Out Of Uniform

Gabrielle McDonald


A Big If

If wishes were raindrops
I’d collect them in a bucket
I would want it to pour
Not rain

If wishes were horses
I would gallop amongst them
Shake my head
And swish my mane
I’d drink from the river
Munch on some hay

If wishes were gospel
I’d ask for the truth
I’d sing and shout hallelujah
When they bear fruit

I have only one wish
If you don’t mind
To be the brightest star
Up there in the sky

Then they could wish
Upon my star
I’d lead them
Not into temptation
But cannot promise
A journey without scars

Cattle to Market

Cattle to market
Flesh to flesh
Body unwrapped
Simply the best

Never first at what is wanted
The best at second best
To ask is to show me a cheek

Tired of the scenario
Only gold medals at these games
Rather be poor and alone
Than a loser
As winnings not the same


I love you!
Is so easy to say
Now love
The word have gone astray

You love her more than me
To be expected
But your love for me
Should be equal
In another way

You say
You love me
But you don’t see
How alone I am
In this love you have for me

I’m needy!
And you can’t tell
Should I push you away?
Torn between to parallels
I chase a sliding doors moment
Take a peak and see
Should I choose
You and her
Or me?


One day I was at work
And things were
Well Gel

Then a drunk
Lady from Leytonstone
Made things hell

She looked like
She’d been
On a night
At The Sugar Hut

She was hammered
I tell ya

I said get a cab
And she refused
She said

The Only Way Is Essex!
And that’s by the TUBE.


There is a rage in Harlem
Yes there is
Yes there is

In the belly of the city
There is an inferno
As hot as that street car named Desire

The wind moves
And the belly rumbles
The people feed only on the air

Tainted windows
Bare marks of those trying to escape
Scratched as their souls are sucked through the sockets of their eyes
Swallowed by the darkness of Harlem

Harlem is ravished by hunger
So its rage intensifies
Longing for a serving of soul food
That is the renaissance

The renaissance settled all
The belly danced to the rhythm of serenity
Harlem’s true colours
Its picture of life
Were displayed for all to see

There are those that wished to take away what fed the renaissance
Whose eyes burned with contempt
Whose own dish lacked soul
Who would steal from another’s mouth

Thus Harlem became hungry
Its belly inflamed

There is a rage in Harlem
Yes there is
Yes there is

My son


Behold the flower
Who was always there
Twined with two colours
By the African sun

So never picked
But that’s OK
Nothing before its time
My mother would always say

As the roots grew stronger
And all seasons were faired
The flower absorbed all knowledge and strength
Encompassing the voyage ahead

Imagine being nurtured for 400 years
And still be as radiant and serene
Now that’s beauty


And once again
The hurricane
Sweeps through
Taking away someone else I love

It has already left a hole in my heart
13 years old
Emptiness in my soul
I decide to talk to God

Why now?

Every time I pick myself up and dust myself down

Gran, Granddad, Dad and now Aunt
Who will sew my clothes for me?
Who will tell me the remedy when I am sick?
Who will collect pictures of the family?

One less person to laugh with

God I am tired

Why don’t you like me?
You can’t like me
Because all you do is hurt me

Where is the joy that comes after pain?
Or am I not deserved?
I do not wish for a test
I am stronger than even I know
That I am sure

I will stand in the eye of the hurricane
You will twirl about me
In disguise

But I know that it is you God
And I hate you
I want you to know
And I will not like you until you like me




On the open road
In the motherland
Making my way from the twin cities
To the capital
Who would have thought it?
The little English Jamaican girl
Would have made it all the way home

I have bathed in cold water
For 10 nights
Washing away creature comforts
And sins against thy self

I have basked in the blackouts,
Plentiful as they have been
I have been rewarded with
‘Toughness’ tokens
To carry home with me

It’s raining
But the driver’s window does not wind up
It stops
And then it rains again

The land encasing the road
Is green and vast
But not lush or alive
Crops scorched by the African sun
The driver increases his speed

Stuck in a traffic jam
I watch woman swivel their hips
Carrying boxes, trays, bags of food on their crowns
Some with babies on their backs

We finally make it home
Winding the car along paths with no names

I lay my head on the pillow

I’m ready to fly away
To immigrate back home


I love your son
What a fine man he is
Has grown up to be
You’re proud
I’m sure
Looking down from above
We’ll never meet
But I hope
You want him for me
I’ll touch him
Equal to you’re hand
Love him
The best way
I know I can
I see you in him
The softness
That surprises me
Never fails to amaze me
You are a wonderful
Your Son
Is a wonderful man


Let me grasp
Your face
In my hands

Is that you?
Or is the devil at play?

I rub my nose on your nose
Massage your cheeks
With my fingers

I pass my ear
Against your mouth
Yes I feel it
The apogee
Of your breath

Mankind has crumbled
Under nature’s wrath
Washed away
By her indignation
That means nothing
Now you’re here

I knew you would come back to me
I was right to believe in you
You vowed
Never to forsake me
You were true

You smile
And hold out your hand
I gaze into the light

Je comprends
Je suis mort!

I understand

I am dead!)



Why did you chase me through the poppy field
And in on the orchid field?
Where I ran and laughed

And I nearly let you catch me
Because I could not do both
Where I ran

And the wind side swept my hair
Caressing my face
And the corner of a long strand of hair
Became moist
Because it caught in my mouth

I run my finger tips across the poppies
Petals delicate
Like butterfly’s bodies

I can hear the rhythm of your breathing
As you descend upon me
I will never let you catch me
As much fun as the chase is
A butterfly caught in a jam jar
I am not!

The delicacy of the flowers
The warmth of the sun

The void left by the departure of Neville
In the summer of ‘99
The beauty of your heart
Will not break me
I will not succumb to love

We’ve been running now
For over a year
The seasons
Have come and gone
If I’m not mistaken
We were frozen in winter!

I’m exhausted
My sides hurt from laughing
My heart has softened

You continue the pursuit of me
The prize
To be my Prince Caspian
I should let you catch me
But I’m toying with giving in
Some now say
It is inevitable

And against my wishes
And my better judgement

Inevitability steers my mind
And like in the movies
The running girl
Always trips and falls

Let us run together
Side by side
In unison
With our hands clasped together

Until it all falls apart


The heavens opened
And washed at the tears

Sirens move closer
For at this time
My heart needs rescuing
The body unbalanced

Pain stirs ever closer
Ravishing the path that it takes
I suffer in silence
As those who profess to understand have no idea

Enveloping the pain
Just as Jesus palms adopted the nails
Driven through the bed of his hands

It is inevitable
Increasing with every new success
Pain shall come in greater degrees
The body further unbalances

With the passing of time
The void in my heart becomes more expansive
Never to be filled
Knowledge that only serves
To deepen the pain

Gabrielle's Profile

Profile picture I began writing poetry at nine years old. It was a way for me to express myself generally and personally, and this is what inspires me to write

I showed my first attempts at creating poems to my primary school teacher Ms Beckerleg, who encouraged me to continue writing and brought me the 2nd edition of children’s poetry by Cadbury’s who, sponsored a competition every year to have young people’s poetry published.

As an adult, poetry has also become a way to explore any scenario, situation, person, place etc that may otherwise be unattainable; putting myself right at the heart of it or becoming a voyeur and let it play out before me. I can have tea with Ghandi or climb a sky scrapper.

Gabrielle reads a selection of his poems from the opening night of 'Out of Uniform'

Contact Gabrielle McDonald

Email: the.o_racle@hotmail.co.uk