Posts Tagged ‘Rob Mackenzie’

Return to the Old Town

October 7, 2010 Comments off

by Rob Mackenzie

To live with more than recall
of a latent happiness

that almost drove me
twelve years ago
to a drab hill town

and a woman who smiled at strangers
as they passed her window
never smiling back

I renounced contingency
and hiked the high track.

The people gathered in the square
to celebrate the slow roasting
of a single fish.

I matched its stare and felt certain
we had met before in better days.

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Rob A. Mackenzie lives and works in Edinburgh. His first full collection, The Opposite of Cabbage, was published by Salt in 2009. He blogs at Surroundings, and is an associate editor with Magma.

Categories: The Crowd Tags:

Bank Holiday

July 6, 2009 3 comments

Easter has been cancelled,
now a bank holiday weekend.

There’s enough bad news.
No need to nail down the living.

No need to taunt the dead
with resurrection.

Underwood is no banker
but he takes time out

from everyday collapse.
He forks corn from a can.

The mob’s rage, he believes,
raised the crucified

three days later,
the resurrection required

a hammering fury.
The banks follow suit,

market exclusive threats
to likely customers,

who queue round the clock
for negative equity.

The banks’ hate mail
becomes a status symbol.

People offer their mouths
as personalised ATMs.

Underwood kicks a lamppost.
The mob has been cancelled.

His foot hurts.
Still, he must resist.

by Rob A. Mackenzie

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Categories: Economy Tags:

The New Economy

June 5, 2009 4 comments

The rattling cans fell silent and the rattlers
stiffened to attention, equidistant,
as if on military display.

On the clearing’s far side, a massive hangar,
slabbed together with corrugated iron,
stewed in the sun’s gut.

One door, no windows. “You live there?”
Laughter churned through the ranks.
One woman spoke,

“This building is the last hope for Speckland,
a hut of refuge for its people,
a slim dignity.

Here, those forced into tiny squats in Leith,
twelve to a room, with only Speckish

for nutrition, can now find fulfilment
and five-minute toilet breaks
while studying

the language of Shakespeare and Thatcher
by selling off last year’s mobile
phone technology.”

At that moment, the door opened and a shock
of ragged men, women and children
tumbled out,

sharing cigarettes, pulling open Kraft lunch boxes
and cans of Coke Zero, setting
alarms to vibrate.

“For six pounds a month, you can feed
a child a week of recycled meat.
For twelve,

a family can be trucked out from the city.
For five hundred, your name
will be immortalised

in Speck City on a plaque of solid aluminium.
Please give generously, we rely
on your gifts.”

by Rob A. Mackenzie

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Categories: Economy Tags:

Preparations for the Final Hours

December 27, 2008 2 comments

We did not believe at first:
the absence of a mountaintop,
the presence of wings
stapled on.

A dozen angels
orbited the Barnton roundabout,
spitting glitter
at the peak time jam.

We felt anger
in hymns they hummed
whose words
we had long forgotten.

Cars barbecued
like hamburgers
smoking from
the bubbling tarmac.

Dogs howled
interfaith prayers.
The atheist cats
growled back.

“Hurrah!” the dogs prayed.
The angels dropped low,
unaccustomed to appreciation,
and sang off-key

on how faith was possible
if cynicism became
less routine
when demanded of us.

by Rob A. Mackenzie

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Shopping List

February 20, 2008 5 comments

…baked beans, cauliflower, a helicopter
blinks across the sky. That’s all it takes to grab
a piece of him these days, light up
and he’ll plead for you, for onions,
radishes, you name it. Somewhere between
a casual one-night stand and sex
among cigarettes, polo mints, aubergines,
casualties, there is room
for communication, one may hope. No doubt
it could mean less than coffee grains, bread
for toasting, as she showers him
from her skin and he contemplates the layout
of the supermarket, haggis, four cheese
pizza, sauerkraut, his breath
stale as morning, the dull
streetlamp beyond the window capturing the free
range eggs, cod in batter,
toothpaste, false mood, and when
she emerges from an age
in the bathroom, her hair shampooed
and her body wrapped in raw
prawns, lasagne, an old towel, he realises
she is young and classy, almost
a trophy, and his words tumble out, Can we cling
film, greaseproof paper, silver foil, see each
other? but these items
are scored off the list.

by Rob A. Mackenzie

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Categories: Hidden Messages Tags:


September 8, 2006 3 comments

Mrs Howison from the Highlands;
her heaven chimed with Devon,
mine with midden.

Mrs McCanna, no stranger to a fish supper,
skin clammy with salt’n’vinegar,
declared me out-of-order.

Mr Beckham replaced his stroboscope
with a boy, propped on a box,
set to shout ‘flash’ every five seconds.

Mrs Cash balanced breasts and maths
on my shoulder until I keeled over
on first contact with her mouthwash.

These were my teachers
and I have spent my life unlearning
every lesson they taught me.

Today, in a grocery store, a stone’s throw
from Turin’s multi-ethnic
a child barged into me at the fish-counter.

Scusa, I said, with enough sarcasm
to poison an ocean.
He didn’t even look at me.

Foreigner of shit! he replied
in BBC vowels, and I wondered
who had taught him that one.

by Rob A. Mackenzie of Surroundings

Categories: Education Tags:
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