Monday Apr 22

GambleMiriam Miriam Gamble is from Belfast but recently moved to Glasgow. In 2007, she won an Eric Gregory Award and published a pamphlet, This Mans Town (tall-lighthouse). She has also won the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary Award (2010) and the Somerset Maugham Award (2011). Her poems were included in the Bloodaxe Anthology Voice Recognition: 21 Poets for the 21st Century, and her first collection, The Squirrels Are Dead, was published by Bloodaxe in 2010. She currently works as a subtitler for the hard of hearing.

Bower Bird

All year
he gathers in
the mesmerising curios,
and rearranges
to his taste,
in its base
most eminently solid—
writ clear
in colour texture odour—
that flower, this
fragrantest of dungs—
though it’s subject in
the ordering
to x-fold variations—

permutations, combinations,
it’s not quite, no it’s not
quite perfect yet—
had he fingernails
he would scratch his head
feathers quite away—

and then there are always more—
more things, more
glittering phenomena
to be appended to his stack—
to the well-gauged
light and shadow of
his amour-shack—
this womanwork is never done—
they file by,
they doom to
ensnare him by
the ear
the eye
the nostril,
and before
he’s aware of what
is happening
the place is
a sorry mess—

he begins the job
he will sprain
what intellect’s
amassed in
his tiny skull
toying with the heavenly
and unanswerable question
what a feathered female wants,
what may be guaranteed to bag one—

and she comes
and it is not quite
what she had envisaged,
personally, in her heart
of hearts—
down the leaf-strewn path there is
a better one—
the flower was
a fatal error—
and suddenly, so
his work is done;
he sleeps the vacant sleep
of eunuchs;
sweet bird
the heat of the sun
or do not fear the heat
of the sun—


Snoozy sunny summer fox
—   Huh! I didnae think ye saw
       foxes by rivers!
—   Nor in the day!
—   They’re as bold as brass,
       d’ye know, city foxes,
       would swipe yer bloody dinner off ye
—   Aye, well, they’re far
       frae the country now

you rub your muzzle in the leaf mould
trying to plot a comfortable lay

—   Why should they no
       enjoy the sunshine? Huh?
       They’re no different
       frae the rest a us!

It is just that the sun is too hot,
the dappled mulch an oven baking clay
to the long lithe body coined for chicken theft,
for dew-dealings in the wee-est
of the wee small hours,
and the too-bright eye, meningococcal, strays

The fox rolls and is resigned,
a drumming belly full of acid,
to the fact that the city has
upended the clocks,
that noon is midnight, and night day

And in the Digital Media Quarter,
new strategies unfurl like bowling greens
or oriental carpets,
and the 24 hr Astons and Dentons,
the subs for Birmingham and Norwich,
scroll silently across enormous screens
to the cue of insomniacs;
to the rhythm and rhetoric of dreams


I am educating the computer.
So, I read it poems, information on whaling,
a centre-spread from the newspaper
about getting your feet massaged by fish.

I teach it finance, and international conflict,
endow it with the rules of football.
It says, ‘I do not understand. Could you repeat?’

I indoctrinate it thoroughly
in punctuation, in possessives and plurals,
the troubled history of the Belfast mural.
I teach it fashion, and haute cuisine.

But oh, its radical innocence!
When it says, ‘And that is twenty pines, please’,
or ‘The pound trees are wrecking the ecosystem’,
I swear, Your Honour, it isn’t coming from me.

The Subtitler Rebels

What should now be on display:

Sorry, I’m making a mess of this.
That isn’t what he said at all.
For ‘Fife’ read ‘doofer mac’, for which read ‘Itchley Bridge’.
For ‘skill’ and ‘skull’ and ‘scale’ read ‘school’.

No, the writer of comics is not a Kafka.
The author of The Gruffalo
is not to be recognised as Scotland’s greatest living poet.

d like to let you know:

That the sun glints meekly off the windows of endeavour
where nothing is the thing we chose.
To long since pass the point of breaking rhythm.
A rose is not a rose, if
by other name it chance to become distinguished.

I am. Forced hand-over. Conduit closed.

The Vandal, the Emigrée, and the City

He comes in the dawn with resentment and a screwdriver—
picking the oldest, cheapest car,
sets to, and enters through the violetted window.
He rubbishes it beyond repair.

In the morning, the girl sees the broken car and weeps.
She had bought it from a family friend, the friend is dead,
and now this desecration.
Slowly, the girl is losing definition.

So they walk, these nobodies, their separate griefs:
long leashes, and opposite ends of town.
Sometimes he reaches out to touch her.
At times, she almost knows his name.