Poem, by Robert Garnham

There was an old woman
She lived in a shoe
The shoe was in Peru.
It was a big one,
Big enough to accommodate am
Old woman.

It was a left foot shoe,
Ten metres tall.
A thirty foot left foot shoe
Made of leather.
Good in all kinds of weather
Such as you’d get in Peru
Particularly at the higher altitudes.

She asked if I’d like a cuppa 
There was something beguiling
About her eyes.
Go on, then, I said,
You old rascal.
She looked at me in a
Kind of coquettish manner
She reminded me
Of my Nanna,
Drunk as I was on the whine
From her hearing aid,
The scent of lavender perfume,
Peppermint and moth balls
And the pungency of the leather shoe

In the hot sun,
Emotion caught up with me.
I was feeling down at heel.
I must go, I said,
I must go,
Farewell forever.

I flew back to England and,
Inspired by her lifestyle,
Rented a cheap flip flop
Just outside of Swindon.
It just wasn’t the same.

Robert Garnham is a spoken word artist.

 

The Jazz Band in Gas Masks by Oliver Cobbin

The gas masked, taxman, jazz-band are; abstract, gift-wrapped, maniacs,
In second-hand cracked anoraks, with an attitude to match
And their shoes are purposely untied; their minds are all electrified
Wearisome and bleary eyed, are their audience at dusk

Victor clicks his fingers twice, the band scurry on like timid mice
He never heeds their good advice; his ego outweighs theres
Wisdom ricochets around, the absurd claims to fame of those
That wish to see ‘the greatest shows’, donned in their gas masks

And ‘The Sentimental Mentalists’, are weird experimentalists
‘Moon Gel Melt’ and ‘Gypsy’s Kiss’, all await their turn
They’re out of tune and out of time, half of the words don’t even rhyme
One of them actually ate a lime, for their final song

‘Arabian Oryx’ are the band to see, the gas masks are their arch enemies
Victor tuts, struts bitterly, to welcome on the band
The singers trade malicious looks, “you can’t learn jazz from reading books
And that song ‘Fizzy Pop’ really sucks” Victor he proclaims

“Get on that stage before I kick, your band out, you make me sick
I hate anyone with hair that slick and the drummer’s curls are naff”
But there isn’t time for squabbling, the audience is wobbling
“It’s pronounced as Oliver Cobbin” the singer he corrects

Joining them is guitarist Pat, piano parts by one Kenneth Jacques
The shows they play aren’t always packed, an underrated gem
‘Caught in the Edge’ is quite long and Kenneth’s parts are sometimes wrong
It matters not though, it’s a popular song and the audience do cheer

But Victor plans a cunning plot, during the ‘Arabian Oryx’ slot
A sabotage mid-Fizzy Pop, a backstage cackle is heard
As the song reaches its final verse, Victor plans to do his worst
Cobbin, Pat, Thraves and Kenneth are cursed, no encore for them

As ‘The Whippersnappers’ crack the whip and crease the page on parlour tricks
The trail of crumbs and used tooth-picks, has them scratching all their heads
But it’s almost time for the main act, shoes untied, gas masks intact
The pre-show warmup is in fact, a ritualistic task
Victor proceeds to stumble on, ad-libs the lines to the opening song
He’s out of tune but ‘it’s the key that’s wrong’ is his excuse of the day
They barely ever make it through, one whole song, let alone two
Without an audible sigh or boo, fight or broken string

Victor clicks his fingers ‘stop’, then lingers on like a ticking clock
The cynical and critical, roll their eyes in disbelief
His rants and raves prolong the shows, to the point where no one knows
What he’ll say next, so no one goes, the audience has shrunk

The crowd tonight begins to boo, got the “difficult-second album blues”
They twiddle their thumbs, untie their shoes but the silence still remains
The crowd become so very bored, they boo and hiss like the house of lords
At a lengthy jam of two minor chords, self-indulgence on display

He gestures towards the crowd to call, his name out loud as he stands tall
His narcissistic, egotistical ways, annoy them all
Spoken word interims, silence descends. the lights are dimmed
A startling joke, a closing hymn, the band grind their teeth

Bottled spit soon appears upon, the stage they played but they’ve all gone
“We cannot play another song; a refund is probably best”
“Who needs fans when you’re as great as me?” Victor asks so arrogantly
“Will we ever make it to album 3?” the band begin to muse

Victor receives a prestigious award; he may be thrilled but the band are bored
“I think it’s time we pulled the cord”, a member thinks out loud
“Oh God, there’s so many people for me to thank; my manager, um God, the bank”
Well that speech was really ‘wank’, I hear an onlooker say

“He’s always thought he’s better than, the archetypal, insightful, righteous man
Spiteful moon boots, muddled tan, mirrors on every wall”
The band themselves begin to tire, of his ways, they would conspire
But know all too well they would be fired, penniless and bored

Those who remain will rack their brains, to make sense of the snowy stains
Upon the shirt of he who is named, Victor Angeles
And the fanatical delusionists, are the ones who will always insist
That they receive a mortal kiss, from Angeles esquire
A troubling thought soon appears, its long been the band’s biggest fear
That they’ll be replaced and disappear, into obscurity
Surely not, he must understand, that they were once ‘the greatest band’
In fact, it almost seems too well planned, contrived to say the least

Rumors start to spread around, the pestering press, the dwindling crowd
“Have the gas masks bowed their final bow?” a shocking tale ensues
But is it a bunch of vicious lies, so Victor can sever all of his ties
No heartfelt note, no last goodbyes, the band are soon to learn

“He played us all like marionettes, a string of lies with more to come
His sycophantic, rock star antics paralysed the numb
How dare he ruin our biggest dream, with his cunning plots and evil schemes
And I’ve always hated his lyrical themes, pretentiousness galore”

Victor brings forth his latest creeps, upon the stage amid the sound of weeps
From their dearest fans who’ll never sleep, knowing what he’s done
Rumors start to spread around, “He must have his head stuck in the clouds”
But would anyone dare say this out loud, the whispers circulate

“The last I heard, he’d lost his mind and sailed it down the river of tears”
They play in space, where no one hears, so no one ever claps
They’re out of time and out of key, all of their songs are in ‘Drop C’
But no one else will ever see, the jazz band in gas masks

From helter-skelters in the sky, to fallout shelters, they would try
To play each and every town and place, in this universe
No matter how damp or bleak, they used to come here every week
And if it’s mediocre jazz you seek, you need look no more

So, I’m rating them 4 out of 10, generous but then again
I’m envious that they can spend, their lives playing ‘that’
Now jealousy may spring to mind, but look further and you will find
That I once-upon a time declined, an offer that they made

Because fame is fickle and the gas masks jazz, isn’t really all that jazz
It’s caveman-esque, bland, razzmatazz, and the audience are plain
Now I’m not one to just complain, I haven’t been declared mundane
The band themselves are all to blame, their curtain call is nigh
And it may look to the untrained eye, that I’m jealousy cleverly disguised
But a pocketful of dreams must die, no sacrifice too small
Victor and his men are cursed; 14 times I have rehearsed
This in my head until it bursts, into a ball of flames

It may look to the untrained eye, I’m devilish, equally as sly
The crowd will mourn and they will cry, the vigils are prepared
Victor and his men are cursed; 15 times I have rehearsed
This in my head until it bursts, the gas masks cease to be

A tale that lives on through the ages, told in print on history pages
Meanwhile inside my hate it rages, bubbling to explode
These padded walls can’t hold me in, my conscience fails, the room does spin
But I’ve had the last laugh, I always win, the gas masks cease to be

And once they’re gone, they’ll be replaced, similar sound, familiar face
There’s no accounting for a lack of taste, but that is just the game
Insipid lyrics, cleverly masked, in a music style of the past
But it’ll soon be gone, it’ll never last, at least this writer hopes

But now they’re gone, they’re idolised and their successors are slowly on the rise
Tepid music cleverly disguised, by jazzy interludes
But now they’re gone, they’re idolised and the history books still print the lies
Another band I will despise; this game goes on and on

Bio: I’m a 21 year old, who currently works as a critic at a record label in Nottingham. I write reviews of bands and other music malarkey. I’m a keen musician but also dabble in literary exercises. I’m a fan of Bob Dylan, John Cooper Clarke, Alex Turner and Nick Cave – to name but a few.
I realise this poem is mega long but I think it’s part of the charm. If you’d like me to cut it down please ask as I’d like to retain the key points in the general narrative.

 

Anarchy in the UK Head Office, by Jim Lawrence

The post-it notes bear messages
Scrawled in invisible ink
The pencils are plotting rebellion
The Head of Sales gives me a wink

As if to say ‘I know you’re with us:
A part of our deadly cabal.’
Insurrection is brewing
You can’t mistake the smell

Of resentment and paranoia
Dave in HR’s brewing mutiny
Liz in Accounts is mysterious
The filing clerk’s under her scrutiny

There’s jockeying for position
In the managerial stakes
Even the tea lady’s emulous
That’s why she poisoned the cakes

The biros and hole punches gather
In the stationery cupboard’s gloom
Whispering tactics and strategy
Meanwhile in the mail room

The franking machine’s on a go-slow
The weighing machine’s gone on strike
On the stamps are subliminal slogans
(“YOUR BOSS’S HEAD ON A SPIKE!”)

Colin the Sales head acts loyal
The ultimate company man
But Sally the CEO’s PA and I
Will take Colin down when we can

Colin believes that Sally and I
Are part of his takeover plot
But Sally’s a crypto-anarchist
She wants to destroy the whole lot

I’m madly in love with Sally
She’s co-opted me into her scheme
We’re going to turn this grim office
To a workers’ co-operative dream

I’m one of those blockheads who write not necessarily for money. I’m a poet and fiction writer (contributor to urban fantasy story cycle Red Phone Box, published by Ghostwoods Books) and I sometimes remember to blog about new music and books on Words, Noises and Other Stuff: https://mrdzhimbo.wordpress.com.

 

Needlepoint, by Maggie Mackay

Mum loved to knit

with love, lamb’s wool, mohair,

needles close by or underarm

or in her mouth.

She leant to fetch a new skein

from the bag on the carpet

and began knitting with blood.

The point punctured throat

and a Saturday evening in A and E

opened her eyes.

Maggie Mackay is in her final Masters year at Manchester Metropolitan University. She has work in print and online including The Everyday Poet edited by Deborah Alma, Bare Fiction, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House, Prole, I am Not a Silent Poet and with Three Drops Press.

 

This Moon, by Rob Evans

“The poetry of moonlight has yet to be written.” Wallace Stevens

“Oh, you bloody think so?” Me

 

This moon isn’t any of the moons you know

and, reluctantly, I’m here to tell you so;

this moon’s not some ghostly galleon

or Apollo’s back-up stallion,

it’s not Homer’s, Virgil’s, Dante’s

and forget about Cervantes

and before he says Que pasa?

it’s not one small step for NASA

and even when it’s full, it’s no pub sign.

This moon’s different because, you see,

this moon never lit Debussy,

it’s not a drummer for The Who,

or a love song when it’s blue

it don’t shine on Carolina,

it’s not wiccan for vagina,

or your trousers round your knees

with your arse out in the breeze

on a drunken charabanc on the A9,

it’s not Byron’s, it’s not Chaucer’s

or a base for flying saucers,

it’s not Milton’s, Shelley’s, Pope’s

and it sure ain’t Wendy Cope’s,

it’s not a lycanthropic trigger

and, before this list gets bigger,

this moon isn’t little Frieda’s

or any other bleeder’s –

you can stick all those moons where the sun don’t shine.

 

In other words, back off pal. This moon’s mine.

Rob Evans is an aerospace engineer whose work takes him all over the world. When not doing that, he writes poetry and sometimes reads it to hushed and not-so-hushed audiences. He is a one-time UK All Comers Poetry Slam champion but has since regained some shreds of dignity.

 

The Joy of Sets, by Maurice Devitt

 

                                                With simple interest

                                                you zero in,

                                                the square root home.

                                                She offers pi

                                                a fraction of her heart,

​​​​                                                   you desire​​​​

                                                the sine of her curves  

                                                – infinity reclining –

                                                the joy of sets.

 

                                                Prime attraction multiplies

                                                2+2=5

                                                an upward graph

                                                future = XTC

                                                with high probability of success.

                                                A new addition

                                                plan n=3,

                                                normal distribution

                                                for t+7.

 

                                                A discontinuity,

                                                commitment ¬ =

                                                no proof of love.

                                                She speaks

                                                complex codes

                                                calculates different solutions.

                                                You are discreet

                                                she is discrete, weaves

                                                a matrix of deceit.

 

                                                The triangle with Pascal

                                                a key factor,

                                                she offers an imaginary number

                                                chaos with  

                                                fractals of love.

                                                   ​​​​ The result

                                                a division of friends and CDs.

                                                When she said forever

                                                how could you know

 

                                                   she meant forever minus 1.   
Bio –Maurice Devitt
 
Runner-up in The Interpreter’s House Poetry Competition in 2017, he was winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition in 2015 and has been placed or shortlisted in many competitions including the Patrick Kavanagh Award, Listowel Collection Competition, Over the Edge New Writer Competition, Cuirt New Writing Award, Cork Literary Review and the Doire Press International Chapbook Competition. He has had poems published in Ireland, England, Scotland, the US, Mexico, Romania, India and Australia, runs the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site and is a founder member of the Hibernian Writers’ Group.

 

You know, Wassername by Rachael Clyne

You know, Wassername

‘er wi’ mucky frocks

eeh she were a chatterbox,

chubby knees, never a please

or a howdoyoudo.
Knew her when she were flea high

to a snot-rag – now look, she’s writ a book
a best seller, gorra fella wi bags of it.

‘Appen I’d’ve done t’same if I’d a mind ter,
mark my peas and cucumbers,
it’ll be filthy as a brass’s gusset.
Yer can tek girl out of t’frying pan
but yer canna tek snicket out of’t’girl.

Mine’s a gin and orange luv, no ice.

RACHAEL CLYNE lives in Glastonbury. Her prizewinning collection Singing at the Bone Tree – is published by Indigo Dreams. Anthologies: The Very Best of 52, Book of Love and Loss, Poems for a Liminal Age. Magazines: Tears in the Fence, Prole, The Rialto, Under the Radar, The Interpreters House.

 

Sausage Warning by Louisa Campbell

Sausage Warning

For Holly

The Sausage-Dangling Championships
take place in Venezuela.
The contest starts when someone farts
into a big loud-hailer.

They dangle them from balconies,
they dangle them from towers
and if the wind blows violently
they suffer sausage showers.

The sausages get sick of it;
the constant, wobbly dangling.
In fact, the very thought of it
will set their nerves all jangling.

So come the revolution, it may
pay you to remember
a very angry sausage always
has its own agenda.

Louisa Campbell hangs around English spa towns. She has realised that life is silly, but important, and she is very happy about that. Published here and there, her first pamphlet will soon be out with Picaroon Poetry.

 

How to wake up by Pat Edwards

Always set an alarm, although you may not need it. Becoming fully awake is more a process than an event. My recommendations are as follows:

Accept that the sound made by your alarm is real, not imagined.
Accept also that it heralds the prospect of a day that requires your attention.
You would not have set an alarm if there was no imperative to get up and out.
Avoid thinking it is safe to close your eyes and drift a little.
We both know that you will fall into a deep sleep,
which will either precipitate lateness or a headache.
Acknowledge the presence of any other humans or animals sharing your bed.
Rushed or even luxurious hanky-panky is not recommended,
as this only makes getting up more complicated and/or upsets the pets caught up in the commotion. You could, if deemed thoughtful and/or encouraging, voice the fact that you did think about it, then move swiftly on.
Get some clothes on pronto, to discourage aforementioned prospect of a physical encounter,
and to preserve your dignity for Christ’s sake.
Do not try to make the bed immediately if persons or pets remain within its confines.
If they too have vacated, feel free to carry on.

That’s about it really.
It’s safe to assume that you are, in fact, up.
The awake bit may depend on caffeine, shower and other sundry paraphernalia but, essentially, you’re good to go.

Repeat ad infinitum as the alternative is, for the most part, singularly unappealing.

Pat Edwards is a writer, teacher and performer living in Mid Wales. Her work has appeared in publications such as Obsessed with Pipework, Amaryllis, The Fat Damsel, Picaroon, The Rat’s Ass and Ink Pantry. Pat runs Verbatim poetry open mics and is curating the 2017 Welshpool Poetry Festival.

 

A Painful Condition by Susan Jordan

A while back she had the cartridge

removed from her knee. They put her

on stereo to reduce the information.

Then she had to have the cactuses

taken out of her eyes. Sadly her friend

contracted M & S and her husband

had trouble with his prostrate gland.

It made him incontinental, but his new diet

did wonders for him – polyurethane margarine.

But when she started going to Weight Lifters

that finished all of them. They had no-one

to turn to for consolidation.

Susan Jordan writes both poetry and prose. She has had poems published in a number of print and online magazines including Acumen, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Obsessed with Pipework and Snakeskin, and in Spilling Cocoa. Her first collection, A House of Empty Rooms, is coming out later this year.