Doctor Smith by Tom McColl

 

The surgery I go to
has a two-headed doctor.
‘Doctor Smith will see you, see you, now.’

It gets very confusing.
Doctor Smith, via his left head,
gives me a diagnosis
then, via his right head,
gives me a second opinion,
which always differs from the first
(and, as it happens,
that opinion’s
never the best one –
always the worst).

When Doctor Smith examines me with a stethoscope,
it’s in the left head’s left ear
and the right head’s right ear.
In other words, he makes a right pig’s ear
(and also a left pig’s ear)
of any examination he does.
However, when I once challenged him about it,
Doctor Smith’s left head
just said,
‘Can you breathe in a bit more deeply, please?’
while his right head shook morosely.

Apparently, his wife has got two heads as well,
and two pairs of breasts.
It’s said they met as impoverished but physically normal students,
earning money by undergoing laboratory tests.

Two heads are better than one, they say,
but I’m not too sure that comes into play
while attending an appointment with
the always-in-two-minds Doctor Smith.

Thomas McColl has had poems published in magazines such as Envoi, Rising, Iota and Ink, Sweat and Tears, and his first full collection of poetry, Being With Me Will Help You Learn, is out now from Listen Softly London Press.

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Interview by Tara Lynn Hawk

 

You look right for the part, but we have concerns.
Just what, if anything, have you been doing with your life?
Are you taking any psycho-tropic meds?
Are you a “team player”?
Can you skate backwards?
Will you make coffee runs?
How do you feel about quinoa?
Are you a Marxist?
Do you feel there ever was a clear blueprint for the dictatorship of the proletariat?
But most important,
will you take the rap for the rest of us?

Tara Lynn Hawk is a San Fransisco area born artist, poet, historian, poet and general bon vivant who splits her time between London, San Francisco and the west shore of Lake Tahoe. Seeking part time wine tasting gig.

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A Rustic Striptease, South Pembrokeshire, 1957 by Robert Nisbet

 

Intent upon a wasted youth,
we prowled the fairground: boxing booth,
squint rifles, chips, the Wall of Death.
We then approached, suspended breath,
the striptease, where a one-eyed man
(one-eyed, believe me if you can)
intoned full clear, did not dissemble,
This will make your trousers tremble.

And once within his fiendish tent,
our every inhibition went.
Beyond a glorious mist of gauze,
the object of our hearts’ applause.
We gazed upon her plump pink youth,
ogled indeed (I tell you sooth),
until, about her seventh pose
(a side-on breast, I do suppose)
a sudden dopey interlude.
Some punter, well and truly stewed,
as subtle as a blunted rasp,
called, Watch out, there’s a bloody wasp.
(In Pembrokeshire, the humble wasp
is rhymed with Cleopatra’s asp).

But interruption comes and goes.
She came unto her final pose,
described as .. you’ll not think me rude? ..
a full, uncluttered backside nude.

We lost all vestiges of shame.
as punters bellowed, That’s the game!
But just before our queen retired,
the cheering stilled, but, less desired,
that punter, very worst of men,
cried, There’s that bloody wasp again.

(previously published in The Seventh Quarry and in the author’s Prolebooks pamphlet, Merlin’s Lane)

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.

Sigmund Freud Gets Lucky by Paul Vaughan

 

Lonely Sigmund dreamed of love,
id and ego dancing tangos,
unrequited lusts that drove him
to download Tinder on his ‘phone.

Dora swiped right when she saw
his sexy beard and eyes that longed;
invited him to meet for dinner,
probe his inner child with song.

They dallied over breasts of chicken,
but her intentions were not clear
until she ordered her dessert,
a Stiffy Cockee Pudding please.

Paul Vaughan lives in Yorkshire with a sneezing cat. Work has appeared or is forthcoming in Agenda, Bunbury, Message in a Bottle and The Open Mouse, among others. When not writing he moonlights as editor of Algebra of Owls.

My Love by David O’Neill

 

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My love is like an iridescent hue—
A coruscating haze of orange, red and blue;
A parlous transformation certain photons rue
That face destructive interference.

My love is like a bowl of comely fruit,
Whose shiny, dimpled, waxen pericarps impute
The bitter mesocarp, that hints the more astute
Should give sour endocarp due clearance.

My love owes beauty, cold and statuesque,
In graceful poise evoking perfect arabesque
With classic virtues, recrudescing Romanesque,
In worse excesses than Octavian.

My love has feathers in her coiffeured hair—
A monstrous, non-cladistic, bird-brained hybrid pair,
Her rostral pole chimæric with the derrière
Of some denuded ratite avian.

(Editor’s note: the painting on which the poem is based is by Isobel Smerdon, aged 11, and is reproduced with permission. The animation is by the author.)

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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RelationHit.com by James Woolf

 

Our florist closes late at night
We girls struggle to get by
So I built a little website
To keep our spirits high

“Why waste time with flowers
When you can say it with a bomb?
Don’t sit there and cower
Choose RelationHit.com

If your marriage is a non-event
Or his jokes put you to shame
Just tick the box marked Your Consent
And we’ll take him out the game”

My wicked wit helped us survive
A website selling slaughter!
But minutes after it went live
I got a “wife pop” order

I called the bloke – his name was Sid
I told him, “It’s a jest!”
He offered fifteen thousand quid
I said, “I’ll do the rest.”

By now RelationHit.com
Was choked with user traffic
Quite by chance I’d hit upon
A demented demographic

I quit my day job selling flowers
With one or two misgivings
Now I’m knifing nephews in the shower
Shoving sisters off tall towers
Giving gramps a surge of power
Well… you’ve got to earn a living

James Woolf is a writer of short stories, scripts and adverts and occasional poems. Ambit magazine will be publishing his story Mr and Mrs Clark and Blanche in January 2017. He was shortlisted in the Bridport Prize 2016, and R v Sieger – additional documents disclosed by the Crown Prosecution Service was highly commended in the 2015 London Short Story Prize and published in 2016. Prior to this, his plays have been produced in various off-West End venues including The King’s Head Theatre, the Arcola and the Theatre Royal Margate. Two radio plays have been broadcast including Kerton’s Story with Bill Nighy, Lesley Sharp and Stephen Moore.

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Walking the Dog by Maurice Devitt

 

I knew he wanted a walk
when he brought in his lead,
pointed at the watch on my wrist
and started to bark.

He wasn’t particularly choosy
which route we took,
once we passed the bejazzled poodle
in number 14. They had history,

not all of it good, and even now,
she re-buffed his advances,
sitting inside the gate, checking
her nails and preening

her latest coiffure. The park,
a treasure trove of loose dogs,
was likely to offer more success,
and here he could afford to be picky,

turning up his nose at mongrels
and bull terriers, finding a shih tzu pretty
but superficial and setting his heart
on a cocker spaniel, come-to-bed eyes

and floppy ears. Coy at first,
the barriers quickly dropped and
what passed between them
was both romantic and breathless.

I’m not even sure if he caught
her name, although when we went
home, he scribbled something
on the wall above his bed,

then settled into a chair, happy to have
the rest of the day to himself.

In 2016, Maurice Devitt was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series and shortlisted for the Listowel Poetry Collection Competition. Winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition in 2015, he has been placed or shortlisted in many competitions including the Patrick Kavanagh Award, Over the Edge New Writer Competition, Cuirt New Writing Award and the Doire Press International Chapbook Competition. A guest poet at the ‘Poets in Transylvania’ festival in 2015, he has had poems published in various journals in Ireland, England, Scotland, the US, Mexico, Romania, India and Australia, is curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site and a founder member of the Hibernian Writers’ Group.

Happy Hour by Sherri Turner

 

This ledge is very narrow
once you get up here and see.
I hadn’t realised how small
the folks below would be.
I’m trying not to wobble
and I feel a little sick.
The evening dampness on the tiles
is making them quite slick.
It must have been the Happy Hour
that caused my over-drinking
and made me climb here for a bet.
What can I have been thinking?
I wish I’d been more sensible
and hadn’t drunk at all.
My sense of balance isn’t great,
I think I’m going to…

Sherri Turner lives in Surrey. She has had numerous short stories published in women’s magazines and has won prizes for both poetry and short stories. She likes to write silly poems when she feels in danger of forgetting that this is supposed to be fun.

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Shell Shocked by Catherine Edmunds

 

The incubator’s light turned green. We cheered!
The wait was over, eggs would hatch tonight,
but as we watched it flickered fast. We feared
the hatchlings wouldn’t last, would die of fright.
“Not so!” Professor Zog cried, full of glee,
“Their life force cannot fail, I promise you.”
And he was right. Now all of us could see
a tiny movement; peck, peck, peck, and through
the mottled shell a beak appeared. A beak?
But dragons don’t have beaks. We were perplexed.
This looked more like a chicken. Zog looked bleak.
“Good grief!” he wailed. “I say! Whatever next!”
And thus it was, despite a heartfelt plea,
Professor Zog now works for KFC.

(Previously published in Anomalous Appetites)

Catherine Edmunds was educated at Dartington College of Arts, and Goldsmith’s College, London. Her published works include a poetry collection, four novels and a Holocaust memoir. Catherine has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her writing has appeared in the Frogmore Papers, The Binnacle, Butchers’ Dog, and other literary journals.

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The Rabbit by Barry Ergang

 
Once it was in raw November...or October? Can’t remember--
I was worn and badly wasted from a long day at the store
and I dozed off, no doubt drooling (I’m not kidding, I’m not fooling:
work that day was really grueling--puling patrons, I footsore),
while my love and her big brother called on friends they’d seen before.
        ’Twas just a social, heretofore.

Next day my love told me, “Honey, I am gonna get a bunny.
My brother’s friends raise troops of rabbits, troops enough to make a corps!”
I stared at her, my vision’s habit, then declared, “There’ll be no rabbit.”
At that she struck my rib--she jabbed it--elbowed it till it was sore.
“It’s cute! They’ll give it free,” she cried. “You know that bunnies I adore.”
        Thus my plea she did ignore.

I bound the rib and, vocally heated, gazed at love and still entreated,
reminding her that rabbits breed, they spawn like grunion on the shore.
“If with pet you must cohabit, why’s it have to be a rabbit?
Why not sea-life? Hermit crabs fit...Tuna! You’ll get albacore!”
Her look spoke volumes, drilling through me, but from curses she forbore.
        “I’ll have one bunny. Say no more.”

Hence in a December snowy, when the wind was cold and blowy,
my love and I betook ourselves, to sate her antic leporine chore,
to brother’s friends named John and Tony, pleasant guys and never phony,
whilst I continued to be groany right up to their house’s door.
Up the icy path we went to house with windows rimed with hoar.
        My love was smiling smiles galore.

Then inside we were admitted, where John and Tony’s two dogs flitted--
Trev and Raleigh welcomed us with canine capers at the fore.
How they frolicked, Trev and Raleigh, greeting party ever jolly,
eager to begin the folly that brought my love back to their door.
They leaped about, devotion dogged, licking hands for their encore.
        “Dogs!” our hosts snapped. “Calm restore!”

John and Tony soon besought us, and our custom long had taught us,
to take refreshment, eat and drink--and neither grub nor glass forswore.
A tray of snacks they then extended and, lest they should be offended,
to our dinner we appended nosh and beverage furthermore.
“Have some coffee?” they inquired. “Some tea, perhaps?--Here, have a S’more!”
        My love craved harey herbivore.

So belowground we were taken, to the cellar not forsaken
by our hosts who here bred rabbits--here, I say, not Baltimore.
My love rushed forward, ever eager (penned-up creatures do intrigue her)
to rabbit cage with space so meager over which her heart did pour,
and snatched the fair and radiant rabbit whose legs jerked like a semaphore.
        We named her Twitchley, not Lenore.

Well, by gum! by gosh! dagnabbit! My love finally got her rabbit,
and with it home we hied to give it warmth from weather’s biting frore.
There encaged the bunny huddled; my love’s soul was liquid puddled,
for with quaking, nervous bunny she’d have cuddled on the floor.
“I’m your mother, baby,” she said. “Come to me!” she did implore.
        ’Twouldn’t be for two days more.

Soon accustomed and ensconced in her own room--here, not Wisconsin--
Twitchley romped and rocketed around the place--how she did soar!
She’d hide at length behind some clutter; love and I would often mutter
that she’d speed as slick as butter to hideyhole behind the door
where we discovered heaps of fibers from the carpet that she tore.
        She gnawed the carpet, never floor.

She was calm--the Bunlai Lama--distant from the human drama,
and when we moved her to the kitchen she made not a single roar.
Apples, pears and hay she munched, or tasty carrot neatly crunched--
within her cage intently hunched (the cage was made in Singapore)--
ate her peanuts, cherries, popcorn, lettuce that she gently tore--
        ate just enough but never more.

Next she spied her stuffed pink piglet, shook her scut--oh Lord, did wiggle it!--
leaped from cage and circled toy quite like a fearless picador.
Then she mounted, vibrant, humping--clutching, avid, swiftly pumping;
little rabbit feet a-thumping, rump a-bump ’gainst kitchen floor--
chieftainess atop her subject, dominant, sans pinafore,
        as dainty as a stevedore.

Twitchley’s life? A bowl of cherries or, I should say, bunny berries;
with them daily she got richer, pile by pile beside the door.
Satisfied from all her humping, Twitch withdrew and squatted, dumping.
Once again I started grumping to my love about the chore
of picking up fresh rabbit poop that unimproved the room’s decor.
        She sighed, grabbed broom and swept the floor.

Oy, gevult! They kept on coming, pouring from that rabbit’s plumbing
like cluster bombs, a mass so vast--enough to sink Corregidor!
While I trod there, nearly snapping, again I heard the faintest tapping
as of rabbit slyly crapping pellets on the kitchen floor.
“My love,” said I, “my darling...honey--get a vacuum, I implore.”
        From cork suggesting I forbore.

Thrice while love and I were talking on the phone, our Twitch went stalking,
saw the line connecting handset to the base and then made war:
chewed the wire--with teeth she crumped it--hopped away, the little strumpet.
Sudden silence made me trumpet, “You there? Can’t hear you anymore!”
Thus my love picked up extension, our discussion to restore.
        Quoth the rabbit, “Sever cord.”

Yes, I know I seem curmudgeon, that my story’s full of dudgeon,
but watching my love hugging Twitch became contentment’s metaphor.
Their snuggle sessions were terrific--love with smile so beatific,
the kitchen chamber so pacific as rabbit she caressed and more:
crooned Twitch nicknames, sang weird songs--my comic love, the troubadour.
        My love and Twitchley I adore.

So, you see, for all my drab wit, I too came to love that rabbit.
Like my love she is the sweetest daughter mother ever bore.
Whenever worries had me sweating, I’d engage in bunny-petting
and sure enough my awful fretting sailed the creek without an oar.
I had my love and Twitch to steer me from disquiet’s roiling shore.
        Precious angels--evermore.

Former Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine and former First Senior Editor of Mysterical-e, Barry Ergang’s poetry, fiction and non-fiction have appeared in numerous publications, print and electronic. A Derringer Award winner from the Short Mystery Fiction Society, some of his work is available at Smashwords and Amazon.