Read Raw Ltd
Promoting Creative Writing in Scotland
The Rolling Poetry Page
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Christmas in the Raw
I saw it then. I really saw it
streak from east to west, raw red
half-second thread of magic fire.
Something lodged in mind and memory,
as once shepherds saw a wonder, then
embraced a wild and raw desire
to race to Bethlehem, check it out,
go find the child now cradled
raw in straw inside a byre.
Angel? Meteor? Could there be
a person come from far beyond
our time: sublime, red raw defier
of conventional religious rhyme?
Is Christmas just raw comet dust,
a sputtering, fading funeral pyre?
Unseen voyager, come again,
ride sky-rocks raw and rich with
jewels at Christmas time. Inspire
the watchers of the human skies
who weary now. Grant them and us
raw faith, braw hope and love on fire.
About me: This poetry is written as a result of a whole bunch of experiences. I think poetry that springs from life's experiences is more real, somehow. Some of it I wrote because of my love of folk tales, legend and magic. I've been writing for a few years with Word Play and Marc Sherland, performances at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow 1st Wed every month. Member of SAW and FWS. Always hopeful that people will enjoy poetry much more, generally again, and that the young ones will read a lot more, and stop sticking to tweets and F Book (read in whatever for the F...) posts. Thank you to Read Raw, without whom our work would have fewer platforms. Spoken Word Forever! :-)
Stretch, Fold, Swim Bold
Today the pool attendant checked me out as
my nose clip slipped,
goggles tight cuts round the eye-sockets-
the first length didn't count. Stopping mid-way,
I forced the clip on twice as hard,
At 15, I reckon I caught my rhythm, got distracted by two women
almost seeming to engineer a synchronised pass, left and right in centre pool.
Dark hair right, blond left, a quick glance confirmed firm swimmers' flesh, strong bodies.
I used to kid myself that men never paid
any trite looks at women swimming
but there they were, each side of the blonde
as I counted 25.
At 30 I switched to front crawl, stretched, folded water behind,
windmilled each 3 foot
my tightly closed fingers sweep back behind my ass.
The pool had cleared but I felt a woman watching.
Thought, what strange impulse makes us look? Beard untidy,
hair short grey white and black,
belly medium fat and slack,
but then I knew: I'm boldbrass, cleave
the water like a true Navy seal, stroked 40
dropped anchor, stared at her: she knows I'm a poet.
And poets swim with ottersleek eyes
their bellies sloop elegantly through wakes
of blue smooth curves,
and their bodies ooze metaphor and glamour.
I stepped from the ladder, a new, stumbling man.
On a long white table tall,
thrice bright, white shining wax, those
pearly ones gnawing, some flickering
on a chicken’s bones-
did she lean on him?
Did he take her for granted?
She passed her salt, caressing his hand gently
when it reached
the space around her arm.
Raising long red wine once
clinking soft, faint, wistful russet blinks
candlelight compliments her amber tints,
did she smile? Did he imagine that?
Why will she stare and stare at his plate?
It’s empty after all-
the fork raised with one small pea on a tine
(it took only one small pea before, on her spine)
she grinned, laughed-
‘Hey, you’ll never guess, Lottie’s found
happiness! Her man is only carnivorous
He raised an eyebrow and nodded, sipped his wine,
was that listening, or the candle’s
shadow-hand of fine pretence?
‘I think this vintage is particularly good, Margot,
taste it again for me.’
‘But your glass has the same as mine!’
‘No, see, I bit my lip. There’s blood in it.’
Moon east and rising
sun westering pale and peach
moon’s lady- eye smiling
sun’s man-eye at arm’s reach
we sit enthroned in rock
teeter on the green slab scaling
ache and rest to talk
mouths and lungs draw clean air
hearts and tongues claim Campsie’s beauty,
then the slow careful descent
Campsie’s braw bartering of delight
for fulfilling amazement and slow flight
back across the carse of the Clyde to the city
sun’s man-eye dulled and blinked
moon’s lady-eye glowed on
gladness milking her full soft face
knowing we will return to her place
her braw hands spread wide their auld lang embrace
Mouth of the Clyde, Christmastide
There are kids here who have suffered
their love to be bared for all to see
at the funerals of their mothers and fathers, aged fifteen
a girl, her father gone she cannot sleep at night
misses classes and has shadowed eyes
another, her girlfriend, cannot forget her mother’s sleeping form
lying at the foot of the rainy garden, still for some time
unnoticed and untouched,
then police-cordoned and police-incidented, police-tented
to hoodwink prying neighbours’ eyes too late.
And sleep is the warm gift the secure child will have when at last
she stops gazing longingly her mouth open-awed at the pretty pile
at the foot of their green Broadway-lit tree-
there they all are at the salty mouth, at Inver-Clyde,
some safe and sound snug and soft-scented, good as gold,
some sucking the red-glowing embers of their cigarettes, already too old,
swigging Mad Dog and Buckfast at the Lighthouse in silhouette
so brave and so bold, while cars trucks buses swing past headlights glaring
tyres sucking the soaking tarmac rain raining down rain blowing and blasting,
rain raw on faces raised to the night’s raw knuckles clutching glass, mouths
gulping it down, not thinking, perhaps now forgetting
that another Christmas is not here with no
mother that another Eve is not here with no
father and that their names are not Sharri and Shannon
that’s someone else,
and they are Everywhere missing their loved ones
lost and no fault of theirs but self-blame is a cost
and effectively all their lives
a hole will burn through always and
always they must thole this loss.
The Golden Fleece of Arran
Once long ago, when just a twinkle in me mama's een,
I was told the story of Jack the Shepherd and his Golden Fleece.
In the autumn, he would drop a sheep's fleece
into a burn- a certain burn- on the Isle of Arran, knowing
that when the spring came
and the taxman and the laird's man demanded their dues
the fleece would be full of fantastic flecks of Scottish gold.
He would hike up the hill in the dark
cracking ice-holes sunk in the sod by the heavy cattle
with his clods of boots, his nose dripping, his breath billowing out,
Rab the Sheepdog panting clouds of dogsbreath caught in the torch's beam
and Pickles the Pony snorting his general disapproval of dogs in the night-
finally he would stand at the water's edge and drag with all his might-
for the fleece would weigh heavy in his hands, being full of flecks
of glittering Scottish gold and sodden with good burn water-
and heave the fleece into a bag and onto Pickles' back.
Down the hillside in the dark before dawn, so that nobody
could observe where he had been or what he had done and imitate
his God-given gift of trawled treasure from the beautiful mountain
burn, he would step into his croft and his wife Deli and he would sift
carefully through the fleece, gently picking at the gold.
And that is how they paid their rent and taxes, long long ago
when the Scots were freeborn and ingenious in the old ways
and spun legends before the fire at night before the Scot
John Logie Baird himself
it was who invented the television, and spoiled it all.
Jack and his fleece are still there
on Arran, in every fire's glow late at night
when the wind blows and the sheep wander
and the folk stare and stare to remember where it was
that on his death bed, his wife was told the secret burn's location-
for Jack's last fleece was never found
and Jack's gold is not stuck underground
but on the fleece in a chuckling burn
who chuckles at we humans, laughs by turns.
(The Adventures of ) Rita the Red Irish Rollicking Rover
Rita the Red Irish Rolicking Rover,
-whom great pal and Heilan Chief Colin Mac
had rolled in the green Irish clover-
was down there in the Moulin Rouge on the Cote
du Sud de la France,
when the French Irish (or the Irish French) asked her to dance
Well up she flew, her skirts flung up high
and her heels she did kick
way up to the sky
so the French Irish (or Irish French...)
declared Red Irish Rita the Rollicking Rover
winner of all! And gin she kicked the table ower
and with a cocky Limerick wink, she cried,
'I'll buy yeez aw a drink!'
So it was vin rouge et bieres flowing on the House
and back to her table Red Irish Rita happily flounced
to her Heilan Loddie, Colin The Stag
(who'd been through a few dolls afore he cuddled
Red Rita )
And to this day, down there in the South of France
the Legend of Red Rita,
Queen of the Dance, is still worth a toast or two,
whiles they aft are heard tae cry, in conversation like,
'Tu te rappelles de Rita La Rouge, Reine de la Danse, ici
en juin, au Sud de La France?!'
And the reply is always the same, for who could forget
that night in France, as son and daughter,
watched gobsmacked, entranced,
as their mother up and leapt on tables, kicked her heels high
and displayed her red pants,
and the Irish French- or maybe the French Irish-
roared their approval and the MacArthur grinned
And that's the story of Red Irish Rita
who got the Frenchmen all in a fievre,
Queen of the Danse, in the red-hot Moulin Rouge
in the Sud de La France.
Three Autumn Haiku
Walking in autumn
a leaf falls, feathering down
stillness, landing leaves
Squirrel blinks quickly
tail tip touches wet black nose
another nut rolls
Clouds rush, rain rakes grass
rivers swell, burst, rushing past
sudden tree drops, crash!