Travellers Welcome by Maria C McCarthy

 

Thighs stretch nylon, skin tops stockings,
as Betty bends for the Britvic orange.

Kenneth straightens his tie,
pulls out a tenner,
fingers his fly.

When you’re ready,
Betty love, pint of bitter,
and whatever you fancy,

Later, in a single room
above the Saloon,

he cops a handful
in a crumpled hankie.

Behind Kenneth’s eyelids,
Betty’s bottom rises.

Maria C. McCarthy doesn’t write poems and stories as often as she should. She was the winner of the Society of Authors’ Tom-Gallon Trust Award 2015, and has scarcely published a thing since then.

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The Cheesemonger by Leanne Moden

 

From Timbuktu to Amsterdam
Everyone loves Parmasan
And you know, there’s nothing sweller
Than creamy piles of Mozzarella.

See, every honest devotee
Swears there’s always time for Brie.
And you could boost your low morale
With just a sniff of Emmental.

For cubic cheese, there’s nothing better
Than squares of crumbly Grecian Feta.
Trust me now, you’ve really gotta
Taste the taste of smooth Ricotta.

The expert and the amateur
Can share a runny Camembert
While others exercise their molars
With tonnes and tonnes of Gorgonzola.

But, though this list is less than roomy,
There’s still some space for fresh Halloumi.
And, if you want my testimony,
Nothing beats a Mascarpone.

Just don’t forget (I beg you please!)
The lumpy joy of Cottage Cheese.
And, when you can, seek to pursue
Squeaky blobs of warm Fondue.

Many cheeses are critque-less,
Even so, there’s one cheese weakness:
So, in your choices, be robust –
And never eat the processed stuff!

Leanne Moden is a poet from Nottingham. She has performed all around the UK, including sets at Trinity College Cambridge, the Nottingham Poetry Festival, Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, the Cambridge Festival of Ideas, the Royal Albert Hall and Bestival on the Isle of Wight.

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Magpie by Mark Totterdell

 

borrow a fagpie
sneak a quick dragpie
off down the pub so there’s no need to nagpie

just an old lagpie
grabbing a bagpie
black and white stripy-topped off with the swagpie

not one to bragpie
second-hand jagpie
see what a beauty he’s managed to blagpie

don’t lose your ragpie
he’s such a wagpie
waving a black and white piraty flagpie

fancy a shagpie
any old slagpie
all on his own with a well dodgy magpie

Mark Totterdell‘s poems have appeared widely in magazines. His collection ‘This Patter of Traces’ was published by Oversteps Books in 2014.

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A Tay swimmer selects a navigator by Beth McDonough

 

You might very well veer towards
lean, handsome lads, all matching
shorts and deck shoes. Their long
limbs have pulled
a tiller or two, and tilted
in plenty of yachts. Or those friendly-
faced girls who have paddled canoes
right the way round
St Kilda. Any one would be swell, but

I put my trust in grizzled old salts,
diesel stink bright on their oilskins,
faces the leather of torn, battered shoes. Their hands
gnarl those fenders like branches. I’ll take
old men who exhale the Tay’s brine,
and maybe a whisky or two. I need
a sailor, pipe clamped between snaggle-dark
teeth, one who peers out from cowries,
rough sunk into wrinkles,
with barnacles chewing his beard.

He’ll know which side I’ll breathe on.

Beth McDonough finds poems whilst swimming in lochs and rivers, foraging and riddling with Anglo Saxons. Often writing of a maternal experience of disability, she was Writer in Residence at Dundee Contemporary Arts 2014-16. ‘Handfast,’ her poetry duet pamphlet (with Ruth Aylett) was published in May 2016.

The Waiter by David O’Neill

 

A long, long, long, long time ago, and then an age before,
A wild and furious ocean beat its waves upon a shore.
Not yet the time for living things, the main and rock were lords and kings
Of all the Earth’s rich store of things from firmament to core.

And flash! and crack! and bang! and boom! great storms raged overhead
And from small atoms, tossed and torn, strange molecules were bred.
In endless cycles, water flowed from sea to cloud to rain then rode
In foaming streams, with solute load, back to its ocean bed.

And round and round the cycle turned while countless years passed by.
And rock, ground into clinging clay, in littoral pools would lie.
And strange new matter, rudely formed, by lightning strike, as heavens stormed
On clay adsorbed, by sunlight warmed, still stranger bonds would tie.

And on through pregnant æons turned the watery cycle round
Till strangely fashioned molecules in helices were wound.
And in the sea, which, year by year, had leached the mineralosphere
Of salt and clay-bound scum veneer, primordial soup was found.

At length within the fœtid broth, a metaform awoke—
Fair Gaia was the fecund maid the life force did betoke.
And, casting wide, she full surveyed what violent storms had crudely made
For light to strike where clay had laid in virgin brine to soak.

And all the while with patient grace a presence watched the scene—
A formless spectral conscient mind who’d marked what there had been.
And, bending low, he strained to see what further changes there might be
As Gaia, in her primal sea, became the planet’s queen.

“Sweet Gaia!” spake the watcher then, “Pray, what will come to pass?
For ages long I’ve waited here and watched your soup amass.
Come, tell me, wondrous parvenue, what can the future promise you—
What marvels lace the vast purview of such a fertile lass?”

“Dear patient friend,” she answered soft, “if low you care to stoop,
With keening eye you may discern one of a larger group:
See, Waiter, of the insects¹, there, you may so mark, if close you stare,
With legs, full six, and wings, a pair², a fly³ is in my soup.”

[1] Subclass Pterygota

[2] See [3]

[3] A Dipteran, eg Musca domestica

David O’Neill is a frustrated mathematician who has journeyed through a predominantly life-science-based medical landscape for most of his mortgage-paying professional life, eventually finding salvation in the Open University, too close to the end for practical application but sufficiently early for peace of mind and poetic inspiration.

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Intercity 125 by Joe Williams

 

I didn’t foresee
That carriage B
Would alter my life
In such curious fashion

And who even knew
That the 10:52
Could ever have been
The scene of such passion?

We entered the station
To great consternation
Our deeds were the subject
Of much speculation

But I don’t regret
And I’ll never forget
The good times we had
Before privatisation

Joe Williams is a writer from Leeds and the creator of Haiku Hole.  In 2015 Joe began performing on the poetry and open mic circuit to inflict his work on a wider audience.  Some of them claimed to enjoy it, so you can blame them for encouraging him to continue.

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Freud by Fianna

 

Plasticine vapours lift
from the brown playroom table
filling lungs and nostrils
with gluey desire

warm tyre
liquorish
all sorts of squeezy oozy
mud-through-toe skin-loves
rise through primeval body layers

now pulled and melded colours
drag eyelid to nose-edge
cheeks to dewlap
pistachio, fudge and vanilla ice-cream
deliquesce and gloop

I knock on Lucian’s door
I give him a great big hug
I give him a great big fright
I feel like a warm wet slug

Lucian turns to white.

Fianna (Fiona Russell Dodwell) is from Fife and lives in the Fens. She has had about 30 poems published in online poetry magazines.

Bastard by Robert Nisbet

 

Interviews at Oxford, December 1959

The guide book phrase is dreaming spires, the facts
are pleasing too, the staircases and quads.
Train-loads of schoolboys shuffle in, disperse.
I’m bound for Jesus, for an interview.
Sounds pleasingly irreverent, that phrase:
“I’m bound for Jesus”. Then alas, ill-met,
here’s John the Baptist getting on the bus.

Who is this man, smile spread, grin grown so great?
He has the Bard’s Collected Works, and totes
this ammo to his holster arm, before
he fires in his first offence. Your school?

My glum, gruff Welsh response is slow:
It’s Milford Haven (‘Grammar School’ left out).
I do not ask his school. He tells me though.

His school spreads wide on England’s Southern coast.
‘Tis Beadles, Boodles? Rather good, he says.
Good little school. But so of course (he grins)
is Milford Haven. What a sizzling pratt.

And on we go. Next question. Do you ect?
Ecting? In sooth. My mind describes new views
of some foul practice known to him alone,
of buggery in Boodles, beastly boys.
And then he clarifies: In our place
we did King Lear. The monstrous grin now spreads
so far it seems to hinge half-off his head
(a large one) and he booms that he of course
was Edmund. Now, self-deprecating wit:
The Bastard Son of Gloucester. And I think,
Well yes. We read in Milford Haven too.

The bus conductor’s shout hails my release.
To Jesus. Ed’s for Queen’s. I leave him thus,
the Bastard Son of Boodles on the bus.

(Previously published in Prole Magazine)

Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet with over 200 publications in Britain, as well as a number of appearances in the USA, in magazines like San Pedro River Review, Constellations, Illya’s Honey and Clementine Unbound.

The Roman No(s) by Paul Vaughan

 

How may I decline this latin clown?
Judgement is subjective,
my love unconjugated;
amo, amas, amat….

Puella fugit, fuck it,
sine amore nihil sum.

Paul Vaughan lives in Yorkshire with his cat Rosie, and refuses to eat custard unless it is in a vanilla slice. He has poems forthcoming in Sarasvati, Seventh Quarry and online atThe Curly Mind. When not writing, he moonlights as the editor of https://algebraofowls.com

My new profile picture by Marie-Therese Taylor

 

My new profile picture

is just an X-Ray
of my hip
but boy do I look good like that
everything in
its proper place and not
a gram of body fat

with cartilage missing from the right
the fit into that socket tight
you know it’s from my skeleton
not just that of anyone

Marie-Therese Taylor draws on everyone and everything… no one is safe. Her short stories and poems have appeared in The Glasgow Review of Books, Soundwaves, Mixing the Colours, Nutshells and Nuggets, and The Stare’s Nest. She lives in Glasgow where she has also been known to perform.