Scotland, you’re no mine
(you were no his)
and I don’t want you.
So go ahead, say I don’t belong,
wi your sepia-tinged cross eye sweeping
over all that swept-away, blood-stained, sweat-
stained sugar for your tablet.
Ya macaroon. Ya rotten,
gobby, greedy, thieving bastard you,
sitting atop a that shite and broken bones, weeping,
Fuck you! I will dance jigs on your flags
blue n white; blue, white n red.
It doesne matter but, ya wee chancer!
Fuck! For making us complicit,
handing us whip and chains, an officer’s coat,
a civil-service pen, a Queen to love.
And lay me out, I love you
with your mountain thyme and all your coorie in.
And you can say, I dinnae belong to you—go on
—but I am limpet stuck on you.
So fuck you for no seeing one of your own.
I will, here. I will spill, here,
my blood and your secrets,
bleed into you, root and earth,
and you, forever, pagan, will, in the spill
and the seep, see all you really are.
So fuck you, my sweet forgetful Caledonia.
With love, fuck you.
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2019. 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 2019 was Roseanne Watt.
I was lucky enough to see Hannah Lavery perform an extract from her play The Drift at a Neu! Reekie gig last year. It was a memorable gig for many reasons, and Lavery was definitely a highlight of the bill; I was absolutely spellbound by her performance. This poem hit me hardest, in its powerful expression of rage and love colliding together within the complex narratives of grief, linked powerfully here with brutal failings of historical memory.
I wrote this poem in a breath. A long held breath. All that was long held, for so long, was coughed and spat out on the page. There is rage here, much rage, at Scotland’s amnesia, at her claims of exceptionalism, but this is a love song too. A complicated love song, of an often unrequited love, but still, with all its bile and pain, this is an expression of love. My love song for my country, for my home and for where I belong.