Poem, by Robert Garnham


At what point does a mess become a muddle?
At what point does day become the night?
At what point does a spillage become a puddle?
At what point does a shudder become a fright?

At what point does a brag become a boast?
At what point does a mess become a fuss?
At what point does bread become toast?
At what point does a train become a rail replacement bus?

At what point do we become middle aged?
And do we only know we are middle aged when we’ve lived
Our whole lives?
Is it only then that we can look back and say, oh yes,
That’s when I was middle aged, that’s when I had a
Midlife crisis,
The day I went out and bought a jet Ski?

At what point does a crowd become a throng?
At what point do pants become a thong?
At what point does a dirge become a song?
At what point does a whiff become a pong?

At what point does a settee become a sofa?
At what point does a look become a demeanour?
At what point does a pamphlet become a brochure?
At what point does a verbal warning become a grievance procedure?

At what point did I decide that maybe you weren’t the one for me?
Was if at the opera, or was it in the supermarket?
Or was it that time I came home and found you in bed
With a stamp collector from Barnstaple?

At what point does a trumpet become a bugle?
At what point does an imposition become an impertinence?
At what point does prudent become frugal?
At what point does a TV advert become a nuisance?

At what point does pruned become sheared?
At what point does uncanny become weird?
At what point does stubble become a beard?
At what point does a poem not have to rhyme?

At what point do we lose ourselves to the delirium of the
Beauty of the world of the planet of the people of the creatures
Of the moon of the tides of the sea of the land of the cities of the
Absolute if the spiritual of the technological or the brave of the bountiful
Of the beautiful, possibly at two PM on a Thursday afternoon.

At what point does it all become meaningless?


If… by Howard Davies

If you can blame the problems of your nation
On the Muslims, and the Chinese, and the Jews,
On Mexican illegal immigration,
And on everyone who’s not as white as you;

If you can get the blacks to pin their hopes on you
And still be friendly with the Ku Klux Klan;
If you can get the broads to cast their votes for you
And still grab ’em by the pussy when you can;

If you can use your history of failure
As a ruse to bring your taxes down to zero;
And if, instead of thinking they should jail ya,
Folks think you’re smart, and hail you as a hero;

If you can garner roars and cheers aplenty
For a wall you’ve no intention to construct,
Then yours will be the world till 2020
And, what’s more my son… we’re absolutely f***ed.


The Lust Song of J Alfred Rudeshock by Barry Ergang

Let us go then, you and I,
where nipples poke through shirts, and sigh
at breasts arrayed like melons in a market.
Let us go, through gaudy neon-lighted streets,
to gamy, shameless, unsanitized retreats
like nudie bars where topless women fan
the flames of simple-glanded gudgeon: Man.

        In the gloom the women come and go,
yearning for Leonardo diCaprio.

        The suntanned curves they offer lusty minds,
the G-stringed thighs and pink-hued peaks they offer lusty minds,
shimmy flesh into corners of numbed brains,
lie prone upon the stage and wiggle bare behinds.

        In bras or none they quiver and bob
and make those manly organs throb.

        Ah, yes! There will be time
to wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare
to tweak a hooter, run away from there?”

        For I have seen them all already, seen them all:
have seen them pastied, pierced, augmented, all unclad;
have sculpted them with hands as teenaged lad.
I have seen the bosoms drooping with a stretch-marked fall
beneath the music from a Maidenform ad.
        So shall I lift, and separate?

        I should have been a pair of groping paws
copping feelies on the floors of seedy dives.

        They grow cold...they grow cold...
They punctuate the blouse with outlines bold.

        Shall I seek a private room? Do I dare to pay some cash?
Have her dance upon my lap, and risk a rash?
My testosterone is thrumming, substance brash!
        I worry that it will not rise for me.

        We have lingered in the chambers of this joint
with strippers, trollops, babes in postures lewd
till wifely voices bellow--then we’re screwed!

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.


Not the Glory in My Garden by Maggie Storer

My garden is a garden that has no stately view.
There’s a railing at the bottom with some privet poking through.
Our terrace is some decking and peacocks, they can’t fly,
So the magpies and the pigeons would attack them from the sky.

For where the straggly weeds grow along the rotting fence,
You’ll find a broken shed among the nettles there so dense.
No potting shed or cold frame will you find within the grounds,
Just plastic toys and bicycles lying all around.

And there you’ll see the children, toddlers, girls and boys
Told to go and play outside, to go and make some noise.
A place where they can let off steam and shout and say rude words,
For the glory in my garden is the freedom it deserves.

’Cos I can’t pot begonias and I hate the prickly rose.
I’m the one who always kills off everything that grows.
I’m not concerned about the lawn where weeds and moss abide,
For it’s there to be a playground for my kids who play outside.

Adam was not a gardener and God who made him sees
That he gave him Eve to cherish in the garden on his knees.
So when the day is over you can clap your hands and say
Let’s astro-turf the garden and get out there and play.

Maggie Storer has gathered quite a collection of poems and is tentatively sending them out for approval.  She helps to run a local creative writing group in South Staffordshire. Her short stories have appeared in her local newspaper, but she now wants to concentrate on her poetry.


The Owl and the Pussycat (went for a curry) by Leanne Moden

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to eat
At a beautiful restaurant.
They took some Naan, and plenty of yarn,
Wrapped in a French croissant.
The Owl looked up to the menu above,
And sang (for he’d bought his guitar)
“O lovely curry! O curry, my love,
What a beautiful curry you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful curry you are!”

Pussy said to the Owl, “You indolent fowl!
Please, pass me the chutney, I pray!
Too long we have wasted! This food must be tasted!
Stop singing. Let’s hit the buffet!”
And so they both dined, quaffing plenty of wine,
‘Till they grew almost too fat to stand.
And, when they were finished – their hunger diminished –
The bill came to over a grand,
A grand,
A grand!
Yes, the bill came to over a grand!

“I’m not paying this!” The Owl swung his fists –
And smacked the poor cat in the neck.
It was accidental, but Pussy went mental;
The parlour was thoroughly wrecked.
Then they were barred, and thrown out in the yard
With nowt but a runcible spoon.
Now each one agrees that he favours Chinese,
Or a pint down the old Wetherspoons
The spoons,
The spoons,
Or a pint down the old Wetherspoons.

Leanne Moden is a poet from Nottingham. She has performed all around the UK, including sets at Trinity College Cambridge, the Nottingham Poetry Festival, Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, the Cambridge Festival of Ideas, the Royal Albert Hall and Bestival on the Isle of Wight.



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.


Said the Doctor by Mark Farley

(with apologies to Lewis Carroll and Old Father William)

Said the doctor:
My goodness. My gracious! That boil is so big,
It’s almost as large as your head!
Pray allow me to poke it with needle or pin,
If it grows any more, you’ll be dead.

Said the patient:
I beg you, dear doctor, put your needle away,
For I’m rather attached to this boil.
It may look unsightly but the pain goes away,
When I wrap it in cling film and foil.

Said the doctor:
My god, man. Dear heavens! Now what do I see?
There’s a ferret asleep in your ear.
He’s flat on his back in a puddle of wine,
And he’s clutching a bottle of beer.

Said the patient:
Yes that’s Barney, my ferret. He’s a wonderful friend.
We party each night and play chess.
He drinks wine when he loses and beer when he wins,
So by morning he looks quite a mess.

Said the doctor:
I can hardly believe it, but my stethoscope swears,
That you appear to have developed five hearts.
Is this true? Is this possible? Pray tell me, dear boy,
From where did you get these spare parts?

Said the patient:
Dear doctor, I thank you, but I really must go.
I have been poked and been prodded enough.
My sides are quite raw from your medical check.
You have been most incredibly rough.

Said the doctor:
I’m sorry. Forgive me! Oh, please do not go!
Your body is still quite the mystery.
Pray, stay. I’ll be gentle. Let me examine you more.
We can make medical history!

Said the patient:

Mark Farley is a writer, web developer and occasional opera singer. He was raised in Zimbabwe where he survived two dog maulings, a swarm of killer bees, and being run over by a horse. He now lives in Swindon, UK.



Over The Rainbow by Julian Isaacs

‘Way up above the chimney tops’

Way up above the chimney tops
High up in the smokeless zone
Old age punks sip snakebite tops
And Johnny Rotten’s on the throne

Way up above the chimney tops
High up in the nuclear sky
Mary Poppins has been grounded
Her umbrella just won’t fly

Way up above the chimney tops
Kansas merged with Kettering
Despite the helpful signs
In iridescent lettering

Way up above the chimney tops
David Bowie took a day trip to the sun
Then fell to earth again
Sensing life had just begun

Way up above the chimney tops
High up in the smokeless zone
We look down on a world we didn’t make
But still can call our own

Also known as Auntie Pus (The Punk Balladeer), Julian Isaacs first sold his poetry in the corridors of Kensington Market in the early 1970s. Currently, he has just graduated in an English BA from the University of Exeter, has recently had poems published in the Plymouth Herald, and has published his dissertation sequence of poems inspired by the Great American Songbook: The Breathless Thrush of Unevensong in chapbook form.


At The Thought Of You by Harry Gallagher

(After John Cooper Clarke)

Me lips curl up like Autumn leaves,
me insides rattle like skellington keys.
I walk like a man with jellied knees
but, like Oliver, I want more please.

I’m as jumpy as a man with fleas,
as steady as a giraffe on skis.
I’m a chocolate man at 90 degrees,
me words have all turned to mushy peas.

But me love is deeper than the mighty Tees
at the thought of you.

Harry Gallagher co-runs Newcastle’s premier poetry night, The Stanza.  He lives in nearby Cullercoats, where the locals tolerate his poetic pretensions with relatively good nature.  His lack of shame means he is published all over the place and his third pamphlet, ‘Chasing The Sunset’, is out now.