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.

 

Social Anxiety, by Judith Wilson

I’ve never liked cats and I don’t drink pink gin,
No wonder I find it so hard to fit in.
I watched Bake Off once, but wasn’t impressed
There were little blue birds in a puff pastry nest.

G.O.T stands for something, I’m never sure what
No spoilers for me if you tell me the plot.
And colouring-in books aren’t close to my heart
I’d rather create my own piece of art.

Rolling round drunk was part of my youth,
When drinking too much was some kind of proof
I was just like the others who drank in the pub,
Now bed by ten thirty with a chocolate filled mug.

I can’t find the time to bombard social media
With photos of me in my own cyclopedia.
I think I might know what is happening here,
I’ve finally grown up in my sixtieth year.

Or maybe it’s just, I like reading a book,
Or watching a film and taking a look
At art in a gallery, or museum that’s free,
As long as I’m home well in time for my tea.

And where will I post all these words from my heart?
On Facebook of course and that’s just the start,
Instagram and Twitter and maybe LinkedIn,
And hand me a glass, I could do with a gin.

Judith Wilson used to be an IT consultant, but is now a writer of blackly humorous psychological thrillers and poetry. Find out more at judithwilsonauthor.com or @judithwilson99

 

Glove Puppets by Tom McColl

I always wear glove puppets in winter.
A temperature drop creates instant theatre.
Each coat pocket is a dressing room.
In my left pocket is Punch,
while in my right pocket is Judy.
What that means is,
if I put them on to compete
in a glove puppet boxing match,
a punch from Punch
wouldn’t pack
even half as much
a punch
as a punch from Judy.

And though I know there’s not much I can do
while wearing these gloves –
except put on a Punch and Judy show
(or have a glove puppet boxing match) –
it’d be no better even for someone
much better than me.

For a start, apart from getting into a fight,
it probably makes no difference
whether Punch is left and Judy’s right,
or Judy’s left and Punch is right.

Let’s face it,
whichever pockets his gloves were in,
while wearing Punch and Judy
even Yehudi
struggled to play his violin.

Thomas McColl has had poems published in magazines such as Envoi, Rising, Iota and Ink, Sweat and Tears, and his first full collection of poetry, Being With Me Will Help You Learn, is out now from Listen Softly London Press.

website

 

Normal Dad by Jude Cowan Montague

for James Worse and Marlowe

Normal dad’s are nice dads,
normal dads are good,
normal dads do not have beards
and no one thinks they should.

Normal dads do not stare out
to see if there are ships.
Normal dads do not write pomes
or mess with English Lit.

Normal dads are not like you.
Normal dads aren’t cool.
Normal dads are more like them –
be normal! Toe the rule!

Jude Cowan Montague used to work as an archivist for Reuters and has written poetry about the news agency reports. She created and host a weekly radio show on Resonance FM called ‘The News Agents’. She has been an artist and a songwriter as well as a poet, since forever and you can drop in on her at her gallery in St Leonards-on-Sea which is called Montague Armstrong.

 

Doctor Smith by Tom McColl

The surgery I go to
has a two-headed doctor.
‘Doctor Smith will see you, see you, now.’

It gets very confusing.
Doctor Smith, via his left head,
gives me a diagnosis
then, via his right head,
gives me a second opinion,
which always differs from the first
(and, as it happens,
that opinion’s
never the best one –
always the worst).

When Doctor Smith examines me with a stethoscope,
it’s in the left head’s left ear
and the right head’s right ear.
In other words, he makes a right pig’s ear
(and also a left pig’s ear)
of any examination he does.
However, when I once challenged him about it,
Doctor Smith’s left head
just said,
‘Can you breathe in a bit more deeply, please?’
while his right head shook morosely.

Apparently, his wife has got two heads as well,
and two pairs of breasts.
It’s said they met as impoverished but physically normal students,
earning money by undergoing laboratory tests.

Two heads are better than one, they say,
but I’m not too sure that comes into play
while attending an appointment with
the always-in-two-minds Doctor Smith.

Thomas McColl has had poems published in magazines such as Envoi, Rising, Iota and Ink, Sweat and Tears, and his first full collection of poetry, Being With Me Will Help You Learn, is out now from Listen Softly London Press.

website

 

The Poet Won’t Buy You A Drink by Joe Williams

The poet won’t buy you a drink
Don’t request it
Don’t suggest it
Because the poet won’t buy you a drink

It’s not that he wants to refuse
If he could do
He would love to
But the poet won’t buy you a drink

It’s not personal, please understand
Don’t feel rejected
Or neglected
If the poet doesn’t buy you a drink

The problem is purely financial
There’s no way
On his pay
That the poet could buy you a drink

So next time you go to a gig
Do your part
Support art
And buy the poor poet a drink

Joe Williams is a writer from Leeds and the creator of Haiku Hole.  In 2015 Joe began performing on the poetry and open mic circuit to inflict his work on a wider audience.  Some of them claimed to enjoy it, so you can blame them for encouraging him to continue.

website

 

Murder on the Gatwick Express by Susan Evans

Long ago, before people had mobile phones &
felt compelled to share their destinations &
other dull information; for the whole duration
of their train journey (VERY LOUDLY). Before it
all got very rowdy: a time before people publicly
raged; projecting bile like they’re on Jeremy Kyle
& or having it away with way too many PDA.
Before the tinny torture of ineffective, personal
headphones ‒ yes, TINNY TORTURE!!! Before
passengers allowed their bags entitlement to
limited seats instead of floor, lap or luggage rack.
Before smelly food crept in: greasy brown bags of
Burger King & before when most people used a
bin & before it was deemed somehow permissible
for complete strangers, unbeknownst to you to take
your picture & or record personal conversations &
post online to the nation., (for fun!) Before arrogant
men; too blind to see that equality does not mean
sitting comfortably, while immobile, aged or heavily
pregnant women are struggling to maintain balance
& dignity! Before some train conductors turned into
Talk Radio DJs; gabbing on about nothing through PAs
(with little helpful info on length & cause of delays).
Before any suggestions of separate carriages in order
to protect women from any unwanted attention…
Must mention, that let the train take the strain was
once upon a time, a fitting strap line − a seductive
mode of travel, where you could unravel, driven by
rhythm; from Brighton to London ‒ poems poured
out of me; punctuated by pleasantries; my senses
not assaulted by anything too unsavoury. Long ago,
people mostly engaged in quiet conversation or read
newspapers or books or looked out at the landscape;
the journey a piece of a cake – arrived at Victoria with
this sense of euphoria; a notebook full of drafts to
return to on return & maybe later in the bath…
this was long ago, before the standard ride became a
privatised, over-priced, oversubscribed, endurance test;
before it became: Murder on the Gatwick Express…

Susan Evans is widely published; online & in print; appearing in: Dissident Voice, The High Window, Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Journal, Lighten Up Online, Message in a Bottle, Obsessed With Pipework, and Snakeskin, among others. A Brighton-based Performance poet, Susan was nominated Best Spoken Word Performer in the Saboteur Awards, 2016.

 

Absent Greeks by Sue Kindon

Sisyphus has left the scene
his rock came crashing down our track
there’s the wound
gouged in soft ground

the boulder bounced
then rolled to rest
balanced above the lily pond

he can’t be arsed to push it back
he’s had enough of uphill shove
he’s given up the slaving task
and joined Narcissus down the pub.

Sue Kindon‘s poems have appeared in a variety of magazines, and have achieved some success in competitions. She lives and writes in the French Pyrenees, where she also co-runs Valier Illustrated Books.

 

Freud by Fianna

Plasticine vapours lift
from the brown playroom table
filling lungs and nostrils
with gluey desire

warm tyre
liquorish
all sorts of squeezy oozy
mud-through-toe skin-loves
rise through primeval body layers

now pulled and melded colours
drag eyelid to nose-edge
cheeks to dewlap
pistachio, fudge and vanilla ice-cream
deliquesce and gloop

I knock on Lucian’s door
I give him a great big hug
I give him a great big fright
I feel like a warm wet slug

Lucian turns to white.

Fianna (Fiona Russell Dodwell) is from Fife and lives in the Fens. She has had about 30 poems published in online poetry magazines.