Alan McClure Jan 19
This one's on the house, Theresa.
The unifying symbol
you've failed in any way to muster.
Here he is, look -
chain mail and charger,
leonic triptych
boldly bronzed.
You stirred yet?
Heart skipping a beat?

He gave
not one shit
about England.
Raped and pillaged his way
through foreign fields.
Beggared a nation
to maintain his position.
"I'd sell London,
if I could find a buyer!"
Is this guy
a patron saint
or what?

When Churchill falters
or the Queen quails,
Tie Richard to the mast
and whip him into use.
I'm sure
your old Etonians
will be happy to assist.

Nocht tae dae wi Scotia, like,
but we're good
at falling into line.
Alan McClure Oct 2017
I'm paying
for the careless laughs
I cast
at my poor mother in the past
when she would cringe
and turn away
as we sought edges
to enhance our play.
High trees and rooftops
cliffside walks -
whatever would extend the view
beyond the grim grey
granite grip we knew.
The humour lay
in knowing we were safe,
that these short frissons
were a break
between long stretches
of mundane and easy comfort,
free from pain.
Perhaps, we thought,
it does her good to gasp and shudder,
shout and blame -
she knows
that nothing's gained by shouting "Not too close!"
That just extends the game.
And then we're home
and she, once more, is sane.

That un-won wisdom
taunts me now.
The thought that fear was rare, somehow
that each new feat
of daring was a treat
the spice and colour
in a mother's life
which otherwise was dull.

Then, suddenly, my children,
you appear
and now I fear
that everything's
a crumbling clifftop
a wind-bent,
beetle-brittle branch
that you are twisted
in the fickle hands of chance
Your precious whims
your pale, glass-fragile skins
are buffeted by everything.
All ice is thin -
the wolves are real
it was not just the wind.

And even here
upon the edge of morning
misfired wires
inside your precious head
could make a storm-tossed life-raft
of your cozy bed
I stand beside you, out of reach
though long prepared
to meet the reason I am scared.
You curl and shrink
turn glassy eyes towards the wall

while I await the blow
that, thank God, doesn't fall,
this time
my youthful self
has found a cliff to climb
above a rocky beach
and cackles
at his mother's panicked call.
Alan McClure Aug 2017
I might have been twenty
when I had this thought.
Good family, material ease -
she really should
snap out of it.

This was before
I'd ever stumbled
into fruitless darkness,
when mood and circumstance
seemed one and the same.

I thought myself magnanimous
when rather than judging
I rationalised.
"Perhaps we're hard wired
to seek problems to solve,"
I pondered,
"so where there are none,
we create them."

But now
instead of second-hand accounts
of days in bed,
ill-fated relationships
and unaccountable weeping,
I read her own words.

And I am staggered,
by her strength
and her insight,

and by how little
we can know of each other
until we are ready
to learn.
Alan McClure Jul 2017
"They don't come to the glass
when the people aren't here",
the woman tells us.
But we are here,
and they are entranced.
It is odd
to be watched,

They are expectant,
swimming in our reflections.
The rays,
back and forth and eager;
sharks, watchful and aloof;
a cleaner wrasse,
distracted from his task -
they hang there
in mastery
of their medium

A shoal
of unanswerable questions,
still watching
as we shuffle off,
Alan McClure May 2017
Primary to pastel
to lights, darks

to static and noise
to nothing.

The old man ice-axes
memory mountain.

Some echo, some glimpse
of all he's lost

is all he seeks.
But all there is

in unpictured void,
scuttling, spidering

denying the light -
a parasite alphabet

barring windows
spinning webs -

the words for which
he once was famous

sucking the juice from
all they ever meant.

While lesser spectres
span the spectrum

dreams and photons
undrowned in ink.
Alan McClure Dec 2016

See that yin?
Jist sittin there?
Ye ken how she’s sittin like that, don’t ye?
Well, whit’s she sittin oan?
Aye, her erse.
She’s only sittin like that
So ye ken she’s got an erse.
Gaggin fir it.

An whoa, check that yin!
Wearin claes!
Filthy cow!
Whit dae ye mean, “Whit dae ah mean”?
Ye canny wear claes
If ye huvny got a boady, can ye?
That’s right –
Just screamin it, so she is –
“Check oot ma boady!”

Aye, ah wull an aw!
Don’t mind if ah dae!

Aw, mate – that yin!
That yin ower there!
Bendin her airm!
See her?
Bendin her airm like a mucky hoor!
That’s so ye ken
She’s got elbows!
Phwoar, I ken your type hen –
you wi yir elbows an a’thin!
Desperate fur it, aren’t ye?

An man!  This yin,
walkin towards us!
Breathin in an oot!
Whit a slapper!
Breathin in an oot!
Aye, ye need a pair o lungs tae dae that,
I bet, eh, hen?
A pair o fine, functioning lungs!
Aye, you use them, doll –
dinny you be shy!
Ah’m no!

Aw pal, haud me back!
This yin!
This yin eatin a meat pie!
Shameless wee slut!
Aw yeah, baby,
I ken whit that means!
Mean’s ye’ve got yirsel
a sexy wee digestive tract in there, no?
Ye dinny hae tae spell it oot tae me, love!
Probably got a pair o kidneys
tucked away in there too,
ye horny wee bitch!

Aw the same, ur they no?
Aw ae thum.
Gantin oan it.
Alan McClure Dec 2016
by the waves of sound
so transcendentally human
I am swallowed, surrounded

The basses are an ocean swell
the tenors, a hull of solid oak.
We stand upon the altos’ sturdy deck,
gaze upwards at soprano sails
swollen with song

What strange creatures we,
to join and mingle so
to vanish in the whole.
This ritual enacted
for this God, or that
has outlived immortals and still
floods with lifeblood

Anu, Enlil, Enki, Baal,
dived divinely
in the sea of song
and vanished.
Forgotten gods adrift
in harmony, in melody

And while I wish
all gods forgotten
I would abase myself
before Jehovah’s golden toes
to be a part
of this eternal choir.
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