Ordinary Joe by Magi Gibson

Let me show you Ordinary Joe,

Ordinary Joe’s a dog of war

(once he was your father’s twin

once he was your sister’s son

once he was the boy next door).


Ordinary Joe’s a dog of war

barking mad, ordinary mad,

see him howling at the moon

purple swollen as a bruise

see him snarl and growl and roar.


Ordinary Joe’s a dog of war,

he grows fur beneath his skin,

sprouts curled claws on foot and fist,

he knows fangs within his jaw,

tastes warm blood upon his lips.


Ordinary Joe’s a dog of war!

See him mark the land as his,

pissing bullets where he will,

shitting death with mortar shells

ever thirsting for the kill.


Ordinary Joe runs with the pack –

Joe’s a lad, he loves to fuck,

loves to rut, loves to strut.

He fucks bitches when he can,

fucks their futures, fucks them up.


Let me show you ordinary Joe

when the killing’s done,

Ordinary Joe goes limping home,

tail tucked low between his legs,

bleating, bleating sheepishly,


Where’s the future gone?

loose woman song by Magi Gibson

Don’t break my toes and bind my feet

to mark my femininity –

I’d rather have feet big enough

to kick against such sad misogyny.


Don’t truss me in a bible-belt

of narrow-minded chastity.

Don’t lace me in a corset

of dutiful conformity.


Don’t weigh me down with golden rings,

don’t chain me to the kitchen sink

for I’ve a brain that needs to think –

so keep your drudgery.


Don’t make me wear my hair tied tight

but let its wildness flow.

Don’t veil my face, don’t hide my light,

my fire, my spark, my glow.


Don’t hem me in with prejudice

but let me breathe and grow

strong and graceful

as a swan, wise

as the moon.

spoils of war by Magi Gibson

you would have made a whore of her

the twelve year old girl

whose body you raped

in the name of the Caliphate

the twelve year old

with the tear-stained face you sold

for the price of a slap-up meal

and a flask of cheap wine

but really

you made a monster of yourself


and now you would make

a murderer of me

for if given a loaded gun

and a steady hand


how could I resist the urge

to satisfy my craving

to pump you full to pump you full

of silver bullets

deadly            hot         searing



                                   first published in Graffiti in Red Lipstick

What drives me by Magi Gibson

What drives me, you ask,

as if I’m a juggernaut
with a hairy-armed trucker at my wheel
or a shiny car or train
bolting through the landscape
of my life.


Perhaps the wind drives me, I say,
as it drives the sleet and snow
that sting and numb the senses.


But no! I am driven
by the fire that rages in my head
when I see a woman with her head bowed low

a frozen family with nowhere to go

children starving in a war-zone hell

a poet locked up in a death-row cell.
I am driven to violence
against my typewriter.


I plead guilty
to battering its pale keys
to bruising the blank indifference
of a thousand sheets of paper.


I am driven by a driver without a licence.


I am driven by the ordinary

madness of existence.


Magi Gibson has had three four poetry collections published. She won the Scotland on Sunday/Women 2000 Poetry Prize, had had her work anthologised in major landmark collections in Scotland, and translated into several languages. She’s held several Scottish Arts Council and one Royal Literary Fund Creative Writing Fellowships, and has had several novels for older children published by Puffin. She lives in Glasgow. Her fifth collection will be out later this year.