own people most noticeably the Los Angeles Socialist Revolutionary Commune which has been decimated by this attack. 

Picture David Lee Morgan rocks the Banshee Banqueting Hall 

During an action packed 50 minutes Morgan explores the themes of socialism, internationalism, love,  cross cultural boundaries, death, hopes, fears, and mental health through Jesse a young Mexican-American , and his lover Sultana who comes from a traditional Pakistani Muslim background.

 As our story begins the world is on the eve of the revolution but this development is not welcomed by everyone and is being  fiercely opposed by those forces who have most to lose. The Los Angeles commune has been attacked and many of the revolutionaries killed whilst Jesse lies on a life support machine. There is only one way to save humanity from an impending Armageddon and that is to place the brain of a fighter for peace in to the computer drone which could change everything and Jesse is the perfect candidate for the task. Through still alive, he has no chance of making what we would call a full recovery and is living out his last days determined to do what he can for the cause he believes in with every fibre of his being

During this time a void is needing to be filled as people lose faith in organised religions and the old order is on the verge of collapse. This depending on your viewpoint can be seen as crisis or opportunity and the global socialist movement view it as an opportunity to create a new belief system to benefit humanity. The old order however will not go quietly in the night and resistance to change will be sharply defended.

On the eve of what would surely be the war to end them all, a young couple think of the coming days as the great battle for a better world. Though from very different backgrounds Mexican-American and Pakistani Asian there is no doubting the strength of their beliefs or indeed their love 

With her passion running as deep as her principles Sultana calls her mother to tell her of her plans to stay in America with Jesse as something wonderful was going to happen but the fight will begin soon. Her mother reminds her that is there is  also fighting in her homeland and pleads with her to return home. Sultana however is headstrong and in love and has no intention of leaving Jesse behind for her mother or anyone else. This causes tension between Sultana and her mother though the familial bonds of love and loyalty remain strong across both cultures and generations. 

At this point Sultana reminds her mother that though she lives in the west she still attends mosque and prays five tines a day and that Jesse understands the importance of her faith. Her mother however reminds her that she cannot  marry outside the faith. Frustrated by rules and regulations Sultana reminds her mother that it was fine for her brother to marry a non Muslim and asks why her it’s different for girls Meanwhile Jesse’s condition is deteriorating as we hear flashbacks from his past conflicts and computerised voices telling young men to man up whilst other voices relate the tragic tale  of a soldier having a break down and this forces upon on us the grim realisation that for some former combatants the war never ends and the permanent potential threat of post traumatic stress disorder stalks them like shadows in the middle of the darkest time of night. 

 Tackling these issues with the sensitivity they deserve David Lee Morgan asks much needed questions about both conflict and the role of masculinity within it. These are questions which need asking and cannot be ducked. These are questions which it a brave writer and performer to ask. Luckily David Lee Morgan is exactly that type of  artist. He is an outstanding poet and musician who relishes challenging convention and saying the kind of topics I talk about are real and will not go away. He enjoys holding authority to account not by shouting  or stamping his feet but opening your eyes to new possibilities such as the potential for a real global socialism to take root and as he showed with the ending of this play where he presents us with two roads and leaves the decision to us as to which will be the destination of our choice.

In this show as in all of Morgan’s work he shows the  human spirit is capable of overcoming even the greatest of the obstacles as it triumphs in spite of itself and the barriers it so often puts in place to hinder the path to progress . That to me is the true mark of an artist of genuine substance and David Lee Morgan  is such an artist.

Till next time. 

Gayle X

The F Word 

On day 8 of NaPoWriMo my thoughts turn to feminism and why it’s so important in the fight for a better more equal world. I thank my friend and fellow SNP member Lorna Craig (pictured with me at the 2016 SNP Equalities Conference) for suggesting this idea and a certain teenager  in my local church for inspiring me to believe she really can change the world. I hope you enjoy the read. 

The F Word 

This f word is not a sexual act 

it is a word used to promote a vision of a better society

by using simple facts 

to explain why women need equality 

and why we are determined to get it 

yet some girls have been socially conditioned 

to resent it 

the right wing press demonise it 

claiming it is half baked and does nothing for women 

that titled nobility can’t do better 

this agenda is designed to keep women in poverty 

voiceless in a Dickensian  style democracy 

where they are cooking, cleaning , and occasionally dreaming 

of a better life than this picture presents 

this f word empowers us  

to reject the idea that we should be tied to  kitchen sinks

and teaching girls that to wear pink 

should be their ultimate aspiration

in life 

telling them to watch

This Morning and the Real Housewives of wherever 

is neither smart nor clever 

girls have the right to get educated and persue a career 

the idea that women should smile sweetly 

if a man open doors and calls them dear 

not reply I as I once did 

that I wasn’t dear just expensive 

or high maintenance 

is totally and completely wrong 

I get angry at the sexism in the outdated suggestion 

we should restrain ourselves 

and be modest at all times 

especially in our fashion choices

we shouldn’t  raise our hemlines

let alone our voices in anger 

that some girls are missing school 

because of lack of access 

to female sanitary products 

this is abhorrent in the 21st century 

yet the tabloids still show women bearing breasts on page 3

for the titillation of white van bloke 

this is no joke 

if girls can be objectified in this way 

it’s no surprise we are still denied equal pay for equal work 

tackling these patriarchal structures 

is something we can’t afford to shirk 

or another generation of girls 

will be sentenced to the death of their dreams 

not fulfilling their potential 

or being as influential as society needs them to be 

in shaping and creating a better world for us all 

this f word is not just a word

it’s a call to arms to advance women’s rights 

we must use this word as a weapon 

in the struggle for fairness 

it will be key in defeating the couldn’t care less brigade 

the bullshit battalion of the apathetic army 

and this why every mammy

 should teach their daughters its power 

when used wisely womanhood will flower like never before 

this is a word we can’t ignore 

have you guessed it yet ? 

do you know it’s name ? 

did they blame you for using it 

call you a lesbian or communist 

a traitor or fifth columnist 

for standing against the established way of thinking 

if they do any or all of these things 

ask them why they are so afraid of feminism ? 

the F Word that chills them to the  bone 

©Gayle Smith 2017 

For All The Silenced Voices

​With Tuesday being world poetry day, I wrote a poem to give thanks for my right to freedom of expression. As I did so I thought of the words of  the late Chilean poet Pablo Neruda who when living under the Pinochet regime remarked poetry is the only danger here and in many countries his words have an all too disturbing ring to them as poets are often seen as enemies of the state. 

It is I think fair to  say that  though I have strong and principled political beliefs I doubt very much if Westminster or the British establishment see my poetry or any poetry as a threat to their existence and I have written this poem to celebrate the fact that I am allowed to speak my truths in my words unlike so many practioners of the craft whose work will at best be censored and in the most extreme cases could land them with a death sentence. 

After due consideration I couldn’t find what I thought was a suitable title to convey the sentiments expressed in it, so I put it out to my Facebook community to see if they could assist me in  this matter and as usual someone came up with a title so good I wish I had thought of it myself.  On this occasion, that someone was Louise Gemmill who suggested the title   For All The Silenced Voices. I hope you enjoy the read. 

For All The Silenced Voices 

On world poetry day 

I couldn’t let it go unnoticed

I had to say something 

to be vocal for poets in those countries

where art is suppressed 

voices ignored 

and imagination discouraged 

no matter what I think 

of this country 

or what name I use when I speak of it 

I am free to give my words meaning 

set them in context 

explain what shaped the views I hold 

I speak through the language of a craft 

which requires skill and dedication 

and more editing and revision 

than there are hours in the day 

for those who scoff and say 

anyone can write poetry 

I challenge them to try it 

they might find it is not as easy 

as they think 

the pessimists always drink 

from the half empty glass 

anyone can be a critic 

though not all will understand 

what they are critiquing 

poets know the penalties for speaking out 

can result in imprisonment or execution 

yet still take the risks 

in telling their truths

Burns, Pearce, Havel, Plath, and Neruda

are proof of  that.

their legacies are in creating a better world

where words heal wounds 

inflicted in the name of humanity 

this is testament to the worth of their art  

and shows that the half empty glass 

can when viewed through a poets eyes 

be perceived as half full. 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Global Lies 

Hey Readers. 

This is a poem on climate change and the impact that greed under the banner of globalisation can and does have on our natural environment. I’ve given it the title Global Lies. I hope you find it an enjoyable but thought provoking read. 

Global Lies 

As a geography graduate
I know
our resources are finite
despite some people’s denials
telling global lies
in the name of globalisation
isn’t inspirational
it’s criminal neglect
of our shared environment
it shows contempt for humanity
the insanity of this behaviour
will eventually mean
even our saviour will give up attempting to save us
we are the lost generations
the children of all nations
who were told we could
we would have it all
but we had  no plan B
to cope with the changes
we would face
as fish stocks were depleted from the seas
and fossil fuels polluted the ozone layer
I despair at our thoughtless actions
yet with smug satisfaction
we complain
about the intentions of others
it’s time we discovered
the power of a mirror
and looked at the damage
we’ve done to our world
the truth of the matter is
we are well aware
of the catastrophic consequences
of this carnage by gradualism
our leaders lack
the vision we need to save ourselves
from to quote Burns man’s inhumanity to man
greed is the ultimate seducer
which abandons us all
to our fate

@ Gayle Smith 2017

Causalities Of Greed 

Hey Readers 

Later this month I will be reading at the January edition of  Extra Second spoken word event at The Blue Chair on the theme of Climate Change. As a Geography and Politics graduate this topic really  appeals to me and I want to do it justice by writing some new poetry to the theme of the evening. This poem freshly written this afternoon, is one I will consider performing at the event. I have given it the title Causalities Of Greed. I hope enjoy the read. 

Causalities Of Greed 

It’s been gradual 

a slow change 

which happened over time 

an environmental crime 

 caught us unaware

as we were guilty of neglect

for our living space 

our disgrace was the fact 

we failed to realise the problem

the damage it could do 

was doing will continue to do 

If we don’t change 

some dismiss it as strange 

the product of liberal thinking 

unpatriotic 

a fantasy which gets in the way of their profit 

their right to be a money making machine 

ensure their security and wealth 

those in robust health don’t think of long term solutions 

the damage pollution causes 

interested only in short term gains 

they conveniently ignore the victims 

as they watch the world chocking 

unaware they too 

will be causalities of greed 

@ Gayle Smith 2017