Monday, 15 August 2016

Stories Untold

So, it's August, halfway through already, and here in Scotland that means the schools go back soon (very soon... tomorrow in fact). As usual I have done little-to-no writing over the summer (family business, lots to do, some of it involving doing as little as possible...) but as it happened I was more than happy to leave the poem in my last post as my statement for the summer, if you like. News moves so quickly but poetry doesn't have to. The death that prompted that poem (the murder of Jo Cox) still happened. It is still shocking.

Today I have something a little more cheerful to mention however. Another poem of mine (written quite a long time ago, 2006, on a postcard here) has made it into the world of music (well done, clever poem). In particular the poem 'Significant other deceased' (poem itself not cheerful, obviously, written after reading an article about victims of the London bombings in 2005) is now part of the marvellous thing that is track 4 on the album pictured above - 'Untold Stories' by the very lovely and talented Scottish songwriter and musician Kim Edgar. The album launch was this Saturday (just gone) in Edinburgh and you can now buy the album via Kim's website, even though official release is in September. The site also has info about Kim, all her gig dates and so on. It is a brilliant album (as are all her three solo albums) and I cannot recommend her work highly enough (which makes it all the more exciting to be a tiny part of the latest album). Other names that appear in the writing credits for 'Untold Stories' are Karine Polwart, JΓΌrgen Treyz and Gudrun Walther but most of the writing is Kim's own (and the singing, and the piano playing... and a fair bit more besides... like the stunning cover photography). The launch was in Stockbridge Parish Church in Edinburgh and the stage just before Kim came on looked like this:

There was a full house, a warm, friendly audience to match the artist herself and some absolutely precious sounds and expressions of love and care and hope (and a raffle with allotment vegetables). I haven't had many big wow moments in my writing 'career' really (though I did get an encouraging word from Michael Marra after I read a poem at a gig he was headlining some years ago... I've lived off that for a while!) but this was a pretty special night (for everyone there but certainly for me). Happy sigh.

Monday, 27 June 2016



She was not your enemy,
Not if you had thought about it
For longer than a minute,
Or had lifted your eyes
From the sites online,
Where every word is a knife
In some soul’s back.
Or worse.

She was not your enemy.
She was a classic striver,
Little person, big ambition,
Trying to make things better,
To help all people
(For we are all people)
Go forward to a place,
Where we all might survive.

She was not your enemy.
And even before
You set off down that hill,
You were jailed already,
In a past that never was,
Locked into a greatness,
That was simply not great,
Not for most of us.

No, in those great times
You would have dripped away,
In a trench, or other hole,
Some paupers’ prison.
You would have dreamed maybe,
Of a liberal do-gooder,
Who might fight for your rights,
For your tiny life.

You would have longed,
Don’t you see,
For someone like her,
Someone who gave a damn.
And in another trial,
Through different eyes,
She would have been your salvation,
Not your enemy.

RF 2016

The news, as ever, comes thick and fast and in amongst it all a woman died in Yorkshire on 16th June. We lived in that area, her constituency, for a few years a decade or so ago and maybe for this reason her loss is large in my mind even with all the other news that is flying about (some sad, some distressing, some confusing, some exciting... such is news, generally speaking). Her name has been in the news (and will continue to be there somewhere I am sure) and there will be other poems (by laureates and such) but for now, here is my offering. And a picture of the sky because right now I couldn't think what else to show next to a poem about someone being murdered in the street.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016



Partly I just like the feel of it,
It makes me a man,
Little else does that.

I like its shape, its strength,
What it says to people,
Fear me.

And I am scrawny and ugly,
And nothing you care about,
But you know my name,


RF 2010

I wrote this poem for the online Poetry Bus back in 2010. It seemed at least a little relevant this week, if not every week. Sad story follows sad story.

The photo is from a visit to Crosby last year where we saw the Antony Gormley work 'Another Place'. 

I'm working on putting together a little book/pamphlet (my first since 2008's 'More about the song') so I've been looking through poems, deciding which deserve a bit more of a push (and which should be hidden forever!). This poem, for example, is a maybe (I have several categories - probably, maybe, maybe maybe... and so on). I have a title for the project though so part of the way there...

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Pencils and pens

A case

When you died
I cried so much
And so hard
That I wore
A groove in myself.

It was a hollow pipe,
The line inside,
Like the one
In a pencil,
That has lost its lead.

No wonder 
So few words came
For all that time;
Though good things happened,
And the rest.

Now I work more
Like a pen again.
Blue-black marks
Come scratching
From an inky vein.


Photo was taken May 2016 (six years after my Mum died). This new poem makes me think of this (much more cheerful) song. Am I the only one who sings the refrain at the end as "vegetables, I got my baaaaaaby"?

Thursday, 2 June 2016

City girl again

So, a long time ago I wrote a poem called 'City girl'. You can read it here. Recently it was used as the starting point for a piece of... dance music (and I'm not talking a light waltz). The artist is a mysterious Dark Web and you can hear the track here. There are three versions (original, original with one mild rude word removed and 2 am mix - i.e. remixed and faster with less words). As these 3 tracks are on bandcamp you can listen a few times (3 I think) and then it will 'prompt you to buy' (if you want to). After a break of nearly 20 years I think I am finally ready for loud pounding house music again. Well, now and again... when I'm not napping...

Sunday, 15 May 2016

About the toon

This is very new... prompted by finally watching the last part of BBC Scotland's 'The Promised Land' just recently (I didn't know it was going to be ALL about Montrose and its early twentieth century cultural clout...) and probably by the upcoming music festival MoFest here too (photo from a couple of years ago above). I've posted the words written below but I have a simple tune for it (and I quite like the chorus - listen here, it's just me singing... into the phone, one take, don't judge me). I'm never very good at differentiating verses from chorus and tend to use about three notes (and I've never claimed to be a singer...) but maybe a local songwriter (or two) can do something interesting with it (2 weeks till MoFest... high street ready by then... loads of time...). It could possibly take more Scotification - I have used bits of Scots and some local references but I'm sure others more local than me might be able to do more. It could certainly be sung with a more local sound than mine!

Non-Scots should note that 'stay' is used in Scotland where others would use 'live' (as in 'where do you stay?'). I am using 'stay' in both senses in this, kind of blended really. I snuck in a 'bide' (also a type of 'stay') at the last minute too. 'Close' is another double meaning - here 'closes' are the alleys /courtyards between houses (very much a feature of central Montrose).



I live in a little town,
It picks me up
And it slows me down.
I stay in a little town,
Aye, I stay…

Watch tides, at the waterside,
Sea sure for its share,
River fights, its course to keep,
Gulls float, going nowhere.


Flat lands, green against the blue,
Long days, long beaches,
Hearts wake, for a golden day,
What that might teach us.


Bide, close, can you hear the words?
Poets past, modelled faces,
Tall street singing high above,
These are our places.


RF 2016

Sunday, 8 May 2016


Yes, another window photo. And, lo, another poem.


She’s in a pocket;
Tucked in, safe hole,
Whatever rains,
It doesn’t reach her,
She hides her stupid head,
Pulls up her stupid knees,
Makes like a circle.

Hard times come round;
They knock, knock, knock,
They pull and push.
Her view is simple.
She waits them out,
The rips and stones,
Disguised as nothing.

RF 2016