preparing Sandie Craigie’s poems for publication

typing the words

ever so slowly

her Edinbury dialect

and spelling

coming uneasy

to wasted fingers

and west coast brain


but in my head

I hear her voice

and see her clearly

rocking to the rhythm

of these potent lines

that make me weep

and laugh in turn


seven long years gone

and still my eyes

seep torrid tears


the fear

the horror

the love


no more than

memory now


the pain in my gut

a sharp reminder

of what is lost

paper hat man

when it begins to wear out

he will make a new one

a black and white

newsprint affair

all those stories on his head

both sad and bad

with the odd humorous

or human interest tale

snuck in to lighten the load


sometimes it’s a glossy

magazine page

colourful and terribly chic

like today’s edition

sporting fragments of models

stiletto heels, sleek hair

some elegant clothes

half a muscular torso

tucked in to numerous folds


but always the same design

a neat little pillbox of a hat

above the unshaven face of

the local roofer who laughs a lot

tells jokes and funny stories

and is just a wee bit crazy

from too much sun

up there on the rooftops

day after day after day


Krassie, the paper hat man

an eccentric and welcome

addition to our village life


my wee brother

Saturday night in The Village

Charles wanted to show us

his favourite bars

watch this, he said

stepping forward

swinging his kilt

along the avenue

all the young men

whistled and hollared

how we laughed

ever the show man

my wee brother


a response to slander

seen it all, done it all

storms come and go

I weather them all

water off a duck’s back

not exactly a piece of cake

but hey ho

I’m still standing

holding my corner

in my own inimitable way

there’s not much could happen

that would be worse than

what I’ve been through before


yet people never fail to amaze

and this recent

quite unexpected attack

is out there

I don’t mean leftfield

but way beyond the pale

a mind-blowing slurry

of malice and slander

lies, damn lies

curious contradictions

and implausible tales

a scurrilous conspiracy

deserving of instant disdain


I have the integrity to refrain from

gossip and spiteful tale-bearing

I think of what I know

yet have never revealed

about these individuals

then I hear their sorry narrative

conjured up from unimaginable

depths of vindictiveness

and I stay speechless


if I were to truly spill the beans

their already tarnished reputations

would crumble to dust


they are nothing to me

my time too precious to waste


sweet memories

today I watched a video of Santana

an early, live performance

of Black Magic Woman

fifty years from my first hearing

on a jukebox in a bar in Brooklyn

played for me by Frankie Santana

the African Puerto Rican with whom

I shared an intense, emotional union


half a century has gone by

yet I remember clearly

that first love, however brief

the night I asked him what he wanted

and he smiled and said, you

in an instant his wish was granted

beginning a ten month long involvement

featuring bars, much acid and weed

New York winter nights on freezing streets

a summer visit to a Karlsruhe army base


when we parted we both agreed

it had been an incredible trip


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