In Which I Use Bad Words


Descriptive word.

Outside of Glasgow, almost always offensive. 

Inside it’s walls, it depends. 

Consistently conflated 

with mad, sound, other descriptive terms. 

Tam there’s a stingy cunt, but see his bird? 

Soundest cunt I ever met. 

It’s a Scottish thing, 

I think. 

Turning insults on their head, twisting ‘pal’ to sound aggressive cause see

its all about the tone. 

All about the emotion. 

We produce so many stellar poets, cause partially

it’s in our bones. 

The sound of trees means almost nothing

unless you’ve felt it on your cheek, in your skin, 

and I love yous fall flat without emotion. 

We work behind the words.

Painting bright reds on sunsets and life into the stones.

But knowing the darker things too. 

Until you have been so lonely

as to relish the touch of a cashier

as she passes you your one pence change,

you cannot taste the ash on your tongue,

cannot know

that bittersweet silence between I miss you and goodbye. 

So cunt 

seems like the lesser of two evils,

cause I’d rather be all bar fight than teary eyed, 

rather feel blood than nothing. 
See, it’s all about

the context,

you beautiful bunch of bastards.


The Hangover Of A Century

​You never miss home on holiday 

til you’re hungover. 
Where is the fog

hiding all the clumsy footprints I left on the edge of someone’s heart? 

These foreign walls are too bright, too big

and for some reason, always too yellow. 

Where did 

I leave my shoes? 

I only brought two pairs and I have to walk to breakfast, 

curse that continental spread cause all I want’s a Tattie Scone.

And this fucking heat

makes fighting the whitey ten times harder. 

How am I ever going to feel better without the aid of Irn Bru 

or of you? 
There is too much water between us now to run, but if this hadn’t been so expensive I’d still try. 

You’re all bright eyes in my livingroom and unexotic airs

but I don’t care. 

Cause Egypt’s too hot this time of year,

and I could proper go some bacon. 

My stomach’s churning faster than an engine and I’m near dizzy at the sensation.

Everyone else is by the pool, I’d rather be by George Square 

cause I don’t care to go anywhere without you.

We’re both Scottish,

so I think we were born always longing to be home.

That’s why we have so many folk songs 

and every American MacSomething pretends he’s one of us. 

Other places are alright,

please don’t get me wrong. 

But give me rain. Give me hills. Give me song,
and I’ll spend every note on longing after you.

Cause I’m a sap. 

And I know my rhyming’s crap 

but I’d trade this whole bloody week just to be next to you.

For Sophie

Nineteen passed by too quickly,
what with the liquor
and drugs
and all the mentally ill crap,
but I don’t wanna talk about that.
I wanna talk about the moments
lit like fireworks in my memory,
heartbreak loud without apology or consideration
for my neighbours
(who still hate me, by the way).
I wanna remember her smile
how it felt in my stomach,
roses growing in my oesophagus,
thorns catching my throat when I laughed
but her hands brushing mine
containing a quiet apocalypse with fingertips that always smell too much like cigarettes and home.
The curve of her mouth
as we recount stories of high school classrooms and jumping picket fences,
police calls and serenades by boys who heard we were bisexual
and assumed threesomes were on the table.
Our English teacher,
her voice a symphony but one we almost ignored 
too caught up in dreaming ourselves to death and emptying our rose stems into toilet bowls.
We were newly sixteen then,
and we understood Persephone over any other god
cause when Hades opened its jaw,
she leapt,
balled fists and pomegranate seeds,
straight into the dark.
Let it swallow her whole.
And Sophie, I let him
swallow me whole,
and I can still taste hell on my tongue sometimes.
Nineteen passed by too quickly cause I spent it wasting away,
locking myself in rooms, too sick to move, every part of me feeling colder than death.
I do not say this to demonise,
or throw accusations in his direction,
merely to say that I loved him
and when I was nineteen I thought
he loved me too.

Sometimes things happen for a reason but it doesn’t make them any less shitty.
Clarity can only wipe away so much dirt.
I know I am better now, wiser now, fuller now
but that doesn’t mean it didn’t fucking hurt.

I have waged wars almost all of my life.
But you are the one nation
I know will always take my side,
a commander and general with nothing but pride
every time I pick myself up again.

Never pity. Never fear.
Only love.

Playing God

Had the absolute pleasure of performing at the Blue Chair’s Open Mic last Thursday (and I’ll be there again next month too, so please drop down!) and dropped a new poem. So here it is, for your reading pleasure:

When I was mentally ill, the last thing I thought about was God.
When you are
knee deep in your own vomit, cheeks gaunt,
skin stretched across features like a drum,
gold chalices and colossal buildings hold nothing for you.
Your church’s pews are empty.
You are preaching a sermon of truth to someone who will not listen
because their brain is in the midst of malfunction,
and your Bible is torn to shreds.
Miracles come in smaller packages.
Brushing my hair, eating enough,
not feeling that sinking feeling in my gut telling me
I am no longer good enough
and God has long stopped listening.
There is so much darkness in me, I can only imagine fire.
(Insert Plato’s allegory of the cave here).
What I’m trying to say
is when you’re down in the dark halfway between drinking yourself to death and spending days too sad to move,
God feels
like a lie lodged in your mouth.
And it breaks you.
You are in a pit in the red desert, nailed to a cross,
and every good day feels like the last drop of wine before his mouth meets your skin.
In this story, you are Cain and Abel at once.
In this story, you are Lucifer and Michael,
Jesus and Judas, Moses and Pharaoh.
In this story, you will kiss yourself to death.
So actually,
fuck this story.

You no longer go to Church because you have already found God,
and she is lodged in the bottom of your throat.
You can feel her sometimes
on days it feels too dangerous to use your voice,
on nights
there are three steps between you, a litre of vodka and all the pills you shouldn’t take,
and you say
Not today.’
God exists in every hesitation, every ‘but’ or ‘why’ or ‘stop.’

Your body is a temple,
So worship in it.
It contains so much holiness,
don’t you know?

The One Where I Reference Hamilton

Watching me rap is pretty uncomfortable, so you might wanna imagine someone cooler talking to you for this one:

Her palms are sweaty,
knees weak, arms are heavy,
there’s a joint rolled already
and she can’t say no,
she’s got no self control.
Her arms are long,
there’s a song
lodged in her throat
and by the end of this poem you might know it.

She’s got diet coke cans on her window sill lying dormant
and half a gram of grass if you want it.
Sitting pretty on a bench labelled “for those departed,” but don’t get her started
on how terrifying mortality can be,
cause see she’s
on her mark and her legacy,
all the things she could be
but too busy
writing more goddamn poetry,
losing herself in the lines.

If insanity is repetition,
then what the fuck is writing?
Cause I’ve been scrawling love poems in my sleep and they all sound the same.
There’s only so many stars you can compare eyes to,
only so many demons you can grab by the throat.
I’m all out of metaphor
and as for similes, like
they ring the same.
Oh, your arms are
more like thunder than rain,
but so was the last lover.
And the one
before that.
And before that and that and…
You get the picture.
If you don’t, read another poem
cause it’s all been done before.
I’m the most lyrical example of plagiarism
to be knocking at your door.
Ginsberg’s got you covered. Or Bronte, maybe.
Hell, even fucking Eminem did it before me.
Start again.

My palms are sweaty.
Lines weak, life is heavy,
like unwilling sleep mortality calls upon me.
I can’t get lost.
There’s always people waiting for me,
depending on me,
poems almost leaking from me.
Crying out,
the need to be heard, every word
like a blade
skirting amateur skin.
What a state I’m in!
Don’t tell me to lose myself Eminem,
I’m long gone,
practically making duels at dawn.
Call me Alex Hamilton
cause I’m obsessed with my legacy.
My biggest fear is being lost in the tidal wave of history.
Insignificance haunts my bed
cause I’m a stone
on a mountain face

but maybe that isn’t so bad.
Cause the truth is
there wouldn’t be a mountain without me
or the fresh flow of spring without every single leaf.
Honestly, it seems like history shouldn’t bug me
as much as being happy.
And I know that that sounds pretty sappy,
but the thing about mortality
is it’s sort of inescapable anyway.

Let the historians forget my bones,
and the blood we shed for these lines.
I no longer care. No longer
want to know
what will become of me when I am lost.


ah christ, writers are the most sickening!
Verses bloated with cigar stains, wine glasses lying toppled,
any excuse to talk about grass!
If it doesn’t come, wrench it out,
grab it’s neck,
the fucking trigger.
It’s only enough if you’ve bled for it,
starved for it,
if it holds you captive, embedded in ink.
If it leaves claw marks on your back, you know it’s good,
it’s decent, it’s


What a crew.
What a night!
Writing, each of us,
until knuckles grow bruises like paint strokes and it’s last call everywhere but here.
Until tongues drag
across bitter pavements, scorched by asphalt,
sends us sprinting into back alleys to smoke cigarettes with the mad and disillusioned.
What a crew!
What a mess!

Each one of us bearing scars and secrets like Highlanders bore wine skins,
dotting lines with apologies and fuck yous simultaneously,
and all for the love of

What is it that propels us
like helicopters or planes,
drives us into the same lyric filled lanes?
I used to think it was blood.
Born of a woman who sacrificed her own skin to make mine,
I couldn’t seem to think of lines that didn’t involve wolves
or wine
or self destruction in some way.
But not today.
Today I am fresh spring meadow
plagued by bees and breeze
and in my veins there are fucking symphonies,

and that’s on you,
not all you but it helps.

Writers are the most sickening.
All our hearts are drowning in vomit and bad verse, clumsy attempts to console the sky
even though it’s not listening

but I am
and you are
and that is all that matters.

They call us star gazers
but looking up always strains my neck.
I’d rather look down at the human,
gutted and rising,
than depend on the heavens for my soul,

I guess I never learn my lesson,
always ask fifteen questions at a time
and have a chronic need to make everything rhyme.
I’ve been talking to ghosts instead of praying to God above
and to steal a line from Sam Small, it’s gotta be love.

Yes, of course!
sending us skipping through verses, tangling us up in words.

It’s love,
it’s love,

Aphrodite, she
writes poetry too,
much better than mine.
That explains it all then,
doesn’t it? That explains