Month: December 2017

A sample poem from the book The Itchy Eye by Kenneth McCracken

My Darling Daughter.

Who once was a baby,
Held in my arms,
Now a young lady,
Full of beauty and charms.
And loving her more,
Than life itself,
My heart rich with,
No greater wealth.
My daughter filled with hope, and love.
No angel sent from high above.
But made from me,
And of my soul,
My darling daughter makes me whole.
My darling daughter,
Makes me proud,
I want to shout her name aloud.
And tell the world just what I’ve got.
A gift so rare,
That can’t be bought.
A gift so rare for me to treasure,
With love so pure,
I cannot measure.
A love with words cannot be spoken,
A bond so true that can’t be broken.
This life so young,
For her to live.
Is full of love she’ll freely give.
Is full of hope and inspiration.
So proud that she,
Is my creation.
I’ll love her till the day I die,
Never doubt or question why,
Be by her side,
Will hold her hand,
And guide her through,
Times shifting sand.
Through all her good times, and her bad.
To make her smile, when she is sad.
To make her brave,
When she is scared.
To make sure she’s always prepared.
To give her space when she will need it.
Give advice, and hope she’ll heed it.
And stand by her as she will need me,
Along this road,
That she will lead me.

A sample poem from Itch Your Teeth If They Are Scratchy by Kenneth McCracken

Wedding Bells

A lovely old couple, who each had been widowed,
Found love with each other once more.
And though their desires had long time since mellowed,
For each other they only had eyes for.
Urged on by their friends and each set of relations,
The question of marriage was sought.
And all were delighted and planned celebrations,
And a sparkling new gold ring was bought.

He'd asked the question while bent on one knee,
And she blushed with a tear in her eye.
For your loving new husband, will you please take me?
I most certainly will came her reply.
The date was set and the venue selected,
For this octogenarian couple so proud.
With everything set and no detail neglected,
The plans for their joining avowed.

On the night before nuptials and the exchanging of rings,
The pair went alone for a meal.
To discuss how their marriage might work, and such things,
Just to gauge how the other might feel.
They talked of finances and where they would live,
Of habits that may in time annoy.
They discussed compromise and of how each should give,
To ensure this new life they'd enjoy.

Then finally the old man he sat up in his stool,
And decided the time was now right.
To discuss their physical relationship rule,
All the stuff that folk do in the night.
He asked rather tentatively what about sex?
Not intending to scare or to blush.

And hoped that her answer would not be complex,
But his question was met with a hush.

I just wouldn't like to assume or suppose,
What your fancies were when you might have such.
So I thought I would ask you so you may disclose,
Just how often you'd like to feel my touch.
She patted her lips and then patted her brow,
Then looked across into his eyes.
Are you asking me how often sex I'll allow,
Then her answer took him by surprise.

I'd like it infrequently his bride to be said,
I'm sorry if that does upset you.
The old boy then asked with a scratch at his head,
Did you just use one word or two?

A Sample Poem From ITCH by Kenneth McCracken

I had the great pleasure at one point in my life, in meeting one of the most impatient, grumpiest, cheekiest Glaswegians ever. A man with, in my own words, and to his face, a limp that could take someone’s eye out. He imparted knowledge to me that helped me in my chosen career at that time and in return I gave him banter, stories that frustrated him and face to face honesty. He loved it. One day working just the two of us I started to tell this story, a story that lasted about eight hours’ in-between customers and culminated in this particular Glaswegian gent looking at me stony faced, before saying, ‘You’re a prick!’ and limping away in a pretend huff.

Frank my man, this is for you.

The Bacon Tree

I turned up to my work, one beautiful Glaswegian day.
Pushed the door, ‘Good morning Frank’ was all I had to say.
‘What’s good and by the way you’re late’ was Frank’s pleasant reply.
And limped away and up the close, ‘look out he’ll have your eye!’

Now Frank he was a grumpy chap, a legend in this city.
He could easily, become annoyed, and irate.
Throw a look or a word, or a sigh without pity.
Glance at gold and then tell you the weight.

Could tell that zirconia ring was not diamond,
Your bracelets were plated and brass.
Could push you away but of him I grew fond,
Even though he was a pain in the arse.

'Where wur you anyway that kept you so late,
Away for yer bacon roll?’
'Don’t mention bacon, I’ve told you that mate!
Reminds me of my papa poor soul'.

Now that stopped our Frank and he turned and he looked,
Cause he owned both a limp and a heart.
‘I’m sorry he said.’ And I knew he was hooked,
And I knew that my story could start.

I told you Frank how my papa was killed,
How I can’t get it out of my brain.
A family destroyed and a life to rebuild.
That bloody North African Campaign!

Frank looked beleaguered and started towards me,
And said that I hadn’t told him.
I said I’d explain that it may even relieve me,
I’d enjoy this fantastical whim.

See my papa Frank was a good man it’s said,
And believed in his regiment true.
But when lost in the battle and left there for dead,
He did, what a good man should do.

He summoned his troops and he stood to his feet,
And he vowed on the name of his daughter.
That he would go forth and find food now to eat,
Find them nourishment, and clean fresh water.

All around him was baron and covered in sand,
And he breathed deep and picked his direction.
'I won’t let them die, not my merry band!
My efforts will be their protection.'

For two days he wandered up and down dunes.
The sun shining high in the sky.
For sanity inside his head, he played tunes,
Vowing that these brave men won’t die.

On the third day my papa though worn and unwell,
Climbed a dune that then lifted his heart.
As he ran to the top as he took in the smell,
What he saw, caused his dry lips to part.

He fell to his knees and he thanked the whoever,
And who’s strength had led him to this place.
He didn’t give in, nor will he now ever.
This thing, was his saving grace.

The smell he savored went around his heart.
A memory of home at his tea.
In this place where the end, looks the same as the start,
He had found a big Bacon Tree!

Down that dune he ran with new life,
As the smell of the cooked bacon grew.
He’d live once again to see daughter and wife
He was saved, in his heart this he knew.

Now my papa was far from a greedy man,
But his strength knew he had to regain.
As the sun cooked the bacon and the juice from them ran,
He reached up through his tiredness and pain.
With hands to a branch he reached up, and he tore,
At the bacon meat just growing there.
And he ate till the poor soul could just eat no more,
Then fell into a sleep without care.

The sun beat down and the sand it blew,
Though his slumber did not last too long.
When he opened his eyes to that Bacon Tree,
His mind played his victory song.

To his feet he did rise and they started to run,
In the direction that he had just come.
Through the heat and the dust and the blistering sun,
Relief, to his troops he’d bring some.

For two days he ran with a quickening pace,
With the life of his men in his soul.
Till he came to their camp at the end of his race,
Pronouncing I’ve just saved us all!

His troops although weary and tired and thin,
Rallied round and all shouted and cheered.
We must gather our strength and this journey begin,
Things are not quite as bad as we’d feared.

No far from here just a walk of two days,
There’s enough food for you and for me.
Then he paused, and looked at their expectant gaze,
I’ve found a big bacon tree!

Shoulders slumped and pack bags dumped,
The soldiers looked sullen and scared.
My papa just stood there, his thoughts quite stumped,
It just seemed like nobody cared.

'It’s not we don’t care Sarge,' said one voice alone,
'And we know how tough this has been.
And you’re hungry and thirsty and tired to the bone
It’s a mirage that we think you have seen.'

I take your point and I thought the same,
When I saw it and smelled it out there.
Thought it couldn’t be real, when upon it I came,
Bacon Trees just don’t grow anywhere.

But trust me my men and rise to your feet,
Don’t let me stand here all forsaken.
There are branches out there all covered in meat,
A tree with no leaves and just bacon.

The camp sat in silence until one fellow spoke.
'You’re a good man and true to your will,
We’re few men in tatters all tired and broke,
But for one time we’ll follow you still.'

As they set off that day with their hearts filled with sorrow,
And tramped through the sand and the dust.
Trusting my papa and willing to follow,
Him knowing that follow they must.

Sand dunes came and sand dunes went,
As the men fought the night and the day.
Till they climbed that last dune all broken and bent,
And cried as my papa did say.

He pointed and shouted, 'men open your eyes
Believe it is real what you see.'
And they did and not one of them hid their surprise,
When they all saw the big Bacon tree.

Dumping their packs and their guns and their worry,
They ran through the sand and their pain.
Battle weary men, each one in a hurry,
To taste some sweet food once again.

The smell of the bacon cooked well in the sun,
The sight of that tree and its meat.
Caused legs now to waken and boots now to run,
No doubt now or need for retreat.

One hundred yards from that Bacon Tree there,
Smiling faces that had to be fed.
Gun fire rang out like a scream in the air.
Every fellow amongst them lay dead.

Frank never spoke but just looked at me.
I arose from my chair with a push.
'It turned out Frank, to be no Bacon Tree.
It was actually just a big Ham Bush.'

Sample Chapter From A Cash Withdrawal by Kenneth McCracken

Chapter One.

The heaving mass of distressed and aggravated festive shoppers pressed and shoved all around Dec as he made his way, unnoticed, down the High Street. His confident gait not part of their final Christmas preparations.
This time of year, held no special feelings for him. His childhood Christmases forgotten in the many drunken brawls his parents enjoyed. Memories of the last minute ‘Provie’ cheque. Made-up presents to tell his mates about, and oh yes, more drunken brawls from his parents.
However, this year was feeling a bit different, and it was nothing to do with shimmering tinsel, blinking lights or cheap crackers.
He passed the entrance to the shopping centre, glancing at the heavy glass plate doors shuddering under pressure as they spewed out the raw and naive, then sucked in more willing, gullible victims. He smiled, continued walking, and left them to their own providence.
The building that had been craving his attention the past week stood a few doors down from the shopping centre’s ravenous jaws, and as Dec approached it the smile slipped from his face and was replaced by a nervous frown. A frown that lined the scar running down the side of a face older than its years. He pushed the frame of the small round glasses against his nose and stepped closer to the window. His reflection stared back at him with identical unease, but he took no notice.
Inside the building, dressed in its corporate subtlety, the queue of people lengthened, waiting, like parasites draining the very life blood from that which he sought as his own. One more day.
“What damage could they do in one more day?” he thought.
The moment of anxiety was gone. Slipping his cold hands into the security of his warm trouser pockets, he gathered his balls, and his thoughts, and carried on up the High Street in the direction of the ‘Way Inn’. A shite name for an equally shite pub.

He would return tomorrow for the head to head, the final battle, like a knight returning to slay the dragon.
That was it he thought, “a brave knight, a big gallus cunt in a shiny suit, charging into danger then retreating in victory to the Calton sunset, fucking poetry”.
Already feeling better, he parted the festive crowds. The preparation was done and tonight was for fun, nothing could get him down now.
Even the sluggish old women with their pink knitted hair do’s and cheap eau de toilete couldn’t dampen his spirits. The fat mothers dragging their blaring brats by their hoods slipped by him insignificantly. The glassy eyed wino pleading for money on the same spot he had stood since Dec was a boy didn’t concern him. And in Dec’s head, he was still a boy. Dec that is, not the wine soaked nicotine ridden old grey wrinkled fucker on the corner.
The world was throbbing and shoving and screaming and smelling of puke and piss and beer, and he loved it!
After what seemed like no time at all he reached the peeling doors of the ‘Way Inn’ and paused in perspiration for what might lie before him.
He reached for the brass handles, worn from decades of working class men, and pulled the heavy door open, holding it with his shoulder as he made his way through.
He paused again to adjust his eyes to the thick wall of smoke that greeted him on entry.
This was a pub without a lounge, and the bar could’ve done with the help.
The workers were out on the bevvy, the Friday before Christmas Eve, and the pay packets were taking a severe mauling. Glasgow ovens were full of drying out dinners that would soon be replaced by donner kebabs, beef curries and fish suppers.
He pushed through the beer soaked bodies of the great Scottish workmen heading for the bar and a long overdue pint.
As he reached the bar he shouted for a beer, loud enough for the barman to hear, but obviously too loud for the hulk of a man whose ear was closest to Dec’s mouth.
The big man turned around and in no uncertain terms let Dec know he was pissed off, without saying a word. Dec took his look as a sign he should pipe down a bit, and quietly slid into place beside the bar.
For all his best efforts, the barman hadn’t heard, and Dec stood patiently waiting for another chance to grab his attention, a little more quietly.
The barman turned, and Dec caught his attention with an agreeable grin, and a twenty-pound note held up as bait. Red faced, and looking as if he drank as much as he served, the man made his way towards Dec, not bothering to steer clear of the puddles of spilt beer gathering in the cracked and worn lino behind the bar.
The strain of serving the festive throng was telling on the man, betrayed by the sweat marks on his shirt as the Buckfast seeped out his pores.
Made by monk’s, don ‘t you know? He eventually reached Dec’s end of the bar where his arrival was announced with an, “Aye!”.
Customer service obviously not his forte. Dec asked for a pint and watched as Buckfast man snatched a glass from the shelf above the bar, while wiping back the beads of sweat sitting on his forehead with the other hand.
Glass in hand he turned and lumbered back in the direction he had just come. He paused before struggling with the black handle of the pump, and proceeded to draw Dec’s pint from it.
Dec couldn’t help but notice more sweat marks on the back of the big man’s shirt and wondered how long it would be before the damp patches joined forces to complete the look.
He watched as the barman tried to reduce the three-inch head that adorned the pint that was soon to be his, the beer flowing over the side of the glass and in to the drip tray, which dripped badly.

Job done, he headed back while Dec counted out change, preferring to hold onto the twenty for a while.
He exchanged the cash for the pint, counting it into the sweaty hands of the man, who accepted it willingly, but without thanks, before turning and heading off to another dear customer.
Dec picked up the wet glass and held it to his mouth, taking the first long gulp just as the next customer, making his way into his soon to be vacant space at the bar, jostled him, causing some of the contents to spill down his jacket.
“Naw, it’s okay, no need for apologies” he mumbled sarcastically.
Any other time his shackles would have been up and words exchanged but not tonight.
Away from the bar and the danger of loose elbows, he took another long drink and, above the noise, heard his name being shouted from the far end of the smoke-filled room.
Through eyes that had now become somewhat accustomed to the environment he could see his brother Marky, standing on a stool and waving his hand in the air to catch his attention. Discreet as usual, Marky repeated his welcoming shout.
“Heh Dec ya big wanker, over here!”
A few heads turned to face the “big wanker” who was now making his way towards his brother. As he approached the table where Marky was now seated he noticed he had company, a girl, of sorts.
“A’right Dec man,” smiled Marky, “everythin’ a’right fir the ‘morra?”.
Dec looked at him and then the girl, still a bit thrown, and answered.
“Aye, all set Marky, enough said eh?”
His brother must have been sitting drinking in the bar for a while because he proceeded to introduce the skeletal girl sitting at his side as, “the lovely Lorraine.”
The lovely Lorraine gave a forced and embarrassed smile and nudged Marky as Dec sat down on the stool opposite the happy couple and placed his glass, amongst the others, on the beer soaked table.
He noticed the run in her American tan tights and the pink, ‘cover-up’, nail varnish on the scraped heels of her red ‘fuck me’ stiletto’s. He hated American tan tights on women, reminded him of the tea his granny used to make him drink as a child, when all he wanted was Irn Bru or Coke. Then it spoke.
“Mark’s been telling’ me aw about you Dec, he’s dead lucky to huv a brother you know, a wish ah hid a sister but” …… and spoke, and spoke.
The skull must have hammered on for about five minutes, with Marky shuffling excitedly on his stool like an awestruck lover and Dec examining this creature from god knows where. The first two sentences were all that really registered.
As she worked her jaws, his eyes fell on the peroxide blonde of her hair. At least it was peroxide blonde for around three quarters of its length, the rest a dirty brown color from the roots out.
The makeup barely disguised the blackheads gathering at the joints of her nose, and the cheekbones, needlessly accentuated with blusher and sucked in, ‘twenty Mayfair a day’ cheeks.
“So anyways Dec, are you looking forward tae Christmas then?”
Dec was startled back to reality as the skull came to the end of her speech and darted a question at him.
“Aye I’m looking forward to it alright” smiled Dec, looking first at the skull then at Marky, “but eh, me an’ Marky have got a wee bit of shopping to do the ‘morra, that right son?”
Marky nodded and caught the edge of his raised glass at the same time, spilling a lost mouthful of beer on the lovely Lorraine’s skirt.
“Fuck sake Marky”, she moaned, “this is ma wee cousin’s skirt, it’ll be aw stained now ya daft cunt”.

She searched in her bag while Marky apologised and eventually pulled out a tissue and began dabbing at the wet patch.
“Don’t worry doll you can wash it at ma house later on the night, you’ll certainly no be wearing it that’s for sure”, laughed Marky, winking at Dec at the same time.
Jesus. Dec fought back the image floating into his head of the skull, minus the cousin’s skirt.
He knew Mark would have no such trouble and would welcome any such vision into that empty brain of his, and that before Christmas Eve arrives, the skull would be penetrated, in one way or another.
He fought back that image too. Still laughing, Dec’s brother stood up, paused to drain the last from his glass, and continued to mock the skull who was paying no attention whatsoever to him.
He collected the glasses along with his own and told Dec he was going to the bar for another round.
Dec sat for a few seconds in silence before telling Lorraine he would go and help Marky at the bar. She neither agreed nor disagreed, too busy cleaning, so he left her to it and joined his brother.
“Don’t get me another pint of this piss Marky” said Dec, joining his wee brother, who had just given his order to Buckfast man. “Get me a Jack Daniels, an’ jist a wee bit coke mind”.
“Ah, am ahead of you there, big yin, doubles already ordered, tonight we are gonnae get pissed” slurred Marky in the future tense while living in the present.
“So, the bold Marcus” taunted Dec, “Where did you find the midden?”
“What Lorraine, naw she’s sound Dec honest, a think she looks a bit like that Ivana Trump bint, it’s nice fir yer brother tae have a nice-looking bird on his arm for a change” replied Marky, pride written all over his face.
“IVANA TRUMP! You’re off your fucking trolley, she’s no like Ivana Trump for fuck’s sake”
“No think?” asked Marky seriously.
“You’re fucking blind ya cunt, how many beers you had the day, she’s a pig Marky”, said Dec.
“Fuck off you, she’s no a pig” said Marky defiantly.
“It’s been that long since you had a shag Dec your brains sending you mixed messages”.
He patted his brother on the back but was really congratulating himself.
“Marky, trust me.” Dec placed his hand on his brother’s shoulder and leaned towards him, “She is one of the biggest pigs that you have been wi’, and let me tell you fir nothing, there’s been a few. In fact, if pigs could fly Marky, the lovely Lorraine sitting over there would be a fucking Wing Commander.”
“Aw shut up needle dick and haud this” said Marky, handing his brother two of the three Jack Daniels with one hand and holding out the money for the barman with the other, who accepted with no word of thanks, again.
As he followed his brother back to the table Dec sipped some of the Jack Daniels from the glass he intended to give to Lorraine. They sat down either side of the lovely Lorraine, more composed now, but complete with wet patch.
As he lifted his glass to drink, Marky reached over and hit his glass off Dec’s,
“Here’s to the morn then bro’” smiled Marky as the glasses met.
Dec nodded uncomfortably at his brother in agreement, not wanting to say too much in front of Lorraine.
The brother’s enjoyed a few more raised glasses in the company of ‘Ivana’ before the ringing of last orders sounded in Dec’s ears. The night had gone fast, how time flies when you’re enjoying yourself.
Marky had decided that the night was still young and the invitation to head back to his flat was accepted by the other two.
Along with the invitation came the suggestion of a carry out, that Dec knew he would pay the best part of but agreed nonetheless, knowing that his gear was lying back at Marky’s and would be snorted in his absence.

His brother stood up and started searching through his pockets, pulling out a fiver and some change before looking at his brother for some financial backing to his big plan. Dec joined his brother in the upright position, though somewhat unsteady, and the pair headed off to the bar one last time.
‘Buckfast’ man had at some point given into the beer and had now joined his fellow piss heads at a nearby table.
A younger, slightly less bloated replacement now battled with the optics on the opposite side of the bar. Dec took him to be the son as he noticed how mother-nature in all its wonders had used its genetic powers to mould the boy and then allowed the booze to complete the job.
The boy’s father sat like a King holding court, with the chair just barely managing to contain him, and not realising nor caring, that his subjects were only laughing with him in return for the free drinks that he poured down their throats.
As Dec approached the bar, now quieter give or take a few stragglers, he shouted for the barman’s attention and got a quicker response than he had done all evening. Well, it was closing time.
“Lookin’ for a carry out mate, any chance?” asked Dec with an agreeable grin.
Father like son the barman wiped the sweat from his face and transferred it to the grimy sleeve of his shirt before replying.
“Can do, need to charge you bar prices though that a’right?”
Dec nodded while he got the money together to see what was on the menu. He counted the assortment of notes and coins, the usual dregs after a night out with his brother, and made a mental list of requirements.
“Right, we’re havin’ a bottle of Buckfast, and jist give us a half dozen can’s, Red Stripe if you’ve got it” said Dec. “Don’t suppose there’s any chance of just getting it and replacing it in the morning, naw?
The barman moved off to fill the order giving Dec a knowing smile that shouted “fuck off mate eh?”
“Naw, thought no” muttered Dec.
He turned around to let his brother know that the drink was coming and wished he hadn’t bothered as he caught him with his tongue half way down the skulls throat.
He smiled though as he noticed Marky’s hand had made its way to the inside thigh of skeletors leg and was rubbing away at what his mind was telling him was
Lorraine’s crotch. The daft wee bastard was actually rubbing at the gusset seam of those American tan tights which Dec could see was about three inches from the actual pants, clearly visible up the lovely Lorraine’s cousins skirt.
Dec got the carry out procedure completed and headed back to the table to drain the last mouthful from his glass.
They never noticed his return so he also drained the last from the lovely Lorraine’s glass as well, while watching Marky, so near and yet so far, rubbing away at thin air. He got up, moved round to his brother’s side and planted the biggest, wettest kiss on his cheek.
The lovers pulled apart with a sucking sound and Lorraine adjusted her modesty.
“Did a no huv a drink left?” she grated.