The Triumph of Populism

The greys are gone.

They’re not hanging around.

“May you live in colourful times” they said.

The shades are coming with them.

Maybe, Partly , and -ish

are currently considering their positions.

Arbitration and compromise

have agreed to disagree.

And as they vacate the premises

the stomp of a party tune upstairs,

“Look what they’ve done to my Dogma”



Wood pigeon kingpin

perched, rubbernecking


who hover, peck and flit

stabbing fatballs busily.

The big boy buggers off.

Wings purr greedily.

One wee bird

on a feeder limb


Another comes

shoving fat into its’ mouth.

A child?

A mate?

I don’t know.


Cormorants wing-drying on the breakwater.

Fishermen’s oilskins.

Six puffins bob on the near shore.

Toy tugs.

A grey heron,

all acute geometry

pokes around marsh grass.

Gannets peep-peep,

tourists from the volcanic plug

The offshore distant Craig

Pied wagtails

zip my eyeline

As I scuttle through

Britain’s Birds for the umpteenth time.


Maw, dad n me

We were only three

up in the flats.

Forty nine stairs

Jist three flairs

bit it felt higher.

Ah would skelter up them

tae beat the lift.

Startin at grun

Press “3”

jump oot

then leg it.

Sometimes the games spiled.

Yer oan the second flair

an hear some wummin

stoap the shutting door

wi her fit.

There’ll be nae wee victory the day.


I’m ok.

I’m not ok.


The contradictions

inherent in the structure of language.


I think



I can also think



so NOT THIS too.


They can both be true.


I was unwanted.

I was wanted too,




What was unwanted was A BABY,

what was wanted was ME.


The first was true before I was born,

Both were true after I was born.


I was a buttonhole.

I was the emptiness that held a marriage together.

And the way life should have been was a button too big for the hole.

Be His Da


Be his Da.

Dae that fur me.

Jist be his Da.


Ye used tae luv me.

Luv me noo.

N be his da.


Help me oot.

Ah know Ah wiz daft.

Jist gie him a Da.


You get me.

He gets us.

C’moan. Da.




Ah’m yer Ma.

Ye wur premature.

Jist seven months.


But a fuhll weight

N a forceps delivery.

Figure that oot.


Ah’m yer Ma.

He’s yer Da.

Naw there’s nae kissin.


She hinks “The minute he’s up.

The minute he’s oot

I’m offski. Joab done.”


This other guy,

He gies me stuff-

Records n medals.


Ah saw an auld picture,

Him n ma Ma at work.

Ah thoat “Ah’m gaun mental!”


Right in the pit

Ae ma stomach.

“He’s me, Ah’m him.”




30 year oan .

Da’s deid n Ma’d left.

Re-merrit n happy.


Ower a vodka

At 3 in the moarning

Ah spit it oot.


“Wiz HE ma Da?”

Nae indignation.

Jist “Whit makes ye ask that?”

The Parents

Monoliths of flesh and bone:


Impermeable, unknowns.


They’d talk in shorthand

But only of work,

The business of the day.


Carving hard mythologies

For the foundations of childhood,


Where threadbare truths were dangled, arms length,

Familiar lies embraced.


The telly was our maypole.

Small thoughts on writing/on reading

Most sentences get us from A to B.

Consciousness swirls around them like the air outside of a jet plane

The sentence is a fixed thing which we float around with our meanings and histories.

The molecules of meaning bounce off of each other, connections are made.

The personal and impersonal rub shoulders

The best marriages of reader and writer have the former formulating truths which the latter has previously only intuitively understood.

Some reader/writer relationships are more akin to intense love affairs, the reader possessive of their understanding and either keen to parade their insights or contradict those of others.

These contradictions live in the molecules of meaning.

Rather than enter the discourse on those writers who educate, elucidate and enlarge me I prefer to bring my understandings from my readings to my poetry,

thickening the molasses of miasma

in the hope the baton of understanding

is picked up elsewhere..

Glasgow was a Seaside Town

Glasgow was a sea-side town

which sailed inland

in search of squalor,

turned it’s back on the setting sun

and somehow found America.

It’s cowboys swung through saloon doors,

with shipyards wages

poured in tills,

supped their mutual fills of sorrow,

danced in the dark come closing time.

The Wild-West, Govan’s desperados

soaked in work-sweat,

crushed in pubs

nicotined lungs, liquored livers

rain-whipped bunnets soaked by lamplight.

When the jobs ran dry, with the self-respect

and a deep-cut gulch scarred the townsfolk memory

the jokes came fast as the bitterness rose

And stabbed at the gut saying “how hard are we?”

The gangland teens, the football kickings

Whit school do ye go tae?

Here, stitch that!

Taught by the tawse and the home-schooled slipper

Or a well-aimed buckle from a BB belt.

Everything’s bigger everything’s better

brassy blondes,

borassic lint.

There’s no internal monologue here

It’s as loud as a shout on a midnight street.

Glasgow was a seaside town

which sailed inland

in search of squalor,

got sooted, booted and settled down

and sold its soul to the silver dollar.