All posts by calumrodger

Northern Lights

I know for a fact thanks
to Smash Hits or Top of the Pops magazine
that in the mid-90s Peter Andre
would shower at least three times a day.

From time to time this knowledge
(and most of all its clarity)
has been known to grip me with
a momentary anguish.

It’s always been a dream of mine
to see the Aurora Borealis.
When I told my friend Sebastian this
five or something years ago he said

‘But you have – don’t you remember?
One night on the beach in North Berwick –
it was the most amazing thing –
I can’t believe you don’t remember’

but I don’t. I’ve been jogging
in the evenings again lately.
All I’ve captured so far is
space and the odd faint star

then I come home, shower
make and eat my dinner
all the while looking for
the latest memes on Facebook.

Who am I to prioritise
the objects of my experience?
At least three showers a day
is at least one too many.

Watch the Credits

When the credits start to roll and the lights go up
When you brush the excess popcorn from your jeans
Or check your lap for wayward jellybeans
And drain the final dribbles from your cup
Don’t get up. Stay. Should you wish to rise
Lethargically, as if from a long journey
First recognise that everything this film had to say
These people said it. Stay. Watch the credits.

Each moment you spent in suspense, each twist
In the tight-wrought plot, the light on the cheeks
Of the actors when they kissed, the bird-in-flight
Sight of the city, the fraught exchanges and taut arrangements
Pitch-perfect simulations of love and fear
The stitching in the hems of the robes they wear
Each laugh, each sigh of relief, each tear
Is engineered. And the roll-call of the architects is here.

So stay put. Don’t look to the exit yet. Respect
For a moment the context of this scrolling text.
Behind this illusion is a team of magicians
And nothing is born without labour, so savour
The essence of the picture in the names of its creators.
These are the puppeteers who disappear
With the strings and the sawdust in the final edit
But they’re all right here. So stay. And watch the credits.

Write Poems, Fear Death

I.

It’s getting late, and words
won’t get you anywhere my friend
except for late

so flounder with me here
and with the moon, always the moon
waiting to wane

let me count the hooks
that fix our cheeks to thrashing
in schools like these.

At the breakfast table this morning
reading cereal, I came upon a note
‘in three stanzas or less, complete this phrase:

I write poetry because…’ – ok
pleasure of making and the made thing
to finish and never to finish!

desire to be desperately loved
how emphatically phatic!
also, acute fear of death

ha – as if all this scribbling
of estranged little icons
makes me any less scared!
 

II.

I’d rather be floundering
out here with you and always the moon
it is beautiful, but

made-up gills are pierced
with real hooks. Look, the moon
is waning

let’s – we can neither
have breakfast together
nor breathe underwater.

O to be dead and eaten
to be only the steam rising from my own guts
to be wholly and utterly caught

(if you want to disappear
you have to learn to do it
so that somebody sees)

or, to lose the hook, wholly and entirely
to be same as ocean
to be full as moon

(if you want to destroy something
the only way to do it
is to make it yourself)
 

III.

We’ve floundered so long
the moon’s become hidden
by morning becoming

a box, a bowl, a spoon
milk. There is a happiness
possibly breathable

except for these gills –
will you please be the one
to go and get milk?

I’m sorry. I’m no more
sensitive to these things
than you are

or less so. Please
take an ordinary breath with me
before you go.

Write poems, fear death
is a kind of motto. It isn’t new
but it’s all that I can do

to utter it again
again
again
 

Published (as ‘Poem’) in Know Yr Stuff: Poems On Hedonism, available from Tapsalteerie Press.

The Street Lights Flick On

The rain we know comes mustily
it holds the sky.
We’re not children

so stay the night.
We can be the flat plain gloaming
of wine-stained doors.

No air can trick its way in here,
forget the girl who kicks the coloured panel.
Talk is luck and not where love is.

Magic. When I lose that word
to the tone of your attention, it is hard.
Everything we’re doing is below us.
 

One of the fruits of a collaboration with Ryan Van Winkle. See the rest at his blog here.

A Voter’s Reflections in Rhyme

Written on the 18th September 2014.

‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’
To be honest I wanted so much more
I don’t need Rabbie Burns, but they ask me so abruptly
And ‘yes’ or ‘no’ don’t lend themselves to metaphor.

Then there’s the trek to the community centre
With its wee metal boxes and flimsy stalls
Some auld yin at the desk, pencil and paper
The tech, the venue, the staff – a bit rustic, that’s all.

But, I have never been a fraction as excited
At Caesura, the Sub Club or Yellowcraigs beach
As when making that mark – as if something ignited –
A spark that turned talk into serious speech.

I knew I’d be buzzing, but something surprised
Beyond all the novelty and singular thrill
It started as a feeling, and then crystallised:
The graphite was etching my political will.

A strange new electric, an unfamiliar frisson
A vote not felt to be futile and bored
I heard my own voice, and heard all who listened –
Speech is only serious when it’s heard.

‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’
Ask this question 4.289 million times
And listen as a million pencils bluntly
Change everything with two bisecting lines.
 

POSTSCRIPT

What beautiful platitudes, but here comes the postscript
I’m drunk – the sentimental stage has passed
This stanza’s slightly different – the BBC would have to cut it
Basically, yous better all be voting YAS

For when today tick-tocks into tomorrow
And the eagle comes swooping through the glen
If the winner is the one that’s filled with sorrow
You know the one, the one that starts with ‘n’
I’ll probably cry and never vote again
I’ll probably cry, and never vote again

Le Pie Macaroni

On the curious and tragic case of the removal of the Macaroni Pie from the Greggs’ menu and the consequent media storm.

At the bakery chain where they sell all the pies
We found ourselves in for a nasty surprise
‘Cause we didn’t want steak nor your scotch-pie baloney
We wanted our favourite: le pie Macaroni

But the powers that be, in their hair-nets and hats
Said ‘sorry stodge-lovers, you cannae have that’
We said ‘whit, are ye mad? It’s a Scottish tradition!’
They said ‘that’s economics’, we said ‘right, a petition!’

So we logged onto Facebook and messaged our friends
‘The pasta-pie age has come to its end!
Please lend a hand to prevent this great travesty!’
They messaged back saying ‘we never liked them much anyway.’

Then in swooped the media, moved by our plight
With headlines exclaiming ‘is this the final bite?’
We hungered with hope for the dish that we craved
When Sturgeon herself said ‘the pie must be saved!’

But this modern world is a curious one
As soon as we thought that our dream had been won
The pasta-pie lover whose petition we’d signed
Said ‘in truth, these pies are disgusting, I find’

‘But I made this petition because I have a wish –
To expose as a folly our love for a dish
When all around Scotland are signs of great poverty
To muse macaroni is at best a frivolity!’

He called it a ‘social media experiment’…
But ‘hook, line and sinker’ is what I think he meant
For although I admire the reasons he bore
Our conscience and follies are no either/or

There’s no contradiction in any sane person’s eyes
We can stand up to poverty and obsess over pies!
Hell it’s these ‘contradictions’ that I like the most:
We live in a place where we like to do both

So yes, I’ll confess to a shade of embarrassment
For playing the subject in his little experiment
But the egg on my face is the cheese on his chin
And guess what – macaroni’s on the menu again!