On a day like today – a day that’s wet, rainy, cold, and grayer than a sea captain’s undershirt, I always think of Glasgow. Where you’re surrounded by that kind of wet cold that sinks into your bones and doesn’t leave until spring. Or until you can quell it with a wee dram. I spent a lot of time in Glasgow after college. Writing in the Cul de Sac, gazing at Kelvingrove art, traveling the countryside, making friends at Furry Murray’s and Blackfriars. Tromping up the hill by the Glasgow School of Art. Sleeping on a friend’s couch just off Byres Road until the money ran out.
I wrote a lot. Most of it was shite (as Glaswegians say). Waxing poetic about whiskey, Scottish brogue, and heather. But a few things were all right. Okay even. I discovered glesca flip books while digging through my old skritchings. Looking at old journals and wondering who wrote them because this woman certainly wasn’t me.
The poem reminds me a lot of the weather today. And of Glasgow. And of my time there. For those of you who don’t spend weekends trolling around flea markets and curiosity shops (i.e., those of you with a LIFE), flip books are little books with one drawing on each page. You flip them to see a mini-movie.
glesca flip books
I take stock of my world
without you in it.
Jotting down the scenes
which reel before me
like flip books.
A child stuffs a toy gun into her mouth
pulling the trigger over
sitting at the feet of Barras merchants
under their watchful cover
Rat a tat tat
Rat a tat tat
I know exactly
where she’s at.
I check off items, inspecting my navel
to see where it’s been.
Pissing and spying “I love him”
teeny tiny on the stall wall.
I know who she means.
A waitress, her eye ringed with bruise
Turns, does not peruse
the screaming pages of the tabloid.
Looking up quickly,
Is someone watching?
Am I the Scabby Queen?
Do they know?
Too late, the purple eye
speaks for itself, and so
this book snaps shut.
A city full of edges, jagged lines
It’s HURT to look for too long.
Red eyes full of paper cuts, observing alone.
There’s no one to tell
of the things that are shown.
Slinking night shapes by my window,
empty faces at day
wearing the difficulty of being
empty sockets gouged and ghostly
under the veneer of business as usual.
Haunting grime collects in the rind of these masks,
and they are familiar.
Rat a tat clicks the gun,
“I love him” written where it is seen by one,
empty faces at day.
All of these I seem to know.
All of these snap shut.