Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Hush, hush

The North Sea, Angus

One of the things that struck me reading about Covid-19 in the early phases was how relatives who couldn't visit loved ones were sending messages to be read aloud to them (or were reading messages aloud to them via phones, tablets etc.). Many mentioned sending or reading poems, in particular, and I have been wondering (since then) what poem I would send to someone in this kind of situation or what poem I might want to be read aloud to me. I haven't come up with an answer but I have come up with a poem (which is partly inspired by someone I know who has been ill for some time, not with Covid-19, and who has the biggest and best of hearts). 

In a whisper

Hush, hush, sweet one,
Hear my sound at your side.
Your breath’s hard won,
Still your heart’s open wide.

Like the best kind of pet,
On your bed, here I lie,
Here to soak up some pain,
And to never ask why.

We can dream where we've been,
Let the long slideshow play,
Fattest suns, loudest laughs,
All our lives in one day.

As we sleep, you and I,
Let this moment survive,
We are here, flesh to flesh,
This is us, love alive.

RF 2020

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Tweet tweet

Art at the top of the Law, Dundee 
by Paco Graff (photo 1st May 2020)

I got a Twitter account quite late in the day (my first tweet was in June 2017 and Twitter started in 2006). Perhaps because of the format (and the original limit on characters) I thought I would try to use it for very short poems (hence the handle @4littlelines ). I had just finished a project in mid 2017 (putting together my pamphlet 'Turn') and I was ready for a change of pace. Also I have always liked trying to say something big (or small) in very few words (you can read some of my much older short poems here). 

They've not exactly reached a big audience but recently I thought I would collate the Twitter poems so far on the blog here and who knows maybe someone will want to read them. They are mostly responses to topical/political issues (mainly UK, but not all) over the past few years. I have deleted one or two from Twitter as I've tweaked/spring-cleaned the profile here and there but this is most of them (quite a few). It's possible I started with this one (though it's not on the feed now so I must have tidied it away for some reason):

4 little lines

4 little lines can say it all,
Scratched 4 eva on a toilet wall,
Write or type, just hear the call,
Rhyme if you want to, it’s not mandatory.

On 8th June 2017 we had a UK election and at some point after that I tweeted this response to the fact that our MP (in Angus in Scotland where we lived at the time) changed from the SNP's Mike Weir (thoroughly decent bloke) to the Conservatives'  Kirstene Hair (predictably disappointing and tiresome). I retweeted it when her she was up for reelection in 2019 and am very glad to report that Hair lost her seat and it reverted to the SNP. I'd love to take the credit for this but really it's because she was a terrible, terrible MP.

Angus Blues

Blue is the colour of my county's wallet,
The ribbon is too and the sky is grey,
The clouds hang low like a broken bonnet,
Sad is the song for our bairns today.

On 19th June 2017 I posted this Brexit poem for Nigel 'hold the bucket while I vomit at the mention of his name' Farage. This one is still up on Twitter because I still hate him and everything he stands for. Nigel is doing his best to spread hatred wherever he can and in that sense it is definitely working because I really do hate him.


Nigel Farage, halt your hole,
Pinstripes can confuse the soul,
You have championed quite a rift,
Bitter Britain is your gift.

On 20th June 2017 UK Prime Minister Theresa May was not doing well.

Theresa’s times

Oh dear, what can the matter be?
Stumbling on from horror to tragedy,
I just wanted someone to look at me,
Life is so very unfair.

On 21st June 2017 I posted a poem about the fire at Grenfell Tower in London which had taken place on 14th June. The event was so horrifying and all the more so because it was completely avoidable. 

The cost

Governments can be terrorists too,
Save some pennies, all for the few.
What would Margaret Thatcher do?
Burn the poor for a better view.

Also on 21st June 2017 I posted a little poem about Boris Johnson (currently making a terrible job of being UK Prime Minister but then busy with Brexiteering and offending people under the title of 'Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs'). Looking back I think this poem is actually unfair to pigs.


Boris snuffles as he speaks,
Truffles packed in bacon cheeks,
Where he trots it always reeks,
Bubbles, troubles, oinks and squeaks.

On 22nd June 2017 the person others call Queen Elizabeth II wore a hat that some suggested looked like an EU flag. No royals in an independent Scotland when we get it, thank you very much.

Where did you get…?

Who picked that hat for Mrs Ma’am,
Now all the rage in Buckingham?
Are there new tricks up those old sleeves?
This is the cat that never leaves.

Also on 22nd June 2017 I wrote a little something about 'The Daily Mail', one of the UK's nastier newspapers (and we have some corkers!). It is currently the best selling paper in the UK apparently which says something about the ignorance and aggression that feel too at home here. I can't remember what they were up to to prompt this particular response. It could be any one of a list of horrible campaigns.

In the Mail

Got something mean you want to say?
Fear not, we put out every day.
They call us Hate, we rise above,
Who wants that dirty thing called love?

On 26th June 2017 I put together a little something for far right campaigner Katie Hopkins (she is currently banned from Twitter). The internet calls her a 'media personality' which seems all wrong. Apparently she first came to public attention via 'The Apprentice' (a show I watched once in someone else's house). I blame a lot of shit on that show.

Follow the leader

Katie Hopkins – foul and proud,
Poster bait for kicking crowd,
Feed her, fund her, let her show
She will sink to any low.

On 28th June 2017 tennis player Heather Watson was (like many others in the public eye) getting a lot of crap from our brave anonymous online heroes.

Insult tennis

Internet trolls
Confuse women with dolls.
This is due to their lives
With inflatable wives.

On 29th June 2017 the UK's Conservative government announced a public sector pay cap and, even worse, cheered themselves for doing it. They will clap their little devil's hooves for you if you sacrifice yourself to save others in a pandemic, sure, but don't expect any other recognition or reward. They are a disgrace and why people continue to vote for them... well, see some of the above.

The Plunder years

Hear their hoots
Across the years,
Money talks
Bullshit cheers.

A few days later I posted something about the BBC's main UK political 'debate' TV show. 

Rotten job?

To tackle one cause
Of organised crime
Vote ‘Lie Detectors
For Question Time’.

On 2nd July 2017 I took a break from politics and wrote a little Sunday morning number.

Day of rest

Don’t waste yourself,
Let time just rot,
The day is long
But life is not.

On 3rd July 2017 I wrote one of many poems about Donald Trump. There's a reason they made a big baby balloon of that man (because he is a big baby balloon). And for anyone who hasn't watched 'Trump: An American Dream' (currently on Netflix) I highly recommend it. I retweeted this one when he came to London in 2019 too.


Poor Donald is tired, he so needs a nap.
Poor Donald is bloated, he’s packed full of crap.
Poor Donald is angry, and raging online.
The bigger the baby, the louder the whine.

This one isn't up just now but it was about something else terrible that the Conservative party did in 2017 (take your pick really). I guess I deleted it because there were so many other terrible tories poems.

About turn

Turn back Tories,
Ain't life funny?
Bankers aren't the only ones
Who need our money.

On a similar vein from 5th July 2017:

Start young

I’m a millionaire and I’m OK,
Things get sticky I just fly away.
I mess with the medical, I fool with schools,
I play pick and choose when it comes to rules.

And on 6th July 2017, in the interests of fairness, I wrote one for Tony Blair (for those outside the UK the Labour Party has used the red rose symbol since the 1980s):

War roses

Roses are red,
Sometimes that’s true,
But Blair did his best
To make them turn blue.

This one isn't on the feed just now but I wrote it about Trump and Putin in July 2017 (probably inspired by a photo):

Tough at the top

Sit with me a while, hear my plans and schemes,
No-one takes me seriously, it might be all the memes.
Forget the cold war, we’re just a pair of hot guys,
I want to hold your hand, meet those dreamy eyes.

On 9th July 2017 I posted this about my favourite radio show (Cerys Matthews on BBC 6 Music, Sunday mornings):


The sweetest sounds,
In a mighty mix,
All birds and bees
Love Cerys on 6.

Again this isn't up on the Twitter feed just now but this was a second poem about Grenfell Tower, written in July 2017:

Tower of London

If walls could talk
What would they say?
Don’t bury truth?
Don’t turn away?

On 10th July 2017 I posted this about online spats:

We vow

Let's fight online
Till the power dies,
Till there's no one left
For us to despise.

The next one in July 2017 was about a British 'aristocrat' (read about him here). It was the first one that prompted a vile response (if one in rhyme... poetic racists are still racists). It's not on the feed now as I didn't want to leave the horrible response online.

Titled untitled

What’s that I see in a news headline –
 ‘Aristocrat’ you say, is that even still a thing?
Britain stuck in a swamp as old as time,
Cruelty, stupidity, all fit for a king.

Ben Ashcroft wrote a book called '51 Moves' about his childhood and experiences in the care system. He often invites people to tweet that 'Every child leaving care matters' so I wrote a short poem for a tweet on 15th July 2017:

Shine forever

Simple things aren’t always simple,
Minds struggle when safety shatters,
A simple message shines some light:
Every child leaving care matters.

On 15th July 2017 I posted another one for former Prime Minister Tony Blair (though I can't find a reference to whatever photo or Instagram account I was thinking of at the time):

Looking for likes

Tony tries to win back powers,
Heads for insta, Beyoncé-style,
No one wants to see his flowers,
Never mind that joker’s smile.

On 21st July 2017 I wrote a little poem in praise of this song by Kim Edgar:

Kim’s song

Here’s something good,
Here’s something true.
Just listen, love,
Feel less like blue.

After a wee while on Twitter I thought it was time to deal with this subject (on 23rd July 2017). To be fair there is a fair bit of it on Facebook too (but I am there less these days).

Death threat culture

My tenth since breakfast,
‘I fucking hate you’.
I lose track of life.
I type it, it’s true.

I have no loyalty or interest when it comes to the British monarchy. So much so that this poem isn't even on the feed any more (but it must have been in July 2017). This was about Kate Middleton, I imagine, (is she called Windsor now - who gives a hoot really?) and the tedious photos of her that stare out from newsstands. I have to hope she is more interesting in real life than her image allows. No monarchy in our upcoming independent Scotland please 😀 Did I say that already?


Bring me a princess,
Keep her bland,
Velvet gloves
On a tired old brand.

I may have watched the odd TV series. The writing in some of them is so great these days. Poets don't stand a chance. (This poem 27 July 2017.)


I want to be a box set
When I grow up.
I’ll make it worth your time.
I’ll never, ever rhyme.

On 29th July 2017 I tweeted a little something on trying to write during school holidays.


In the longer days
Got to keep it short,
Fitting in writing’s
A summertime sport.

On 30th July 2017 there was a little poem in response to a photo by Shahbaz Majeed:

In and out

I fall again into the waves –
Restless sheets, no good for sleep.
To toss and turn in this old bed,
Is just a dream that’s blue and deep.

On 9 August 2017 (school exam results day in Scotland) I wrote this in response to the hashtag #NoWrongPath:

Slow lane

Life isn’t one exam,
It’s more a PhD.
And rushing isn’t all
It cracks us up to be.

On 13th August 2017 I posted this in response to fascist activity in Charlottesville, Virgina:

The real thing

Real white power
Fights the fascist blight,
Knows their sorry hatred
Isn’t any kind of right.

This one isn't on the feed now but it was around the same time with the same subject:

Killing times

Because their hearts are gone,
They hate to fill the void.
Their hopes are empty homes,
Where all has been destroyed.

On 3rd September 2017 I wrote about the new Queensferry Crossing bridge between Edinburgh and Fife and the fact that Nicola Sturgeon walked it with a crowd of locals on 2 September 2017 (though I believe a 'monarch' came up for 'official opening' a couple of days later). We crossed it (in a car) on 31st August on our way to an open day at an Edinburgh university for the daughter so I don't know what that says about us. Around the same time a book of Trump's quotes/tweets (restyled) called 'The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump' by Rob Sears was put out by Scottish publishers Canongate. Sturgeon, Trump, I know who I'd rather have leading a country... Also 'quine' is a Doric word for 'woman' or 'girl'.

Another week in Scotland

A bridge for a quine,
Our leader divine,
Whilst Trump’s every curse,
Now immortal in verse.

On 12 September 2017 I wrote this little one about writing about other people's tragedies:


It might be poetic,
This tragic scene,
But is there a line?
And is it mine?

This one isn't on the feed just now. Peter Hitchens ('conservative journalist and author') was moaning about something...

He squawks hard for his money

Hitchens is bitchin’.
So what else is new?
Clueless and clutching
To shreds of a view.

Then a second appearance for Boris Johnson in late 2017. Sadly he did not 'get tae fuck' and in fact got to fuck us up instead (in oh so many ways).

Go on Johnson

Go on Johnson,
Get tae fuck,
Time to end
Your dirty luck.

In 2018, a poem for New Year:


Start again, reboot,
Undry some fruit.
Little sparklers die
‘gainst a giant sky.

On 20th March 2018, a Facebook mention:


Oh facebook
Might this be the end?
Time to unplug?
Unmask? Unfriend?

And in May 2018 there was sunshine:

Mayday Sun

I let sun wash me warm.
Someone tortures a lawn.
Dogs seek out good shade
As the daffodils fade.

On May 23rd 2018 Boris Johnson was talking about wanting a special plane. I retweeted this again recently as there has been talk of the £900,000 spent on said plane. I mean, after all, what else could we be spending money on right now?

The dickhead wants a plane

Boris, you can have a plane.
Take our money, watch it burn.
But we have some Ts and Cs –
Fly away and don’t return.

Not long after that there was another Trump edition:


Across all the borders
You’ll hear the same rage -
Don’t lock up these children,
Keep Trump in a cage.

And another (about Trump and 'The Sun' 'newspaper'):

Big orange ball

'The Sun’ is our shame
And today most of all –
Its front page an ad
For that big orange ball.

Then in June 2018, the Melania Trump coat story (I did an image for this one):

Melania’s fashion statement (June 2018)

I only care about myself.
I found a rotten golden key.
My heart is empty, read my back:
One rule for you, no rules for me.

Then a bit of gap, and then in June 2019:

The worst

Leaders come and leaders go,
They fuck us up, this much we know,
Our lessons burn, so sore and slow,
While leaders come and leaders go.

And again in the same month:

The worst II

All of the options are dreadful.
They think themselves crème de la crème
But really they’re not even dregs,
The worst of the worst kind of men.

Then on 23 July 2019, Boris Johnson was announced the new leader of the Conservative party and therefore the UK.

Keep calm, you say?

We laughed at their fool,
Orange jester, no class,
But look at us now,
Led by our own ass.

On 7 August 2019 I tried this appeal to the Scottish First Minister:

Fop chop

Nicola, free us from this fop,
He’s heavy in the wallet but light up top,
With his tiresome ‘trademark’ quirky mop,
Let’s snip this tie, altogether now: ‘Chop!’

And in September 2019 there was this on the tone of the BJ government, Brexit etc.:

Loose talk

Say it’s ‘just a game’, just another debate,
Like old ‘Union’ days, ‘take it all on the chin’.
‘Come on chaps, no one’s died, and the bar’s open late’.
Except they did, someone died, and they will again.

In December 2019 the UK had a general election and King Liar Boris Johnson and his Brexit bus won the day. 

True blue

So it's true, facebook true,
England's drowning in blue,
Brexit blue, passport blue,
Want to leave? Join the queue.

And Boris Johnson's Tory government has been such a success story (not really). I had this in early 2020:

Handy man

He may be something like
a leader of this land
but I never, ever, ever want
to shake his nasty hand.

And on 16th April 2020:

Tory Prayer

Do we care?
Yes, we do!
About us,
Never you.

On 26th May 2020 there was this for tory adviser in chief Dominic Cummings (who seems to struggle with rules):

I spy Tory lies

I lie for a living
And don’t ask why
Or I’ll stick my hard brexit
In your good driving eye.

And then on 28th May 2020, because they've done such a great job in the current health crisis, there was this:


We thought our worst was Thatcher
But it seems that's not the case,
Johnson's evil arsewipes
Now securely in first place.

And, most recently, on 4th June 2020, when Boris Johnson said he was very proud of how his government had handled the Covid-19 crisis, I tried this (spoiler - no one agrees with him):

Boris Johnson is proud

I am proud of my bullshit,
my lies and my luck,
so many have died
and I don’t give a fuck.

So, there you go - a whole lotta little poems. And if you made it this far thanks for reading.