The Queen is Still

Twist first

Obviously instep


Instincts hollow

Sulphur cess-pit swallow

After a fashion unknown

Bending inside wacky inside, half-dream awash

With inner radioactivity and shoddy blue-screen


Crust collected


Forward crunch

Rubber fun-house stairs

“Why did I come down here again?”

A flopped over iron board reacquaints

Shoes askew point to last night’s penultimate intention;

Kit-kat foil undressed on the floor

The glass door is gentlemanly ajar

No need to push so hard

But for what? A drum is rolling

A heart; bleating

Barely repeating

A coin is spinning

Tails-heads-tail on stainless steel



A drawer is open.

The Queen is still.

I’ve lost the will…




Whining Rhinoceros (West George Street)

Whining rhinoceros; West George Street

Slathered sideways over boulderous, Buckfast steps

Shoulder-blade at a forty-five degree tilt; twisted, foetal

Sick; chilli red, faecal fleshy food bits scattered;

Container asunder

Dull weight semi-reclining; oblivious to passing people

Wheezing guff

Slow beating shirt over bursting tyre

Calves in a low-burning fire

Shoes numb; randomly rubbing pavement

“Should we see if he’s alright?” I don’t know

Looks could be deceiving

Looks like he’s breathing

His friends are probably in the chippy

Might get a bit lippy

We move on

To the station;

Chip-fed seagulls lowly soaring

Glasgow clouds in judgement pouring

Past Paper Jimmies roaring:


I prowl to the lower level

Sit on plastic yellow seats

Reflected on plastic yellow walls

With the pigeons

The train arrives.

I leave the rag.

Magpies in the Back

“When are you going to start?

Alarms ring

“Pick up the phone”

The wire leads under the couch

And there

It is


An old calendar

Was lost a little while ago.

My latest work of art

I’ll spin

When I’m alone

And when it’s okay for me

And there

It is


An old notice board

Was lost a little while ago

And the little two inch-speaker says:

“Life’s too long. Live today”

Drones clap

There’s a man in a suit

Some people in sportswear

Hopelessness in the air

And a book

The front of my head is reading

While the back does the rest

I’ll make myself some tea

There are magpies

In the back

There’s about four around

One for sorrow

Two for joy


A boy

Was lost a little while ago


The first rockets were barely so

Flaying to and-fro

Like the tail of a rabid dog

Spitting foam into the sky

If you could even call it



But now we have the means to crow

Look at those rockets go!

Raking ruptures of molten fog

Above the atmosphere belied

Beyond the realms they skit


and float


then fly



Street Light

You were an early vision,

Perhaps peered at from a pram

Paternal, stellar orange

With a planetary ring

Through which lilting leaves lift

And bow gently

In the fresh night wind

I squint my eyes half open

On the way home from a dram

My lids by shifting arrange

A compass-mass of stings

Which through the array of street props sift

And jab gently

While I pass each sabre soft sound

And lift my collar

Boys Brigade Parade

Bugle in mouth barely played

dew-drops on bath-wrinkled 8 year old fingers

white sky lined with rattled drums

and straightened bums

The NCO is chewing gum

reluctantly waves back to his mum

within the hordes who stand gravely.

Skinny hoists a flag;

arms pulling into his embattled chest

Steadfast and sure

with the wind

that howls down towards McDonalds

Called me a spazmole the other day

but next week I’ll get him

and kick his balls in the vestry.

We stop and leeeeft turn

as the procession of duffel-coats, umbrellas

and hand-bags shuffle apart

like that red sea that we’ve been taught about

except the red sea is a puddle.

The last note disappears

like Ivanhoe through the trees

The Captain sternly shouts

“At ease”

We go in half marching

are we still at ease?

My bugle doesn’t know

and hangs by my leg

then stands by my waist

and hangs by my leg again

until we sit down

and take off our Blue Robin Hood hats

except for David Matthews and John McGregor

who have the flags now

at the front

and slide them into golden holes

on a holy table.

The organ stops playing

and an old woman with bright red cheeks

through cold or vanity

from the pew behind

taps me on the shoulder:

“Oh that was good. You played well”


“What have you all been doing lately?”

I don’t have to answer because

the minister comes in

and the mass hushes

then rises like a hundred sponges

cooking in an oven;

some with more self-raising flour in them than others

A hundred sponges

who need no instructions

build a beige sound;


“God save our gracious Queen…”


Which rises and falls

like nothing at all

It wafts

up to the rafters


My thoughts are away now.

Who’s bringing their ball next Friday

So we don’t have to play football with that tennis ball?

I wonder if mum will let us eat dinner outside again.

And why





did they change the theme tune on Grange Hill?

Witch Hunting

We were ready. Heard she was a witch.

Whispers in the school cafeteria confirmed;

The house down the back lane

Where dead trees wormed their way

Into our thoughts unreflecting was where she lay in wait.

Ties geared to be wrapped around foreheads in the night

For now draped over butterflies and stifled quivers.

Gust meandered through skulls heavy. Torches in glacial fists

Blistered light over brown and orange leaves

And pathway stained with half-rain.

Too soon we found our way

Into the void, feet anti-crunching as we slow-opened the gate

Gag screeching. Front windows miserly black and keen to fright

Gaped knowingly over steely eyes and lily-livers.

We held steady; arms leaden in the mist.

Blue moon lighting up a side room confirmed

A table fragment-encrusted, plain,

Rusty Bunsen-burners, cobwebs stretching

Between test tubes, reflecting dark transparency and dust

Unsettled on minds as doorway flicked pale yellow,

Pebbles machine-gunned under Nike Air

And hither

Onto even ground under blanket sky.

Street night-lights buzz-humming sound-waves of warmth

Towered over torches to be returned

Back to garages and sheds familiar,

To be painstakingly placed among the cobwebs and wood-lice,

Drill-bits and SAS Survival Manuals

Like they had never left.