A Journey to the Ayr Coast

On the No. 4 bus tae Ayr, escapin’ Glasgow
wi’  blue-haired  pensioners,  the landscape peepin’ past oor weary  gazes.
We enter the toon the planners razed -
let’s bomb sad Kilmarnock.

Let’s text the Taliban
tae decimate the Matalan, scorch
tumbledoon stores wi’ knockdoon prices
where the high street ails wi’ failed retailers.
Buildings, mair listing than listed.
An architectonic Pick-n-mix:
but nae kwik-fix .
The dirty doors o’ Woolworths, ghosts o’ business past
Like a line of broken biscuits, piled-up letters through the glass.
Sixties and seventies architecture
crumblin’ fast, the manky texture o’
closed up shops an’ broken windaes-
a multi-story car-park,                         empty maist days.
Savin’ the viaduct, the auld palace theatre and
the conservative club (an anachronism here).
Even the pubs ur failin’ tae thrive,
the whole toon centre’s a post-war dive.
Ur ye startin’ tae sense or mibbe intuit?
Ah get physically sick jist passin’ through it.

Whit the fuck wur they thinkin’ o’?
Let’s bomb sad Kilmarnock.


I knew grass and mud and brick and a thick hand,
but not trees or the sea and sand
until the age of three, one summer
decamping with my mum to a hut
where she, with her ant-like waist
and an aunt in tow, would frolic menless,
in snazzy frocks, and dance to the wireless, tunes
I could still hear down by the sea, clambering rocks.

And just so much air. Everywhere.

I cartwheeled forever on new-cut grass.
Instinctively, breezing temporarily.
Airily whizzing in a sunlit now, legs lashed
in cooling dew, I could freely drift
along the sea-shore, sun-splashed
And as the wind rushed by on
eyes squinted star-bright
I would run and run and run, the only curfew night.


Plain plum carpets
sat uneasily flatly.

Walls, tangerine and blue
(duller colours than all this sounds)
in a frail box of a house.

And as they got older
convivial living
bled to the parsimonious.

The savings
of half-filled kettles,

cheaper meats,

the invites
to guess how much.

Watered-down joys.

And after their deaths,
old clothes, neatly ironed and folded

and old photos hinting at a big love.


I caught the blue sea
in a bag,

and in a quiet room
of the house

I poured and filled it
with swirling waters

but then realised

I must

go back
and return with some sky

if I wanted that blueness, complete.

What the Furniture Said About Us

He was never part of the furniture,
barely in.
But he kept the windows clean,
next to the century of soot
on the brickwork.
We had
a third-hand settee,
sat on a fading carpet,
smaller than the room,
a foot off the skirting,
no room for
the fourth castor of a chair
which hung a quarter-of-an-inch
over a floorboard.

The newest thing was me,
everything else threadbare, thin.
The pelmet hung
with curtains, short here,
but had fitted our first house’s
windows to perfection.
Then there were the walls.
Yesterfolks wallpaper
dying, consumptively
giving up its ghosts.

Later, as a clerk
in the housing department,
I saw the old files where
strangers judged us as a
family of good character,
furniture- adequate but clean.

Green City Progress

My old house, now a small field.
The road, once beside it, field too.

Big green patches of green, sprung haphazardly
so the street reads-

grass, grass, tenement, rubble, grass.

The Luftwaffe, patchwork architects
of the mid-century
fractured town.
Nail houses not new here.

The council banged the final ones in.
Dragged what was left down.
Blew what was left up.

Decades, it took.

New high-rises,
upward aspirations.
Progressively disconnecting us.

“In their innocence they called it Civilisation,
In fact it was the chains of their slavery.”

And we are bulldozing again.