SIXTEEN OCCASIONAL POEMS

1990–2000

 

1 Ė FIRST OF MARCH 1990

Poem: Alasdair Gray © 2005

 

 

........................................................................am in sky to Berlin

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††† who only rest well when working &

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††† work best at home

†††††††††††††††† who avoid abroad unless pulled by lover

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† †††††yet travel alone

†††††††††††††††††† fearing travel may break habits keeping me whole

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††† remake me worse

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††† so why in sky to Berlin?

 

discontent I fly

†††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††† not to life ahead but from all behind although

not one of Scotlandís unemployed

†† not poor not friendless

†††††††† wifeless through choosing to be

†††††††††† with independent son I like who likes me

††††††† this brain body nobodyís tools but my own

why discontent?

 

donít use tools well

††††††††† from cowardice hide pride under meekness

†††††† childishly keen to be liked promise more than can

††††††††† so guilty

†† love & paint too little (once painted a lot)

†† think & write too much††

†††† booze to stop thought so fat††

should change††

 

HATE change always hoped each home

††††††† where I came to live would be where I would die††

††† war marriage motor-way building divorce dry rot††

†††††††††† ††††††††† kept starting me anew all I could do

to stop some things going away††

was remake them in paint and words that also decay

†††††† ought not to try keeping

††††† should glory in change

 

†††††††† HATE should HATE ought

†††††† words used by teachers who tell not show

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††† who use others as tools

††††††††† killing appetite and imagination which do

††††† the work of creation freely

†† once felt free writing a book only I needed then

†††† now teachers tell children it ought to be read

†††† does all free work leave a chain?

 

†††††††† am chained by books I made some popular

††††††††††††††† sweet for the sour to be suddenly told we are sweet

††††††† kind heat sucks self to surface like sweat being licked

†††††††††††††††††††† fees and fame fill belly & days until

††††††† one day am 55 my best work done

††††††††††† having promised too many too much

†††††††††††††††††† & running (no)

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† flying away

 

†††† from Winnie Wilson in geriatric ward

††††††††††††††††††† from small new publishers called DOG & BONE

†††††††††† from SOMETHING LEATHERíS incomplete design

††††††††† †††††††††††††from THE ANTHOLOGY OF PREFACES

A VERNACULAR HISTORY OF ENGLISH SPEECH

BY THOSE WHO WROTE IT BEST no not from that

†††††† 400 pages (minus commentaries) are in this bag

& also in this brain

 

††††††† & on this conscience

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††† what in Berlin east or west

†††††††††††††††††† can break chains of habit &guilt letting me see

†††††††††††† things wholly themselves

††††††††††††††† things not smeared with me?

††††††††††††††† he thought

††††††††††††††††††††† coming down from the sky

††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††to Berlin

 
Contents