Magi Gibson


In March 2009 Magi was inaugurated as the first Makar (poet laureate) of the City of Stirling in 500 years. She held the post for 3 years.
Magi read Scotland Oh Scotland for Melvyn Bragg’s Travels in Written Britain on ITV.

Scotland Oh Scotland

My poor small country
struggling under the weight
of so much calvinistic decency!

Scared to make love
with passion and nakedness
lest your civilised neighbours
twitch at their border curtains
and call you savages.

You chase tartan rainbows
waving lucky plastic heather,
you search for tealeaves at the bottom
of a thousand whisky bottles
to convince yourselves
there is a future.

While somewhere deep below
an outward show
of growing confidence
of MSPs and Scottish Parliament,
your underbelly churns and growls
your prisons overflow with suicides and wasted lives,
your kids kick burst dreams at ever-moving goalposts
on graffiti-splattered housing schemes,
and your old folk freeze alone
Win A Million on flickering TV screens.

And still - to trawl those tourists in,
those silver-dollar-darlings,
you package up your sense of nationhood
in shortbread tins, in haggis skins,
in cozy tartan rugs, in highland toffee bars,
in football teams, in bull-necked rugby stars -

while behind this pseudo-culture kitsch and keech
you try to hide the awful truth
that no-one dares to utter -
you are the lion rampant
that whimpers
and never ventures from its den -
the David that never leaves his bed
to face Goliath with his stone and sling -
beaten before you begin,
a purple-faced thistle full of pricks
in ginger wigs and tartan tammies
in cinemas and city streets and pubs
crying in your nightmares for your mammies.

Oh my sad, sad people who think that Demo Crassi
is the latest Baywatch Bimbo, who sit in living rooms and lounges
staring at Sky while your seas are poisoned,
your food is modified, your intellect is stultified -
and in your towns and villages your kids go chasing dragons
and their young dreams die -
how dare you have the brass effrontery
to say you’re on the way to self-determination?

How dare you have the gall

to claim your re-birth as a nation?

When you step from the shower

When you step from the shower
it’s as though you’ve stepped from some ancient forest
raindrops shimmering in your hair like jewels

When you step from the shower
you sparkle as though the stars have fallen from the sky
and rested on your skin

I want to kiss you then, run my tongue
along the rivers of your arms

But you walk round the room
not knowing the beauty of your every move
not knowing how I want to smooth the golden hair
that curls still damp upon your breast

You glow warm as the morning sun
that makes the small flower turn its head,
spread its crimson petals wide

And when you bend
your spine describes a pattern
intricate as tiny sea-shells shifting
beneath your topaz skin

You come from the shower
mouth-tempting as a tight-skinned fruit
glistening with early morning dew

I love your nakedness, the man in you
that melts the space between my hips.

I love to watch you dress, but not just yet, my love –
the shirt, the socks, the bus, the boss must wait –
first let me have just one small kiss. . .

the hunter

only kills for the table, he says

the table shifts uneasy
on its four stout legs

a shadow drifts across
its polished face

as it wonders
what will be put on it next

Confessions Of A Wild Woman

Dear god
Who art in H.Q. somewhere in America
Let me confess the sins
Which have made me the miserable witch
I deserve to be…

In my house are many rooms
And it is hard to hoover and clean them all

And in a secret cupboard I hoard a Himalaya
Of ironing, which has been known to avalanche
Causing danger to life and limb
And the temporary loss of one small child

But worse than these Oh lord I must confess
I own a black and lacy thong
And a clingy backless dress

I have long hair and legs
And cause men to lust after me
Especially if the light is low
And their vision failing
And now, oh lord, even with the greying
Of the hair And the lengthening of the tooth
And the lowering of bum and boobs
I get drunk on Saturdays
And fornicate on Sundays
When I should be in church

I hide from The Christian Aid woman
When she calls for her envelope
And dodge the Big Issue Seller at the corner
(But only if I don’t have change)

I use foul language
(But only when sorely pressed
Or pissed)

I harbour ill-thoughts towards my fellow men
Especially those at work

I covet the Diet Coke Man
And the young guy at the bus stop
Whose shy smile brightens my day
With heathen and unnatural thoughts

Sometimes I forget to water my houseplants
And they die
Sometimes I over-water my houseplants
And they die

And for these sins, oh kind and loving god
Who is all-powerful, all-loving and all-forgiving
I deserve no better than to bring forth
In sweat and blood and agony and suffering
He who now borrows my car without asking.

I deserve no better than to be paid
A miserable salary for doing
A miserable job

While still trying to mother the fruits of my sins
And somewhere inbetween sing the praises of he
Who made me from mud and rib

So please forgive me,
Oh mother and father who brought me up right
And John Knox who lurketh like a flasher
In the shadows of my mind
For I have sinned
And am not finished yet.

Washing Day in Dublin

You stoop, lift a sodden towel, pin it
to the drying rope. As in a silent dance,
you, your mother, bend, stretch, rise.

On your right, the fuschia bush
planted when you were a child
drips with red and purple buds.
High above clouds white and frothed as suds
scud across the blue sheet of the skies.

Once in this garden you ran wild,
once you dreamed below the bramley tree,
once you fought and played while Rosie
from the kitchen window watched and smiled.

No child upon it now, the old swing sways
an ancient creaking pendulum -
it ticks away the days since
you have swung from boy to man
who helps his mother hang the washing out

while from the kitchen window
another woman holds you in her gaze.

More poems can be found on Magi's blog. Please use the link on the menu.