Trouble is not my middle name

Trouble is not my middle name
Trouble is not my middle name.
It is not what I am.
I was not born for this.
Trouble is not a place
though I am in it deeper than the deepest wood
and I’d get out of it (who wouldn’t?) if I could.

Hope is what I do not have in hell –
not without good help, now. Could you
listen, listen hard and well
to what I cannot say except by what I do?

And when you say I do it for badness
this much is true:
I do it for badness done to me before
any badness that I do to you.

Hard to unfankle this.
But you can help me. Loosen
all these knots and really listen.
I cannot plainly tell you this, but, if you care,
then — beyond all harm and hurt –
real hope is there.
Liz Lochhead
Reproduced by permission of the author.
Liz Lochhead

Appointed Scots Makar – the National Poet for Scotland – from 2011-16, Liz Lochhead is both transgressive and popular; as Anne Varty wrote, ‘her work is that of one woman speaking to many,  and one person speaking for many’.


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About Trouble is not my middle name

The first commission for Scotland's National Poet, Liz Lochhead, in 2012 came from the campaign to recruit members for the Children’s Panels, which are such a distinctive part of the Scottish approach to dealing with children and young people who are in trouble or at risk. Children’s Panels are independent lay tribunals and a crucial part of the Children’s Hearings system, a relatively informal way of addressing all kinds of situations where a child or young person is in need of care and protection or if he/she has committed an offence. The campaign was launched on 9 January, and Liz rose to the occasion with this deeply sympathetic and touching poem from the child’s perspective.