Liaison by Leanne Moden

I wait for you all afternoon; my flesh is moist with sweat.
The sheets are silk beneath me but I cannot have you yet.

You slowly slide in close to me, our splendid limbs entwined,
And though I cannot say it, I am sure our love’s divine.

My skin ignites with perfect lust and all my fears, I shed,
And as we writhe, a voice exclaims, “Hey you! Get off that bed!”

Though love’s a gorgeous, peerless thing, context is all, I fear.
Perhaps meeting in John Lewis was not the best idea…

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.



After Laughter by Mark Mayes

When oft in pensive mood I lie,
and search in vain for some light-hearted verse,
yet couplets dolour-heavy meet my eye,
and I usually end up feeling worse.

Rumi makes me gloomy and Hughes does not amuse.
After harkening to Larkin, I’ve got the metrical blues.

I didn’t grin on reading Prynne,
and Donne did not supply the mirth;
I took some Dickinson on the chin
and wonder what these Words are Worth
to one who’s feeling glum
to wit: enjambement leaves me numb
as some Sunday scribbler’s bum.

The poets of the First World War
hardly ever make me guffaw.
Even Duffy can be stuffy
and make me cry: “Never more! Never more!”

With A. Motion on the shitter,
I’m left feeling somewhat bitter;
and when it comes to R.S. Thomas,
why, butty bach, there’s ne’er a titter.

Pope was a dope; man, he could really mope;
even Shakey was flaky when it came to a joke.

Octavio Paz (born in Lima?*),
not exactly what you’d call a screamer.

That Billy Blake was off his cake,
he never did make the old sides ache.
E. J. Thribb – now there’s a damp squib.
Did Cowper ever raise a chortle with his nib?

To the Georgians, the Moderns, the Martians I’d give the boot,
for a haiku I could smile to or an ode that makes me hoot.

Then someone told me about this site
where every line is a delight.
You’re sure to find there something funny
(or if not Mr Pinnock will return your money).

The dearth of giggles had me going loco,
but now I swear by Spilling Cocoa!

*Señor Paz was actually born in Mexico City, in 1914 – but that didn’t rhyme with ‘screamer’ – MM

The author of this piece has asked me to point out that he doesn’t actually mean any of it and he loves all of the above-mentioned poets really – Ed (who is also wondering if he really meant the nice things about this place)


Mark Mayes has published poems in various magazines, including: The Interpreter’s House, Ink Sweat & Tears, Staple, The Reader, The Shop, and Fire, and has had work broadcast on BBC Radio. He has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize.


Give the Dinosaurs Guns by Keith Welch

I think to be a dinosaur would be a lot of fun
all the roaring and the stamping and the weighing many tons
I think I’ll build a time machine and send them what they lack
the Triassic and Jurassic times were awesome and on track
But Americans we know what’s best and let me tell you son
What the lizards didn’t have back then was lots and lots of guns
For a stegosaurus chilling out was apt to find some trouble
Facing predatory neighbors who approaching on the double
wanted nothing more than mouthfuls of his leathery backside
Without a Glock that horny beast had little but his hide
to fend off inconsiderate approaches of that sort
but a stegosaurus strapped is thus prepared for a retort
So imagine if you will a prehistoric paradise
where Rand-ian T-Rexes live and exercise their rights
and hadrosaurs will bellow that they’re libertarian
and all the tiny raptors are concealed-carrying
Then at last the dinosaurs will know the simple joy
Beloved so well by each surviving little girl and boy.

Keith Welch lives and works in Bloomington, Indiana. His work has been published exactly once (actually twice, now – Ed), possibly in error.



Inboxicated by Sherri Turner

It’s like a drug, the vilest kind,
that rules your life and screws your mind.
A minute passed seems like an age
since checking that infernal page.
You click ‘refresh’ and still you fail
to hear the beep of ‘you’ve got mail’
and when you do – you’re near hysteria!-
another message from Nigeria.
The craving keeps you on the hook.
You have to take just one more look
but it’s a thirst that can’t be sated.
You know you are inboxicated.

Sherri Turner lives in Surrey. She has had numerous short stories published in women’s magazines and has won prizes for both poetry and short stories. She likes to write silly poems when she feels in danger of forgetting that this is supposed to be fun.



A Stiff One In His Sunday Best by David O’Neill

The Goidels of Hibernia revere the stillman’s art—
Their weddings and their funerals are hard to tell apart.
There is one way to know, for sure, once all the poitín’s sunk:
At every single funeral there’s always one less drunk.

David O’Neill is a frustrated mathematician who has journeyed through a predominantly life-science-based medical landscape for most of his mortgage-paying professional life, eventually finding salvation in the Open University, too close to the end for practical application but sufficiently early for peace of mind and poetic inspiration.



Once Seen by Judi Sutherland

(based on a small-ad in “Time Out” Magazine)

You – seen at the night bus stop
completely pissed on alcopop.
Me – the girl with ginger head
who held you, while you vomited.
The WKD Blue that soaked my thighs
brought out the colour of your eyes;
so tenderly I wiped your face.
You smiled at me with vacant grace.

O glory that is Friday night
that puts the working week to flight!
What sweet oblivion portends
when alcoholic daze descends.
Have you, since then, forgotten me
and how our hearts touched, fleetingly?
If not, and you still sometimes think
of me, let’s go out, for a drink.

Judi Sutherland is a poet, formerly resident near Henley on Thames, now living in Barnard Castle, Durham. She is the proprietor of The Stare’s Nest and organiser of the Fledgling Award for debut pamphlets by poets over 40.



On Failing at the Challenge of Coordinated Lingerie by Josa Young

Why do the pants linger on and on

When the matching bra is long since gone?

Josa Young is a novelist and copywriter. Her two novels One Apple Tasted and Sail Upon the Land are out there somewhere being read. She was a decent poet up until puberty, and has taken to verse again as all the creative frenzy of childbearing has faded.



The Homeless Poem by Peter Higgins

This time last year I was a tramp
My home the doorway of a stamp-
-shop on London’s finest street, the Strand
A grand address that was not grand.
Inside a sleeping bag I slept, above a heating vent I crept
At night (and yes, some nights, I wept).

I treasured most a Starbucks cup
Which as the day wore on, filled up
With coins thrown by a generous few
(The generous few perhaps who knew
Of how there’s but the finest line
Between their cosy lives and mine).

But once, I heard somebody say:
“Think twice before you give away
Your hard-earned cash to one who begs
Who is so clearly of the dregs.
He’ll only spend your cash on drink
And drugs. Please, stop, and think.”

I often wondered what they thought
I should have gone ahead and bought
Instead? Boxed-sets? Some scented candles?
A set of luggage with monogrammed handles?
Perhaps – and this would be a corker –
A year’s subscription to the New Yorker?

And then one night, a revelation
As I peed in King’s Cross Station
And got smartly moved on by
A Tesco store detective, I
Said – wait, unhand me, please
I’m here to purchase one of these.
I’ve had my fill of getting blotto!
Give me a ticket for the lotto.
But that’s another story…

Now, as I walk down London’s Strand
Jangling loose change in my hand
Ready to drop it in a Starbucks cup
That’s slowly, slowly, filling up
I might just pause awhile, and muse:
Should I begrudge this man his booze?

His heroin, his coke, his speed,
Whatever substance meets the need?
For half an hour or so at least
A can of Special Brew’s a feast.
Loose change drops easily enough
But picking up the stuff? That’s tough.

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).


Tackling the Issue by Helen Laycock

‘Oh, please, God, not those jeans again!’ He’s got them on once more:
those baggy, beltless, ragged things that drag across the floor.

In minutes, they’ve obeyed the law of undisputed gravity,
and, as they creep towards the floor, they smack of rude depravity.

Not just a peek of buttock crack to all is now exposed,
but glorious, billowing, hairy cheeks, like dough buns juxtaposed.

Untroubled by malfunction, he potters as I watch,
his movements getting hindered by a slowly sinking crotch.

The other day he wandered in, his iPad a fixation;
his eyes were glued, his hands engaged . . . He stood in concentration.

Daughter, sweet, sat at my side, sharing time together –
that innocence of childhood, soon to be lost forever –

when suddenly a movement, quicker than a beat,
resulted in his trousers crumpling at his feet.

Startling was not the word – nay, we were traumatised,
for with the jeans had dropped his pants: AWOL, decentralised.

We squealed and covered up our eyes; his top half was intact,
but any shred of man attire his nethers sorely lacked.

He shuffled to the sofa with bondage round his ankles
to first put down the iPad before dealing with his dangles.

I waited ’til the sound of snores told me he was asleep
then felt through piles of clothing he’d left huddled in a heap.

I grasped them with a robber’s touch and slid them out with guile.
I felt the stringy, tattered hems. God, those jeans were vile.

I looked for a concealing place. Boy, was I in a fluster –
if hubby woke, that jeopardised ‘Operation Denim Duster’.

I rammed them in the wardrobe and pushed the door damn tight,
then schemed and plotted for their end. I tossed and turned all night.

The rumbles in the street outside reminded me ‘Bin Day’!
I forfeited my cleaning cloths and threw the jeans away.

He’s hunted for them ever since. I’ve repossessed composure.
The naked truth is hard to bear in full and stark exposure.

When life throws up the unexpected, Helen Laycock casts it in rhyme (much to the embarrassment of her Muse/husband). She writes serious poetry, too, as well as fiction. Details of her short stories and flash can be found here and information about her children’s books can be found here.


Come to the Acerbity Ball by Ron Runeborg

Some say a writer’s greatest worth is built upon one’s suffering
that depth is only reached through pain; then scripted without buffering
To honor true believers of the poet as enigma
I now invite you share with me a party for our stigma

I’ll send for you my favorite skull and crossbone clad balloon
you’ll ride in proper anguish to the dark side of the moon
You’ll wear your finest Visigoth, I’ll wear my blackest stare
we’ll danse macabre until the dawn (though dawn won’t visit there)

Let’s ruminate on sorrow, beat a fine dead horse or two
I’ll start a fear round robin, let’s begin with death by shrew
You’ll ride a foul but mighty wind, or play dismay charades
Let’s toot our funk on blue kazoos, let’s march in dirge parades!

I feel the turn already just by penning this request
I’m so much more an author when I’m sullenly depressed
So please accept this call to arms, let’s toast our gloomy trappings
lest we subject our readers to involuntary nappings.

Ron Runeborg lives with his wife Linda and Montague Pierre the dog in Lakeville Minnesota. He writes poetry and short stories and currently has two books available.