A Spin Through Time by Judy Darley

Uncle Webster gave me the formula
for the time machine, where x = the growl
of a strawberry-eating bear, and y, the dust
found in pockets of winter coats that
have been under the bed all summer.

I built the base from an old crate
painted scarlet, with bicycle wheels fitted
for extra velocity. It’s a blustery day,
leaves blowing every which way,
when I persuade the bear to crouch in the bow
and utter his sky-juddering growl.

A scatter of dust and we’re off,
blizzarding between eons
like a double pennant gale warning.

My aim? To visit Hadrian’s Wall at its beginning;
I have an essay due on Monday about the Roman Empire.
But spelling was never my strongest subject.
A typo sends us spiralling to the Hadean era
– more than a billion years prior
to the first multi-cellular life on Earth.

I hold my breath; the bear lets loose a howl.
Past travesties and calamities we spin,
to the end of all things and back again.

Homework forgotten, one goal remains.
We pause briefly in the 21st century,
collecting two new passengers,
Theresa and Donald.
They huddle on the bear’s warm lap,
eyes and lips streaming with fright.

Backside to the Hadean era we soar,
and on to the Devonian at the very moment
when the first clammy amphibians appear.
And there we leave them to evolve, or expire,
hoping for a brighter future for us all.

Judy Darley writes fiction, poetry and journalism. Her words have been published in literary magazines and anthologies. She’s read her short fiction on BBC radio, in cafés, caves, an artist’s studio and a disused church. Judy blogs about art and other things here.

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Party Buffet by Julia D McGuinness

Regimented in rows on black plastic trays:
Chiselled slopes of Mother’s Pride,
seamed with slivers of skin-tone ham;
escaping screes of grated cheese;
flotsam of tomato pips.
A lurking crisp skirts a wilt of lettuce.

Sausage rolls heaped in cairns;
hump-backed celery stooped in tumblers.
Acne of broccoli speckles a wan-faced quiche
eye-balled by a mound of Scotch eggs.
Coronation chicken: a meat-pebble
swirl in a nicotine-stain of lava.

Batons of carrot, cucumber are stacked
for a drag in pots of off-white pulp.
Flaking filo parcels squeeze oozes
of tawny sludge: the Vegetarian Option.
Tucked sly in a mattress of baps,
grey-yellow egg-yolk waits to coat teeth.

For these, we have queued.

Julia D McGuinness is a writer, counsellor and writing for wellbeing practitioner based near Chester. She has written 4 non-fiction books and her poetry has been published online. Her first poetry collection, Chester City Walls, was published last year by Poetry Space.

 

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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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.

 

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.

 

It’s Not Funny by Susan Jordan

‘You say you don’t do smiles.’
I’d never said, but didn’t once smile
when you told me, laughing,
how your dear mother and sister
were both electrocuted by the same table lamp,
how your father plunged into a reservoir
in pursuit of a rare grasshopper,
how your only daughter set light to herself
with the candles on her birthday cake,
how your dog was run over
by an out of control mobility scooter.

The only time I smiled
was when you said, your face
as solemn as mine was by then,
‘The worst thing was missing the last train.’

Susan Jordan was inspired by 52, Jo Bell’s wonderful online group, to start writing a lot more poems. Her work has appeared in print and online magazines including Prole, Obsessed with Pipework, Snakeskin and Ink, Sweat & Tears. Her first collection will be published by Indigo Dreams in 2017.

 

That Time Travel Paradox Thing by Simon Williams

It’s the rich who travel forward in time
and note the Euro-Millions results,
before returning to place their bets.

It’s only through a big win like this
they can afford a time machine.

Simon Williams has six published collections. He latest pamphlet, Spotting Capybaras in the Work of Mac Chagall, launched in April and his next full collection, Inti, will be out later this year. Simon was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013 and founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet. He makes a living as a journalist.

 

Forbidden Swan by Maurice Devitt

I have never seen a swan
smoking after sex,
but suspect they do. How else

can we explain
the nervous pacing on the tow-path,
wings touching hidden pockets

to check for matches
or the slow draught of air
to mask a throaty cough?

So maybe
after fumbled congress
in the privacy of a hotel room

– webbed feet
snared on carpet pile –
the cob lights up,

pads to an open window,
tips a wing and looks back
to see a crumpled napkin.

(previously published in ‘In Other Words: Merida’ – Mexico)

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.

 

Thoughts on finding an old till receipt by Bill Allen

CUPPA SOUP
EMERY BOARDS
NIVEA
MINI MUFFINS
BISCUITS 400 GRAMS
SUGAR
CHOCOLATE CAKE
You were fat, Sam.
VALUE SHAVING CREAM
RAZORS
I miss the mess.
PAN SCOURERS
LOW CALORIE SOUP
OLIVE OIL
TUNA CHUNKS
BROCCOLI 0.335KG
Oh, Sam,
you should have eaten your greens.
LEEKS LOOSE
RED PEPPER 2 @ £0.78
CONDENSED MILK
You were so naughty,
Sam!
MAYONNAISE
No more little white
mountains on plates.
FULL FAT MILK
McCAIN CHIPS
BURGER ROLLS
BUTTER
FLORA LIGHT
RED WINE
ORANGE JUICE
APPLES
LETTUCE
ON VINE TOMS
YOGHURT
HALF FAT MILK
TESCO SAUCY
STRAWBERRY LUBRICATION 75ML
Oh, Sam! I miss you.

Bill Allen lives in West London and writes in retirement. Worldly wise, a wicked sense of humour, he often observes the darker aspects of life as well as the curiously funny. Likes old films, modern plays, wine mixed with a pinch of conversation. Bill has published a few poems and short stories.