Inheritance

I write now with my father’s pen
Old steel has assumed my
Ragged pencil’s place
Smooth and worn in my
Calloused fingers.
Daughter at my breast
I remember my father’s stories
As my own swirl and foment
Beneath the creased brow
That is my other inheritance.
Not a gentle man, nor a good one
But a crafter of careful lines
Who spoke limited truth
To lasting effect.
What of him remains
But my own comfortable lies
Sweeter than fact, more palatable
Harder to deny than the
Elusive verisimilitude
Of others.

Head of State

Alone is his pyjamas
After the sycophants
Are all in their beds
The dictator, silent
Examines his image
By moonlight
Wrinkles and lines
Cratered temples
And soft-joweled planes
Surrounded by wealth
In the marbled rooms
Of a haunted palace
He did not inherit
But strives to display
To best advantage
For diplomatic reasons
Dreaming of leaner,
Keener days
Before he became
A political prisoner
Trapped and tamed
By the violent success
Of his own actions

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.

Love poem to my hands

These small scars and subtle lines
The marks of canula and razor blade
This triangle of raised skin from an
Unlikely first foray at false nails
Tell my story better than palmistry.
Strong hands, cast in my grandfather’s mould
The broad span of a peasant-pianist
Clasping my mother’s work ethic
My grandmother’s curved third joint.
My hands are rebels, weatherbeaten
Eschewing my father’s manicured elegance
With overgrown cuticles, nails kept short.
Functional fingers, well-muscled
And only two permanent ink stains
On the right hand, unmoved since school;
The wart on my left a source of teasing
My witch mark, mocked
By ignorant children.  I would not change
The fine hairs on my fourth knuckle
Hidden by the ring I sometimes wear
For the world.