Ode to a Hairdresser by Iseult Healy


He lifted her straggling hair
with the love of a musician
strummed her strands
cried over their condition.

He leaned her head back
so gently on basin’s rim
then massaged and mused
that her hopes weren’t dim.

She bit her soft moans
his fingers stroked her head
and thought of other pleasure
alone in her bed.

Move over here madam, please.
She fought the tears at the loss
of his touch, the exquisite nearness
of his tight-panted crotch.

Then he cut and fussed
admired and caressed
every strand of her hair
till she felt undressed.

She floated home and
tossed her hair
to show his beauty to those
who would stare.

Her husband asked, why so often
to cut one head of hair
at the price of adopting a child
or a new French au pair

Oh, she says,
he shows respect
my tips are dry
from years of neglect.
To stop the rot
he has to treat me

Bloody poof, I’m sure
you’re on the wrong tack
shampoo and wax
won’t turn the clock back.

Oh, she said.

Your hair’s nice, he said
stumbling into bed
after the match and the beer
his eyes close in his head

Snoring in seconds
before she can reply:

I’m worth it, she says
my tips aren’t dry.

Iseult Healy is published in several journals including USA, Mexico, and Ireland. Also Shortlisted Galway Hospital Trust Poetry Competition 2015.

She is a member of Ox Mountain Poets and A New Ulster groups, and loves Kevin Higgins’ Over the Edge international online poetry workshops.


Tell me by Finola Scott


(with thanks to WH Auden)

Tell me

the truth about sex.
Can you do it by email or text?
Is it best to stay pure
or better play whore?
Oh tell me the truth about sex.

Must I have thighs very tight
which grip for a day and a night?
And what about sweet and gentle,
what if it isn’t consensual?
Oh do tell me the truth about sex.

Tell me the facts about boys.
Do they want all their girls to be toys?
Does there need to be lots of noise?
Is it alright to google his name?
Oh tell me how to play this game.

If in leather or rubber I’m tied
does that break the rule for offside?
Can I really say no
will he ask me to go?
Oh tell me, I do need to know.

Finola Scott‘s poems and short stories are widely published in anthologies and magazines including The Ofi Press, Raum, The Poetry Shed ,The Lake, Poets’ Republic.She is pleased to be mentored, this year on the Clydebuilt Scheme, by Liz Lochead. A performance poet, she is proud to be a slam-winning granny.

Cosy by Jonathan Humble


You’re in a kitchen by yourself,
The cosy’s on the pot,
A little voice inside your brain
Starts badgering somewhat.
You do your best to be mature,
But then you find instead,
Before you know just what you’ve done,
The cosy’s on your head.

Jonathan Humble is a deputy head teacher. He’s worked as a painter, lettuce picker and engineer in the power industry. Other than writing poetry and short stories, his hobbies include beard growing, pointing at poppies and keeping the international coffee industry afloat with his patronage.


[As Billy Connolly once remarked, ‘Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cosy, doesn’t try it on.’ – Ed]

What’s the John Dory? by Susan Evans


Message in a bottle; excuse my Squid ink scroll.
To my darling John Dory, my fellow tortured Sole.

You’re in another Plaice, but I just want you to know,
I don’t think you a Pollock; I love our ebb & flow.

Monsieur Mussel, you put the Rainbow in my Trout;
I’m like Wild Salmon when we dive & splash about.

& when I’m feeling Crabby you don’t try to suck me in;
you’re gentle & protective fending off those Crayfish twins.

The world’s our Lobster in my aqua fantasy;
you & I go deep, making under water alchemy.

Playing all of your top Tuna, on your favourite Sea Bass,
I swim, you sing: ‘I see you baby (shakin’ that ass)’.

Alas, I cannot be your Mermaid ‘plenty more fish’ says head;
you’ve a Dover Sole mate; shan’t put my Roe in one seabed.

I can be a Tiger Prawn but you can see that I’m no Snapper.
Okay, I find you dishy & your swim suit’s very dapper.

But be more Monk fish; your Sole mate’s down at Eel.
I’m just a red Herring & I’ve no wish to steal.

Without you, I’ll feel gutted; be like losing a fin.
But you’re caught; could be worse, could be Sardines in a tin.

Susan Evans is widely published; online & in print; appearing in: The High Window, Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Journal, Message in a Bottle, Nutshells and Nuggets, Obsessed With Pipework, and Snakeskin, among numerous others. A Brighton-based Performance poet, Susan was nominated Best Spoken Word Performer in the Saboteur Awards, 2016.


Funeral by Meg Barton


I go to people’s funerals
So they will come to mine.
Just think of the embarrassment
If nobody had a good time.

And what if the sausage rolls were off?
I’d be the joke of the town.
Or everyone laughed at the music I chose?
I’d never live it down.

I’d better prepare a detailed plan
I’d better be nice to my friends
Or nobody’s going to shed a tear
Or come to my funeral again.

Meg Barton lives in Oxford, and has been published in a few magazines including The Interpreter’s House and Lighten Up Online.

The Internet Dating Profile Song by Josa Young


Bibble bobble
Stomachs wobble
Ciggies burn
Turkey necks gobble
Men with blondes
And men with bikes
Pints of beer…
Is that a pike?
Downturned mouths
And grey complexions
Urgent words
To make connections
Sofa snuggles
Grammar struggles
Nostrils gape
And stream and bubble
Desperation leaks from screens
‘I just want love!’
They seem to scream.
And yet among that sickly crew
There is the odd exception…


Josa Young is a novelist and copywriter. Her two novels One Apple Tasted and Sail Upon the Land are out there somewhere being read. She was a decent poet up until puberty, and has taken to verse again as all the creative frenzy of childbearing has faded.


A New Beginning by Norman Hadley


When the Wilsons judged that they were halfway through the marriage,
they hired a jobbing surgeon-friend
to sever their heads
to sew back on
but swapped around.

They spent their second twenty years
apologising for a million insensitivities
but the sex was fantastic.

Norman Hadley is an engineer and mathematician who writes poetry, short fiction, children’s fiction and cycling-related nonfiction to keep all the hemispheres occupied. He’s produced five poetry collections so far and frenetic participation in Jo Bell’s “52” project has generated sufficient material for five more.


Bulb by Gillian Mellor


You screwed me, your hands all over me.
Used me to illuminate your fantasies.
What now? Discarded on grounds
of efficiency. Replacements, handsome
as cows’ udders dangle from fittings
instead of me. My filament remains cool.
Incandescence fading from memory.

Gillian Mellor lives near Moffat in Scotland. She has had poems published on and offline and can be traced to The Moffat Bookshop on the days they let her out.

Toilet Roll by Lesley Quayle


My life is crap.
You tear me up,
rip me apart, piece by piece.
You want me to be strong
but expect me still to be soft,
you use me, then discard me,
flush me from your life
even though I do all your dirty work.
The others ignore me now that I’m spent,
empty and hollow, squandered, depleted.
Only you seem able to rip me off,
throw me out, replace me so easily
with another.

Toilet Roll 2 – the sequel

I’m always with you.
Wherever you travel,
I’m there, sometimes unseen,
never out of reach.
Comfort and safety
are in the bag.
I’ll dry your tears
and blow your nose,
contain the worst of you.
If you fall, I’m there
to mop you up
and dust you down,
when you bleed,
I’m strong.
When life is shit,
I’m there for you.

Lesley Quayle is a widely published poet and a folk/blues singer currently living in deepest, darkest rural Dorset.