Buddy can you spare a rhyme, the time,
a line for Paisley?
We’ll have ourselves a Spree, just you & me,
& shine for Paisley.
What’s that you say, you mind the day
the talk was all of Paisley?
When Mirin parked his bus & built
a chapel by the Hammils’ roar?
When Wallace studied, kings & queens
were buried at the Abbey?
When the Witches of Bargarran were guilty
& died for simply being women
& left swinging on the Gallow Green
the day before the Halie Fair would’ve been?
When looms wove life into the older
fading patterns of this town?
When Benjamin Disraeli said to
‘Keep an eye on Paisley’?
When to be a radical meant writing poetry
like Tannahill & filling streets with
songs of glorious unity on rough-shod
massed battalions of determined feet,
that song a simple one-note plea
for working hours, conditions that were
civilised, where women, men & weans
could live the lives & loves & dream the dreams
of those not working just to eat, sleep & die?
When post-industrial heaven opened up
its rusty gates, accepted angels in the
black & white in 1987, when gods walked
sainted beats beside the terraces of Love Street?
And now? In these times of rebuilding,
regeneration, hopes, ambitions, planning,
Buddy I can certainly spare the rhyme across
a world of time that echoes from
the women of Bargarran –
Pain Inflicted, Suffering Endured, Injustice Done.
Been there, done that, moving
ever on to 2021.
About this poem
In 2017, Stuart A. Paterson became the second BBC Scotland Poet in residence. ‘Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime’ was written to mark Paisley’s bid to become the UK City of Culture in October, 2017.