A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A DANCING ANIMAL poem by Brian Whittingham

brian whittingham

‘To combat staying home, my new poem takes me out’


On the, stowed-tae-thegunnelsGlasgowbus.

A passenger insists,
the driver stops between stops.
He feels the request is reasonable
as it is convenient for his destination.

The driver remonstrates with the man
telling him such an action is not allowed,
whilst, trying to dodge jay walkers
and mobile-phone-aholics
who wander aimlessly as if they are computer game hazards,
whilst the driver is trying to keep to his timetable.

The, now irate passenger proceeds
to try and wrench the door off its hinges
wrestling with the pneumatics that keep closing the doors
like a continually deflating accordion.

I alight at the Barras at the Gallowgate where

I breakfast at the Rumbling Tum café
and a man bites into
a newly cooked roll and square and egg doubler
that bursts its yolk
skooshing his hand with warm yellow
and another man who used to be a sailor who sailed the China seas
takes off his cap to show me his tattooed bald head
with the Indian Inca artwork he favours
who then waves hello
to a man dressed as a confederate soldier
who enters chatting to a Hell’s-Angel replica.

General Robert E. Lee sits down
with the leader of the Gallowgate chapter of the Angels.
Two big Scottish breakfasts.

Then, past the stalls that punt
antiques, CDs, DVDs, Bric-a-brac, vintage goods, Glickman sweeties,
military memorabilia, tarot cards, rolls of linoleum, vegan savouries,
tools, second-hand bicycles, darts, square sliced, film cameras,
up-cycled furniture, used spectacles, old-firm paraphernalia,
Antony and Cleopatra ornaments,
where Antony pours over his war-maps on a table
and Cleopatra lounges on a chaise-lounge sofa
as an Asp snakes its way
round her amulet adorned arm,
porn magazines, baby clothes and memorial headstones,
sausage-rolls and square-sliced and black pudding.

And in the Woodcraft shop, Tony the joiner poet,
is covered in the sawdust he is making,
as if he’s turning into a sawdust man,
who leaps onto his workbench
reciting me his latest poem
about the Irish woman
whose name was Georgina
who used to say goodbye to friends,
continental style,
by kissing them three times,
one on each cheek then once on the lips saying,
‘one because I’ll miss you,
two because I love you,
and three because I always will.’

who’d died in suspicious circumstance,

then when I change the subject,
he proudly shows me the parrot ladder
he’d made for the artist who worked in a circus
and also, the mock coffin, he had to try out for size,
for a customer’s surprise party.

All overseen by his mentor Jim, a wise old owl,
who, with his ready smile
and joiner’s pencil, tucked behind his ear,
stands, with his ripsaw, ever at the ready

and both almost transmogrify in amongst

the forest of softwood and hardwood and plywood and MDF
the forest of Fir and Cedar and Oak and Ash and Beech
the forest of hardboard sheets and laminates and two by fours
that threaten to overflow

as if the timber
had once more grown roots
this time, stored on the shop floor

and Tony, his years scurrying past
like a movie calendar scene
that’s dates fall away in rapid succession.

Then to hit the road home,
A number 2 bus stops
with its cast of Glasgow EastEnders
alighting at T.J Hughes department store
leaving us few remaining passengers
to the driver’s whims
as he negotiates a diversion
that throws us off balance
wondering where we are going,
with puzzled faces we look out of windows,
look at each other,
one questions the driver,
‘Jamaica Street,’ shouts someone,
‘Jamaica,’ shouts another,
‘Barbados!’ shouts yet another
‘Where did I put my surfboard?’ shouts yet another,
and we all band together
with our deviation from our norm
bonded by the glue of Glasgow banter.

Brian Whittingham, April, 2020

Podcast: Jim and Pat’s West End Chat: Pat chats to Brian Whittingham, Renfrewshire Makar

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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