One of the special features of The Poets’ Republic has been the Back Page Poem – a short piece of work singled out for its immediacy and emotional impact. These poems also give an indication of the work we favour for the magazine. In Naw, Stuart A Paterson demonstrates the potency of Scots as he delivers a curt riposte to those who stymied Scottish independence; in City Surprise, Magi Gibson inverts assumptions of the obvious to celebrate the joyful humanity of a graffiti artist; and in a robot drone foresees your death, Ruth Aylett goes for the jugular with a contemporary take on one of Yeats’s most famous poems.
The hail world’s gan baith quair & peerie,
Ah cannae jist jalousie at a
Hoo Scotland’s fowk have votit Naw.
Syne we were prood, a couthie race
Wha blew & puff’t aboot this place,
Wur straths & glens, wur lochs & braes,
Wur pride in sang & national claes,
Wur honestie, wur leid & law –
Sae hoo’d we cam tae votin Naw?
Yon whae wid chant the tribal sangs
O pride o whaur they maist belong
Maun wheesht & sing nae sange at a –
They have nae richt. They votit Naw.
– Stuart A Paterson
The nocturnal graffiti artist
was out again last night, slipping
through the city’s trouble dreams.
This morning, I walk past his handiwork –
a silver dove, sprayed on a head-high privet hedge
Peace and Hope, man. Peace and Hope.
And in the children’s park,
on the roughy-cut lawn, two eyes,
a golden sunshine smile
while over by the swings a heart
of perfect pinks’s sprayed on the grass
for lovers to fall through
and by the gates a broad tree trunk
boasts in scarlet letters
three feet high
I LOVE YOU.
He never sprays on walls or doors,
shop shutters stay paint-free,
he never sprays in anger, hate or pain
or teenage existential agony
but makes the city blossom with his art,
then leaves it to the gardeners – and the rain.
– Magi Gibson
A robot drone foresees your death
(with many apologies to Yeats)
I know how you will meet your fate.
I’m flying in the skies above,
my programme tells me who to hate,
I’ll blow you up with those I love.
My country’s feeling very cross, my countryfolk, both rich and poor,
are full of grievance, pain and loss.
To make them happier’s what I’m for.
The law is hazy on my flight
but public men and cheering crowds
will greet my kill with great delight,
approve my vengeance from the clouds.
So balance all, bring all to mind:
no years to come to waste your breath,
a waste of breath your years behind,
in balance with our life, your death.