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Mar 23 · 55
I Hope you Stay Well
Alan McClure Mar 23
In search of distractions from fractured reactions
to viral infections conflicting us all
The beast on my shoulder gets meaner, gets colder
gets thinking of things that could do with a fall
Collapsing contentment and rising resentment
As vicious suspicions maliciously twist
And virally spiral compiling with ire all
the lists of the villains who wouldn’t be missed.
It’s easy, a breeze, to believe this disease
is a key to relieve us of troublesome foes
Let karma disarm those who lead us to harm
in whatever the form that enrages you most
But I can’t let it happen, can’t fall for that pattern
and so I shall seek a superior spell
A quick incantation from nation to nation –
I hope you don’t get it. I hope you stay well.
Though losing my patience in self-isolation
my station is not to condemn or to curse
We’re scared, unprepared, we’re deserving of care
We are all of us human – no better, no worse
It’s easy to send all my prayers to my friends
to extend my concern to my own personnel
but when all’s said and done we are all of us one
and I hope you don’t get it. I hope you stay well.
The bog-rolling, bankrolling blinkered baboons
who believe that their need is more urgent than yours
The greedy, the needy, the selfish, the seedy
who’d climb over corpses to capture the cures
To wish them destruction, distress or dysfunction’s
to sanction the strife that’ll send us to hell
There’s only one thought that can stifle the rot –
I hope you don’t get it. I hope you stay well.
The braggard, the swaggard, the ****-stirring blackguard
who puffs and parades and proclaims it a hoax
However prophetic, profound and poetic
the justice would be if you choked on your jokes
You’re only mistaken, a place often taken
by me and by you and by everyone else
You may be a fool, may be callous and cruel
But I hope you don’t get it. I hope you stay well.
The fashion for passion has stirred us to action
Habitual friction, regrettable, crass
I know that I need just a moment to breathe
my rage can engage when the danger is passed
From Daisy to Doris, from Donald to Boris
we’re part of a chorus for good or for ill
We loathe and we love and we hug and we shove
And I hope you don’t get it. I hope you stay well.
Jan 16 · 213
Tree
Alan McClure Jan 16
I drew a picture
of a tree in winter
cold black branches
criss-crossed the white page

It made me sad
so I put it away
and forgot
I’d ever drawn it

That Spring
while looking for a pencil
I found the drawing
and gasped in shock

The tree had grown
white blossom
where tiny bees
could feed

And a robin sang
from its topmost branch.
“Impossible!” I thought,
hiding it away again

The idea of the tree
grew through the season.
By summer
I desired another look

A riot of green
hid the cold black branches
and sunlight burst
through every leaf

This time I hid it
with a secret smile,
let weeks pass
as I felt the magic working

Autumn came
my picture changed
branches heavy
with bright red berries

Mistle thrushes,
waxwings, blackbirds
beyond my skill as an artist
flapped and chattered on every branch

To keep them safe
I hid the picture
one more time
my perfect, living tree

Winter came -
I showed my children.
The cold black branches
did not make them sad

They could see
the coming colour,
the light, the joy, the sweet berries
and they climbed into the branches, laughing.
Jan 9 · 209
Their Plans
Alan McClure Jan 9
The jackdaws shared
their plans with me
in silver glances,
subtle gestures
quiet but relentless

The plans
were appalling
horrific
inhuman
and yet
made perfect sense

I bore
the burden
home
began to pack
but stalled
midway

There really is
nothing for it
but to wait.
Sep 2019 · 91
This is what we do
Alan McClure Sep 2019
Aye.
There was no police brutality
when we had the vote.
Barely a punch thrown.
We do things right here.
We talk.
We spraff.
We shoot the ****.
We build momentum,
shake foundations,
come within
a midgie's whisker
of doing something amazing

Then we **** it up completely
and write poems about it
for the next couple of centuries.

At least we can still kid ourselves
that it's someone else's fault.
Jul 2019 · 182
Not trying to be Shug
Alan McClure Jul 2019
But he hijacks your mind, you see -
you start thinking
in pithy vignettes
and seeing ancient injustice
in a drunkard's bloodshot eyes

The universal
in the particular -
God, aye! Sheep
as avatars
for all society
and majesty in language
as it's spoken, and heard.

Then you imagine him
hiding other poets' books
behind his own
in Waterstone's in Dumfries,
and remember -
he's as human as you,
thank ****.
Feb 2019 · 508
Talisman
Alan McClure Feb 2019
There's a commotion
on the top deck of the bus.
Lost in thought
I take a moment to register
as an old gent stands up and says,
"Does anybody ken that wee boy?"

I look to the street below,
and there you are,
proud, red-faced and beaming.
You'd caught up with the bus
on your scooter
just to wave me away
one last time

Your grin has lit
every face around me
as you catch my eye, delighted.
Brimming
with a simple love
I wave back
and we pull away.

The bus may leave you behind
but I carry you with me
through streets all bright
with your presence.
Alan McClure Feb 2019
They had faces and bodies when I was young,
and they were rare -
Maybe once a year, a joke would be ruined
by a walking sneer,
my unselfconscious laughter curdled
by their pitiless scorn.
But, young and sure, I'd bounce along,
leave them forgotten,
and look for the good.

Blessed to expect
that people were kind,
I unshackled them,
disembodied the derision,
unhitched them
from reasoning, living beings

Left them free to gather
in geometric clusters
lurking on the edge of sight
like burning after-images
of a cruel sun

Wordless, sightless, lifeless
empty, ******* spaces
glimpsed with a shudder
on the best days -

gathered in consumptive clouds
on the worst.
Unseen by my companions
they eat my ability
to explain or expel them.

They are there
if I acknowledge them
or not
and in time
they make a nothing
out of everything.
Apr 2018 · 331
National 'Turn a Tory' Day
Alan McClure Apr 2018
We don't beat hate with hatred, you know.
You just corral them with contempt,
get their defenses up, their bile flying.
Let folk feel beleaguered and defined
and you strengthen them tenfold.
Look at the ****** church, for Christ's sake.

They can't all be bad. They just can't.
There must be plenty decent folk
rocking themselves in darkened rooms
disgusted at the devastation
their party has wrought on the country.
Looking for a way to save some face.

So here we are. A national holiday,
an amnesty on regrettable social views
and rampant self-interest - Hell,
we've all helped out our pals when we could.
Go find a decent Tory. Open your heart.
Leave your partisan badges behind.

In gentle, soothing tones, explain,
"Your party's ******, mate.
They have no plan. You really don't want
to be with them when the dust clears.
If you keep voting for them, you're an enabler -
it's like handing a bottle of meths to an alkie."

They don't need to join your party.
They don't need to change their views on anything important.
On national Turn a Tory Day, all we ask
is that they stop voting for these dangerous morons
so they can get to **** out of the national consciousness
and let the rest of us clear up their mess.
Apr 2018 · 494
Two Poems
Alan McClure Apr 2018
1) - My Life as a Disabled Gay Black Woman

I choose my food
based on personal preference.
I enjoy preparing
and eating it.

I set my home up
in a manner I find agreeable.
I find my partner
rapturous and infuriating
in almost equal measure.

I would lay down my life
for my children
and I fear the world
on their behalf.

I endure
and enjoy
a particular set of experiences
which will never be repeated
but can be broadly understood
by anyone
with a passable degree of empathy.

I speak for no-one
but myself.
I am more involved
with the here and now
than I am
with centuries
of cultural history.

I modify my behaviour
based on the company I am in
and there are aspects of my life
which are no-one's business
but my own.


2) My Life as an Able-Bodied Heterosexual White Man

See above.
Apr 2018 · 746
Otter
Alan McClure Apr 2018
Me and Robin
rockhopping
round seaweeded,
barnacled beaches
where the river
shakes hands
with the sea

When up pops an otter.
Straight out the silver waves
it comes
and starts chattering at us
in Japanese.

I scratch my head.
Robin looks baffled.
The otter is urgently
incomprehensible.

We look around
on the offchance
that a Japanese tourist might be around
and willing to translate,
but we're the only ones there.

"I wish my dad was here,"
I say,
"Or Auntie Lynn,"
adds Robin,
but they're not
and we lack their talent
for languages.

We try our best
with shrugs and gestures
but all we have is apologies.

Eventually,
with a tetchy 'sayonara',
the otter slips back through the waves
leaving us
none the wiser.
Jan 2018 · 601
Lionheart
Alan McClure Jan 2018
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 ****
about England.
***** 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.
Oct 2017 · 2.8k
Edges
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,
inspired,
by her strength
and her insight,

and by how little
we can know of each other
until we are ready
to learn.
Jul 2017 · 512
Fish
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,
acknowledged.

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,
dumbfounded.
May 2017 · 330
Undone
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

******* the juice from
all they ever meant.

While lesser spectres
span the spectrum

dreams and photons
undrowned in ink.
Dec 2016 · 773
Aw the Same
Alan McClure Dec 2016
Whoa.

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”?
Claes!
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 ****!
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 ****!
Aw yeah, baby,
I ken whit that means!
Mean’s ye’ve got yirsel
a **** 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 ***** wee *****!

Aw the same, ur they no?
Aw ae thum.
Gantin oan it.
Dec 2016 · 1.8k
Feral Choir
Alan McClure Dec 2016
Transported
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.
Dec 2016 · 991
Big Picture
Alan McClure Dec 2016
There is always someone
to say, "Ah, but..."
when we weep
at little tragedies.
Striding gurus
whose far-reaching sight
passes over little corpses
to seek out the Big Picture.
And you dry your eyes
and you feel foolish
for thinking little ones matter.

Big names are tossed around.
Patterns passing back
through blackened ages
History degrees
dusted off,
chins stroked,
lofty knowledge
powerfully deployed

Churchill manifests
all black and white and grim.
Roosevelt and Stalin,
and this is why,
and that is why,
and further back
to Empire and beyond.

Until it all makes sense.
It's good versus evil
eternal, universal
and nothing to be troubled by.

But still
the little corpses
in your path.
Nov 2016 · 751
Silent Chorus
Alan McClure Nov 2016
Will you be the German
who is tutting through the shutters
as the trains roll by?
Will you be the Christian
busy ticking off the reasons
you can shut your eyes?
***** the left, ***** the right
this is everybody's fight
and we're battling the evil in our hearts
It's a long road to hell
but we know the journey well
and a hatred of the strange is where it starts.

Will you be enchanted
by the pretty little whispers
of the self-made man
Strutting on the scaffold
of the skeletons he shackled
as he made his plans?
Well his dazzling election
is a clever misdirection,
builds a figurehead to follow or defeat
Still whenever evil comes
braying trumpets, banging drums
it's the likes of you and me that keep the beat.

See our little kingdoms
slickly built to keep the guilt and trouble
out of range
Mastering the darkness
simply saturates the masses
with a fear of change.
We cajole, we corral,
who's against us, who's our pal,
Who's the sacrifice to calm the raging seas
Tides will rise, tides will fall
breakers burst against the wall -
It's our terror that will bring us to our knees.

Each of us is given
just one minute and a million choices
every day
Struggle for the love
or love the struggle
of the jungle hunter gone astray
wicked wishes crack the whip
comfort loosens our grip
and a black and hungry vulture takes the air
Every road goes up or down
we can climb, or we can drown -
be the beast - or be the angel, if we dare.
Nov 2016 · 745
Flashback
Alan McClure Nov 2016
Me and Ewan,
him eight, me five
up at the big woodies.

Big boys approach.
There were bad boys
at the big woodies, we knew,
but these seem friendly.

They talk to us.
I know to be polite
to people who talk to you.

"Is your dad gay?"
they ask.
I don't know
why they're interested
in my dad's disposition,
but I answer,
"Yes."

Ewan, more worldly,
nudges me,
agitated.
"What?"
I ask.
"He is.  Usually."

The big boys
are delighted
and wander off,
their work accomplished.

If I could time-jump,
I would reoccupy my head
with more knowledge
than I had at five.

I would say,
"If you mean 'happy',
then yes.
If you mean 'homosexual',
then no.
Not as far as I know."

I think that might perplex them.
Alan McClure Nov 2016
It's time
to stop complaining
and move on.

I did
what was necessary
to win.

That makes me smart.

You know,
lots of things
get said and done
during a race.

But the only thing that matters
is the result.

So I'll have
those trophies back,
please.
Nov 2016 · 2.6k
White Supremacy
Alan McClure Nov 2016
Brothers,
let us stand together.
Sisters,
you can stay sitting.

Let us stand
united
by our inability
to stay out in the sun
too long.

In fact,
would someone mind
erecting a gazebo
for us to stand united
underneath?

Thank you.

Brothers,
having proven
that we cannot demonstrate
our superiority
through sport,
rhetoric,
mathematics,
music,
drama,
art,
science,
business acumen
or military might

Let us instead
prove it beyond all doubt
by gathering in groups
and chanting slogans.

Flags are good, too.
Dagnab it,
just look at the way
we can wave those flags.

If that
doesn't qualify us
as the Master Race,
then I don't know what will.

And thus anointed,
let us expunge the world
of miscegenation.
Let us cleanse public radio
of anything other
than Bavarian folk music.
Let us revel
in boiled beef
and wheat-based foods.
Let us return
the mineral wealth of the world
to the tarnished, coloured nations
from whence it came.

Let us reject
foreign mythologies
apart from that one
about Jesus
obviously.

Let us all return
to the country, town,
street
and house
of our birth.

History is with us, brothers.
If there's one thing
it teaches us
it's that nothing should ever change
and empires
never fall.

Sieg heil!
Alan McClure Nov 2016
Remembrance in November grows repellent
each year we rob it further of its sense
by hunting down objectors to compel them
to stand in line or cause a grave offense.
No private contemplation or reflection
when strident shrieks of nationhood prevail
Un-poppied collars count as insurrection
a slight to every brave, red-blooded male.
Division, thumping drums and waving banners
the media wades in with guns ablaze
forgetful of respect, or simple manners –
that’s not how we conduct ourselves these days
If this is what our fallen heroes wanted
I wonder why the cenotaph is haunted.

We cannot know what sent the soldiers hither
or claim the fallen courage of the fight
think boys who marched to foreign fields together
were simple symbols drawn in black and white
If we could rise above the spite and chatter
We’d find unbordered bonds and understand
that shells and bullets lacked the strength to shatter
the looking glass that straddled no man’s land
From timid chaps to lunatic berserkers
we canonise the men who heard the call
if wives had had the power to shoot deserters
there never would have been a war  at all.
Let’s render restless spirits more forgiving:
to honour best the dead, honour the living.
Oct 2016 · 880
Our Wives and Daughters
Alan McClure Oct 2016
Put past
The pretence of protection.
Propagandising
her preciousness
is prohibited -
proprietorial
preparation
for *******.
Parents paw
the pretty pretty
Pa approves the partner
partner plucks the petals,
proclaiming
‘She pleases me,
pleases me not’ -
matters not one jot.
Pet and preen
her perilous perfection
a prophylactic
precaution,
in place
of progression,
promotion,
professional appreciation.
Proud paternalistic patter
imprisons.
Presidents pronounce
on *****,
parroted by ******
and pissheads.
Petty, pathetic
and petrified
of power,
placing people
in parentheses
participating
in playground politics.

I’m sick
that this
paralysis
persists.
Past to present,
passed down
passed over
passed off
as perfectly
practical, natural,
a place for everyone
everyone
in place.
Please.

Parade our pride
in pyrotechnic protest
in partnership perpetual,
productive, progressive
people
as people
as people,

powerful
and equal.
Oct 2016 · 740
After the Gig
Alan McClure Oct 2016
we unleashed
a roomfull
of energy
didn't we
our songs
brief anthems
for happy strangers
the floor
rocked, bounced
under spinning bodies
we did that
we did
then spent
we left the stage
sweat wet
and hoarse
applause
in our ears
aglow
aglow
waiting
for the consequences
and finding
there were none.
Oct 2016 · 1.1k
Drifting Apart
Alan McClure Oct 2016
Grateful
for the way
you loosened my tongue
unlocked the longing
let nature, unfettered,
spill forth

For the keys
to the dance floor,
the illusion
of manhood -
the sing-songs,
punch-ups,
lock-ups
and lovers

But that part played,
what's left
is loveless.
You weigh on my mind,
you get in the way,
you pin my arms
and force your way in

My boys are watching.
You'd have them think
this was normal, natural -
you're waiting
with your glistening invitation
to take them down
this perilous path

Wasted
days wasted
they watch.
I wish
myself washed
of this witchcraft.

I'll raise a glass
in this hall of mirrors
then set it down
untasted.
We'll always have
the past, I suppose.
Now please,
just let me be.
Sep 2016 · 829
Literary Research
Alan McClure Sep 2016
Historical fiction -
that's where it's at.
Quite fancy writing
about Roman Britain.

A native kid, say,
growing up
in the shadow
of the legions.

I describe
an imagined feast
to my pal,
who pulls me up short.

"They didny hae tatties
in Roman times.
They're fae America,
ken?"

And I'm grateful,
but I'll struggle to base
a bestselling trilogy
on an absence of potatoes.
Sep 2016 · 766
Richard
Alan McClure Sep 2016
You wear your presence lightly,
you politely undermine it
for the folks who'd find it fright'ning
in the normal daily grind
You are jocular and flighty
wear a self-effacing grace
although your shoulders might be mighty
were they not so undermined

We met at a rehearsal
for an amateur dramatic act
to shrink the universal
to a comfortable size
They took a work of genius
the timeless peerless grandeur
and they whittled it to meaninglessness -
There I caught your eye.

"I hear you need a drummer!"
you intoned in toffee baritone
and sad, diluted Shakespeare
did evaporate tout suite
"We're gigging in the summer!"
I replied in my delight and then
I knew I'd found a friend
who might just help me keep the beat.

I found you were an artist
of broken, brittle beauty
who believed an artists' duty
was to challenge and defy
Who had washed up in the genteel
artists' village of Kircudbright
where the art is safe and snooty,
boats and trees and sunny sky

But your canvas is elastic
is electric and eclectic
as you drastically cast an angry
eye across it all
Any prettiness is sitting
on a nauseous unwellness
where the skeleton of Elvis
boogies by a butcher's stall

Well we found some fellow feeling
in our mutual defiance
casting darts at art and science
and amusing just ourselves
Made some music, sank some bevvies
wrote a book, got raging drunk
but what we managed withered, shrunk
by what we planned and simply shelved.

Well it seems that I've been hoping
that our business was unfinished
that our plans were undiminished
by the passing of the years
That some catalyst would manifest
and shake us into action
dissipate the dull distraction
of the daily hopes and fears.

But it seems that you are leaving
that your talent, brightly blazing
and the fact that you're amazing
has been missed by this wee town
Well I undersand it, ******
but I'll miss you now, my brother
and the tumbled jumbled colour
that you spun from Solway brown.
Aug 2016 · 1000
Better than a Burka
Alan McClure Aug 2016
See her,
skinny lassie -
so aware,
stood there
at the counter.

The eyes
lifted from papers,
hooded and guilty,
leering
under sunglasses.

She knows nothing,
thinks
she's in charge.
Bless her.
Whatever's going to break her
hasn't happened yet.

Makes me shudder,
the thought.
The painful innocence.
"Just a fruit smoothie, please!"
she sparkles
at the man.
Thinks his approval
is unloaded,
worth seeking.

No eyes on me.
Glances fall off me.
If I catch a look,
I see it turn
to embarrassment,
pity
or scorn.

Firing blanks, guys.
I'll take those
over possessiveness,
lust,
crawling promises.
Over saccharine
strychnine
strangler smiles,
over violence, veiled
as love.
Your attention is toxic.
Better show it as such.

"Chips and cheese, please,"
I wheeze,
and his sneer
is a klaxon
of cruel jokes
he'll share with colleagues later.

Those
are the tiny victories
of victimhood,
as the twirling girl inside
stays protected,
unsuspected.
Jun 2016 · 264
Cosmic Contract
Alan McClure Jun 2016
From the first blink of daylight,
the first breath of air
I will be cared for
and then I will care.
Apr 2016 · 900
My Kind
Alan McClure Apr 2016
I suppose it was
an act of mercy.
"Put him
with the other Earthlings!"
Dragged
down strip-lit corridors
a million miles
from home.

At last
they cast me
in a gloomy cell
with a woodlouse,
a guava
and a chanterelle mushroom.

I appreciated the thought,
but we had little in common
and an awkward silence reigned.
Mar 2016 · 937
Outsourced Poems #1
Alan McClure Mar 2016
In line with recent policy
we are outsourcing
our poetry services
in a bid to increase efficiency

This will make savings
and improve the service
just as it always does.

Daffodils

Out a walk
saw some flowers
there were loads of them
they were quite pretty

APPROVED

Dulce et Decorum Est

War's *******
and it's no fun
being gassed

APPROVED

To a Mouse

Sorry for wrecking your house, mouse
but we've all got problems

APPROVED

The Raven

I miss my bird

APPROVED
Mar 2016 · 1.5k
Salmon
Alan McClure Mar 2016
So aye
We wir watchin
that David Attenborough
or tryin tae -
fower weans tearin up the joint,
an she's like,
See if youse dinny shut it...!
an aw that, ken -
You no gonny tell thum?
So ah'm like,
"Aye.  
Wheesht, youse."

But it wis amazin, like.
These fish.
Years oot at sea.
Tiny wee at first,
dodgin sharks an jellyfish
an aw sorts,
awa oot, miles fae land.
(God!  Youse!  Take it up the stair!
Tell thum, you!

"Aye, boys.  Listen tae yir ma.")

Then wan day, like
they get the urge, ken?
Got tae go.
An in they come,
surgin fae the sea,
these sleek, silver bullets
fat wi feedin.
(I'll no tell yis again!)

Nothin, an ah mean nothing
is gonny stop them.
Waterfalls?  Nae bother.
Just pure hungry
fir the lassies, ken?
The boy Attenborough sais
they dinny even eat!
(That's it!  Ah tellt ye!
Here you!  Take some responsibility,
wull ye?

"Eh?  Oh, aye.
Away tae yir rooms, boys -
yir ma tellt ye.")

These pure ***** divils
will loup up sheer cliffs,
baws burstin, bi the look ay it.
Poetry in motion, ken?
Like, ah dinny ken, pure water
brought tae life, an that.
Jist pure savage.

An then, haw -
they find the lassies!
An it's jist, like,
'splurge'!
Done the deed.
Gemme ower,
job done,
deid.

An there's this shot.
Ripplin shallows,
just fill ay the twitchin bodies.
Craws an bears an that,
queuin up fir the bonanza.
Jist, like,
totally
spent.

An she's aw,
Here, is that no terrible?
Pair buggers!
Eifter aw that!

An ah'm like,
"Aye."

But see inside,
ah'm thinkin,
"Lucky,
lucky *******."
Jan 2016 · 1.5k
Winter in a Seaside Town
Alan McClure Jan 2016
Icy dock
bump and knock
one gull huddles
on a cold black rock

frozen feet
driving sleet
tethered by the weather
like the landed fleet

gull spreads wings
north wind sings
rumble and a mumble
as the pub door swings

step inside
drink is tried
filling up and spilling
like the storm-surge tide

howl and din
locks you in
ice goes slicing
through your winter skin

knock them down
drink and drown
bleezin empty season
in a seaside town
Jan 2016 · 1.7k
Flood
Alan McClure Jan 2016
It was the high water
brought her out.
Her and half the town,
standing, awed
by the rush and surge.
Though the rain had stopped,
the sky was heavy with it
Grey on grey
on swirling grey,
but she -

Caught unawares by the moment,
she had joined the crowd
in a dressing gown
the pink of parted lips.
A slight figure,
bare legs slender
to the dark wet ground.
She dazzled accidentally,
black hair careless
over slim shoulders,
arms wrapped round herself
against the cold

A vision
of such sudden vulnerability
it would lay a strong man low.

Across the street
I saw an old man gazing,
the flood forgotten
in the glare of her.
Flat cap
wax jacket
paused mid-step,
she with her back to him,
oblivious.

I averted my eyes,
not wishing to know
if his thoughts were fatherly
or something else.

The river rose
and gorged itself
and there was nothing
we could do.
Dec 2015 · 905
Carrying the Dragon
Alan McClure Dec 2015
Friend, you stumble.
Can I help with your load?

Aye, pal, cheers -
budge up, everyone,
here's a new friend!


This is heavy.
Unbearable.
What is this thing
you all carry?

We're carrying the dragon,
pal.
Carrying the dragon.


Dragon?
From whence came
a dragon?

Ehm, not too sure -
our fathers summoned it,
we think.


Oh, its weight!
How have you managed
for so long?

No secret there, pal -
love.  Love,
and brotherhood.
We all chip in, know?


But does the dragon
not eat you?
It writhes on my shoulders
most disagreeably.

No, no,
canny eat you
if you're carrying it.


But it must eat!
It is bloated
and gorged
beyond movement!

Aye, well,
why do think we carry it?


So what does it eat?

I..  We...
We don't really think
too much about that.
We have each other
to worry about.


And what would happen
if you just laid it down?

It would die.
We would lose
all the meaning
from our lives.


I see.
Then come, brothers -
let us carry on.
Let us carry on
and on.
Dec 2015 · 635
Insomnia
Alan McClure Dec 2015
I find
waking
at 2am
provides
a convenient window
for two or three hours
of pondering
on my myriad shortcomings
as a husband,
father,
teacher,
writer,
musician
and human being

Conveniently uninterrupted
by the slightest opportunity
to do anything
about any of them.
Dec 2015 · 1.7k
To Saint George
Alan McClure Dec 2015
Arise Great Britain, swell wi pride
this is no time tae split, divide,
a hero needs us on his side
a man apart
Brave Osbourne comes wi manly stride
and lion heart

When danger ca’s, he stauns and fights
He’ll haud the baddies bang tae rights
Nou in their een he sees the whites
and yells, “Attack!”
He’s got oor mojo in his sights –
He wants it back!

Let’s cheer his valour tae the roof
Condemn the wans wha’d cry him couff
And pray oor Geordie’s bulletproof
As on he flies
Then fit him wi a parachute
and wave guidbye.

This GM perfect Tory clone
need not rely on un-manned drone
He’ll tackle ISIS on his own
their fight dissolve
His pores squirt pure testosterone
his eyes, resolve

Just watch the baddies turn and flee
as George, wi patriotic glee
wreaks vengeance for democracy
a one-man dojo
And cries, “Come, Britain, flock to me,
and feel my mojo!”

Or mibbes we should check this twice.
Although the image may be nice
The blood we risk on his advice
may never stop -
But Geordie will not sacrifice
one ****** drop

These profiteering pinstripe ******
wha ken no life but politics
Are no the first tae play these tricks
while deals are made
Why no just wave a crucifix
and shout “Crusade!”

So hooses burn and horror grows
A stream o misery outflows
While braggard Geordie struts and crows,
"Ye want a fight?"
I’d dump him on Damascus road
tae see the light

Ye plot the death o innocents
Tae score yir points in parliament
Yir fascist mocking o dissent
it suits ye well
George Osbourne, ye're a proper gent
**** ye tae hell.
Dec 2015 · 724
The Cry
Alan McClure Dec 2015
So many of us
beaten, heart-wrung care
we share
our hopelessness
our impotent despair
our seismic horror
mounting terror
as nations pile mistake
on fatal error
How do we act
as casualties mount
how do we hold our blighted leaders
to account

We trawl through history
and weakly portion blame
make claim on pointless claim
to show that we began this game
That this was us, and that was them
but all this does
is set the process off again
And little comfort,
stating that we cared
in lieu of just confessing
we are scared

Scared that in the loneliness of night
a sneaking voice
might say this choice was right
that self-defense
is justified
that editors and leaders
can't have lied
that evil really stalks us,
really walks our streets
plots our defeat, prepares
to hoist black flags
into the air.

It does, and always has.
The name may change
but nothing of this crisis
is so strange.
Cry anarchy, revolt
pledge blood to the republic
**** the vote
don masks and balaclavas,
meet in shade
believe this is the place
where deals are made
And soon, to fan eternal conflagration
someone will bring a god
to the equation,
proclaim a nation,
proclaim the right of judgement,
who should live
and who should die
And in the dancing flames,
raise eyes
to thank the empty,
mindless sky.

But what is worst,
among the frantic, wretched cries
is that our comfort
lets us view it with surprise
our safety, compromised
exposes this malignant myeloma -
we feel that we
should never die.
We should not suffer,
should exist
in numb, eternal safety,
empty bliss
no cold, no hunger,
conflict frowned upon
All struggle gone -
we should go on
and on
and on.

But breathe.
Feel echoes, ripples, tremors -
close frightened eyes
and just remember -
this is the road that we are always on
We found it on arrival,
leave it when we're gone
but our survival
is unhindered.
While fools break splinters
from its rugged bones,
we still lay bigger, stronger stones.

This is the world.
Love fiercely, dare
to shout in anger,
weep in care, do all you can
to help your fellow woman,
fellow man
to shatter walls, to build
together, better, wiser things
Prepare
to sacrifice, to will a world as one
and know that evil done
can be undone

Do not succumb
to cold, immobile fear
but shout, in righteous fury,
"We are here!"
Nov 2015 · 842
The Lost
Alan McClure Nov 2015
After the act,
where do you go?

Plans, meticulous plans
executed expertly.
Comrades martyred,
wheels in motion,
all is as expected.

But you.
Commander no more.
Comrade no more.
Those who groomed
and trained you,
are on to fresher meat.

Hunted, hated
you run,
but where?

Me, I could trust
to bold humanity:
could hope for help
in darkest need.
This is simply
what we do.

But you are broken,
and I wonder:

Does your faith warm you
in ditches?
Do rain and hunger fade
in the light
of your great sacrifice?

At three a.m.
does the fact that you,
like any fool,
can **** with a gun,
compensate for barred doors,
cold windows,
closed faces glazed
in baffled fury?

No touch
but a fanatic's.
No love
unchained by dogma.
No hope.

My poor brother.
No hope.
Nov 2015 · 1.0k
This Time
Alan McClure Nov 2015
The bombs will **** only the guilty.

This time,
the destruction of schools and homes,
of roads, hospitals and libraries,
will be instantly forgiven,
because we will acknowledged by all
to be the good guys.

This time we will know
what happens next.
We will have a plan
and we will execute it
with wisdom, compassion and skill.
And it will work.

This time no vested interests will lurk,
grinning, in the shadows,
waiting to lap sustenance
from spilled blood.
We will have none of that.

This time, our victory will prove
our moral superiority,
not merely that we spend more
on armaments
than they do.

This time, violence will beget peace.
Violence will beget forgiveness.
Violence will usher in
a new and loving age.

This time,
history
has nothing to teach us.
Nov 2015 · 699
Plot
Alan McClure Nov 2015
Four feet by six feet,
good black soil
in a good back garden.
I stand, transfixed.
When I was six,
this plot was purgatory.
It could swallow
a sunny afternoon
without mercy.
It stretched, relentless,
an Amazon of weeds
with no beginning
and no end
and I would spend
hour after miserable hour
merely looking
at the horror ahead.
Punctuated here and there
with a desultory dig,
a scrape at the surface,
dock or dandelion
briefly inconvenienced
as the whole, howling,
heaving hoard
of grinning, gobbling green
grasped me, held me
in sticky-willie stasis,
a chickweed choke-hold
between buttercup buttresses.

Today it's tiny.
I could sweep it clean
with three good strokes
of the ***.

So I stand, at once
amused and wistful
lamenting not
the verdant self-pity
but wishing I was still
so easily convinced
of eternity.
Nov 2015 · 496
Always the Corridor
Alan McClure Nov 2015
Behind one door of course
is a giant room, indistinct
colours coming into focus
shapes forming meaning
patterns establishing
coalescent understanding
huge, oh huge!

Another door reveals
hard edges, firmer lines
things to lift and move
a catalogue of voices
swaying rows of figures
regulated, rigorous

Now a third door
opens on a shared space
merging pictures
hybrid hopes
budding, blooming
memories of the first door
memories of the second door.

Many more passed
and one more opened
on a tiny room
senses shrivelled
fog and white noise
an anteroom, a cell
grim and hopeless, sure

But always, the corridor.
Oct 2015 · 716
True Story
Alan McClure Oct 2015
Camping out in Craig's garden,
four of us, thirteen or so,
and the daftness has given way
to important, dark-time talk.

Craig alone has a girlfriend, Paula -
he is a pioneer, entitled to ask,
"Fa dae you fancy, then?"
Inevitable question, social minefield

Answer, "No-one!" and you're a ****.
Give the wrong name,
and risk an eternity of slagging.
Tell the truth, and she might find out.

I go first: I have spotted a safe option.
"Ehm, I fancy Paula," I say,
and it's sort of true - she is a girl,
after all.

Chris goes next:
"Aye, I fancy Paula too."
"Me too," says Jimmy,
and we're all agreed.

We all fancy Paula.
We all fancy Craig's girlfriend,
and that's absolutely fine -
Craig seems satisfied.

And since none of us
has ever acted on such feelings:
since emotion does not yet imply intent
since there is no history of conniving,
of manipulating, of pursuit -
we are all safe and happy,
fancying our pal's lass.

Imagine that now.  Down the pub.
Getting on.  Marriages shoogly.
"Aye, I fancy your wife.
In fact, we all do."

Somehow I suspect
it would no longer be
the bonding experience
of that long-gone, pitch-dark night.
Sep 2015 · 486
Caution
Alan McClure Sep 2015
Periphery drifts
it fades and crumbles
colours seep and blend to brown
music slips
to crackled static
turn it **** it turn it down

fragrant spices
chilli, cinnamon
clart and clog the dusty tongue
lock and bolt
the shrivelled heart
on all you loved when you were young.
Jul 2015 · 940
Between Shot and Fall
Alan McClure Jul 2015
Startled by the crack they launch,
spread wings and soar
through rising summer breeze

Perfect black symmetry
wingtip to wingtip
recalling the first flight of courtship
seven years before

Circle the ripening corn
living the wind
feeling the sky
tilt, turn, circle again

Black eyes cast below
they see a figure,
watching, waiting
rifle lowered, patient

And she begins to falter
to mistrust the surging sky
her element, suddenly unmastered

He is oblivious, effortless.
Spiralling, alighting,
he turns his curious gaze
to seek his mate

And finds only empty blue
where she should be.
Jun 2015 · 914
I Sat Beside Myself
Alan McClure Jun 2015
I sat beside myself today
surprised to see me there
I asked me what was going on
as if I really cared

I laughed at all my little jokes
I nodded and was wise
I'd seen the things that I had seen
knew the promises and lies

I sat beside myself today
I thought to pass the time
But oh my thoughts were miles away
I'd too much on my mind

Oh, let me take me by the hand
I'll be a friend to me
The greatest friend in all the land
And the greatest enemy

And when at last I knew me well
I got right up and left
But oh, the space I left behind
I felt myself bereft

I wonder if I'll meet again
I wonder if I'll try
Sometimes it seems my only friend
is me, myself and I.
Jun 2015 · 957
Charlie the Hare
Alan McClure Jun 2015
Sloshing round the bay road
through the foot-deep potholes,
glorying in the rain-lashed dark
as the wind made the phone-lines sing

I saw him.  Brown, dishevelled, shivering -
a leveret, bamboozled by torchlight
diminished in his dripping fur,
wild eyes wide and startled.

Trying to leap aside, he caught the fence,
rebounded, tried again,
landing this time in a muddy sheuch,
a wired brown ball of panic.

"You'll not last long in this, wee man,"
I muttered, scooping him up,
dropping him into the deep dark pocket
of my raincoat.

Home we went, where two boys waited.
I quickened my pace, eager
to be the father bearing surprises,
to widen the cast-list of this adventure.

We dried him off, the boys enchanted.
He unfolded.  He raised his head.
He bounded round the kitchen
on impossible elastic legs.

"Let's call him Charlie!" cried Robin,
and we did.  
Charlie the Hare.
Alien, crazy, impatient.

When the rain eased
and Charlie was dry,
I put him back in my pocket
for the journey round the bay.

The last I saw of him
he was bounding out of sight
indifferent to the interlude
engaged in other things.

Those wild eyes that looked beyond
had no place in a cosy kitchen
this was no pet, no human companion
there was no understanding

But every time we see a hare,
the boys say, "I wonder if that's Charlie!"
and it glows against the backdrop
of nature's unfathomable canvas.
Alan McClure May 2015
"I will save you from the wolves," he said,
his yellow eyes a-glinting,
his grinning fangs a-glisten,
"I will save you now, my dear!"
And so, ragged from the forest
and the grief of lost companions
With backward glance, she stumbled
through the door.

And beyond the rugged walls
she heard a million voices howling
and a million jaws were gnashing
like a thunder in her head
Till he raised a howl in answer
and he took a step towards her,
"I will save you from the wolves, my dear,"
he said.
May 2015 · 609
Preparing the Divide
Alan McClure May 2015
You are bored and tired
on a day that dazzles me.
I am distracted, impatient
on a day that calls you forth.
My achievements are old news
and you shrug.
Your achievements
are not the ones I wished for you.

The world is unfolding before you.
The blinding light you brought here
is dissipating far and wide
and I blink – was that a dream?
Did I stop it all for something?
Did everything change for something?

So the painful, slow unpicking begins.
I know it from before,
as my dad became a separate thing,
a man I like but do not need.
The years as nodding strangers
telescope ahead
as the brief, blissful bubble
of you and me as one
collapses.

Let me hold you one more time.
Let us feel each other’s heartbeat
one more time.
Let this be what we mean
when we shake hands as men,
when I pass the phone to your mother,
when you drop off the kids and go.
Let us have a speechless moment
when we remember what was,

and stake our separate claims
to the future.
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