Garry Stanton

Rookie - 71 Points (March 16,1964 / Edinburgh, Scotland)

Short, So Short - Poem by Garry Stanton

‘Short, so short’, or
Edinburgh in the no-man’s land between Then and

skin on cool maroon lino,
depositing cloying crooning heat
high, fresh rooms. Bare feet slap.

In my memory,
Four Tops
Gold Tops, and L’air du temps,
Motown flutes, treacle bass,
that mercury tambourine,
and cheap mummy sweetness.
1967 synaesthesia: I still
Forty years of storage.

A big telephone, red,
bakolite? ,
crashes to bare boards,
a broken party line,
as October sunlight slips
between maple, rowan,
rotting nasturtium.
A jet cat steals in,
mad half-hour,
sliding, scratching, brake-pads.
Once, there was an aviary here.

Parents, younger than I am now,
smoke in the fertile garden,
faces unthinking,
or plain solemn,
contemplating heavily an unlikely

I recall midnight weekend
And chippy chips
(only at weekends, mind)
and Parky and Lex McLean
and watching wee sister.

A small Guinness with dad
in ’73, the women in bed.
Only six years after

Summers were summers, then, man!
Clumsy football,
posh games
We knew nothing of,
crickets in the grass.

Shite on the heels of your Bambas, and
ill-advised take-ons against
streetwise keelies
from the wrong side.

I look down those
stair-years of spiralling
gradual, as in every generation, yet
partnered by joy and no little
and healthy Leith
fatalism, rich overseas uncles and a
creeping sense of
Reaper. It is only life.
It all leaves a mark.
A mark is left.

Marks of

not-quite-vanished Calvinism,
Presbyterian grimnesses,
70s fuel strikes and the
resilient death-rattle of rationing.
His spirit lingers yet,
I feel.

‘I kent your faither, what school do you go to? ’,
nicotine-filled working men.

And g and t, family chanters,
and vanishing, known, ancestors,

people who Were In A War,
in Burma or yellow-skinned
munitions, or Paschendaele.
The last of their ilk.

One decade,
percent of your
earthly scuttling
undergrowth, grows into more. They all join

up and down and slide forlornly down the
lichened well
we call The Past, the water rising every year,
flooding the flat floodplains
we call
What Will Come Next?

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, October 9, 2008

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