Michele Waering

Helpless Glasgow 1984

Michele Waering

The fireman screamed come out terrified helpless

fire shot over the boy’s back frozen helpless

He crawled out over the sill four floors up

his arms reached were caught shifted helpless

We shivered behind our windows when he fell

I put my arms out sixty yards away helpless

A photographer caught him in mid air

froze him in time as he fell like a doll helpless

The door warped in the frame froze a man

hammered told us he couldn’t get in helpless

A poor kid whose intelligence screamed out

hammered at a burning window helpless

Frame by frame memory slides its photographs

for your witness Michele helpless aye helpless

The Scots word ‘aye’ in the makhta can mean ‘yes’ or ‘always’.


Michele Waering

I lived where three mountains of black

grit and pink and white burden burned

a legacy of anthracite.

Sulphur yellowed the wind, lingered on porches

at twilight, soured fragrances of rose and phlox;

a reminder of anthracite.

After dark, flames showed startling blue; votive

lamps for dead miners, disturbed elements;

their part of anthracite.

Harrowed glances of picks, miners. Curved

struts pulverised into black coughing, tears:

harsh legacies of anthracite.

I dream myself, school books under my arm,

climb steep sidewalks, balance on black diamonds,

see green flare off anthracite.

Candles burn on dark corners. Parlour floors cave in.

Cockroaches scuttle. Ferns uncurl up through floorboards.

Associations of anthracite.

How many tunnels beneath houses? How many fires? Spent

mines leaked invisibly up up into dead mornings

their legacy of anthracite.

Michele knows we’ll all wake up to Invisibility one way

or another. But how can we not know what’s under our feet

knowing the legacy of anthracite?

For this challenge, I chose times and places of my experiences over the years.

Michele Waering’s work has appeared most recently in San Pedro River Review, Red River Review, The Ghazal Page and From Glasgow to Saturn. She lives in Renfrewshire, Scotland.