everything she needs

she’s so not bothered
by the arthritis in her knee
she’s happy with her brand new glasses
cuz that means she can see

pretty fish swim in their tank
lots of meat in the freezer
she worries not about grey hair
it don’t make her an old geezer

her favourite foods are in the fridge
there’s a roof over her head
& when she wants to sleep at night
she’s got a big warm bed

she’s got a job she likes
that helps to pay the bills
& the blessing of free health care
to take care of any ills

can’t forget that lovely garden
with its sweet-smelling flowers
here she finds her greatest peace
digging & weeding for hours

does she miss her family?
hell yeah – they were there first
sometimes she misses them so much
she fears her heart will burst

but there are many folk who love her
she thinks this every day
folks whose smiles hold her up
when grief wants to stay

when her tears fall,
when there’s nightmares,
when heart breaks & bleeds,
her mother’s memory reminds her
that she has everything she needs

copyright © 2019 KPM

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conviction

the demons return
when the room is pitch-black
but she’s stronger now:
well-equipped to fight back
she’ll not let their negativity
win the day
her feet are firmly planted
her resolve will not sway

she’s made friends with Hypnos
she dances in her dreams
blithely side-steppin’
away from the demons’ screams
ogres & devils
do battle for her soul
as she recedes from the reach
of Charon’s barge pole

copyright © 2017 KPM

deciphering the message

when I stepped into the garden
church bells began to ring
was that the sign I’d asked for
did it mean anything?

would I now be suffused with
a faith I could not doubt?
would my tears be replaced
by a triumphant shout?

when I stepped into the garden
when those bells began to chime
was that a divine message
that I’d be rescued one more time?

would I now be granted
a glimpse into that light?
would I be assured the path I choose
is the one that’s right?

perhaps I need to get busy
building a garden that is new
one large enough to encompass
souls as big as me & you

copyright © 2017 KPM

last chance

if I’m honest
if I tell you you’re the one
will you run?
will you run?

if I kneel to you
swear forever I’ll be true
what would you do?
what would you do?

will you help me sow love’s seeds?
will you forgive all my past deeds?
will you love a heart that bleeds
or will you run from all my needs?

if I’m truthful
admit I long for you & me
will you flee?
will you flee?

if I’m bare my soul
if I make it clear
will you hear?
will you hear?

underneath an ageless sky
next to you I yearn to lie
time passes with an agonized sigh
those we love one day will die

so if I ask you
on this day
will you stay?
please, tell me you will stay

copyright © 2017 KPM

as the storm approaches

everywhere I look
as far as my eyes can see
everywhere I look
there’s another memory

when the sun is hiding
when skies are fat with storm clouds gray
I remember all those summers
the tunes that we would play

something simple I’ll be doing
hoovering or mopping the floor
when – unexpectedly – I hear
your laughter at my door

I remember washing the car
while you drank beer on the deck
asleep, I often dream
of the taste of salt on your neck

I don’t know why I love you
I’m oft unsure if you love me
so far apart we are
love is futility

sometimes I wish I didn’t love you
I wish the past would set me free
but you’re the keeper of all my secrets
so I need you to love me

copyright © 2017 KPM

Sunday worship

the roof is high
endless miles of miraculous blue
I gaze on it reverence
inspired by the view

so high is that ceiling
spare white clouds like wispy souls
for such a space I’m thankful
I know God’s at the controls

the floor is well-laid
older than countless years
its borne the weight of thousands
eons of shocks & tears

done in a hopeful shade of green
that must have taken hours
my heart dances in awed silence
while bees sing amongst the flowers

I’m a gardener, I’m a shepherd
paying no heed to the clock
sending praise to God above
as I tend my floral flock

& when at last the church bells ring
the words “Hi Mommy” leave my lips
it’s then I smell her in the air
she lightly clasps my fingertips

once again I’m reassured
the Lord has heard my anguished cries
my Mom is forever with me
her love is infiniteit never dies

copyright © 2017 KPM

speeding

“know how fast you were goin’?”
the officer said
while the music pounded
in her head

bemused, the officer moaned,
“you were way past 55
flirting, she smiled – she winked:
“ ’s a good day to be alive”

“cause when you’re my age
you don’t care one little bit
when you’re over 55
you cease to give a shit”

the officer stepped back
rapidly he blinked his eyes
his young & hairless face
wore a look of surprise

he was open-mouthed
stammerin’ & shufflin’ his feet
dude was like,
“you can’t drive that fast on this street”

to which she laughed, saying,
“ whatcha want: you want me to cry?
son, everyone gets older
you & me, we’re gonna die

I get you’re safety-conscious
that makes sense – it’s also sweet
but my blood is boilin’
in this summer heat

you look at me & see
another person growin’ old
but beneath this settin’ sun
sits a woman whose heart is bold

from trouble
I have never shied
I’m a woman joyous
I’ve laughed as I’ve cried

I have triumphed
I have lost
been true to myself
no matter the cost

life is fleetin’, son
hell, it’s downright scary
& surely you can’t blame me:
I’m entranced by Bryan Ferry!

so accept my smile
along with my prayer for you
do what you think
you gotta do

cause when you’re my age
you don’t care one little bit
 once you reach my age
you just don’t give a shit”

the officer was charmed
reduced to a young man meek
bowing, he tipped his hat
then shyly patted her cheek

he got into his car
nothing did he have to say
he never saw the kiss she blew
before they both drove away

copyright © 2017 KPM

more than memory

you are there
as I prepare
my lunch of tuna fish
once you made it for me
expressing your deepest wish
with childhood’s culinary spree

when I drink iced tea
your face I see
fine beads of sweat
as you worked in the garden
no matter what happened
never did your big heart harden

in everything I do
I feel you
it’s in the way I iron
my partner’s favourite shirt
he’s always there – like you,
shielding me from hurt

when I garden, when I sleep
when I’m mired in depression deep
when I hold my partner’s hand
when I’m missing my home land
when I’m talking on the phone
when I feel most scared & all alone

you’re still there
so this pain I must bear
because you loved me
I can be strong
because you loved me
I’ll learn to sing another song

copyright © 2017 KPM

one small voice

I’m deeply troubled by the thought
of people denied seats on planes
such injustice awakens a memory
of the many humans bound by chains

as an honourably discharged vet
who proudly served in the US Army
I’m appalled & aghast by the recent actions
of a ‘President’ immature & smarmy

this man has no compassion
he’s making a vile mockery
of the words of hope engraved
on the Statue of Liberty

my family & friends are in America
varied in their religions & races
& America was founded by immigrants
from vast & far-flung places

at uni I studied all kinds of subjects
falling in love with history
& the current ‘President’s’ rhetoric
smacks of Hitler to me

it’s totally unacceptable
this level of insanity
in what I always thought of as
the home of the brave & land of the free

now I watch that freedom threatened
by a man who would be king
a man who’d destroy Martin’s wish
that we let freedom ring

I’m just an ordinary person
so to you, my words may not matter
an American in Dundee
watching her homeland shatter

but if you’re as worried as I am
then this poem I ask you to share
for refugees & for immigrants
for the downtrodden everywhere

now’s the time to band together
before it is too late
we need to remember God is love
& love will always trump hate

copyright © 2017 KPM

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a little walk

There’s a lot in the news just now about the events of January 20th, when a man many people in the US and worldwide regard as racist, xenophobic, misogynistic and even mentally unstable was sworn in as the President of the most powerful nation on earth. So I tried to write a poem about my feelings regarding what I personally view as not just a heart-breaking but frightening turn of events – but nothing would come. So I thought, “Fuck it…my voice can do no good. There’s enough anti-Trump articles out there, what difference will one more make….who will care about what one immigrant has to say?”

But I kept remembering.

I am an immigrant. A legal immigrant from the USA – which I say not to disparage illegal immigrants, cause I don’t know their stories or what caused them to flee their countries and therefore I have no right to judge – to the UK, who immigrated for love. And though the man I originally moved to the UK for dumped me, it turned out to be a good thing, because meeting him led me to my adopted country – Scotland – and it led me to my current partner of eight years, who is the best man I’ve ever known (father and grandfather excepted).

So on January 20th, the day Trump was inaugurated, I found myself walking down to Dundee’s City Centre, where I protested in a demonstration against the new US President.

I am not a person who protests as a rule, in spite of being voted Most Radical Senior in my high school newspaper my senior year (much to the dismay of my parents). I can recall protesting three times in my life: the year Lt Calley was being court-martialled for the deaths at My Lai: it was Easter 1969, I was 11 years old, and my ‘protest’ consisted of writing “Free Lt Calley” in that invisible crayon pen that showed the letters on the egg once the egg had been dipped in dye. My father – who had served during the Korean conflict – was livid.

My second protest was in 1975. I was in junior high school – the UK equivalent of middle school. Rat turds had been found in the school cafeteria, so I encouraged the students who ate there every day to protest by bringing bag lunches. By my recollection, perhaps 20 students joined me.

The last time I protested was in 1988, when I called in sick to work on Nelson Mandela’s birthday to attend a protest march against his continued imprisonment.

I tell you this to show that I am a person who cares. That said, in the almost 30 years since my last protest, life – as it does – intruded. I had friends who died: some by natural causes, some my misadventure, some who were sadly murdered. And I had my own personal problems to contend with.

But on 20th January 2017, I remembered.

I remembered watching on telly as the election results rolled in the night of President Obama’s first election back in 2008. That night – having wisely taken the next day as annual leave – I had four friends watching the election with me: Tutu, a female student at Dundee Uni from Namibia, Ayo, a male student from Abertay, Myriam, my Muslim friend from Pakistan (the first Pakistani I’ve ever known), and Grace, a woman my age on benefits from Lochee, who admitted that until meeting me at a bus stop, she’d never had any interest in people of other cultures.

We were up until 5am watching as the election results rolled in. I remember the hope and the joy and the gaiety of that night: Myriam’s insistence that the smokers and the drinkers need not go into my kitchen to have a fag or a drink even though I’d told them to do that out of respect for her as it was my house and she was a guest and I smoke and drink myself, Myriam was insistent that we not leave the room on her account. Ayo’s somewhat drunken delight at finding himself the only male in “this roomful of beautiful women!” The way all my friends hugged me when Hilary made her concession speech. Halfway through the night, Grace hugged everyone and proclaimed us “the Rainbow Tribe.”

Fast forward to 20th January 2017. And I’m walking to Dundee’s City Centre on a mild January evening to protest against the Trump presidency.

Were thousands in attendance? No. Perhaps 200-300 were people gathered. But they were all people who – like me – viewed this new President with alarm and distrust.

What right thinking person mocks the disabled? Who publicly disrespects women, stating “you can grab them by the p**** and they’ll let you when you’re a celebrity” – this from a man with a mother, and daughters. One can only wonder how he would react if someone were to sexually harass or assault his mother, his sister, his wife, his daughter. This is a man who boasts of his Scottish heritage when it suits him to do so for the purpose of advancing his hated golf-course in Aberdeen whilst bullying those people who have refused to sell their homes to him. A man who denigrates immigrants while promising to “Make America Great” again, apparently indifferent to the fact that America has always been known as the “great melting pot” – it is a country founded and built by immigrants, a country that was greatlong beforehis ascendance to the office of President and whose greatness lay in her diversity.

So I proudly protested on inauguration day. Before leaving to attend the protest, I turned my TV to the Comedy Channel and left it there in solidarity with the many people who protested by refusing to watch televised proceedings of the farce in Washington. When the organizers of the Dundee protest – upon hearing what was obviously not a Dundonian accent – thrust the mike in my face and asked me to say a few words about how I felt, I was more than happy to oblige.

“But why do you care?”some of my friends back in the US have asked me. “You don’t even live here anymore!”

To them I reply that I was born and raised in the US. And though I have made my home in Scotland for the past 14 years, it doesn’t mean I love the land of my birth any the less. Like many immigrants who have moved for whatever reason, I am constantly torn between my homeland and the country where I now happily make my home. My family is in the US. My dearest friends are in the US. Also, I’m an honourably discharged veteran of the US Army, who sadly learned whilst in the Army the reality of being black in America.

Where I live now, I don’t have to worry about WWB or DWB. I can wander around any shop I choose without having a security guard follow me around because I’m black because “black people steal”. When I am hired for a job, there are no whispered, spiteful remarks about Equal Opportunities and quotas. I can go anywhere with my white partner without fear or apprehension.

My fear is that all the things I currently enjoy will dissipate under a Trump administration. The rights of gays will be eroded. The right for a woman to choose what to do with her body will disappear. All the gains of the civil rights movement will be undone under the administration of a man who worships nothing but himself and mammon.

So for the next four years, I will protest whenever possible. Hopefully it won’t take four years.

I had a friend ask me the day before I posted a link on Facebook about the Dundee protest and my intention to attend it what good marches would do….what would a walk in Glasgow or Dundee accomplish? Too distraught at the time, thinking of what the new administration would mean to my family and friends back in the States, I was unable to respond to him clearly. But now, I would say to this friend:

Remember Gandhi and his followers – they marched.
Remember MLK and his followers – they marched.
Remember Mandela and his followers – they marched.
Remember the kid in Tiananmen Square and his followers – they marched.

But I won’t just protest. As a believer, I will pray for the land of my birth. And I will pray for those friends I have who are Trump supporters, that they are not too badly hurt when Trump lets them down.

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