Poem of the day

'Why argue about what cannot be?', from Ballad of the Outer Dark

by Paul Peter Piech

19 November

There is no housing policy

by Dennis Gould

18 November

Sitting on the fence blues

by Dennis Gould

17 November

Herbal alpha.bet

by Dennis Gould

16 November

from 'Friend'

by Susie Maguire

15 November

Crafty

by Maureen Duffy

You made handbags out of milk bottle tops

bound in raffia; machined rugs out of rags

and odd balls of wool; sewed cami-knickers

from parachute silk, my first satchel

handkerchiefs from flourbags; cooked up bread poultices

sheepshead brawn; crocheted cuffs and collars;

smocked, pleated, piped; cable and moss stitched.

Cakes though weren’t your forte. You were defter

unspooling golden syrup onto mounds

of bread and marge, doled out slice by slice

or recycling the weekend’s leftovers.

 

Now, sitting here, turning up trouser legs

apprentice task, I’m aware that even

the names for your skills are exiting Left

out of my head, and the mother tongue,

shop soiled, shop spoiled, we learn to forget.

 

14 November

Tollcross Cakes

by Tariq Latif

It’s that dead hour of the night

when the blazing burners to the vast ovens,

turned low, hum solemn psalms as the bakers

go outside to smoke. Dazed, half-awake

they shuffle into the car park like cakes

on a conveyer belt. Some of the workers gaze

at the tenements where their children and parents

 

doze in the warm caramelised air. A stark moon

shines over Parkhead. ‘Look it’s made of butter,

dough, sugar and salt!’ The men joke as they make

small red moons glow in their mouths. They baptise

each other with wreaths of smoke. Some of the bakers

swallow little white moons, poppers, keep me

awake gob-smackers. Some of the women,

 

turning their sallow faces to the moon,

are reminded of the millionth sponge cake

they will have baked and how that sickly

scent of baking never quite washes

from their skin or hair as they muddle

through life working with debt, dealing with asbos

and feeding their children just the right

 

addictive mix of sugar and salt. An owl hoots

from some hidden place, before the clock

strikes three to summon the bakers back in.

Each contented hoot is followed by comments

from the crowd. ‘All this must have been woodland

long ago. How has it survived? The factory mice!

Sugar and spice and all things nice!’

 

The girl barely turned seventeen has a bun

in the oven. She has the choice between

living with secrets and scars or her love

and hate for ginger bread men and life on the dole

as a single mum. Broken, she knew nothing would ever

be the same again. She knew that not all the workers

or family or friends could ever put her together again.