Pendragon Lectures (V)


A Pindaric Ode


In my last post I wished to demonstrate that the true raison d’etre of poetry is to spread proper morality throughout humanity. The Poet-Saints of India are a fine & longevous example – such as the sagely Duda Dayal – who often broke through the restrictions of Caste to preach social & religious reform though the medium of song. For myself, as a fellow believer that the poet’s path should be one of a didactic nature, I spent most of yesterday composing a new poem on a topic which I feel quite strongly about. Just as Sidney states that a poet should use an ideal character as the model for his teachings, so we modern poets must utilise the unideal to ward off our children from the many pitfalls of the modern state. These I saw & conversed with in abundance all across my previous city of residence, Edinburgh, which was not the setting of the seminal mid-nineties film, Trainspotting, for nothing. The cheap heroin that flooded the city in the 80s & 90s has had a profound generational effect, & three decades later the consumption of Skag in all its forms is rife throughout Scotland’s capital, & especially in Leith, its old port.


A heroin addict in Leith
A heroin addict in Leith

During my sojurn in la ‘Firenze de la Nord,’ with some discomfort I witnessed a number of promising youths have their lives destroyed by this most wickedest of demons; & never having taken the drug myself often wonder’d how it could exert such powerful a force over the human spirit. Thus yesterday, established well-away from Edinburgh’s seedy underbelly, & given freedom to reflect on the matter in the upmost tranquility, I began to write a few lines. These slowly took the shape of a Pindaric Ode, a wee tour-de force into which I could consisely pour a decade of observations & frustrations. Of the form, John Potter in his Archæologia Græca, writes; ‘it was customary, on some occasions, to dance around the altars, whilst they sung the sacred hymns, which consisted of three stanzas or parts; the first of which, called strophe, which was sung in turning from east to west; the other, named antistrophe, in returning from west to east; the other, named antistrophe, in returning from west to east; then they stood before the altar & sung the epode, which was the last part of the song.’

The result I find pleasing, a little aggressive, yes, but Heroin Addiction is something that cannot be treated with kid gloves – ask the long-suffering parents & partners who are forced to endure the tortured wails & infernal screams of their loved ones as they writhe in their shit-caked, sweat-sodden sheets, withdrawing in their cell-like rooms. This, I am afraid, is real-life – & is something that is these days ignored by our poets of the first rate – if indeed these exist –, our poets of the second rate, & by the majority of our poets of the third rate. There is something not quite middle-class enough about such a theme, & unfortunately today’s poetry publishers would never dream of touching such a hot potato, instead diverting the reading public’s attention to… let me for a moment take a random book from my shelf… ah! it is, NEW POETRIES III : AN ANTHOLOGY edited by Michael Schmidt 2002… to… The Radiator in Your Room (Caroline Bird) / Big Blue Sofas (Linda Chase) / The Calligraphy Shop (Ben Downing) &… well, you get the picture.


Yesterday’s creation also conforms to my newly-forged concept of poetry, that is we have come full circle in the Art & are faced with something of a blank page. It’s basically a case of, ‘Let’s Play!’ lets muck about a bit, see what happens & have some bloody fun for once. The form I have chosen for the occasion is an ancient one, created by the Greek poet Pindar in the 5th century BC to celebrate the victors at the earliest Olympic Games. This is what I call the MOULD. The MEASURE, however, is as modern as it gets, for it is essentially Free Verse, only Free Verse captured within the confines of a tercet stave. Purists on both sides would balk at such a concept, but it is only in such a spirit of re-unification that poetry may gather its forces & move forwards as a stronger being for the betterment of mankind. Overall, however, this hybrid form of mine, this blend of old & new, remains a Pindaric Ode, for it is the structure of the MOULD which pre-dominates the determination of a poem’s form.

Time swings, things change, & nothing is truly impermanent, so in the spirit of those Poet-Saints of India, let us hope that a future reader of my new ode will find a phrase or two embedded in their consciousness with enough alacrity that whenever they are offered a ‘hit’ of heroin, they will point-blank refuse & declare rather bluntly that those fools who stooped to offer them such a filthy, soul-destroying drug, are nothing but…

Junkie Fucks

A Pindaric Ode





The bees weren’t safe. 


What happened to them


Wiped out by a combination of tiny parasitic mite called Varroa Destructor… I’ve seen it happen all over the world. We call it Colony Collapse Disorder.



I : Strophe


He tried to tear the horror from himself,

Searching in the sockets of his eyes with needles

Till they burst blood  Euripides


      There’s a Junkie Fuck

         Everywhere you look

                                         : in Leith


Great Junkie Street


Zombie-crowded cash-machines


Kids like, ‘Where’s-my-crack-pipe?’

Grinnin’ into school

Thinkin’ he was cool


  ‘Im never injecting,’ he blusters upsetly

Blazin’ about his Best Friend’s funeral :

At the Wake… to ease his grief… shoots up first time!


His crack-whore ‘Wudya,’ works the Leith Links’s edges

A posh-painted Picture pick’d up by drunk dockers

While her daughter chews straws at McDonalds


Her looks are fading, she turns to friends

Getting them hooked so maybe they’ll pay

For these needles fresh ‘besties’ dare share


           There’s a Smackie Kunt

                  Always on the hunt

                                                : in Leith







When I think aboot the future… I’m nae in it. I can see my mither & abiddy I ken, I can see them a’… but I cannae see me

Morna Pearson


             There’s a Junkie Worm

                  Every corner turn’d

                                                  : in Leith


The Skag is a slippery, shrieking Beast

Cunning as Fox, strong as Lion

Foul as farting Pig


Don’t listen to what they say, but how they say it,

Bullshit Defence Mechanism takes control

Insiduous serpent contorting thought


As poppy seeds to thick’ning branches grow

This crude oil-slick that brings each death-rush on

More hardens & more blackens punctured veins


How the hell can ya call it glamorous?

When glamping means begging up the North Bridge

Contemplating suicide in torn, soggy shoes


Viledom’s finest scourge Leith Walk

Piping, ‘We are young… We can handle it…’

‘…We could drop it just like that.’


But when they join the clucking Cold Turkeys

& Methadone Monkeys in gibbering clinics

It’s more  { { p e a c e f u l } }  just to try it one last time


       There’s a Bag-Head Prick

                      Itching itself sick

                                                 : in Leith


heroine pic3





I’m rather afraid that we’re going to get tough.

The gentlemen of Britain have had e-bloody-nough!

Tony Harrison



                There’s a Junkie Fool

            Shuffling past yer school

                                                 : in Leith


I was twenty-one once,

Busking down Bournemouth

Boozing wi’ beggars


I’d follow’d ‘em into a nappy-dirty yard

Watching ‘em cook up their hard-earned stuff

& said, ‘I’ll have a go,’ in all innocence


  ‘You don’t wanna try,’ said Feathers,

Do I not?… alright…’ three days later

I found him overdosing in his tent


I took his gut-stroke wisdom with me

Tossing Junkie friends from my life

Tough-love, but sanity follow’d


Never babysit a Smack-Head!

If you show signs of weakness they will take

& take & take & lie & take & steal & take & scrounge


& take & take & lie & steal & take & scrounge & take &…

…when you’ve stopp’d giving they’ll turn round & hiss,

                        ‘I thought you were my friend?’


                     There’s a Junkie Fuck

                   Lonely, Soul-less, Stuck

                                                       : in Leith


Matt Dempsey

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