1. The Friday Tsunami
by Sheena Blackhall
Friday arrived, a sea-born Armageddon
Mountainous seas crashed from the ocean’s peaks
Bulldozer waves breaking machines like matchsticks
Wires wrapped their metal arms around each other
Cities were on the move, a seething cauldron.
A human flotilla of arms, legs, floundering, flailing
After, came names on lists. Fathers
Rooting like boars for buried families
The stink and sway of mincemeat masonry
Bridges were twisted braids. Ships perched on roofs
Like cormorants watching for fish.
‘Has anyone seen my husband? ’ a cleaner pleaded
‘Where is my paddy field? ’ a farmer cried.
Victims swirled and stirred in the same salt broth
The very air recalling Hiroshima.
No reason given, no pity and no mercy
Nature rising up like a sick man’s gorge
2. Suddenly, aged 35
Suddenly, aged 35
Irretrievably lost, a piece of a family jigsaw
Suddenly, aged 35
A fork turned its back on its knife
Suddenly, aged 35
Hope broke into shards too sharp to fix
Suddenly, aged 35
A wife a lover a mother entered the past tense
3. The Lovers of Union Square
Elderly lovers at Frankie & Benny’s
Skip the dessert as they’re watching the pennies
Students go dating at Baguette Express
Or go Dutch at the Subway when out to impress
Proposals indecent or racy are made
At Zizzi’s before the square pizzas are paid
At Nando’s, Chiquito’s & Prezzo’s the girls
Discuss latest conquests while black coffee swirls
Whilst others break bread inside Giraffe or Peckham’s
And dream their a team like their heroes, the Beckhams
At Accessorize, Fossil and Ollie & Nic
The would-be-date-magnets all buy to look chic
At W.H.Smith, V.Design, Paperchase
And Best Wishes, the Valentines take pride of place
For those who’ve been lusty, there’s Mamas and Pappas
And Costa, where Junior can shake his maracas
At Jack & Jones, Fat Face, New Look, H & M
The girlfriends consider the length of a hem
Will it catch his attention? Turn off, or turn on?
Next, Outfit...then Starbucks for Latte and scone
Wealthy oilmen descend on Pandora or Rox
For that special something to pop in a box
Not quite what she’d like? Lapis Gold or Azendi
May soften her heart...think you generous and trendy.
When the courting is over, for feathering the nest
Instyle can provide, or dropp by M & S
And to keep love alive, why not top off the day
At the Perfume Shop, buying an essence or spray.
Union Square welcomes Cupid, leaves nothing to chance
For those window shopping for Love and Romance
To woo, wine and dine your new boyfriend or girl
The Square is unbeatable...give it a whirl!
4. Love Song to a City
I love my city with its growling skies
Its chiselled features and its trading fleet
Its windy thoroughfares, the seagull cries
Ringing above the clash of Union Street
I love the huddle of the Fitty Wynds
The curlicues of Marischal’s soaring spires
The echo through the haar of ancient chants
Sung in the smirr by dead Franciscan friars
I love the way the town clings to the tide
The shingly, tingly, rhythmic slush of shale
Breaking the North Sea into shining shards
Driven by wind and salted by the hail
I love the atriums of glassy malls
The mediaeval masonry of Kings
Gray herons fishing on the Dee & Don
The landward V of geese’s beating wings
I love the cats on Union Terrace Bridge
The clickity clack of speeding trains beneath
The Mither Kirk’s green lung, oasis space
Such gems as city forefathers bequeath
To us, as trustees of this ancient place
This Northern Light with granite carapace
5. In the Room Next Door: for Jessica, January 2011
Two gentle creatures crossed the oceans
Exchanging Asian warmth for a Scottish Winter
The foetus turns like a dolphin in the womb
The stars are writing her future as we wait
Two families, one Scots, one Vietnamese
Knitting a union in the unborn’s bones
I wish this child no napalm, no Cullodens
This grand-daughter much wished and waited for
May she never hide in fear from a soldier’s gun
Or know the gnaw of hunger in her belly
May the dragon-lords with their drugs
Not crush her wings, nor tear her innocence
For now, she lives in the swell and tide of her mother
Birth will release her into a conjoined culture
Child of the ceilidh string and the Buddhist chant
May you be as smoke in the air of a cold morning
Dark haired and comely, deeply loved and wanted
6. Spare Parts
Have a Heart?
Don’t be Tongue Tied
Maybe it’s crossed your mind…
Cold feet? Stomach in a Knot?
It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg
To see eye to eye
With organ donation
Get a head start. Have a heart-to-heart
With your nearest and dearest.
Thumbs up to lending a hand
Don’t get cold feet:
Wimps don’t have a leg to stand on
The surgeons will be all ears
Got green fingers? A sweet tooth?
A big mouth? Are you a pain in the neck? Two faced?
Don’t fret. The surgeons can’t transplant bad habits yet.
7. Tribal Trees
Nine months the newborn swam in the womb
Her parents going about their daily business
Now come the golden days, the princess-time
Too young to give needs speech
Her skin is smooth and soft as Chinese silk
Her nails are paper thin as mother-of-pearl
Her crown of hair is fluffy eiderdown
Her tiny mouth a pout of dewy bubbles
The child lies in the arms of a withered elder
The veins on the ancient hands
Rise like sailors’ knots in the sun-bleached skin
Grandma’s wearing the leathered neck of a turtle
Her empty breasts hang limp in her chemise
The rise and fall of sap in tribal trees.
8. It was a Marvellous Party
I thought you’d enjoy a party after your tour of duty
I’m still at Camp Shorabak in my head,
Our Afghan base, all fear and energy
Didn’t you like my dress? It cost a fortune
When you see the Afghan women, their dress is Biblical.
It takes you back 2,000 years or more
You didn’t touch a single piece of food.
The vol au vents were Coronation prawns
Out on patrol the food’s boiled in a bag.
The menu, love, is the last thing on your mind.
I went to so much trouble, balloons and invites
Up at Musa Qala, lying on a rooftop
The wadi and the mountains were astounding
The sunset with its background, blasts and gunfire
Was the band too loud? Didn’t you like the dancing?
On foot patrol I had to watch my step
For IEDs...a bang could mean disaster
I didn't know your best friend had been killed.
There’s always something dreadful on the news.
I just switch off, we all do. It’s so far
From all we care about back here at home.
He got his in a firefight, three hour skirmish.
His wife and kiddies get a widow’s pension
But am I still your girl? You look so handsome
In your dress army tunic, with your medals.
All manly, disciplined, cool yet repressed
My best friend Donna’s boyfriend’s just a joiner.
I tell her, ‘Watch the news’, you might be on
See you tomorrow, maybe catch a film?
9. The Harrowgate Hoard
If some dismal day you’ve got nothing to do
You’re disgruntled, unsettled and bored
Why not purchase a metal detecting rod
And discover a Harrowgate Hoard?
Has the cat brought in fleas? Is the baby in fits?
Has dry rot gnawed the house you adored?
The answer is simple. To sweeten the day
Go discover a Harrowgate Hoard.
You planned a nice picnic outside on the sand
It spat, then it dripped, then it poured
And made your fake tan look like wet marzipan
What you need is a Harrowgate Hoard
You went on a foursome arranged by two friends
You were cucumber-cool, but ignored
And spent the night doodling on bar mats and stools
Get a life. Get a Harrowgate Hoard
The football team that you supported got beat
You wept as the other side scored
And the horse that you backed ran amuck on the course
Change your luck. Find a Harrowgate Hoard
When you married a wife, for the rest of your life
She omitted to tell you she snored
You could leave her behind, fly to Cannes to unwind
With the help of a Harrowgate Hoard!
10. Three Women circled Weirditch Well
Three Women circled Weirditch Well
All whiskery, all whispery
They vanished into empty air
Like the sea-echo from a shell
Three Women circled Weirditch Well
And where they walked, the flowers died
And where they breathed the blossoms fell
Like bridegrooms mourning a lost bride
11. The Dyslexic Laptop
I ma giong ot tepy a littr.
I ma giong ot sand ot ty yuo
I ma giong ot tepy a littr
Ho, pliz well you sand mi noe ti?
12. How to Pocket an MP
Offers of perks on tap
Holidays at a warm, exotic villa
An introduction to Any celebrity at all
Offer of a prime-timeTV slot
Offer of a book deal with a tour
A high class hooker with very discreet credentials
13. Saddleworth Moor
Curlew and Merlin, Flycatcher and ouzel
Lapwing and Plover up Pennine Peaks Soar
Rising from Saddleworth red grouse and pheasant
Through arching rainbow to Heaven’s bright door
Flint head and Viking shard, Morris stick dancing
Saddleworth sheep crying lone on the moor
Hare hunts with thudding paws, gun barrels blasting
Saddleworth lambs dogged by Lucifer’s spoor
Keith Bennet snatched near his grandmother’s house
Pauline Reade after a dance lured aside
John Kilbride kidnapped exploring a market
Anne Downey taken from a fairground ride
Buried in Saddleworth under the heathland
All of them children, that families held dear
Hindley and Brady cut down youth and innocence
Write in the Doomsday Book Evil stood here.