Sell the Petticoat and Go to Sea – Maggie Mackay

Sell the Petticoat and Go to Sea

It’s a gey wondrous place and I’m lucky for tae see it and live.
(George Bissett, great-great-grandfather and ship’s carpenter, 1866)

Bleachfields spread in Clydeside sun.
Whitening sheets blink
ballooning like tides, like sails,
as Jacobina’s man clips his fortune
to a passage out of Greenock,
destined for the far east of the globe.
George is ship’s carpenter, adventurer
to places she’d never know, to sunken reefs,
uncharted water, monsoon sky, coral rock.

Here sits her little life on earth,
a China junk on the window sill,
bairns to raise and poems to pencil.
She writes of herself,
not the cutter or stitcher of silk,
but as the nation’s spy,
flying a hot air balloon across the Continent.


Maggie Mackay’s work appears in the award-winning #MeToo anthology while other poems have been nominated for The Forward Prize, Best Single Poem and the Pushcart Prize and commended in the Mothers’ Milk Writing Prize. Her debut pamphlet ‘The Heart of the Run’ is published by Picaroon Poetry.

Dolls of Chaos – Maggie Mackay

Dolls of Chaos

Somewhere consigned to shadow
in the nervous system of my childhood brain
a collection of paper dolls huddle,
thrawn Shikigami beings

one feline-featured with retractable claws,
whiskers varnished snow-white
another on twenty-four-hour watch,
yellow wings tucked into raggedy coal-black lining

the third, a mousey creature of tiny ears
and pencil-thin body, waistcoat of velvet-grey
and boss of those three, Fox Trot,
fur etched with blood sticky plots.

They cause mischief to haunt every hour.
Cut-outs from my infancy,
they mess with human heads,
spin them full circle.

Let me give orders,
let them steal, spy and track
the bullies, deceivers,
you enemies of my curious world.


Maggie Mackay has work in print and online including The Everyday Poet edited by Deborah Alma, Amaryllis, Bare FictionIndigo Dreams PublishingThe Fat Damsel, The Interpreter’s House, Prole, I am Not a Silent Poet, The Poetry Shed, Three Drops Press and Yorkmix.