Tied Hands

I wish I could help
But I can’t, I can’t
I lack the autonomy,
Forced to plant
My feet on the bars
Of this creaking fence
And dole out excuses
Of common sense

Last one standing

When they came by
For a cupful of sugar
Took my old man
And waltzed over the hill

I was still standing
Polishing silver
Gonna be standing
Forever, until…

Next time a caller
I’d hoped would be smaller
Tripped on her doorstep
Got carried away

I was still standing
To see to a Mother
Gonna keep standing
Another long day

One time you told me
That things never mattered
Half the amount I
Pretended to say

I was still standing
Alone with no lover
Not understanding
Which words made you stay

Then they came by
With a warrant for searching
Hoping to find
What I’d hidden away

I was still standing
In need of your comfort
No one to hear me
And nothing to say

Turn from the shadows
If you fear to follow
All those who greet us
And pass on their way

I am still standing
Myself and no other
One day I’ll falter
But never today

Flounce, Fluff and Flattery

There is a world of difference
Between those who seek the
Company of women
To bask in it
Hanging on their every thought
As one transported
By the beauty
Of a strange and fantastical mind
And those who fancy
A quick in-and-out
Ego-boost before
Zipping their feelings,
Upping sticks and moving on
To the next conquest.

The difference is obvious
Even to the most casual observer:
One is the stuff of
Fantasy and freedom
Of late-night talks
And deep discussions
Long philosophising over
Personal projections
Maybe with a bit of
Barefoot dancing
And a casual pinch of laughter
Thrown in for good measure.

On encountering the other,
I will take the lonely
High road to nowhere
Hiking in stupid, pretty,
Too-tight shoes
Risking my own skin
To preserve sanity
Rather than share transportation,
Food or drink
In exchange for temporary
Flat-footed flattery
With bondage-grade
Strings attached.

I enjoy womanisers
Who enjoy women
In all their complexity,
But have no time
For bed-notch chasing
Egotists with
Straw for brains
And cloth for ears.

Ah, Palmyra

We care more for ancient ruins
And destruction wrought on tombs
By whatever means they may
Than for lives that end today

While the blood and flesh and bone
Leaving everything they own
To escape the latest purge
Travel desert, sea and gorge

Those who voyage only land
On their uppers, close at hand
To the help they sorely need
Yet the politicians plead

Not to have to break their word
To the xenophobic horde
Those whose votes they barely won
From the hardened right, anon

Thus with bottle-necks and fence
We corral and harry hence
Workers that we sure could use
Grateful, welcome, unabused

Skilled and keen to integrate
To prop up our ageing State
In permissive company
Knowing just who let them be

As the fight takes to the skies
And the waves fill up with lies
We would throw away resource
Inconvenient and coarse

With no tally of the cost
Nor of what support is lost
Though our leaders might feel tall
While our borders stand, we fall

Hedgehog

I once moved country
With a sleeping bag
A dictionary
Two dresses
A blue t-shirt
One pair of jeans
And a change of underwear
To live in a nine foot
Square box with no
Toilet or fridge
I cooked ravioli
In the tin over
A five euro
Electric kettle
And washed both
Food and clothing
In the bidet
Entertaining friends
One at a time
As I acquired
A single mug
With no handle
Singing songs
With strangers
Who were also
Far from home
So do not dare
To presume
That I will permit
Myself to acknowledge
The inconvenience
Of personal growth
There are other things
Upon this Earth
That chafe

That’s OK! (by me)

Never try to date musicians
Actors, players or politicians
All who make fame their lifelong mission
Feel compelled to keep ambition

Uppermost in their mind’s eye.
Resisting those whose hopes may lie
In other kinds of pie-filled sky,
Aspire to happiness: decry

The complex marketing campaigns
To fill your dreams with endless strains
Of violins, and chilled champagne
(Someone is selling something vain)

You’re not obliged to join, partake
In putting out, appearing, fake
So falsely cheerful, on the make
We don’t all want the same big break

And there are many paths to tread
That do less harm and keep you fed
You could just read a book instead
To fill your soul, first fill your head

The Tourist

To the tourist trespassing
Taking selfies on the stairs
During a fire safety
Evacuation drill:

Were you perhaps trying
To capture the moment
Before you were pushed
For documentary posterity?

Or were you born supplied
With a camera on a stick
Inserted somewhere sweaty?
Whichever; I hope

The gentle smack
Of an irate Fire Warden
To the back of your empty head
Rearranged your somewhat

Selfish priorities
Although I don’t doubt
We will receive your
Carelessly written complaint

Citing unfair treatment
In due course.
I do look forward to writing
An appropriate response.

Human Rights

Rectitude and moral maze
Seem like to meet their end of days
In hands of saint whose might has ways
Of punishing our own delays

While failure to address unknowns
Has sold what titles to our moans
Could yet be called mere gifts or loans
With careful words we’ll leave these zones

Ally ourselves to no more men
And disbelieve reports of when
The road to peace was better ken
Of others’ culture, sword and pen

The velvet curtain will hold fast
And legislation will bow past
Poor sight-impaired judicial mast
Whose figure seems to fade, aghast

As scales are stripped of balanced view
No counterpoint, but reference, new
Established as alternate to
Our older values, now too few

To understand the loss we face
Try to supplant a lesser place
And see the bold, inhuman race
Condemn all pity, justice, grace

Awakening at last, too late
The image of our fellows’ fate
With little thought and careless hate
We’ll watch our own asphyxiate.

Survivor

I am right there
Surrounded by cockroaches
Squatting in the ruins,
The wreckage.
Collateral, damaged
In the fallout
Of a truly
Decadent society
That looked up to its
Graven images,
Photoshopped.
Idols, now idle.
How they glittered
In their lame, sequinned
Lifestyles.
Just me – a bunch of
Bad habits
And under the rubble,
One drug-addled
Rock guitarist.
Perhaps if we put our
Heads together
We can try
To find words
To remember.

Scotched Stereotypes

What’s your connection with Scotland?
Well it seems that I owe it my birth:
Mum met dad in Dundee.
And they later had me.
Could that be connection enough?

I’m afraid I have never been back there.
Perhaps you were hoping for more
Of a recent connection –
With local inflection?
I’m sorry to seem like a bore.

Though my parents went touring the Highlands
And they both played to Edinburgh crowds;
Spent some time up in Perth
With old friends and much mirth –
Still, I’m not sure it could be allowed.

For I never have eaten a Mars bar
That’s been battered and dunked in a vat.
I don’t fling, or toss cabers;
Quote Burns to the neighbours;
Wear kilts with no undies and that.

So perhaps you cannot call me Scottish;
More a botched-up attempt at a clan.
Though my dreams were conceived there,
I won’t be believed fer
A wee bonnie lassie o’Glen.