silence still listens
sublimely redundant words
relayed in repetition
their gift returned in measure
silence still listens
sublimely redundant words
relayed in repetition
their gift returned in measure
waiting for first coat to dry
pegging out clothes on the line
ivory tint in ponytailed hair
clotted cream scones tasting fine
pen and a coffee at hand
doodling flowers in the sun
soda and lime and ink on a page
ecstatic that summer has come
music chosen by kids
buddha sat under tree
lotused repose in semi-closed eyes
replete and contented like me
windows of soul opened wide
faint breeze to filter on through
leaves of green gratitude canopies all
wishing the same for all you
I’m not ready
and I don’t know
when or if I’ll ever be
they are racing
I can’t stop them
and they’re squeezing
all the lifeblood
out of me
and you’re willing
I’m not either
but the time
keeps ticking on
till I can’t see
please don’t go
just stay here
while I practise
to set you free
you’re younger yet and life holds full its promise
and I would not deny you all its claims
nor ever harness hopes or all that they hold
nor ever seek to squash the fire that calls your name
and I would not withhold from you each wishbone
that comes your way, upon which you may dream
nor burden you with harsher truths that years taught
I’d never blot the landscape of young life or all it seems
I have no aspirations to encumber the joy you know
for I, too, once believed the dreams you cherish and you hold
I once believed that all I sought was there for ripest taking
if I were, like you, courageous and so bold
I’d never take away your youth nor hope diminish
by word or deed, the dreams we share, though altered, still unchanged
I cannot be the one who says the no to
life’s expansion, growth, by any name
life takes on a new form and I’d never challenge spirit
younger years, exuberance that dares
I’d only caution prudence, observation
as you climb the unknown, always have a care
as you go along the ridges, meet the strangers
hold within some doubt, please think of this
that somewhere, on the dark of all horizons
is the love that once betrayed with tender kiss
you’re younger yet and, out there, there are traitors
beware but still believe that life is fine
I’m older, always here if you’re discouraged
one flight away, one thought to keep in mind
growing and flying
here and away from the nest
fledglings on the wing
eagle-eyed mother watches
oversees the lessons learned
He wore a fedora, lined satin and labelled inside,
Ribbed ribbon round it, doffed to all women outside.
He wore a crombie, woollen and heavy, so warm,
Mints in deep pockets, shared, with small hands, in their turn.
He wore his brogues well, polished and spat to high shine,
Lasted new soles on, tingles all tapped in, his signs
That values were priceless and what you had you protect,
Laboured and worked for, the type of man to respect.
He wore a bunnet, on days of the week, for the graft,
Workboots and parka, donkey-jacket, all part of his craft.
He wore his years right, he wore them till fifty and eight,
He wore a coffin, early death a part of his fate.
He wore the long walks, the countryside, he wore the earth,
He wore his heart out fending for, feeding those birthed.
He wore trade unions, he wore them and stewarded cause,
He wore Keir Hardy and wore them for life, all because
He wore for workers, he wore the rights that we hold,
He wore no-nonsense, he loved, we did as were told.
He wore his laughter, deep in his chest, where it grew
Rumbled and burst forth, head thrown back, and we knew
He wore his heart done, giving his all wore him out,
He wore a family that appreciate better his type.
A man for all seasons, he wore them and wore them with pride,
Big Phil was the daddy, a working gent till he died.
He wore a gravestone, it wears the dates of life here,
I wear his hats now, his legacy, wear with no fear.
quarter worth of drops
tuppence hal’penny worth of treat
for weighted-measure worth of sweets
lemon sherberts, strawberries,
liquorice in strings
butter dainties, caramels
a paper poke of things
tempting to the tastebuds
lips purse, tongues salivate
little lads and lassies
in the corner shop all wait
taking turns to order
eyes purchase every kind
going over flavours
in the testrooms of their mind
counting out the coppers
with due care, not one to spare
fair exchange and movies
sooking silence in armchair
contentment on a Saturday
sherbert moments, MB bars
rainy days of chewing gum
watching old film stars
stocking soles and cushions
hammer horror, if allowed
choking on gobstoppers
while Fred swings Ginger round
penny trays and hal’penny trays
sugared bits of bliss
whose sticky lips I sometimes kiss
Mick McManus, wrestling
dad and smoking pipe
afternoons of sheer delight
bottled up for keeping
labelled so not lost
treasured, measured memories
all poured at human cost
I have taken some slagging this weekend. I think I might have brought much of it on myself, right enough.
Apparently, referring to David Bowie as an artiste is deemed incredibly pretentious and results in, Ooh, la, la’s and Lah de dah’s from my jokers here. Having a Glaswegian accent does not allow you to insert French, or any other language, into general conversation. I don’t care what they say. I know they all think he definitely had a certain je ne sais quoi.
The main piece of slagging actually started on Thursday and continued right through until yesterday. My own fault, as I said.
Hubs and I had to get passport photos taken (our old ones are so out of date, they’re relics). But hubs has been growing a beard. Yeah. No problem with that. His face. He can do what he likes with it. Up to a point. What he can’t do is put it near me. It started off jaggy and then just got tickly. I can’t abide being tickled. Anywhere. By anything. Hate it. I panic and scream. Even been known to cry. So no one tickles me. Under threat of death.
So, the beard. Tickling wasn’t the only problem. The beard is, was, oh, sod it, here’s what it was. https://scottishmomus.wordpress.com/2016/01/17/hair-today-gone-on-a-promise/ (And feckin’ WordPress won’t let me link normally! What is it with this place and changes?!)
Now, the beard came off. I was pleased. He should’ve been pleased too. Took fifteen years off him. We went to the photo booth in the local supermarket. Not before I’d put a fresh face on though. Wanted to look my best, didn’t I?
Why do things never quite turn out according to plan? Or be as straightforward as they should?
The instructions on the machine were quite complex.
Choose the right set of photos. Sorted.
Put money in. Done.
Check seat height. Swivel, swivel, swivel back again.
Align eyes with the magic line. Swivel some more.
Uncover your head. I don’t do hats.
Show your ears (!). I don’t know either. I thought maybe they wanted to be able to check for the presence or absence of ear lobes as a genetic identifying trait. Tucked my hair behind my ears.
No hair on the face. I’d already shaved. Kidding! Sweep hair away from forehead and tuck it in along with the side bits. Looking a bit like Hitler at his point. So tempted to do the finger moustache. Lot of face on display now.
Do not smile. No problem, this isn’t funny. ‘cept for the thought of what the passport office would say if I sent in my Hitler impersonation.
Do not make any facial expression. Fuck! I can’t do that. When I see the corpse in front of me I know why now. You need expression on your face to look alive.
Keep your eyebrows down. Double fuck! One of mine has a life of its own.
…don’t smile, don’t smile, do not smile, keep your eyebrows down, look straight ahead, do not think about Hitler’s ‘tache, keep your eyes aligned, don’t look away, Do Not Smile…
One very ugly, traumatised pic.
It was lucky I had my fourteen-year-old daughter with me to talk me through the process. She kept popping her head through the curtain to keep me right. You’d think she’d have been a bit more on the ball with the results, mark you. Louise takes the best selfies of all my crew. Their words. We both rejected the first one but thought the second would do. It looked okay in the reflection.
How fucking wrong we were!
I kid you not, it was the ugliest photo I’ve ever had taken. Really minging.
And I should know. I’ve had some belters.
I even kept a collection of stoaters so that I could show my kids, should I have any, for when their teenage insecurities would inevitably arise. My sister would just rip hers up. Pot ugly, rip, rip, bin. And this was in the days before we had mobile phones, so every photo in the bin was like throwing away money. Holiday batches would come back from being developed and she would rifle through them, dismissing one after and another and shredding them. Even if you were in it. And looked okay!
I must have had a premonition, way back then, that I’d be surrounded with weans. I actually recollect thinking, ‘I’ll keep this (hidden) then surprise my kids with it when they feel an ugly day is upon them. I’ll whip it out and say, ‘Look. Even your gorgeous mother had off days. I never looked like that. It’s the camera. It lies.’
I’ve never had to whip any of them out and reassure them. They’re the selfie generation. All pouts and confident smiles. And if it doesn’t turn out well? Delete. Just like that. How was I to know, all those years ago, that mobile phones would be a thing? And that selfie would even be a word. I could have saved myself the bother. They’ve found some of my stash in the past too and just ripped the shit out of me.
Hubs got in, daughter talked him through it. First time, fine. The bastard looks younger than me. And he’s fucking eight years older. Eight and a bit. Sometimes nine.
I thought, stuff it, I don’t care.
But I did. I do. I even got slagged for being vain! Like they wouldn’t have minded? Aye, right! You look in the mirror and you think you look one way. Then you see a photo and your illusions are destroyed.
According to second daughter, there’s a pile of psycho-babble about the mirror/camera/self-perception. I understood it at the time. Just can’t remember what it was. Something about she sees a nine in the mirror but she might only be a seven. The mirror contributes value added tax via personality. The camera is a bitch. Something like that.
Anyway, I had to take both photos and forms into work to get them countersigned by one of my colleagues I’ve known for about ten years.
She actually asked me if I wanted her to certify that it looked like me. And I was consoled that at least she didn’t think it did. She kept glancing at it then at me. I’m easily appeased.
I then passed it round the staffroom so’s they could all get a good laugh. They did. Some said theirs were bad too. But I know they weren’t as Quasimodo’d as mine. I could tell by the look on their faces, as they tried to compose them into some sort of expression that didn’t say, ‘For fuck sake! What happened to you?’
My eldest son wasn’t that kind. He’s a bastard though. He said, ‘You look as if you’ve been seriously assaulted and found in a hedge at the scene of the crime.’ He is a bastard, isn’t he? Even although I had to agree with him. I looked traumatised. Like Hitler must have after, you know.
On Friday, they all gathered, for a soiree. (oops) Not just to look at my photo, obviously. But I just had to show them. I mean, I just had to.
I kept saying, ‘Sure that doesn’t look like me? Please tell me that doesn’t look like me? Am I walking about looking like that and I don’t even know? For fuck sake! I’m fucking ugly!’
By now, hubs was pishing himself laughing. So were the kids. And my daughter’s fiance. He didn’t say anything though. He’s obviously much nicer than my own kids. I think he might be scared of me too. No fucking wonder! I was terrified when I saw me in that photo.
My eighteen-year-old said it did look like me but maybe in about ten or fifteen years from now. She’s a bitch. Hubs said that was good, though, because then I wouldn’t have to get a new photo when I next go to renew my passport in ten years. He’s a, he’s a, he’s sleeping on the couch!
The applications haven’t gone yet. I’m so tempted to go back to the booth and have another one taken. Or kick the shit out of it. But I’m scared I’ll get another just the same. Or even fuckin’ worse! Then I can’t even say it was an aberration. I can’t risk that. I’d never be able to look at myself in the mirror again. I’d just keep saying to myself, ‘Do ye think ye’re lookin’ good, hen? Aye, well remember what thought done. Shat the bed and blamed it oan the blankets.’
I’ve always known I wasn’t photogenic. Now, I’ll have the evidence for the next ten years. And that bastard of a son of mine said that the DVLA could access my passport photo when I come to renew my driving licence. Did you know that it’s become obligatory to have photo ID on your driver’s licence? So, I’m not only running about illegally (sh!) but I’m doing it with a coupon that looks mangled. And he wants me to let them put the same one on my licence!
It’s snowing here. If it clears up I might nip down with my illegal licence and talk nicely to the photo booth.
Then take it back into school on Monday for another signing. Maybe another slagging. But I’m a hacket-faced bint so I can cope with that.
My only consolation (I always look for the bright side) is that three of my daughters are nice kids. My youngest said I always look beautiful. (shit, I wonder if she’s a bit slow) and my twenty-two year old produced her passport to show me that she looked, in her words, ‘like a junkie’. And she did! I felt so much better. My eldest said I shouldn’t mind because, if it were her, she’d rather the geezers at passport control were shocked the right way. She’s maybe my favourite now. For a wee while.
And, if you think there’s a hope in hell that you’re getting to see it, you’re wrong. Very fuckin’ wrong. Jist so’s ye know. I’ll unfollow ye if ye ask. I feckin’ will!
Off to practise taking selfies. Wonder how the filters work. Je ne sais pas.
What would you have me do, dear Lord,
What would you have me do,
With the years I’ve left and the strength I have,
What would you have me to do.
What would you have me say, dear God,
What would you have me say,
With the words I have and the time to come
What would you have me to say.
You’re asking me, as if I choose ,
what I would have you do,
This game’s your deal, you win you lose,
I leave it all up to you.
But what’s the point in that, dear Lord,
That sucks, I need a plan,
A compass to steer by, a lifeboat, a captain,
A god, can’t depend on mere man.
I need a someone, a star in the sky,
A token, a ruddy big tome,
I need the wisdom, that fell through the ages,
To study and lead me to home.
Tough luck, my dear child, I came and I went,
I tried and I left it at that,
Why not do the same with the best that you’ve got,
I’m no magician with a bloody big hat.
Get off you arse and give it a go,
Just do it, anyone can,
I’m no man of mystery, just gave it my best,
Miracles happen with plans.
Hmm, that sounds like work, like labour, you know
That stuff where mothers give birth,
Painful and long and messy and crap,
Are you sure that’s the best that you have.
And what did you get with that pushing and shoving
And what led you there to that joint,
Some pleasure, some pain and a whole lot to gain,
I call that a plan with a point.
So children and life and loving and stuff,
Some sex to give it a thrill,
Keep the pot boiling and never give up,
Do it with the best of my will.
I think you’re at it, are you laughing at us,
Chuckling at our frantic antics
Tell me the truth (I’ll keep it a secret)
Are you up to some of your tricks.
Well, what if I am, it’s boring up here,
I liked it best when on earth,
Wind up the natives, get them all riled
Some tricks and a bloody good laugh.
It could be so good, I tried to make it that way,
Then father called me on home,
Curfew, you know, out after time,
And time’s his, wherever we roam.
Why not just try it, I found it the best
Hanging with family and friends,
Speaking on up whenever I could.
Quite frankly, I found it no test.
Loving and living and fairness and shit
Some wine – I’m a dab hand at homebrew –
Stop fretting, stop fearing, am I really here,
You’ll soon find out if I’m true.
Are you threatening me ‘cos my birthday is near,
You think that I’m getting old,
Well, I’ve got news for you,
I do what I can and I do it without being told.
I’m on it and at it, all over this place,
Viral, I’m like a rash,
Up every morning and raring to go,
Just concerned I might make a hash.
Quit it, I’m tired, I’ve been up every night,
Stopping you clowns from your worst,
Have you any idea what it’s like to be here,
An infirmary, I’m doctor and nurse.
I need a hand and you’ve got two hands
And the stuff that’s grown as you’ve grown,
Just do your thing, that’s all that I did,
You have a mind of your own.
Oops, my bad, I thought you were free,
Plenty of time where you live,
Just give me enough and I’ll do my bit
And, if I fluff it, I hope you’ll forgive.
Over and out, do you say that up there,
Are you really asking to know,
Or just being facetious, I know you, you know.
Okay god, bye, got to go.
With apologies to anyone without a religious funny bone. Me and god have this thing going. (Yeah, god and I). He gets to confound me, I get to dig him up for it. He gets to tell me to get on with it because what difference does it make if he’s there or not. And I get to dig him up for it again. Then I just get on with it.
He gets to show me this amazing world. I get to show him pictures of my weans. He’s on Facebook, you know. Strange username. Hard to spell.
He gets to tell me to stop fannying around and I get to tell him to make life easier. We have a laugh. Mostly him, I think. We’re best buds, most days. Some days, though, I give him what’s for. Then he gives me it back. He’s like that, you know. Give a little, take a little.
Mostly, he’s like an aura. Like a mist that spans time and space and every notion we can conceive.
He gets to smile and love me. I’m quite lovable. Mainly. ‘cept when I’m in a bad mood. Then I’m a witch. Ask anyone. He quite likes witches too. Told me. Tells me a lot. Not the winning lottery ticket, right enough. Not sure why that is. I’d give most of it away.
Kinda seems to want me to just have sex and weans. I’m good with most of that. Have you seen my crew? Weans are great. So’s sex. Bang goes the winning lottery ticket.
Yeah, so, me and god. God and I. Whatev’s. Apparently, I’ve just got to get on with it. Does he tell you that too? Hope your sex life is good. Either that or you’ve won the lottery. I’ll keep the sex and weans. And just get on with it.
I count their blessings
less defined than mine
I count theirs first
that fear in all unknowing
that’s the worst
All signs in prospect
I steer, advise them
watch and catch them
pointing once again
in hopes they find
Their own distinct paths
though all roads trodden
worn before by others
new to them
I count their blessings
then stand aside
to let them learn
They’re going forwards
I’ve been there, done that
all steps a risk
I count their blessings
embrace them as mine
one to seven growing
on my list
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