Tag Archive | Traditions

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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Oath Of Aillegence 

As members of parliament get back to work after the recent General Election some people including myself are questioning the idea of Honourable Members having to swear an oath of aillegence to the monarch. This to me seems and outdated practice which should be best left in the past and replaced by an oath of service to their constituents after all it is their constituents they have been elected to serve. It is with this in mind I have written this poem entitled Oath Of Aillegence I hope you enjoy what I think will be a thought provoking read. 

Oath Of Aillegence 

I pledge my loyalty to my friends 

my fellow citizens of this shared living space 

irrespective of gender, impairment, race, religion, or sexual orientation 

or any other group by which the one percent seeks to divide them by 

I swear to support the global commonweal of every land , and tribe 

I will endeavor to be on the side of justice 

and fight inequality and prejudice wherever I see it 

if the powers that be don’t like it then  so be it 

but principles matter to me 

I’ve always played fair 

and I expect the same back 

no saltire, union flag , or star spangled banner will change the fact

I swear no oath of aillegence

to any monarch or ermine robed fools.

who attempt to set the rules for  my life 

doffing  caps and bending knees are so 18th century 

yet the servile defer to what they call traditions 

claiming that this dysfunctional behaviour is what makes Britain great 

they even say it’s what makes Britain British 

are these people for real ?

they don’t have a clue about what’s going on in the world

they don’t understand what its like 

growing up a boy who wants be a girl 

in a Glasgow housing scheme 

or the fact that poverty isn’t a lifestyle choice 

they piss champagne in to gold plated toilet seats

after singing out of tune from the top of their voices

and think that by buying a charity single 

they are doing their bit for humanity 

as they merrily  count up their millions

made by the sweat of the workers

people are dying just a few miles away 

they would rather I didn’t say this

in case it puts them off their nice expensive meal 

insulated from  real world problems 

they will never know how it feels to visit a foodbank 

or buy your clothes from second hand shops

this inequality has to stop 

and though I alone can’t do much to stop the suffering or the pain 

I who grew up listening to tinsil town in the rain

know what that song really means 

as does everyone who grew up in the schemes 

and that’s why I swear no oath of aillegence to any  queen or her heirs 

I swear my oath of aillegence to the people of the world

and swear to treat them with fairness and equality 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Two Rolls On Sausage 

With mental health being the theme for this month’s Extra Second  I thought as one of the billed readers for the event, I would  share a poem on the theme and more specifically, on the impact of depression both on the person who has it and those who share their lives. I  have titled it Two Rolls On Sausage, I hope you enjoy what I think will be a thought provoking read. 


Two Rolls On Sausage 

She decides we should have  breakfast

though the post mid -day  timing

suggests brunch 

carefully she places 

four square slice in the pan

as they sizzle she makes me coffee 

despite hating the smell

she knows how I like it 

I appreciate the kindness shown 

by the friend who is always yet never alone

as ghosts stalk the darkest corners 

of her over active imagination

in preparation she makes sure

the rolls are buttered to our taste 

two for each of us 

I savour the flavour 

of a traditional Saturday starter

a simple staple of a Scottish weekend 

 like fish suppers after the game

as I enjoy the taste of  the feast 

 the beast of her depression strikes

 she bites in to each roll alternately 

and after her culinary multi tasking 

 eventually finishes both

 © Gayle Smith 2017 

  

Belonging

Hey everyone. This poem on identity shows how different people or groups can view the same space in very contrasting ways. Examples of this include Ulster, Palestine, or even Scotland. One only needs to think back to last year’s independence referendum to see two very contrasting views of the political geography, history, and future of both Scotland and Britain. Indeed even within both sides of the debate there were those on each who had more in common with some opponents than they did with those on the same campaign team. To me this reflects the difficulties identity politics can provide. As a geography and politics honours graduate I think the poem illustrates the importance of geography and class the influence they can and do have over the politics of a nation and various areas within it. Written in 2009 I’ve titled the poem Belonging, I hope you enjoy the read.

Belonging

One world
many communities
one landscape
many interpretations
contested geographies
traditions histories
contrasts and conflicts
in the family of nations

some are denied
their right to choices
others impose
their colonial view
each will claim theirs
is the only way forward
patriot soldier
or loyal and true

In the beginning
the rich and powerful
marked out their territories
the poor had no claim
they made the badges
of cultural identity
they were the ones
who made rules for the game

one dream
many illusions
each of us values
our own sense of place
we all weave a tapestry
diverse and different
as we search for belonging
in this human race

@ Gayle Smith 2009

The Scotland Of The Future Is Based On A Climate Of Confidence Where Tights Are More Important Than Trident

Hey everyone Reflecting on another great National Collective meet up I have been inspired to think on new creative ideas and have promised to spread the word about the work of the collective to those I think may be interested. I kinda started this political evangelism after the last meet up and so far it has to be said I have had a very positive reaction with many people wanting to find out more about the work of the collective what we do and how they can get involved.

When explaining who we are, I am always mindful to say that we are an organisation who are comprised of members of all parties and none and who are campaigning for a yes vote in the referendum and seek to build a better fairer and more equal Scotland than we can achieve under the union.

During the last month I have told
many people about the organisation and why I believe it is important to listen to the voice of the cultural community in the run up to the upcoming vote as a poet myself I believe it is fair to say that we are always a wee bit ahead of the general population when it comes to creating a climate of change.

At Tuesday’s meeting it was agreed to change the Glasgow meet up to the second Monday of the month as this will mean more members will be to attend the gathering. This will not only be good for the collective but also for the potential of inter disciplinary collaborations between artists with different skills.

The potential for artists to get involved in the southside festival was also discussed as was the idea of guerilla poetry which I think will be highly entertaining should it happen. The concept of guerilla poetry is that poets hijack unsuspecting members of the public and read them pro independence poetry which will hopefully illustrate that only the real powers that independence can offers has the capacity to change Scotland for the better.

Needless to say I have expressed an interest in taking part in this event and have been requested to send five of my pro independence poems to pop up politics for consideration. This has given me a wee bit of a headache as I have written a lot more than five poems on this issue. Now I have to get down the business of selecting my favourites and believe me this will not be an easy choice to make. I did read a few to other members of the collective and it does look like A Nobody Writes A Begging Letter On Behalf Of Blethers Together and Voice Of Number 10 are stronger candidates than The Champagne Socialist and the jury is still out on A Choice Of Two Futures. These are just some of the many which I will have to give serious consideration.

This was not the only interesting development I heard of at the meeting as I also heard during the discussion that the national library of Scotland are wanting to document the referendum from both sides of the debate and are look out for supporters of both Yes and no votes to contribute their materials as a historical record of this important time in the history of our nation. As a poet I think it is my duty to send some of poems on the topic to the national library so that when I am long gone from this world people will be able to see what my views were and the values and visions that made this girl say yes.

After the main business of the meeting it was down to the serious matter of socialising and networking and I have to say I was a very interesting and enjoyable evening as a result
of which many more people have my contact details than was the case before the meeting.

This may result in an increased number of new faces at Words and Music as many of those in attendance are poets and expressed an interest in attending the world’s most manic monday particularly as they know that the hostess with the mostest is a gabby little madam with opinions on everything. This has got the potential to get seriously interesting with lots of talented new faces coming to Sammy’s to join in the madness.

As most of those in attendance began to call it a night a group of battle hardened patter merchants stayed behind for a bit of banter though there was only guy who braved it to stayed amongst us girls. During this social chat a number of us were getting to know each other a wee bit better and even tried and I think succeeded to write a collective poem.

Before trying this excellent team building activity we discussed what may or may not happen post 19th September and I said that if God forbid the result goes the wrong way and I make no apology for saying that a no vote is in my opinion fundamentally wrong, the collective must keep up the fight for a better Scotland with independence being the eventual aim but if we need to put the case for more powers for Scotland then we must be prepared to do so. It was interesting that the company agreed with my comment and one young woman saying in no uncertain terms ‘we must never abandon our country, even if our country abandons us’. Strong sentiments I’m sure you’ll agree and sentiments I don’t altogether disagree with.

One of the things which attracts me to the national collective is the fact that is multi disciplinary and there is a genuine chance to network and even collaborate with artists from different disciplines. This is a prospect which excites me greatly and I have already started discussing the idea of working with another writer either on a project which will either focus on independence, gender stereotypes, or both.

Talking of gender issues we discussed the role of women in Scottish society and how stereotypes have held us back. As a Transwoman I was asked if I had written poetry on my transition to which I replied I had and I duly performed The Lemon Dress a poem about growing up with a secret in the 1970’s and having no sisters who could have given me their hand me downs. Indeed one of the girls in the company acknowledged that it must have been difficult for me at a time when both Scotland and Britain were far less culturally and socially liberal than they are now.

As I had to rely on my mum’s clothes there is a line where I say that I looked like a proper little wife and I was asked if I had ever played up to this gender role to which I said I hadn’t as I wasn’t a good enough cook to play the domestic goddess with any credibility and my credibility is very important to me. Well as a transwoman I not only have to look the part I have to live the part and that means developing my own personal style both in terms of fashion sense and my politics. Therefore I know what combinations work together and what ones just don’t work together. A good example of this type of combination is internationalism and trident

You see as any socialist knows if you are a real internationalist you don’t do war as internationalism is about friendship between nations. Contrast that with a missile so dangerous that it could wipe out whole geographic areas or conurbations. Indeed it can be argued that the unionist demonstrate their hatred for Scotland by deeming these weapons too dangerous for Portsmouth but fine for Glasgow. This shows a causal contempt for a people whom the unionists think are too scared to answer them back.

I have to say however convincing some voters of the potential risks of trident is not an easy task. This is due as we know only too well more than 300 of indoctrination and being what we can’t do however if there is one thing creatives are good at its creating things and what we are creating at the moment is a climate of confidence and can do culture where the people of our country can believe in ourselves and the possibility of a better future. A nuclear free future where the price of tights and make up are considered more important to the Scottish economy rather murderous weapons of mass destruction.

No doubt some of you are reading and thinking did I really say that tights are more important than a nuclear missile system and the answer is yes I did and I believe I can prove it with a reasoned argument based on facts which dismantle any opinion to the contrary. Ok I know I am going down the Elle Woods school of logic, for those who don’t know Elle Woods was the lead character in one of my all time favourite movies Legally Blonde but trust me it does work. You see I believe that we women get good value for our money from the tights and other accessories we buy. The same cannot be said of Trident.

I validate my argument as follows. Whilst Trident creates a false illusion that Britain is some kind of global superpower based on the fact they have the capacity to blow the world to bits my dad always told me that the powerful can defend themselves without the use of weapons. The supporters of obscenity claim that it is a deterrent which never they hope will never need to be used, as far as I am concerned you don’t buy something unless you are going to use it. To say anything else is just bad economics and makes no sense.
In contrast to the destructive power of a killing machine it is now time to move on to the seductive power of a passion machine. OK so that might be over stating the case slightly but there is no doubt that tights unlike trident are fit for purpose. If you take a walk round any fashion outlet or the hosiery department of any well known department store you will see a collection of hosiery in a range of colours and styles and we can select the appropriate pair to wear to suit our outfit depending on the event or occasion and whilst a normal pair of black ones are the staple of most women’s hosiery drawer it is good to able to adapt as and when required so the girl who wears patterned or fishnet tights to go clubbing on Friday and Saturday nights can be the same prim and proper missy in tan tights for church on Sunday morning.

Also it has to be said that the right accessories can do wonders for a woman’s confidence. For example if you wear the right tights or make up to complement your outfit you may look more professional at a job interview and get the job. As a way of celebrating go out with the girls to a club. Feeling pretty good about yourself you may attract the attention of an admirer who may ask you out for a date the next night when they may take you take you to a restaurant. Bearing this in mind you may feel finances permitting, like splashing out on a new outfit maybe a dress and some new make up to help you to look your best I know I do when the chance avails itself. If you are suitably impressed by your new partner and the feeling is mutual you may agree to go on more dates possibly to the theatre, a comedy club,or clubbing. By taking part in these activities you will be spending money which will either save jobs or maybe even create more and all because you made the right choice of outfit and had the accessories to go with it.

Not surprisingly having explained my theory in detail and provided the evidence to support it all of the girls that the price of tights and outfits in general contribute far more the economy of Scotland than an outdated nuclear missile system the main purpose of which is to be used as a bullying tactic against other nations. This is not internationalism as I understand it nor will it ever be.

It was during this predominately female dominated discussion in which we traditions, gender norms and the economics of fashion that I first thought of considering a collective collaboration. I have since approached one of the girls at the meeting with the seeds of an idea which I believe we could
develop and the response has been very positive however like Scotland we will have to wait and see what the future holds but this is what excites me about the collective lots of creative people filled with a sense of purpose who though we might be coming at the issue from very different perspectives still end up at the same destination.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle