Keith Armstrong

On 23rd August 1305, William Wallace was executed. At that time, the punishment for the crime of treason was that the convicted traitor was dragged to the place of execution, hanged by the neck (but not until he was dead), and disembowelled (or drawn) while still alive. His entrails were burned before his eyes, he was decapitated and his body was divided into four parts (or quartered). Accordingly, this was Wallace's fate. His head was impaled on a spike and displayed at London Bridge, his right arm on the bridge at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, his left arm at Berwick, his right leg at Perth, and the left leg at Aberdeen. Edward may have believed that with Wallace's capture and execution, he had at last broken the spirit of the Scots. He was wrong. By executing Wallace so barbarically, Edward had martyred a popular Scots military leader and fired the Scottish people's determination to be free.

Wallace's Right Arm

Wave goodbye ye oafs of culture,
let your rootless dreams drift away.
History has come to drown you in blood
and wash up your empty schemes.

Yon tottering Palaces of Culture
are seized by the rampaging sea.
They are sailing back to the Equator
to burn in a jungle of fear.

Three hundred million years me lads,
unseen from these high-rise days:
an ice-sheet thick as an ocean,
all those hours just melted down.

Into rich seams of coal,
tropical plants were fossilised;
the sandbanks grew into sandstone
and the mudflats into shale.

And the right arm of William Wallace
shakes with wrath in this firework night.
It is waving goodbye to your history,
it is saying hello to Baghdad.

All the brains of your Labour Party
are stashed in a carrier bag.
Down Bottle Bank in the darkness,
you can hear Wallace scream in a dog.

And will you hang, draw, and quarter my home street?
Will you drop bombs on the music-hall?
You have taken the bones from our loves
and taken the piss from the Tyne.

So give me your arm Good Sir Braveheart,
I’ll take it a walk through the park
and I’ll use it to strike down a student
with an empty shell of a soul.

And I’d give my right arm to make ships,
my left to stoke dreams alive.
And I will dance on in the brilliance of life
until oppression is blown away.

Keith Armstrong © 2010

So Don't Come To My Funeral

You never knew
how beautiful I could be.
You never saw
just how blue my eyes were.
You couldn’t feel me fly
and did not sense
the passion in my beating words.

So don’t come to my funeral,
don’t come to my funeral.

You were never there
when my heart broke.
You didn’t pick me up
when my ideals drowned.
You never got drunk with me
in the sunshine of my smiles.
You never felt the love in me.

So don’t come to my funeral,
don’t come to my funeral.

You hemmed in my free spirit
with your overeducated mind.
You trapped the birds in my poems
and caged my strong ideas.
You couldn’t act the fool
for fear you lost your face.
You never risked a dance.

So don’t come to my funeral,
don’t come to my funeral.

You never studied the art of chance,
the sudden surge of love in a stranger,
the golden coin in an Edinburgh gutter.
Your education controlled your heart.
Would you save me as I fell from the sky?
Would you bleed for me?
I sense not, I sense you are cold.

So don’t come to my funeral,
don’t come to my funeral.
I don’t want to see you there.

Because you lied to me forever.
Because you couldn’t play a tune in your poems.

Don’t come to my funeral,
don’t come to my funeral.