In Gabriels pub the match is on
a massive, plasma, wall-mounted screen.
Scotland have won the toss, Nil Nil.
A granny in a pink plastic coat
nudges beside us, takes a sip
of lager from her half pint glass,
tells us that she had to have
her dog put down this afternoon.
Ian thinks at first she said Son;
he may have misheard, the crowd is loud.
Scotland are holding on, we re calm.
I miss him a lot, he was just this big
she says, and demonstrates her claim;
a foot of space between her palms.
We try our best not to catch her eye.
It s nice to have Ukraine have scored
in darkest Kiev, the clock ticks on.
We watch the drama of life unfold:
red offences, homer ref,
goal-line punts, theatrical dives.
He was thirteen, and had all his teeth.
A last minute penalty bulges the net,
she asks the barstaff to call her a cab.
Ian thinks at first she said Son.
He may have misheard, the time is loud.
Scotland are passing out, we re done.
I always fed him chicken and veg,
dog food’s crap. Scotland are mince.
The Pink at Partick
on at Partick a pink fairy shocking girl with pink
pink hair extremely pink with mad pink shoes
and decadent shiny satiny tights a coat close
to pink a bag
with Cupcake on it a bit
of a pretty pink rebel rebel with black black lashes
Angel’s Delight slightly dangerous pink punk fairy
making our lives a little pinker at long
pink last pink fairy girl good for you ignore
the black pink dirty looks off at Govan
Reading at the StAnza Poetry Festival 2007: Clone of Destiny
Some dayIwill go to Edinburgh
to see Dolly the Sheep at the Royal Museum.
Frankenstein muncher, superstar ruminant,
James Whale floozy, helix freak.
Boxed on a shrunken acre of soil,
a skimpy ration of virtual grass;
grazing amongst Industrial puffers,
coughing jallopies, cartoon machines.
The milestones of enlightenment.
Auld Reekie at the cutting edge.
It’s alive! It’s alive! said Colin Clive
as he winced at the stitched-up flatskull result
of mucking about with Hollywood brains.
The lightning zinged, the cameras rolled.
A mutton enigma, Da Vinci smile.
Today a cell, tomorrow a Man!
And what did you get out of it Dolly
before your date with the taxidermist?
Extra straw and early arthritis,
dodging a fate of mint sauce and carrots.
I know something you don’t know.
The secrets of life, the age of God.
Post-modern Prometheus Holyrood geeks,
hooves in the footsteps of Bell and Baird.
We’ll raise a dram to your DNA.
Scotland, as usual, showing the way.
Humouring the Iron Bar Man
is to the window
in the public house
on foam and torn
behind me from time
into a void of churchy spires
the barman among the tobyjugs
mouthing the secret words
slightly pouring down outside
and inside I am shaking my
if I laugh or suggest
the man in the jacket
squelching beside me
who introduced himself to me nicely
will bash me with an iron bar
my head which will crunch
in front of everyone
for a chat in familiar surroundings
just like he didn’t do before
to somebody else he insists
just out of Barlinnie
glancing behind me from time
into a void of churchy blue
I thought I
so well So wrong
Cream of Scottish Youth
trousers to knees and
danced a weird waltz.
Chucked bangers at club-feet,
snow at girls’ faces,
crisp bags full of frogspawn slop.
Sat among rocks, wore Harlequin socks,
rabbit ear collars and baratheas, spat
on the heads of waggy yap dogs
allowed to run free by owners.
jumper sleeves to elbows
and pretended to be Thalidomide.
bought from ice-cream vans,
scuffed mushy leaves with best shoes, kicked
puddle-twigs at the dumb sun as the wind
swiped through branches, scurried
among big shadows.
yelling, from dizzy swish roundabouts,
pelted the swans in the dam with cans,
tore the pages from brainyboy’s books
then tipped his schoolbag upside down,
lit fires just for the hell of it, splashed
scruffy steam gold against the oaks
that had seen it all before.
Ate banana and marmite rolls
as gloom curdled in the cloakroom.
Looked at photos of whopper breasts,
studied photos of open legs,
fell over each other to sniff
in panties at puberty parties,
swallowed Pale Ale, Newcastle Brown,
Pernod and Old Tawny Eldo cocktails.
Gathered at night to sit on walls
or topple sun-dials onto grass.
Made scratchy marks on sheds and lamp-posts,
squirted stinking, chemist perfumes
onto clothes of teeth-brace boys,
spluttered over thick Panatellas,
dropped lit matches into postboxes.
Said the words ‘fanny’, ‘gobble’ and ‘spunk’,
spooned in shagalley toothpaste dark,
fell over each other to reach
hair long, got it chopped off,
did everything wrong, everything
into the void, fell over
each other to ask
trousers to knees and
danced a daft can-can.
Rolled back to ankles, hobbled
for home, the whipped
cream of Scotland’s Dream.
I ask you if it’s alright if I go ten minutes early
because we’re playing Germany tonight
in a make-or-break qualifier
and I’d like to make the Big Screen kick-off
in the Big Screen kick-off pub
with a big selection of beers on tap,
and you say Of course son
and I hope your team wins
and I’ll see you tomorrow.
And Scotland are losing and the pub is full
of people I’ll eventually never see again
and the screen is veiled by slow grey smoke
and a laughing German
is escorted from the premises,
and it’s all increasingly small
and I can’t really make you out
as I think of you alone in your head
and I wish I could have those ten minutes back.
The Warrior Race on Bath Street
first a girl on
boy s back
of their heads
smashing five or six
with fists boots charging
up the hill not seeing
against the walls of
banks lawyers bistros
steam past booting
each other to
the road stamping
as it melts in the centre
their two-way mirror watching
a primal fury
take shape letting
them get on with it
The Statues Outside Paisley Town Hall
the sublime curved
hump of snow
that has grown
onto the bent back
ornithologist and poet
who gazes benignly
at the bird he
has just shot
the thick white wig
that has sewn itself
onto the tragic
green weathered head
weaver and poet
who clutches tightly
the lapel of
his frock coat
in the process
the bottle of wine
in my Oddbins bag
two happy children
laugh and point