Malacophagy, by Mark Totterdell

In a pub that overlooked saltwater,
I ate a heap of mussels,
so sweet, so soft, I never tasted better,
well worth the mess and hassle.

On the beach at Sidmouth, one damp summer,
I chewed into a whelk,
a plug of solid snot or slimy rubber
not fit for decent folk.

In a big marquee one time, in public,
I went down on an oyster.
The sea was rising, falling in my gullet
for what seemed ever after.

By the Med, with chips, I chomped on suckers
of deep-fried octopus.
I fear my smart and subtle distant cousin
was hardly well-served thus.

‘Mark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines and have occasionally won competitions. His collections are ‘This Patter of Traces’ (Oversteps Books, 2014) and ‘Mapping’ (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018; http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/mark-totterdell/4594336680).’ 

 

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

 

This Poem Frets at the Side, by Beth McDonough

all shrivelly toes, won’t wet her face
needs to head right in now
worries about red itchy eyes
struggles against the flow
can’t propel her own core
nor negotiate with outerward bits
doesn’t have the courage to slice
through surface chop
simply won’t coordinate, cooperate

has lost rhythm
never left time to breathe
is scared to go out of her depth

This poem
swims like a brick.

 

Extra-Extra Terrestrials, by Colin Heaney

I met an extra-terrestrial,
Black orbs on cue.
It told me its favourite movie,
It called it Slacker too.
I eyed it with suspicion,
For the fellow was rather odd.
I asked if it paid taxes,
It said taxes were the devil’s lodge.
We laughed and I brought it to the Monty,
Seedy, beer stained seats.
It settled with a whiskey, and asked to have it neat.
It spoke of the universe, but mostly of the death of its future and creatures with many boobs.
This caused a guilty giggle, for I said, ‘I am useless too!”
Then a fight erupted, rather out of fashion.
I had asked if it liked music,
It called its favourite artist Rasmus.
I blinked, and thought that was very strange,
I expected something better and altogether more exotic.
It chuckled and said sophistication was left to Cher and Rick Astley.
I don’t remember the first punch, but it hurt nonetheless,
Then it pinned me to the table, oh how horrid was its breath.
I asked if it liked Lemsip, if only to break the ice.
For a split second it stared, slimy and incandescent, then it stirred,
And wiped away the alcoholic remnants.
I watched it leave, and yelled, ‘what are you doing?’
The alien responded, ‘I have work in the morning, and I am sick of my boss and his booing.’
I noted the similarity and nodded ascent, and went back to my brew,
Dreading the following day’s work dues, for my own boss was a right ole fool.

Colin is a twenty-one year old aspiring writer (never heard that before). He may or may not be an extra-terrestrial. He has an unhealthy obsession with coffee. If anyone should want to find his other work, they won’t. It’s scattered around the globe, and can only be found by Nicholas Cage and a rucksack.

 

Poem, by Robert Garnham

Poem

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.

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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.