Literary Yard

Search for meaning

‘Frankie Says Don’t Go There’ and other poems

By: Jim Murdoch

Frankie Says Don’t Go There

Most days I’m nearer to tears than…
No one ever says they’re near to smiles, do they?
I expect there must be times when I am,
when I feel a grin coming on, perchance a smirk.

I guess most days I’m on the verge of something,
a breakthrough or up or more than likely down
although if you asked me today how I’m doing
I’d say something equivocal like “I’m getting there”

and you’d go, “Oh, you don’t want to go there.
Nothing there bar forty-two gift shops all selling
the same t-shirts. And one rundown Pizza Hut”
to which I’d fire back (without missing a beat),

“Relax. I’m going nowhere.
I’ll bring you back a mug
and a stick of rock with
nothing on the inside.”

It’s no joking matter though, life’s betwixtness,
we both know that, but what’re we meant to do,
laugh with the devil, cry into the deep blue sea
or dig a trench in no man’s land and chant

“Na-nana-naa-nah!” at the universe?


Note Found Amid the Wreckage

Can you take whatever this is
and make something of it?
I don’t have the strength
or the heart or, it seems,
the wherewithal to do more.

It’s meant to mean I think,
to contain or attract meaning.
That’s what it’s for, I’m sure.
Meaning still feels good but
I believe it once did more.

It should go on without me but,
please, not alone if you could.
It’s for the best. Yes.
At least I tell myself that.
Something people used to say.

Me? Oh, I’m going nowhere.
No, wait. I’m already here.


Stone Poem

I don’t talk much about my pain.
Pain’s not that interesting but
like many uninteresting things it is necessary.
Necessariness itself isn’t so interesting
though maybe necessity is, a little.

Pain is a means to an end.
I’m not a masochist—I’m not into pain—
but I appreciate its efficacy
and, more importantly, its constancy
which I need not remind you
is not the same as consistency.

That said, not every pain is the same.
All exhibit peculiar traits.
Some, like marble, can be turned into art.
Others, like granite, can form part of a wall.
Walls are not unattractive but they’re not art.
Both though are designed to keep people at bay.


Death is a State of Mind

Forgetfulness is merely a
failure of the imagination,

the term “memory” being
a convenient expression to
differentiate imagining what
has or might have happened
from what may possibly be
happening right now.

We call that perception but it
employs the same mechanism.

Fantasy is, of course, when we
imagine what might be but it’s
all one and the same once you
get down to it and reality, well,
reality is where people with no
dreams waste their lives,

a thoughtproof box, not unlike
a coffin for the living.


Jim Murdoch grew up in the heart of Burns Country in Scotland. Poetry, for him, was about irrelevance—daffodils, vagabonds and babbling brooks—until one day in 1973 he read Larkin’s ‘Mr Bleaney’ and felt as if the scales had fallen from his eyes. How could something so… so seemingly unpoetic be poetry? He aimed to find out.

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