We’re pleased to publish this selection of poems from Anxiety Music by award-winning poet, performer and theatre-maker, Kevin P. Gilday – one of Scotland’s most celebrated contemporary poets, recently included in the Saltire Society’s ’40 under 40’ list celebrating outstanding Scottish creative talent.
You can read the full GRB interview with Kevin P. Gilday here.
He said: I’m looking for a regional accent Meaning, of course Someone who sounds poor But they can’t put that in a voiceover casting call, Which is fair enough Ah sed: Pal, ahm regional as fuck See, this is ma real voice No the wan a use wae the likes ae you It’s heaving wae the auld p-o-v-e-r-t-y Aw authentic an mistreatit an that He said: That’s perfect, we’ll let you know Ah sed: I’m looking forward to hearing from you But a know ah never will Cause ah wiz a touch too authentic An naebody likes when hings git too real Specially when ye’re just trying Tae sell a bit ae contents insurance
After The Flood
I eat my toast as they count the dead Supress a ripple of abstract grief With every obnoxious tick Of the metronomic counter Held hostage by aquatic anxiety The flood came suddenly A primal fury untethered from the sky It ripped across the globe like dusk A pestilence passed from latitude to longitude We observed the water levels rise With ethnological pleasure Dispassionately noted the details As it enveloped the famous streets of ancient cities Pointing to the clavicles of the great buildings We had gazed upon, ten summers hence A polaroid recollection Stripped to skeleton But it was still not enough for us To accept the forthcoming reality Dismissed as foreign language feature When it was instead a trailer Coming soon to a country near you… We saw soon enough It didn’t take long to make landfall From abstruse concept to brutal verity A tide of panic Uncontrollable Unmistakeable Unprecedented Now we live in thrall of the flood Inhabit the icy folds Pull the surf around us like a blanket My flat is filled with it My clothes are damp from it I ship it out in buckets But it returns to me A persistent drip drip drip of dread And so I learn to live in the water Go about my day in the deep end I eat my toast as they count the dead After the flood There will be an armada of bodies Washed upon the shore Evidence of when the levy broke And the Clyde burst its banks Overflowing with the forgotten fathers Of abandoned care homes After the flood The guillotines will be sharpened With the cursed names Of every politician who pontificated While the lists lengthened Of every billionaire who burnished Their bulging bank account Of every deviant who denied it Hid behind piles of privilege As their neighbours drowned After the flood We will rebuild the bridges of humanity In simple sustainability Live within the everyday alchemy of being Treat the tenets of our home like a temple After the flood We will ring bells across this land In triumph and in mourning A wake-up call to humanity A harbinger of the fight to come We will lay out the corpses as a border For our brave new world Recite their names as a battle hymn Grateful for our shelter when the storm came And forever mindful Of the eventual cascade that will one day Sweep us all away
Fly on Rothko
A fly on a Rothko captured my eye. Illicit beast, dragging my ocular down a burnt blood scarlet to meet your spindly gaze. Do you know? You have reimagined a masterpiece, given new meaning to this portal of colour. Those bold brushstrokes – alive with contrivance, shot through with subversion – now offset with your presence. An acidic ant burning through the page. No-one knows I’m in London. Like you, I have been hiding in plain sight. Camouflaged against a backdrop of someone else’s art. I entrust you this secret as you creep perimeter, circumambulating a rich red. Maybe if I stare hard enough I will fall into this well of colour, re-emerge as an insect. Spend the rest of my days buzzing idly, existing without ego. I would be happy then in my Kafkaesque cocoon. But life is an ever-shifting canvas. Its material changing from minute to minute. We are all floating adrift in a pool of tangerine hues. A procession of flies waiting to land on our work and challenge our runted interpretation again. Though form may contort, its influence puppeted by the invisible strings of chance. Beauty remains beauty, even through kaleidoscope eyes.
I always planned to suck a cock The way people intend to visit Vietnam For the experience One off the bucket list But here I am Booking another ticket Beginning to learn the language A frequent flyer
If you’ve enjoyed these poems, please consider if you can support the artist and his publisher by ordering a copy of Anxiety Music from Verve Poetry Press.