AMBUSHED BY POETRY: Four poems from Anxiety Music by Kevin P. Gilday

We’re pleased to publish this selection of poems from Anxiety Music by award-winning poet, performer and theatre-maker, Kevin P. Gildayone 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

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 

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.

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The Glasgow Review of Books (ISSN 2053-0560) is a review journal publishing short and long reviews, review essays and interviews, as well as translations, fiction, poetry, and visual art. We are interested in all forms of cultural practice and seek to incorporate more marginal, peripheral or neglected forms into our debates and discussions. We aim to foster discussion of work from small and specialised publishers and practitioners, and to maintain a focus on issues in and about translation. The review has a determinedly international approach, but is also a proud resident of Glasgow.

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