26 October 2016

Borrowed Time


his passing was no surprise

they said he’d been living

on borrowed time

but baby

it’s all borrowed time

and when I dummy up

I can hear my life

grow fainter

with every heartbeat

the mechanism speeds on

but I have withered

under the shadow

of certain death

I can’t wrap my head

around the concept of non existence

but I know that’s what’s coming

how will I meet that hour?

and how shall I spend

what time remains to me?


25 October 2016

in the happy ever after


way back when

in the happy ever after

when we all got by

solely on the never never

not just now and then

but now, then and forever


they said times were changing

in the form of promissory notes

and lines of velvet prose

we two had secrets to treasure

but nowhere to hide them


when you were a jewel

in another man’s crown

I was a joker short of a full deck

standing sentinel on empty corners

where the cruel winter winds

knew me for a friend


22 October 2016



they don’t give you much room around here

they’ll steal yer face

or stamp on yer stones

just for a chuckle

but not me

I relinquished the instruments of violence

many years ago

– that’s a mugs game –

I rely on good old fashioned bonhomme

I cruise around here armed with only a smile

and a line in sparkling repartee

– unless I got the F E A R –

then all bets are cancelled

I’ll come on like a regular chump

with all my guns blazing

so don’t get in my way

just don’t get in my way


20 October 2016

God’s Own Medicine


I need a doctor

to tend to my blues

send me a physician

who can prescribe

god’s own medicine

a scripture

green and gold

a liturgy

of soft and splendid


the only elixir

that’s good for the soul

I’m just an old man

trading in second hand dreams

and in the cemetery of hope

some temporary relief

is all we can hope for


16 October 2016

Every Now And Then



they commandeered

my zap, my zeal, my mojo

they said it was

in the national interest

here come the smiles

I have no soul

no zeal, no mojo

I’m lying

through my plastic teeth

but lies are common currency 

in a world that’s lost its mind


all over the planet

pre-packaged death

coca cola






chlorine gas


barrel bombs


the innocent

and unsuspecting


I’ve been doing the sums

in my head


poison gas




it does not add up

the fact is

there is little left to fight for

there is so little left behind


the canal has turned a greeny brown

alluring though that is

I cannot swim

but I wasn’t thinking about swimming

so much as drowning

I’m wearing my dead father’s overcoat

Its bulk would drag me down

down into the gloomy depths

my problems then dissolved


would be ruining the work of god

but who is to say

god doesn’t turn a blind eye

every now and then


universal betrayal

has swamped the earth

lines of poetry

create little ripples

that are scouring

the whole world over

searching for a voice


14 October 2016











got my beast on

I’m the uncrowned king

of countless seasons

left out in the rain

the collateral damage

I caused in ignorance

was simply staggering

those cretinous chumps

who swallowed my words

all took the hump afterwards

they finally exiled me

to the high country

where looking down

I can see the unforgiving

scurry around like ants

at a sunday picnic


13 October 2016



my head was hurting

like a long loud scream

she hit a vein right away

the black wind blew

the relief was palpable

some men prefer

love on their haunches

I just steam on in

all suited up

the man of reason

I ply the trade

with ruthless charm

anticipating all objections

to the angles of my craft

it’s catch as catch can

and I’m ready for a fight

I never underestimate

the sincerity of a lynch mob

they have a job to do

and so do I


11 October 2016

Johnny Friendly


It was Easter Sunday and the city was dead. It looked like the resurrection had been cancelled for another year. Still, the off licences were still openso it wasn’t a dead loss. I was at my mate Johnny’s enjoying his fine Indian dope and copious quantities of chai. I enjoyed our wee tea parties. The conversation was as good as the dopehe was a very bright young man and had had a decent education. There were so few people I could have a stimulating conversation with, so I made a point of staying in contact with Johnny on a regular basis.

Johnny wiznae always the hardnosed businessman everybody came tae loathe. He was once a sweet kid who dealt quality hash at decent prices. He was an affable young guy who seemed to get on wi everybody – hence the moniker Johnny Friendly. Like ‘On The Waterfront’ only this wiznae ironic, but true he was a friendly young dude with a gentle nature. When he changed, who can say, it was a gradual thing, but back in the day he was already shaping up tae be a top dealer. He got the hang of things at an early age – principally because he had an excellent teacher – i.e., yours truly.

“Never tell no cunt yer business, you tell ‘em nothing. Who you score from – what you pay, who yer customers are – nothing.”

“Well I know that – it’s obvious.”

“Aye, it’s obvious, but it’s a hard thing to do. Most people have nae secrets, they blab everything about themselves tae any bugger who’ll listen – which is only natural. You on the other hand have secrets and they have to stay secrets or your business is fucked.”

“I’ve been keeping secrets since I was fifteen and got into this racket, I’m okay with secrets believe me.”

“You have an excellent set up here John Boy. Two entrances secluded from the street – an intercom at the door – well sweet bro, you got that sussed. I like the way you deal wi yer punters too – that ‘special rates fur special mates’ shtick; you should tell that tae all yer customers.”

“You are getting a special rate Buddha and I do count ye as a mate.”

“I appreciate that Johnny, but ye cannae do that too often – or ye’ll price yersel out o business in nae time at all. Look, every punter wants tae feel that they have a special relationship wi their dealer. It’s only natural. The trick is making them all feel that way without cutting into yer profits. Ask yersel whit happens when Peter finds out that Paul is getting a better price than he is?”

“I guess he would feel cheated.”

“Exactly, and he’d grow resentful. So ye tell them all that they are on a special rate and ye charge them all the same. By the way – I don’t charge you full whack either – just so ye know. There are special mates, but they are few and far between. You’ll find that you can only have those relationships with people who don’t need you.”

“You mean other dealers?”

“Aye, other dealers and the like; people you can deal wi on equal terms. You cannae profit by your friends and remain buddies and that’s the shame of it Johnny; those who were once friends are now beholden to you. They were once yer muckers, but now they are yer punters. It’s a sorry state o’ affairs sometimes, but it’s the way of things. The trick is tae cushion that reality wi a wee bit of judicious bullshit – like ‘special deals for special mates’ – see whit I mean? ”

“I don’t know Buddha; most of my customers are my friends.”

“Everybody needs friends Johnny, but yer punters are not yer friends, not any more. Believe me when push comes tae shove half o’ them would daub you in tae save themselves. It’s only natural.”

“You’ve got a pretty jaded way of looking at things Buddha; I’ve known some of my punters since we were at school together. I can’t imagine that they would turn grass on me.”

“In a fuckin’ flash Johnny. Like Marley says – ‘Only yer friends know yer secrets – so only they could reveal them.’ People change when they are scared and they think about number one and number one only.”

“What do you do when somebody defaults oan their tick?”

“Buy a baseball bat and quit being Johnny Friendly, and start being Johnny nasty.”

“Johnny Friendly?”

“That’s what they call you – Johnny Friendly.”

“I don’t know if I like that.”

“It’s better than John Boy.”

“Aye, but you’re the only cunt that calls me that.”

“That’s my privilege Johnny – ah knew ye first.”

“I mean it Buddha – there’s this one cunt who is in to me fur a bar and he will not pay – it’s always next week, next week.”

“Sell him on.”


“Tell Psycho Peter yer problem and he’ll collect yer money for a percentage of the debt – all above board and regular. One look at Psycho’s face and they’ll be falling over themselves to pay.”

“He won’t hurt them will he?”

“Not usually – if a troupe of Hells Angels turned up at your door – what would you do?”

“Shit myself.”


“Could you ask him?”

“No, you’ll ask him. I’ll send him round, but word to the wise – don’t get too involved with Peter and his biker chums – they are the hard edge; those fuckers take no prisoners.”

“I’ll bear that in mind Buddha – I like to keep things friendly – the hard man approach doesn’t suite my temperament – I’m a lover, not a fighter.”

I believed that to be true, but time changes people and boy did Johnny change. Once upon a time he was barely interested in profit he just enjoyed the lifestyle and the crack. Later Johnny would become the biggest gangster in the city not that I ever heard of Johnny actually hitting anybodyPsycho Peter, or one of his minions, would do that for him. Poor Johnny he had no friends, only associates and customers. Still. that was his choice and it had been laid out for him to choose just what direction he would go in, but I wonder sometimes if he was ever really listening to me, or if he only heard what he wanted to.


10 October 2016

The Joker

  the joker

Frank was looking forward to a wee break in Florida. A fortnight in the sun would wash away the winter blues with their cauld squalls and icy rain; a break from the eternal gloom and gale force winds. This winter’s day was like any other Scottish winter’s day – it was pissing down. They waited in the departure lounge for over an hour only to be informed that their flight was delayed by two hours. Sandy suggested they go grab a coffee, but Frank opted for a drink.

“Ah could murder a pint.”

“I fancy a drink too. We are on holiday aren’t we?”

Frank was on his second pint – he was taking it easy – when he got the surprise of his life. His old oppo walked into the bar and he nearly choked on his beer. Jamie Carr, the man who saved his life, his comrade, his blood brother.

“Jamie fucking Carr! How the fuck are you?”

“It’s been a while Frank – you’ve gained a few pounds ain’t cha?”

“Aye well I huvnae been yomping across Salisbury Plain in the pourin’ rain haulin’ a fucking Bergen oan my back for a wee while. Hey, remember Rannoch Moor when we got ambushed by them geese?”

“Yeah, you shat yourself.”

“So did you!”

“You put the wind right up me – I thought you was havin’ kittens!”

“Those were the days, eh? In auld D Squadron.”

“If I’da known how many jocks were gonna be in that unit I’da signed up with the Girl Guides.”

“What are you doing these days Jamie?”

“I’m still with the firm Frank.”

Frank paused for a moment as if he had something to say which was stuck in his throat; like his words were evading his mouth. He did not want Jamie to know he sold stationary – albeit on a massive scale – it seemed pointless next to what Jamie was doing. He somehow felt smaller now than when he had entered the bar. He suddenly remembered Sandy who stood at his side patently.

“Jamie, let me introduce my wife Sandy.”

“Pull the other one Frank – I already met your wife, remember?”

Jamie smiled that dazzling smile and Frank groaned internally – why are you doing this to me? He knew it was that sick army humour, but he was the sucker in this joke and knowing Sandy she would not see the funny side.

“What does he mean Frank? What the fuck is going on? What does he mean I’m not your wife?”

Sandy was livid; Jamie’s words got right inside her head and she wanted to know who this other wife was! Jamie was already on his way out the door – trying not to laugh out loud.

“Jamie, come back!”

“Who is she Frank?”

“It’s a joke darlin’ He’s only yanking yer chain sweetheart.”

“And why would he do that?”

“Cause he’s a tosser darling – a bona fide dirty wee cockney tosser.

“I thought he was your friend?”

“He’s much more than that.”

“Then why would he lie?”

“For a laugh – to see me squirm.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“I swear to you...”

“After what happened with Maureen...”

“Nothing happened with Maureen.”

“I saw with my own eyes...”

“Nothing happened! She took her top off – there was no contact. I was as surprised as you.”

“And now this! What do I make of this!”

“It’s a joke – a sick bloody joke, but it’s a joke.”

“I don’t believe you.”

She didn’t believe him. She would not believe him all through the holiday and all the way through Christmas. His protestations of innocence just made her believe him less. She eventually stopped asking him and Frank thought the issue was forgotten, but she never forgot, not after the Maureen incident. She would carry her suspicions to the grave. A drunken neighbour who removed her top at a party and an army chum who played a practical joke was all it took to bend Sandy out of shape for the rest of her life.

Of course Jamie was blissfully unaware of the havoc he had sown behind him; all he remembered was a cracking gag he pulled on an old comrade.

“You should have seen Franco’s face. He looked like the bottom was falling out of his world! I just turned and walked away and his missus is going ‘Who is she Frank? Who is she?’ I got him good, the sly old fucker. I got him good.”


3 October 2016



That cunt’s been let off his lead. He got his divorce papers last week and now he’s suited, booted and off up the toon on the razzle. I wish ah wiz in his shoes – no that I want tae split wi the misses like – ah’d jist want one night o’ freedom tae recapture the youth I never had. I missed out on the sexual revolution – there wiz nae sexual revolution where I stayed; if ye goat a lassie up the duff ye were fucked fur life. I widnae change a thing mind you, but every now and then a man gets tae thinking about excitement, adventure an that. See these birds noo they are up fur it just as much as we are. Wiznae like that in my day; ye were a whore if ye went wi a man out of wedlock. We all did it and we a’ goat caught tae. Back then nae decent lassie went oan the pill so we were stuck wi rubber johnnies; it was like making love in a wet suit. It was Russian roulette if ye went without though, but everybody did; the majority of new brides had a bun in the oven. I doubt there’s been a virgin bride round here since nineteen sixty three.

I wonder where he’s goan. I huvnae been up the toon since a goat married. It’s all changed though – it’s all clubs instead eh pubs. They say the place is hoachin wi fanny just ripe for the asking. I widnae know where tae start it’s been that long. They say he’s a ladies’ man and that he never let his wife get in the way of a gid time; that’ll be why he’s single now. I could never dae that – cheat oan the wife ah mean. It wid crush her if I wiz tae dae that. Aye he cuts a fine figure in his brand new suit. I reckon the bastard fancies himself – big heeded prick. Come tae think of it – ah never did like the cunt in the first place.


2 October 2016



the whole world

has gone tits up

and I’m nailed in place

as a latent appendage

to my own living room


the sorry critters

who really

take the biscuit

are knocking doors

and recruiting faces

for future armageddons

they’re all bunkered up

and playing war games

we’re on the ropes they say

and taking second prizes

but they won’t go quietly

there will be reprisals 


1 October 2016



a trail of crumbs

an A to Z

a broken twig

a cup of tea

a torn photograph

a letter from mum

the faulty map

and rule of thumb

the careless slap

that leaves you numb

will help find your way home


an old postcard

a wedding ring

a baby’s rattle

the songs you sing

a daisy chain

and bloody nose

but don’t complain

about the blows

the music that you cannot hear

the feeling that you’ll disappear

if you can’t find your way home