Skint, baw ragged, poackets ful eh ma
fingers, cannae afford tae burn toast an
it’s November. Christmas is close. Av been
away bit noo am back an ivery coarner
is a different colour cause am hame an
memories ur painted wae mischief. Am
outside Gregs eatin a macaroni pie an a
busker picks up eez guitar an plugs in eez
amplifier. The sound fae the strings is
like frost. Eez young an the dreams thit
wur boarn in eez bedroom wake me up.
Am watchin people passin an they know
thit eez good bit they don’t want tae look.
They turn thur heeds an tilt thur ears
an jog on. If a hud a spare pound
a wid throw it bit a don’t so a jist listen.
I’d like tae tell um thit this is it, this is
where the hammer hits the stane an sparks
ur made, standin oan a corner in yur hame
toon, an audience eh one radge eatin a
macaroni pie, bit singin, wee man, yur singin.
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2016. Best Scottish Poems is an online publication, consisting of 20 poems chosen by a different editor each year, with comments by the editor and poets. It provides a personal overview of a year of Scottish poetry. The editor in 2016 was Catherine Lockerbie.
William Letford is an extraordinary poetic talent of great range and formal skills. Out of a collection brimming with brilliant work, I’ve chosen here a Scots soliloquy: raw and from the heart and colloquial with utter finely honed precision. It’s perfectly pitched and full of hope in the midst of pie-eating desperation and memories of home – ‘bit singin, wee man, yur singin’. Which is what we all need to do, in whatever way we can.
Coming home is almost always an aspect of travelling. If your eyes haven’t quite adjusted, it’s possible to see your home as if you’re simply wandering through. Everything is distinct, and new, and familiar. The idea for the poem came at me when I had empty pockets and those wealthy eyes.