Smuggled Goods, by Brian Burden

How many cigs did Cyril smuggle through?
Five hundred twenties underneath the floor
Of his old camper van. If he makes two –
Two quid a pack, I mean, he can be sure

Of a cool grand. Could Cyril ask for more?
Of course he could. He bought a ton of hash –
A hundred quid’s worth, at a legal store
In Amsterdam. He’ll sell you some for cash.

Some porno mags: they’re awful tacky tat,
Some dodgy DVDs and videos –
For his own use. You can’t blame him for that.
Have you seen his old lady? Christ, she’s hideous!

He says the human traffic pays the best,
Desperate people fleeing for their lives
From torturers and tyrants and the rest.
And most of them have relatives and wives

To swell the profits when their turn comes round.
Cyril’s a pretty enterprising man.
But after his last run, well, Cyril found
Exhaust fumes did for one young African.

Come out the back. I’ve got her in the freezer.
She looks so warm, but she’s as cold as ice.
It really upset Cyril, poor old geezer.
So is she nice, my friend, or is she nice?

You’re right, and she deserves a decent grave.
You have to show respect when all is said.
Now, on that score, could I call in a favour,
So Cyril can sleep easy in his bed?

Lots of new building going on round here,
You tell me in your knowing sort of voice.
Foundations for a library and a school,
Even a church, so Cyril’s spoilt for choice.
Just name your price. If Cyril says Okay,
We’ll bed her deep in decent Essex clay.

Hey, just a tick, do you see what I see?
I saw an eyelid flicker, I could swear.
Help me to lift her out; bring her in here.
Put her down by the fire; give her some air.

It’s all right, love, you’re in safe company.
Just swallow some of this. There. Is that better?
Should we call Cyril up on the Q.T.?
Say she’s revived and can he come and get her?

No, I don’t think so either. There’s more profit
In letting Cyril think he’s in a fix.
She says she’s grateful. Girl, think nothing of it.
We’re going to sort out Cyril’s box of tricks.

Pass me the phone, love. This ought to be fun.
Remember, your mate Cyril thinks he’s lost you.
Hi, Cyril! We’ll clear up your mess, old chum.
But we want cash up front, and it’ll cost you.

Brian Burden is a retired college lecturer. He grew up in Banbury, Oxfordshire and graduated from Oxford University. He now lives in Essex. This poem is from his self-published collection In A Green
Glade.

 

Denis of Hackney, by John Davison

Comic craftsman, Denis Norden, gone at ninety-six
Settling into heaven, to play his verbal tricks.
Catching up with colleague Frank, two miners of great mirth,
You’ve left a joyful legacy of incalculable worth.

He worked behind the curtains, shifting props and scenery,
Ran a cinema in Watford and got a job at BBC.
Writing for Dick Bentley, and later Richard Briers,
Competing against Eric Sykes, and friends of Barry Cryer’s.

They ruled the roost for four decades, Denis Norden and Frank Muir,
You tickled all our funny bones, we couldn’t ask for more.
Enriching our vocabulary, provoking those in power,
Maximising merriment in every wireless hour.

Our descent into vulgarity you generally ignore,
You helped to archive quips and jokes from those who passed before.
It saddened me to read about your unexpected death
Now no new dialogue can flow from Dad, or Ron, or Eth.

You helped expose the fibs behind the adverts on TV,
The way commercial pressures tend to filter what we see.
You wrote some scripts for Hollywood, but never lost your touch
With families who think that West End theatres charge too much.

Alternative comedians now struggle to hold sway,
Not many have the stamina to write a film or play.
Britons watching widened screens will not forget you lightly,
But those traffic lights in Bal-ham no longer shine so brightly.

John Davison is a London-born writer of parodies, poems and lyrics, often on topical issues. He admires unusual puns and wordplay, frequents open mics in outer London, collaborating with musicians whenever opportunities present themselves. He supports a Twitter account https://twitter.com/sidsaucer

 

Heathcliffe Enters Love Island, by Mark Connors

The new islander is something to behold
with his thick black hair and heavy black clothes
dressed for a winter on the wild, wild moors
but today it’s in the late 30s.
With all of the contestants already paired up,
he broods by the pool, under a parasol,
emitting nothing but the odd mirthless chuckle.
The buff boys with scar-less skin and insane white teeth
don’t see him as a threat, until the girls
huddle up, whisper, giggle a little too often,
now immune to cheap cheeky chap smiles
and made for ITV2 chat up lines.
Oh yes, some women love a bastard.

One by one, the islanders visit
The Beach Hut, but not to reveal
their coupling agendas but to talk about him.
the boys deride his inability to fit in,
be one of the lads, have a bit of a laugh.
But the girls are genuinely intrigued,
and not just by superficialities,
transfixed by his stares, smirks and sneers,
drawn to his darkness and elemental moods
like silicone and hyaluronic moths.
“A just haven’t got a clue what he’s thinkin,”
says Miranda from Birkenhead.
“Every time he looks at us, me heart falls out me arse,”
says Felicity-Jane from Wallsend.

Then come the challenges. First, arm wrestling.
Heathcliff finally strips off to a black loin cloth
and the girls get to see his old latticed wounds,
festooned behind considerable body hair.
He goes through the boys one-by-one, without
so much as a bead of sweat on his brow.
Then it’s problem solving, a general knowledge quiz
and not one of the lads can compete with Heathcliff.
So ,he wins, gets to stay in The Hideaway
and one lucky woman will join him.
He chooses a brunette called Cathy, from Hull.
“I wanted him the first tarme a saw him,” she says.
“I’ll give him the tarme of his larfe.”
But when she enters The Hideaway that night,
Heathcliff opens a window to let another Cathy in.

Mark Connors is a writer from Leeds. He has been widely published in magazines, webzines and anthologies in the UK and overseas. His debut poetry collection, Nothing is Meant to be Broken, was published by Stairwell Books in 2017.

For more info visit www.markconnors.co.uk
Twitter: @markeconnors2
Publisher: www.stairwellbooks.co.uk

 

If I Were Suddenly Twenty Years Younger by Peter Higgins

If I were suddenly twenty years younger
Yes, at first it would be a bit weird
I’d ask myself – why this new hunger
To grow a lumberjack’s beard?

But I’m sure I’d soon get the hang of it
I’d be a good little hipster indeed
I’d eat pulled pork in artisan pop-ups
Ride a bike with only one speed

I’d tweet selfies from the roof-tops of Peckham
Though haters might mock me and sneer
I’d come up with an app to sell you some crap
I’d micro-brew a craft beer

But alas I am twenty years older
And thus far too old for that shit
Instead I have Midsomer Murders
And a pain in one knee when I sit.

Peter Higgins was born in Yorkshire and now lives in London.  His short stories have appeared in various anthologies and magazines, and he appears regularly at LondonVille Lit (South London’s finest spoken-word event).
 

School Uniform by Jonathan Pinnock

Henry’s Mum was making tea
when the Headmaster telephoned:
‘There’s been an accident in Biology –
I’m afraid your son’s been cloned.

‘We wouldn’t normally bother you
(except in case of disease)
but from a practical point of view,
we’re concerned about the fees.’

Henry’s Mum became quite grim,
and her voice was filled with dread.
‘How will I cope with two like him?’
‘It’s … worse than that,’ he said,

‘We didn’t notice what was wrong
till it was far too late.
You began today with just one son,
but you finished it with eight.’

Next morning there was quite a crop:
thirty-two from just one mould,
and when the process finally stopped,
five hundred and twelve, all told.

After that appalling day,
the school went to the wall.
The other pupils moved away,
so they renamed it Henry Hall.

Group activities in class
suffered less from indecision,
but games became a total farce:
they all played the same position.

Exam results were uniform,
both first time and re-takes.
They stuck to a consistent norm,
including the mistakes.

Careers were trivial to fix:
some took command of tanks,
a few went into politics,
the rest into merchant banks.

And Henry’s Mum still makes the tea,
when called on by a son,
each time wondering wistfully
if he’s the proper one.

(Originally published in Every Day Poets)

Jonathan Pinnock runs this place.

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