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

 

Hen Party, by Belinda Rimmer

Hen Party

The afternoon was hot and steamy,
made worse by all of us crammed into one room.
With open hearts and lipstick kisses,
we raised a glass or two or three
to the bride-to-be.

An artist breezed in murmuring something
about a life drawing class.
He prepped us on perspective,
shading and how to furnish stick men
with all the necessary bits.

Some of us coughed, others laughed
and the bride-to-be said: bring it on.

We waited for our life model.
Had anyone seen him?
He’d either taken a liking to the bathroom
or a disliking to us,
or else had suffered stage fright.

Finally, he appeared,
fake-tanned and on the wrong side of forty.

Our fidgety embarrassment
dripped and seeped
into curtains, carpet and settee
as we willed him to put away
the pendulous dead weight,
silvery fish-scale of a thing,
so disproportionately large
for such a thin body.

Belinda has worked as a psychiatric nurse, counsellor and lecturer. She has also taught creative arts in primary schools. Her poems have been published in magazines and on-line. She won the Poetry in Motion Competition as part of Cheltenham Poetry Festival and came second in her first poetry slam.

http://www.belindarimmer.com

 

Dating Profile Identification by Josa Young

All of
Sapiosexual
Queer
Questioning
Demisexual
Cis Man
Androgynous
Genderfluid
Non binary
Other
Single
6ft
Still just wants to climb in my pants
Nothing really changes
Sigh

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.

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Ruined by Sherri Turner

He got me into trouble
before the second date –
a lustful, careless coupling
against the garden gate.

He didn’t hang around, of course,
to see the consequences.
I had a heavy price to pay
for flirting by the fences.

It would have been a good idea
to practise some restraint.
If only I had read the signs –
the ones that said ‘Wet Paint’.

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.

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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.

 

What’s the John Dory? by Susan Evans

Message in a bottle; excuse my Squid ink scroll.
To my darling John Dory, my fellow tortured Sole.

You’re in another Plaice, but I just want you to know,
I don’t think you a Pollock; I love our ebb & flow.

Monsieur Mussel, you put the Rainbow in my Trout;
I’m like Wild Salmon when we dive & splash about.

& when I’m feeling Crabby you don’t try to suck me in;
you’re gentle & protective fending off those Crayfish twins.

The world’s our Lobster in my aqua fantasy;
you & I go deep, making under water alchemy.

Playing all of your top Tuna, on your favourite Sea Bass,
I swim, you sing: ‘I see you baby (shakin’ that ass)’.

Alas, I cannot be your Mermaid ‘plenty more fish’ says head;
you’ve a Dover Sole mate; shan’t put my Roe in one seabed.

I can be a Tiger Prawn but you can see that I’m no Snapper.
Okay, I find you dishy & your swim suit’s very dapper.

But be more Monk fish; your Sole mate’s down at Eel.
I’m just a red Herring & I’ve no wish to steal.

Without you, I’ll feel gutted; be like losing a fin.
But you’re caught; could be worse, could be Sardines in a tin.

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

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The Internet Dating Profile Song by Josa Young

Bibble bobble
Stomachs wobble
Ciggies burn
Turkey necks gobble
Men with blondes
And men with bikes
Pints of beer…
Is that a pike?
Downturned mouths
And grey complexions
Urgent words
To make connections
Sofa snuggles
Grammar struggles
Nostrils gape
And stream and bubble
Desperation leaks from screens
‘I just want love!’
They seem to scream.
And yet among that sickly crew
There is the odd exception…

You

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.

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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.

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