A Feeling of Light-Headedness, by Simon Williams

 
A Feeling of Light-Headedness

It started as one of those party games; all take a gulp of helium and talk like Mickey till your lungs deflate. Only, the effect didn’t stop; our voices never dropped to their normal timbres, our heads swelled and began to swing in the breeze. This was a little disconcerting; I think it was Angela stepped up first. When her feet reached the top of the sofa, Jim had lifted off, too, then Clare and Stephen, until all eight of us were butting the ceiling. Without the Prosecco, we could have been scared. Lucy, down a bottle and a half, managed to bounce to the hall, float up to the landing and steer into the bathroom. She came to realise how difficult it is to aim from high above the bowl. The lightheadedness wore off eventually; we floated down as gently as we’d risen. Lucky, really, it wasn't a garden party. With the prevailing wind, we could have reached Norwich, at 30,000 feet.

Just Sayin’, after William Carlos Williams, by Derek Adams

 
Just Sayin’
after William Carlos Williams

I have chucked
the plums
you left in
my fridge

and which
you would probably
say
were in date.

FORCHRISSAKE!
they were disgusting
sweaty
and growing mould.

Derek Adams is a professional photographer, living in Suffolk. He has an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths. His most recent collection is EXPOSURE – Snapshots from the life of Lee Miller. Sometimes he tries to be funny!www.derek-adams.co.uk

The Thirty-Five Seconds University, by Phil Knight

 
THE THIRTY-FIVE SECONDS UNIVERSITY

In The Thirty-five Seconds University
You will learn all you will remember
Thirty-five years after taking a Degree.

Economics
Supply will rise to meet the demand.

Religion
God is in us all in every land.

Physics
All forces have their opposite and equal.

Media Studies
The first film was better than the sequel.

Creative Writing
Write about yourself and what you know.

Politics
Know yourself and know your foe.

History
Everything gets to happen twice.

Social Studies
People really should try to be nice.

The best thing about
The Thirty-five Seconds University
Is that your tuition has been absolutely FREE!

Phil knight is from Neath, South Wales. He had poems published in Planet, Poetry Wales, Earth Love, Roundyhouse, Atlantic Review And other publications. In 2014 Green Arrow published his chapbook Dylanation and in 2015 Red Poets published his collection You Are Welcome To Wales.

Why I Shall Never Invite You to a Passover Seder, by Bryan Franco

 
Why I Shall Never Invite You To A Passover Seder

I thought of you the other day
when the grocery store had
over a dozen jars of gefilte fish
marked down to half-price.

I remembered when I confided to you
how I drink the detritus liquid
after I finish off the fish:
it’s basically slightly gelatinous chicken broth
that is sweetened by the fishy Passover dumplings.

The next day you read a poem at an open mic
about drinking Gefilte Fish Detritus.
I felt as if my shrink was paid fifty-thousand-dollars
by the National Enquirer to reveal my dietary misgivings.

And though what you achieved
was a few cheap laughs
by our fellow poet friends
without mentioning my name,
I felt like you nailed me to a cross
and drizzled my private admission
in honey over my naked body
before taking a mallet to the glass wall
of a colony of Puerto Rican Fire ants.

Due to the triggered trauma
of your egregious betrayal,
I bought no jars of Gefilte fish
even though they had over a year till expiration.


Bryan Franco is a gay, Jewish poet from Brunswick, Maine who competed in the 2014 National Poetry Slam in Oakland, California. He has been published in anthologies, journals, and literary magazines in the US, Australia, England, Germany, Holland, India, Ireland, and Scotland and has featured in the US, Canada, England, Ireland, and Scotland. He performed at the New York City Poetry Festival in 2022 and is hosting a stage in 2023. He was a finalist in the 2022 and won 2023 NAMI New Jersey Mental Health Poetry Contest and is a Best Of The Net nominee. He has facilitated poetry workshops for Brunswick High School, Tumblewords Project, and Phynnecabulary. He hosts Café Generalissimo Open Mic, is a member of the Beardo Bards Of The Bardo poetry troupe, painter, sculptor, gardener, and culinary genius. His book "Everything I Think Is All in My Mind" was published in 2021.

Envy: So, Who made the Mouse King?, by Royal Rhodes

 
ENVY: So, Who Made the Mouse King?
An Apology to T.S. Eliot

A cold coming I had of it,
just the worst, assigned to the rear --
was that fair? -- for the journey:
Uriah Heep to your Becky Sharp.
Where are my gloves in this dead-on winter?
Have a Camel? My lungs are refractory,
my wellies wet in the melting snow.
But were there times the rest regretted,
in their time-share condos, floored in terrazo,
and their lackeys bringing cigars?
Then my Camels went stale -- curses and grumble --
while the Fates ran ahead with those winos & women,
and the turista hostile and toilets untidy
and the diners dirty, charging fortunes for chili.
The others had a great time of it.
At the end they made me travel all night,
snatching a nap at an old Motel 6,
while they pocketed shampoo and packets of Puffs.
In the end it's always penis envy.

Did my sore, freakin' neck get
broken or deadened for this? I lost breath, certainly;
I have evidence, not that they care. It was death,
but mine was harder than theirs; my breath
was hard, bitter-tasting. They acted like Abel,
that goody-goody boy on our block;
they stepped out to places, like the Magic Kingdom,
while I had to settle for Epcot's cheap sensation,
with those alien tourists clutching their VISA Cards.
I should be glad if they're trampled to death.

Royal Rhodes is retired and living in the rural farmland of Ohio. His poems have appeared in: Snakeskin Poetry, Ekphrastic Review Challenge, New Verse News, Lothlorien Poetry, and The Montreal Review, among other journals.

How to Write a Job Reference for Someone who Thinks you have Forgiven Them, by Clive Oseman

 
HOW TO WRITE A JOB REFERENCE FOR SOMEONE WHO THINKS YOU HAVE FORGIVEN THEM



Thank you for giving me
the opportunity to supply
a reference for Billy, or sweaty bollocks
as he was known in prison.
Not without some justification, I'm lead to believe.

I met Billy in the heyday of football hooliganism.
Admittedly I was only doing a stretch
for ATTEMPTED murder
and playing Adam & the ants
in a public place
(sentences running concurrently),
but I looked up to Billy
for having the courage of his convictions
in his hatred of Oxford United.
Ok, he took it a bit too far
but he was young.

We became friends and
committed a few armed robberies together
when we were released,
but we never got caught
as we framed the local Tory election candidate,
who incidentally is due out
in a couple of weeks,
but I can honestly say
he has turned his back on violence
and did some voluntary work
as treasurer of the bowls club
until they went bankrupt.

You would be lucky indeed
to employ someone of Billy's quality.
With what you pay I have to
think back to the days where he would
only consider working for you
if he was eyeing up embezzlement opportunities,
to be honest.
What giant strides he has made.

On the hygiene front,
I'm told his bollocks are no longer sweaty.

I am sure that provided
you allow him to smoke weed on duty,
he will be a loyal employee.
He is intolerant of heavy handed opposition
to drug use at work,
but he maintains that
the shrooms were not his.

I hope you will give him the job,
as he owes me that five grand
I lent him to bribe the coppers,
and I want it back.

He is not an arsonist.


Clive Oseman is a Swindon based Brummie. He writes humorous poems and gets some funny looks, which he thinks is a fair trade.

The Sad Life of the Shared Scone, by Terri Metcalfe

 
The sad life of the shared scone 

It sits, lumpen like, on two plates,
severed from its non-identical twin.
A bun in the same oven, torn apart.

Everyone wants the top half with its slightly
crisp layer above cumulus dough.
No one on ‘Bake Off’ tests the bottom.

It’s a desecration commited by those without
their own teeth, or on a budget tighter
than an overproofed crumb.

You could cut between the middle top,
a knife attack through the crown chakra,
but that’s the wrong way to break bread,
this way, expect more sadness.

Cumbria native Terri Metcalfe began submitting to journals in March 2022 and has been published in places such as Abridged, Green Ink Poetry, Skylight 47 and Black Bough. She has appeared on the Eat the Storms poetry podcast twice and was invited as a featured reader for the 20th anniversary of Over The Edge Literary Events. Terri now lives in Mayo and is currently working on her debut collection.

Father knows best 2023 reunion show, by

 
father knows best 2023 reunion show

ten three-quarter-pound burgers with plain-bun no-mayo oodles-of-ketchup
Kathy if you talk while eating or eat while talking, you’re done
don’t try to upsell me take-out window dudette, just burgers, don’t fuck up

Betty if you go to the bathroom, you must come back to the table, be a grown-up
James junior eat what’s on your plate you’re not getting something else son
ten three-quarter-pound burgers with plain-bun no-mayo oodles-of-ketchup

no phones at the table, no screaming, don’t call daddy asshole, shuT-UP
Andersons can we eat a family meal together without rules, junior give me your bb-gun
don’t try to upsell me take-out window dudette, just burgers, don’t fuck up

junior put on your protector, get your shoulder-pads knee-pads, and hockey puck
Kathy you can’t eat cereal for dinner, drip salt-free soy-sauce on wontons
ten three-quarter-pound burgers with plain-bun no-mayo oodles-of-ketchup

Betty five lovers, to stay in father’s house, NOW pee in this Styrofoam cup
junior you can’t have an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle because of our budget overrun
don’t try to upsell me take-out window dudette, just burgers, don’t fuck up

junior before you eat corn, spread butter and shake salt and bite like a woodchuck
Andersons every time our family eats together without the cops we won
don’t try to upsell me take-out window dudette, just burgers, don’t fuck up
ten three-quarter-pound burgers with plain-bun no-mayo oodles-of-ketchup

**

Robert Fleming (b. 1963) is a visual poet from Lewes, Delaware, United States. Books: Con-Way in 4 in 1, #4, by Four Feathers Press and 11/2023 White Noir by Devil’s Party Press. Contributing editor of Old Scratch Press and shortlisted for Blood Rag Poet of the year. https://www.facebook.com/robert.fleming.5030 .

Overhearing, by Carl Tomlinson

 
Overhearing

Out with the two-legs the other day
one of the ones who sits down to pee
asked the one who sometimes goes in the hedge,
like me, if it’d seen on something called Twitter.
“You had to say what you’d ask your dog.
If they had the power of speech for an hour.”
Why I’d need speech is beyond me.
They seem to know what I need.
And can tell me nothing I haven’t already smelt.
I’ll chew on a bone all day, but no way
am I chewing the fat with that. I’m staying stumm.
In case I fetch up in a poem.

Hoodie / English Major / Word Games, by Karol Nielsen

 

Hoodie

I dressed up for work because I was going to a play that evening. My office mate who always looks professional noticed. “That blue compliments your eyes,” she said of my navy blue pants. Usually I wear leggings and sweatshirts to work. My pink hoodie is my favorite. I was devastated when I noticed black bird poop on the sleeve and back and hood. When I tried to wash it out with soap the spots turned purple. I thought it was a goner. But I tried my father’s trick. I poured detergent on the spots and let the hoodie soak overnight. Unbelievably the hoodie washed clean in the morning. My other office mate who is a poet like me often tells me she dreads ever looking for another job. She doesn’t want to dress up. I chuckle in my pink hoodie, still intact.

English Major

I used to work until the middle of the night plugging data into a spreadsheet, analyzing the data, and writing articles based on the results. My journalism colleague always left at a reasonable hour and he once gave me advice. “Just make up the numbers!” He had an affinity for fiction, as an English major at my alma mater. I had wanted to study English, too, but my mother vetoed English as impractical so I studied International Relations and Economics instead. I always envied English majors until I realized we might end up in the exact same place.

Word Games

I never cheat at Wordle or the Spelling Bee—New York Times word games that I play on my iPhone every morning. I like to share my legit ups and downs with my brother in law, who excels at these games. But I sometimes google crossword clues—like the many obscure pop culture references—when I play the Times’ Mini Crossword. I also google word scrambles to solve problem words on WordScapes, an app on my iPhone. I never share my illegitimate wins at these games. Cheating is my dirty little secret, a harmless crime that keeps things fun.

Karol Nielsen is the author of the memoirs Walking A&P and Black Elephants and three poetry chapbooks. Her first memoir was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Her full-length poetry collection was a finalist for the Colorado Prize for Poetry. Her poem “This New Manhattan” was a finalist for the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize.

Not too Big, not too Blue, by John Lanyon

 
NOT TOO BIG, NOT TOO BLUE

Yes, she said,
some art
not too big
“that big”
that’s what I’m looking for
something blue
but not too blue
it's got to go with
the paint on the wall -
it’s Farrow & Ball.

John Lanyon

John Lanyon lives in the Cotswolds. He works as an organic gardener, linguist, musician, and writer. Having failed his English Literature O Level, he came to love literature through reading it in French and German. He writes about art, the body, childhood, society, nature, the spirit of places, the secret lives of words. He believes you can create complex things from simple means.

Rider, by Mark Cassidy

 

From Birmingham via the Isle of Wight, Mark Cassidy is an almost retired radiographer now living in Bury St Edmunds. He writes in the gaps between family, birdwatching, and Oxfam books. His poems have appeared in various European magazines and anthologies, and may also be found online athttp://markbcassidy.blogspot.co.uk

Lemoga, by Heather Wastie

 
Lemoga

Get bendy with lemurs,
warm your belly in the sun,
look up from your downward dog
and see a lemur’s bum!

This is lemur yoga
Lemoga is fun
Lay your wrists across your knees,
meditate awhile,
ignore the piles of lemur poo,
these primates have style

This is lemur yoga
Lemoga makes you smile
Lemurs need publicity
to stop deforestation,
people hunting them for
food threatens their population

This is lemur yoga
Lemur education
Marvel at their stripy tails,
let them share your mat,
sit cross-legged and breathe with them,
support them on your back

This is lemur yoga
Protect their habitat

Heather Wastie is a poet and musician from the Black Country, living in Kidderminster, Worcestershire where she was Writer in Residence at the Museum of Carpet in 2013. She was Worcestershire Poet Laureate in 2015/16, and has published eight poetry collections. For more see wastiesspace.co.uk. On Twitter she is @heatherwastie

My dreamed hedgehog. The new-Celtic elegy according to Mr. Pawel Markiewicz, by Pawel Markiewicz.

 
My dreamed hedgehog.
The new-Celtic elegy according to Mr. Paweł Markiewicz

I lost the cute hedgehog in last summer.
I can just only dream overnight - mourn.
The amaranthine body lay on grass.
Moreover, it was dark time of Blue Hours.

My life became unending lunar-dark.
Then moon shone palely without enchantment.
The Erlking at dawn, morn, dew and star cried.
Dark dazzlingly ovidian for his sake.

Without the hedgehog the time is so sad.
The bards singing the song of tender nights.
The hedgehog sits in a fair paradise,
dreaming of enchantment of butterflies.

The choir: >O, bewitch soft bat, the ontology of night.
The mourning dreamery lies, with the pearl sparks - cemetery.
Long live ghost of hedgehog, in spirit of the dreamy ghosts!<
The choir, I and animal are drunk of the musing wings,
shrouded in tenderness of hereafter-fogs, moonlit stars.

Paweł Markiewicz was born 1983 in Siemiatycze in Poland. He is poet who lives in Bielsk Podlaski and writes tender poems, haiku as well as long poems.

Too Hot to Handle?, by Paul Francis

 
Too Hot to Handle?

Lea and Perrins were specific:
This should kick, just like a horse.
Far too much, though calorific,
so they shelved it, with remorse.
Ten years later, it’s terrific –
they’ve invented Worcester Sauce.

If your meal’s uninviting
do not file for divorce.
Don’t submit your plea in writing
don’t demand another course.
Make your diet more exciting
with a dash of Worcester Sauce.

Discontented with your ration?
Sometimes bland, and sometimes coarse?
You’re not dining in the fashion
that celebrities endorse.
Treat your palate with the passion
that you get from Worcester Sauce.

Would you like to be more scary?
Spell your message out with force?
Watch your enemies get wary
as you tap it out in morse?
Weaponise your Bloody Mary -
double down on Worcester Sauce.

Paul Francis is a retired teacher, living in Much Wenlock, who’s active in the West Midlands poetry scene and has won national prizes. During lockdown in 2020 he posted a sonnet a day on his website www.paulfranciswrites.co.uk. Recent publications include Rescue from the Dark and Poems for Ukraine.

The Poetry Reading, by Ben Macnair

 
Here he comes, again.
Our Graham.
With his big hands.
Big books.
Big words,
about buying Spoons in June,
about buying Forks in York,
about never gifting a knife, to your wife.

We will sit enraptured,
knowing he will never improve.
We ask why he isn’t published.
He says he is too far ahead of his time,
his words bending to his technique,
his stanzas, his line lengths are never uniform.
Still, it is only once a month,
and as bosses go,
he isn’t that bad.

Review of the Sky at Night, by Ruth Aylett

 
Review of the Sky at Night

An uneven performance with some gripping parts:
Orion a definite success, just a pity the belt
is used only once; but then there is Hydra,
a random line of faint stars with no oomph at all.

The Milky Way really needs more volume,
we can’t all visit a desert for its full effect,
just dial it up a little for we city types,
and remove some astrology duds like Pisces.

The arrangement of Venus, Jupiter, Crescent Moon,
was a bit of a triumph, more conjunctions please,
and more often: waiting some twenty years
strains the patience of your audience. And brighter comets.

As for the Northern Lights – very fetching indeed,
but what a waste keeping them so far north
where hardly anyone lives. Try them in London,
say every few weeks, and vary the colours more.

Ruth Aylett lives and works in Edinburgh and has been known to attend readings with a robot. Her poems are widely published in magazines and anthologies, and her pamphlets Pretty in Pink (4Word) and Queen of Infinite Space (Maytree) were published in 2021.

Back Up Girl, by Elaine Reardon

 
I have the soul of a rock & roller; 
I was born to sing. You started
in a church choir. I did, too.

The director told me to mouth
the words, not to sing them.
Sometimes I sang anyway.
He always looked baffled,
tried to figure out who was off key.

But Tina, you made it big,
from gospel music to icon, on
the cover of The Rolling Stone.

How did it feel when you first
belted out a song and people
shouted and swooned, when
you traded a choir robe for a short,
short skirt?
Tina, just for one show,
could I be a back up girl? I'm really
good at shoo be doo, doo wah
and I've got some great moves, too.

Elaine lives and writes in forest in Western Massachusetts. Her first chapbook, The Heart is a Nursery For Hope, won first honors from Flutter Press in 2016. Her second chapbook, Look Behind You, was published in late 2019, and her third will be published next year. Her writing is published in a variety of journals and anthologies. http://elainereardon.wordpress.com.

The Responsive Awakening of Springtide, by Pawel Markiewicz

 
The responsive
awakening of springtide

The springtime wakes up
in may glory and dreams
in May-tender homeland

O! Dreamy moony spring
immortalize the enchantment
of the Naiad forever!

the pensiveness of a feather from crows
you are black such a muse-like falchion
thinker with many oboli
I listen to the obol that thinks in muses-paradise
the skepticism is blooming in me

the courage of violets
you are heavenly blue like cherub-like gem
poet with a handful of oboli
I see the obol that writes about muse-like spell
the eudemonia is budding in me

the delight of a birdie
you are gray such a mermaid sesame
dreamer with all sorts of obol
I smell the obol that dreams of embers of sempiternity
the Epicureanism is flourishing in me

the beatitude of a cat
you are golden like druidic land
philosopher with a little of oboli
I taste the obol that philosophizes about amaranthine ambrosia
the stoicism is flowering in me

Oboli – plural of obolus

Safe Word, by Hilary Willmott

 
SAFE WORD

Keeping it simple is for the best
Choose nothing hard to say
Something easy, sharp and short
You'll be better off that way.

I would suggest a few words here
Such as 'North' or 'East' or 'South"
And never words that can't be formed
With an orange in your mouth.

Hilary Willmott


Hilary has been published and sometimes shortlisted over the years by Templar Press, The Exeter Broadsheet, Leaf, Velvet, Obsessed with Pipework Bristol PoetryCan and Mr Garnham.

Jewish Penicillin, by Jane Shaer

 
JEWISH PENICIILIN 

I am a saucepan full of Chicken Soup
Like Mama used to make.
There is no alternative.
Of that make no mistake.
For normal penicillin will fail to do
The trick
Of getting you back upon your feet
When you're feeling sick.
You see the everyday Chicken Soup
Lacks character and Finesse.
What you need Is a recipe
To get you out of this mess.
But the recipe I'm afraid is secret
Which I'm sworn to never divulge.
But it's good for adding on a pound
Or two
If you need to enlarge that bulge.
I hope that you feel better soon
And are shortly back on your feet.
Must go and feed the family.
They're starving and waiting to eat.

Masseuse Musings, by Mohammad Zahid

 

Mohammad Zahid is a poet and translator from Kashmir, India. His maiden poetry collection The Pheromone Trail bagged the Best Book Award from the Academy of Art Culture and Languages, Jammu & Kashmir in 2015.

His poetry has appeared in many Indian and international journals. He is a translation editor for Kashmiri Language at Muse India and Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts.

Play Story, by Clive Donovan

 
PLAY  STORY

I

And so the story begins:
with a house in which our hero prince resides.
It can be empty – or full – as you choose.
Our hero is torn between two states:
Solitude and Company.

II

Let us say he wishes to be alone
and there the leading lady is, polishing the grate,
or some such earthly task
and the smell of the polish offends
and disturbs and he banishes this personage.

III

A gross mistake: Because that character
was the one who kept the household alive and viable,
though nobody realized it or thought it through
and now hero suffers inconvenience and dark night
of soul and wishes for solace. Door knocks.

IV

And a charming stranger offers solace and delight
at end of tunnel and hero is gladly accepting,
without checking references.
Fatal flaws: Impulsiveness and bad judge of character.
Grate unpolished, no promised light and candlesticks stolen.

V

Final act: He misses the smell of polish. Sings a bit,
cathartic lesson learned, remorseful, [also evicted].
lives in a hut now with new, paradoxical desire:
Solitude in Company and Company in Solitude.
With advancing senility, it is all delivered.

THE END

Clive Donovan is the author of two poetry collections, The Taste of Glass [Cinnamon Press] and Wound Up With Love [Lapwing] and is published in a wide variety of magazines including Acumen, Agenda, Crannog, Popshot, Prole, Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis and Stand. He lives in Totnes, Devon, UK. He is a Pushcart and Forward Prize nominee for 2022’s best individual poems.

This poem hopes to find you well, by Ben McNair

 
This poem hopes to find you well

I hope that this poem finds you well.
I hope that it finds you with a tall, dark stranger,
or a short blonde friend.
This poem makes no judgement.

This poem hopes that you have been keeping to the five a day,
three a week, or fourteen a month, whichever
the latest advice deems to be the best.

I hope that this poem enlivens your day,
and that some of the words are answers on Wordle.

I hope that this poem finds you in a beautiful house,
with a beautiful wife.
If the beautiful wife and beautiful house belong to someone else,
this poem hopes you have a good reason for being there.

This poem hopes that Politicians do the right thing.
This poem is too old to still believe in that.

This poem doesn’t know the first thing about you,
but would like you to answer a few questions.

This poem hopes to find you in another three months,
where we can renew our fleeting acquaintance,
before you decide that the spam filter really was the best place for it.

I’ll take a look under the sonnet, by Arran Potts

 
I’ll take a look under the sonnet

Tis clapped out and broken; wanting of parts,
Its paint, sheen and lustre are shed.
This wreck of a carriage will take all my arts,
I fear it is already dead.
It wails as it drives, it clanks and it ticks,
The engine is silent and cold,
I fear this is something, that I cannot fix,
Your car, I’m afraid, is too old.
Perhaps I can salvage, some cogs and the gears,
From this conked-out, rusty old nail;
You’ve had this poor thing now for too many years,
I doubt I could put it on sale.
T’would not make me much, and I would be brassic,
A miserable end, for such an old classic.

Arran Potts is from Wolverhampton, UK. He has taken up poetry as a hobby to rekindle a love for writing; and is finding Jo Bell’s ‘52 Poems’ book really useful. He recently won the inaugural Blackness on Sea Poetry Prize. He is supported by family and friends. He is hindered by his job.

Feral Dogs of Riogordo, by Hilary Willmott

 
Feral Dogs of Riogordo

It's three a.m and I need a pee which I have been delaying
since it takes but the slightest movement to rouse the feral dogs of Riogordo. The dog who sleeps behind the house likes to conduct proceedings.

In my half sleep I see him with a baton which he raises and with two sharp yelps has the rapt attention of all dogs within a five mile radius. They quickly reach frenzy pitch to become a canine
cacophony of sound echoing across the countryside and down into the pueblo.

Pleased with tonight's turnout the conductor discards his baton and after a perfunctory nibble on his testicles, curls into a ball and sleeps.

The choir note his absence and become sotto voce until they too
abandon the proceedings to await the next tap of the conductor's baton.

Hilary Willmott

Hilary has been writing for many years and has been published by Templar Press, Bristol PoetryCan, Leaf, Velvet, The Exeter Broadsheet, Obsessed with Pipework and Mr Garnham himself. She lives close to the river in the south west of England, with her partner and a small pack of dogs.

Double Entendre, by Jeff Burd

 
Double Entendre 

The doctor says you’ll have to
remove your pants. You’re
there in the exam room with
him and his intern. She’s young.
Blonde. Her eager eyes sparkle
as she hovers beside him.

“Do you mind if she’s in here for this?”
the doctor asks. “She’s got
several requirements
I don’t want her to miss.”

The intern clutches a clipboard.
You imagine a neatly typed checklist.
This next task looms at the bottom
next to a barren, untouched little box.

It’s okay with you. The doctor probes
and talks his way through several
tender angles and steps aside. The intern
reaches for a glove, and you realize too late
that the ‘here’ she’s going to be ‘in’
is much more than the exam room.

Jeff Burd works as a high school English teacher in the north suburbs of Chicago. Mr. Burd spends a lot of time writing and thinking about writing, and worrying about not writing and thinking about writing.

A cornucopia, by Finola Scott

 
A cornucopia

of crap and delight
my spam box overflows.
Pals tell me to clear, delete
those I’ve no interested in.

Concerned, they warn
my systems are endangered,
my back unguarded -
possibly metaphors?

Obedient I scan and identify.
Titan Power Spins -no, too late,
my Wonder Woman days are past.
Tooth Decay – really? People pay for that?
Harry’s Razor – he’s but a painful memory,

But maybe that Nuzzle mattress,
Tupi Tea Keep it Hard intrigues
(see Harry above)
and oh for a Contour Swan Pillow.
- I think of those nests at the loch.

Thanks to friends, I relish the surprise
of my winnings -today a Multi Drill King,
a Club Car Golf Cart, a cordless vacuum.
I can only be grateful for algorithms.
They know me so well.

Finola Scott confesses writing is an untreated compulsion. She’s grateful that her work appears in magazines and anthologies. She enjoys performing, finding the writing community welcoming. Her hobbies are chocolate cake, jumping waves, laughing with friends, tickling grand-girls. She can be heard in a pub near you!

When the Palate Speaks, by Stephen Jordan

 
When the Palate Speaks

In Greece I patronized cafes
they said their coffee was the best,
they’d put one next to my entrees
to sample as their foreign guest—
‘twas smoky, gritty, super sweet
and cooled too fast in tiny cups,
I didn’t say, they’d not believe
I’d rather have my giant mugs
be filled to brims with Dunkin’ swill
and then befouled with too much cream
to pat my tummy overfilled
and exhale clouds of coffee steam.

I think sometimes the palette says
enough! I now know what I like-–
so no new gustatory threats
from gastro pubs with nouveau bites.

When in New England for a time
I prompted ire to suggest
that store-bought maple syrup’s my
first breakfast choice—won’t acquiesce
to haughty east coast claims that you
must have Vermont’s elixir dream,
the syrup they insist you choose
is tapped from perfect forest scenes
with crunchy snow and birds above—
traditions held in families since
they told their kin “It’s this we love
and not that fake and low-rent spin
on our pure draught the rubes have made”,
but see I come from Illinois
a corn-fed hick like you’ve portrayed
where thick corn syrup is our ploy
to jack up east coast maple’s faint
elitist flavor, now you see
sophisticated I just ain’t
‘cause I like what I like–agreed?

I think sometimes the palette says
experimenting has to end—
give us this day our daily bread
our taste buds now need no new friends.

Stephen Jordan was born and raised in the Midwest, the son of Colombian and Serbian immigrant parents. He has taught high school English for over twenty years, taking occasional leaves of absence to live and work in South America, East Africa, and the UK.

Pissed as a Newt, by Sarah James

 
Pissed as a Newt

The pub garden has pools
of spilt sky; the wooden tables
are rotting, the fixed benches
as immovable as rock.

Shadeless windows glare
in the midday sunlight,
making bar-proppers blink
and call for reed shutters.

The day’s fight starts early,
with a fast-flicking reptile
tail, riling a legless lizard
lazing in the lounge.

The last newt standing
slams down his acorn tankard
and crawls behind the bar
to pour a fresh absinthe.

A force not to be messed with,
he lets the gravity of upturned
stools pass him by
and hiccups another optic.

The Newton’s Inn sign
creaks with years of rust;
two more letters fall
face-down in the dust.



BIOGRAPHY: Sarah James is a poet, fiction writer and photographer. Her latest collection, Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic (Verve Poetry Press), is partially inspired by having type one diabetes since she was six. For her, good laughter is a natural medicine. Her website is at www.sarah-james.co.uk.

Cucumber, by Susan Lindsay

 
Cucumber                                                                                                                                                   

Cucumber cool man

definitely, if not definitively
wears a bowler hat

like the balloon man
blown up and twisted into shape
each twist a joint
in which to fit another

one quick swirl and in no time
the bowler hat man
becomes a sausage dog
elongated body, nose
short legs and perky tail.

Not the cucumber cool man
who is only a caricature
squash that tube
and you’ll get juice
seeds for small creatures
to feast upon if left too long
it’s better chopped
sliced into a salad

thinly enough, reputedly fine,
between refined slices
of brown bread - crusts off

where the upper crusts
might remove top hats to dine
with ladies and gentlemen
of their acquaintance
for afternoon tea
at Dublin‘s Shelbourne Hotel
or other exaggerated theatre
of exquisite cuisine

or not. Twirls
of the vegetable scooped
by the latest sharp blades
more likely now, perhaps
to appear alongside
show-stopping capers
artisan food.




Biography.


Susan Lindsay … a most compelling and unique voice in Irish poetry, Eamonn Wall, at her February 2022 Reading, University Missouri-St. Louis. Milling the Air (2018) is Susan’s third collection from Doire Press. Her work is published in journals, she has read at festivals and facilitates Conversations mediated by poetry. Blog: http://susanlindsayauthor.blogspot.com

Lukewarm, by Terri Metcalfe

 
Lukewarm

I’ll forget you just like I forgot all the others.
It doesn’t matter that you’re hot
with the scent of youth, distant

as a phantom smell.
You’ll be lukewarm like lavender on an old hankie
once these stinking thieves of my attention
have faded to memories.

You’re no different.
Won’t slide past my respiratory passages any easier –
my insides stained rotten as a neglected toilet bowl.

Look, any minute now I’ll excite your molecules
back to life, so quit staring at me.
I offer the metallic tinged ting of the microwave,
or I can easily scald a new teabag.

Ode to the Best Medicine, by Phil Genoux

 
Ode to the Best Medicine

I take it in the morning, I take it in the night,
I take it black as the gallows, l take it light and bright.
It gets me in the belly, it gets me in the face,
It gets me out of myself and back in the human race.

Give me your nonsense, your wordplay and your puns,
Well thought out or off-the-cuff, I`ll take them as they come.
Deadpan, dry, or epigrammatic,
Any time of day, I want to be at it.

Show me your innuendo and your folie de grandeur,
Rub me up the wrong way with your double-entendre.
Slap me on the arse with some Commedia-del-arte,
Hit me in the brain with your witty repartee.

Clownish, daft or plain idiotic,
It all feels better than antibiotics.
High-brow or low-brow, adult or adolescent:
They`re all way better than anti-depressants.

Off colour, dark, blue or black,
Give it a shot, because I` m up for the crack.
Salty, snarky or understated,
If it sets me off, I`ll advocate it.

Cringe, parodic, surreal or sardonic,
Sarcastic or bombastic, it`s all a tonic.
Juvenile, slapstick or totally hyperbolic:
All good ways to cure the melancholic.

So, don`t be downcast, have a blast,
Keeping them coming thick and fast.
Being miserable? I just can`t be arsed.
Because the honest truth is: He who laughs, lasts.

Phil Genoux lives in Glastonbury. He has always enjoyed entertaining people and making them laugh. He did it for 12 years as a mime artist travelling all over Europe. Now he is using words.”

Bloody Crows, by Agnes Warren

 
Bloody Crows


My morning cup interrupted
I burst from the door
A demented whirling dervish
In a pink fleecy robe
Gesticulate wildly,
Hurl foul abuse

They scatter
In all directions
A black feathered diaspora
Momentarily exiled
But ever watchful
They bide their time
Never doubt their rightful return

My poor beleaguered hens
Seize the moment
Occupy the feeder
Under the protective eye
Of a garishly clad
UN Peacekeeper

The farmer offers
To shoot one
Hang the carcass on a pole
A warning to the others
Just say the word he says
Surprised, as I recoil

I retreat down the rabbit hole
Of internet advice
From BB guns
To hawk shaped kites
My head spins

Out of nowhere they come
A grandmother's words
Be gentle with nature
Take care of the wild things
Feed the birds

I stand, cup in hand
Watch, admire
My unruly visitors

Disgruntled hens and trigger-happy farmers aside
Equilibrium is restored

Agnes Warren lives in the West of Ireland. She started writing poetry in 2021 and participated in a series of workshops with Kevin Higgins, through Galway Arts Centre.

To Blandly Go, by Neil Fulwood

 
TO BLANDLY GO …

In the great lost episode of Star Trek
the inexplicably renamed Captain Keir
pilots the Starship Empty Promise
on its five-missions mission to seek out
new economies, use clean energy
for all intergalactic travel (the tax-
payer still picking up the tab, natch),
expedite self-referral to Bones
after briefly Googling one’s symptoms,
make the streets of the Federation safe
(tough on Tribbles, tough on the causes
of Tribble), break down barriers
to becoming - well, not a Starship captain,
obvs, but at least a spaceport sanitation
officer - and to blandly go where every
second-rate opportunist has gone before.

Neil Fulwood lives and works in Nottingham. He has published three full collections with Shoestring Press and a volume of political satires with Smokestack Books.

Dracula’s Cock, by Colin James

 
Dracula's Cock

It unexpectedly turned up
on a peasant cart
outside a railway station
in northern Bulgaria.
Seems it was severed from
a live one, or not, depending
on your perspective.
Blood in the straw
pooled despite
a plethora of fodder.
A devout looking crowd,
caped to the nines
loitered for a look-see.
A few "Yikes" and 'Yowsers!"
could be heard singing
joyfully atonal in
made up accents,
that danced on the air a bit
before being, save piety,
proportionately bludgeoned.

A misuse of fruit, by Anne Babbs

 
A misuse of fruit

It was meant to be erotic.
The strategically placed strawberries,
The cream-covered nipples,
but all I could think was
that the sheets would need changing
before I could sleep.


Anne is a poet who regularly takes part in open mic events and the occasional slam. A selection of her poems can be found in the ‘New Voices’ anthology published by Offa’s Press in 2022.

A Fleeting Glimpse, by Ben Macnair

 
A Fleeting Glimpse

A man going about his business.
An expression asking, Alright Mate?
A three-day beard.
A collar pulled up against the wind,
like Elvis in Vegas,
melancholic sepia
replaces the bright lights.

He has Daniel Craig’s ears.
A Peaky Blinder’s hat.
Laughter Lines.
A smile as wide as a piano,
missing all of its keys.

He could have been more,
like all of us.
He is happy with his life,
like some of us.
He knows his past is longer
than the days that remain.
Slippers, a Pipe and a loyal dog
await him at home,
with the peeling wallpaper,
the newspaper cuttings,
Rotherham’s Junior Disco Dance Champion, 1982.

Life isn’t all unsolved murders by the sea, by Casey Jarrin

 
Life isn’t all unsolved murders by the sea

gaunt detectives drown in another pint
old pains swim inside suits and bones
a savior complex walks into a bar
sits next to a gentle sex addiction
both in search of a wall to punch
immutable truths
to prove.

mom’s eyes swallow horizon
dad sits frozen in his car
little sisters listen
at the door

a scarf washes ashore
a body floats in with the tide
we realize this is how
life comes undone.

meanwhile
wild turkeys cross city streets
necks wiggle in winter fog
uninterested in the price of gas
or whether a stacked Court
this December morning
will decide who dies
and when alive
begins.

Casey Jarrin is a poet, painter, and educator whose writing appears in Irish, UK, and US journals (Banshee, Abridged, Washington Square Review, Belfield Literary Review, Banyan Review, Buzzwords, Grand Journal, Perisphere). She’s received the Verve, York, Goldsmith, and Fingal Poetry Prizes, been on the Bridport shortlist, and performed as a featured poet at Lime Square and the Nuyorican Poets Café. A Jewish-Catholic atheist raised in New York who’s since lived in Dublin and Minneapolis, she received her PhD in modern literature/film, taught at Macalester College for several years, and is founder-director of Live Mind Learning. She’s now completing her debut collection, Untethered. Website: www.caseyjarrin.com

Satan’s LinkedIn Status (Sponsored) by Stephen McNulty

 
Satan's LinkedIn Status (Sponsored)

Today
I wrote a letter
confessing all my sins.

I mean I omitted a few things
barely enough bloody ink
to address it to myself.

But the main things were included
Piers Morgan
capitalism
Dublin City traffic.

Licked it shut
stuck on
Spotify's Daily Meditation Playlist
and fed it to the flames.

Proceeded to cross my hooves
inhale the misdemeanors
exhale pure relaxation

wipe the slate clean
so to speak.

Then
crashed a car on the M50
chartered a flight to Rwanda
sponsored the FIFA World Cup.

Thanks Spotify
I've never been more #productive.

Stephen scribbles things whenever he is not forcing a member of the public into a CT scanner. His poems have appeared in A New Ulster Boyne Berries, Drawn to the Light, ROPES, Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis, Strukturriss and Vox Galvia.

Meet me at the toilet rolls, by Margaret Jennings

 
Meet me at the toilet rolls


I’m tired of meeting you at the toilet rolls
where we unravel the traffic of years
that dragged us here

At the toilet rolls we’ll have a tryst
arguing about petty things
a tryst without a kiss

Yes, buy a new comb
to slick back your persona
but remember there’s a man
changing light bulbs in the eaves
who is watching you

I will buy the toilet rolls
and later you will ask
if I bought new or used

As if I would do that to you

I’m tired of meeting you at the toilet rolls


is all

Margaret Jennings is a poet, novelist and short story writer. Her novel, ‘ The Worry List’, was longlisted in the Bridport first novel award. She has been published in anthologies such as ‘The Lighthouse’ and enjoys being part of the thriving literary world in Portsmouth. Margaret’s poetry book, ‘We Are The Lizards,’ is available from Dempsey and Windle.

Some of the Ones, by Kate Ennals

 
Some of The Ones
after La Figlia che Piange by T.S. Eliot

One was a news correspondent who when stocious
whispered sweet nothings in Russian and Polish.
Each word was a rasp full of Zeds and Gizzards.
His tongue used to flick like that of a lizard
clicking like a gun, whipping my neck
so, I let him escape and moved on to Rex.

To be honest, Rex was not his real name
I say so because the sex was a shame
He was very attentive but had three little pinkies
and his finger work was not very kinky
I tried to use mine to work some magic
but nothing happened. It was tragic.

My first true love was away with the fairies
a fatal attraction for a naive young lady
He sang in a band, was charmingly late
had chocolate brown eyes, but refused to say
in words or ‘lots’ how much he adored me
so, finally, I left him and went to university.

There, I met a rigid boy whose body was agile
who had thick eyebrows and the sunniest smile.
He studied the Norman, Saxon, and Viking wars
And we too, were duplicitous with daggers and swords
Happily, in the end, I was victorious
but in my conquering, he grew less glorious.

As I got busy at work, I found my loves taken
in the office, snatched from other good women.
Their men loved my zest and liked to unzip
until one such man decided to flip.
Today, after 64 years of hard love and labour
I choose words of poetry over any lover.



Kate Ennals is a poet and writer and has published poems and short stories in a range of literary and on-line journals. She has published three poetry collections. You can find her blog at kateennals.com.



Boxes, by Rodney Wood

 
BOXES

I’ve found your secret Daddy.
What have you found son?
There is a room beneath the shed. It’s full of little wooden boxes of different sizes.
You won’t tell anyone will you son. I’ve only told the butcher and undertaker.
Why only them Daddy?
The butcher has promised to cut up my body and put away what should be in boxes. While the undertaker has promised to collect everything else, bones, flesh, skin and so on and have them put in a box labelled “Miscellaneous”.
I’ve lived my life being put in boxes, working in a box, living in a box, travelling in a box, dreaming of boxes. When I die I want to be buried in lots of little wooden boxes and not just the one to show that I’m an individual.
How long have you spent making little wooden boxes Daddy?
My life son, has been spent making little wooden boxes. I’ve made boxes for my toes, my false teeth, my heart, my ears, my eyes and well, you get the idea son.
When will you be finished Daddy?
Next Tuesday. After that I don’t know what I’ll do son.
Daddy, what if you're cremated?

Platform 7 – with Apologies to William Wordsworth, by Ben Macnair

 
Platform 7 - With Apologies to William Wordsworth

I wandered, lonely as a train spotter,
that floats on high over platforms and rolling stock,
when all at once I saw a crowd,
a host of train drivers,
beside the cafe, beneath the eaves,
and thought what a strange sight were these.

They spoke of the time it took to get from
London to Carlisle,
in their eyes a look of romance,
on their lips the hint of a smile.
Continuous as the track
that took them away,
and bought them back
They reminded me of Ivor The Engine,
and Jones the Steam,
as vivid in life as in any dream.

The platforms filled with a giddy dance,
of people with journeys, to jobs, families,
and maybe to some romance.
A train spotter could not join in the revelry,
for unlike everyone else, he could never be free.

The weak lemon drink, the out-of-focus photos of trains,
discussing the findings with strangers on the internet
and for some, that is enough.

Who Needs?, by Neil Windsor

 
Who Needs?

Who needs?
Not me for sure
Who needs?
Not inclined at all
Who needs?
Never in a million years
Who needs?
Christ , just give us a break!
Who needs?
Are you having a laugh?
Who needs another?
Yeah like there aren't enough already
Who needs?
Get a grip, life's too short
Who needs?
I've only just got rid of the last one
Who needs?
No one ,not now, not ever
Who needs?
If you do then let me know, 'cos I've got three under the bed.

Neil Windsor is a Writer of children’s short stories, Artist and Poet from Leeds who produces and performs all his work with an absolute passion and a slightly slanted off – kilter view of life.He also plays extremely bad left handed blues guitar.#neilwindsorart

Collage Machine, by Carla Scarano D’Antonio

 
Collage Machine

Before the sun is the sun
Inhale exhale
Shine bright

Stay play say
Name hard sharp
Cake lake

Today is your day
Make it happen
Join the human

Be wild be wild
Wonder the universe
The desolate melody of the spoons

The skylark voices
The kaleidoscope
Of the rock and roll

Carla Scarano D’Antonio obtained her MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and has published her creative work in magazines and reviews. She published two poetry collections, Negotiating Caponata(2020) and Workwear (2022). She was awarded a PhD on Margaret Atwood’s work at the University of Reading in April 2021.

http://www.carlascaranod.co.uk/

Frailty, Thy Name is Gertrude, by Jean Taylor

 
Frailty Thy Name is Gertrude

I always had the hots for Claudius
that man could turn a woman inside out
seduce her with a glance
blind her – just by placing
his bejewelled hand across her cheek.

But here’s the thing:
second sons do not deliver kingdoms.
I wedded Hamlet.

After our boy was born, that sour old git
chucked me like a worn-out jerkin.
‘Your place is with the ladies.’
‘Look to your son.’

Hamlet got what was coming to him –
splayed out below the apple trees
shrivelled like toad skin.
Can’t pretend I was heart-broken.

If I hadn’t gone along with Claudius,
Christ knows where I’d be now.
This way I’ve got my throne
and a king keeping me warm.

Young Hamlet’s time will come.

Right now he needs to man up,
get real, sort himself out,
stop mincing round Elsinore
like a dying corbie.

Jean Taylor from Edinburgh loves poetry and paper and folding poems into paper aeroplanes. Her poems have been published in a wide range of publications, anthologies and poetry websites.  

Her pamphlet Deliberate Sunlight was published by Black Agnes Press in 2019. 

Frustrations in the Office, by Sarah James

 
Frustrations in the Office

i) Behind the blinds

The office chair has an angle
on everything. Going nowhere itself,
it still feels it’s earned a higher position,
would floor all competition.

Despite purpose-moulded plastic
and a firm spine, it has learned
to turn its back on others’ pressure,
cushions itself against stress.

It refuses to carry excess weight,
won’t budge when asked to do more
than simple tasks, barely conceals
its steel tones and hard edges.

But, once the blinds are closed
and the night watchman passed,
it spins round and round on the spot,
imagines taking charge, and stock.

Instead of stationery, new wheels.
Oil, polish and, with the whole office
waiting on its orders, hope even
of finding a desk that’s a perfect match.


ii) Non-PC Ideas

This desk is tired of feeling used,
fed up of ending up pushed
into a corner or back against the wall.

It’s had enough of being treated
as part of the furniture, overlooked
by all or constantly dumped on:

PCs, screens and mice; piles
of paper and files; coffee mugs,
dirty stains and laptops; boxes,

and more boxes. Five years too
working with the same chair,
and, when their legs brush, no sign

that it could share the desk’s rush
of anticipation, that hint of a shiver of
a tingle of electricity, static or not,

which lets ungrounded hopes thrive.
One day the chair will notice it –
the battered desk wishes silently…

but remains stuck there ignored.

Sarah James is a poet, fiction writer and photographer. Her latest collection, Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic (Verve Poetry Press), is partially inspired by having type one diabetes since she was six. For her, good laughter is a medicine, sometimes even a path towards positive change. Her website is at www.sarah-james.co.uk.

Holiday Memory, by Pat Jourdan

 
Holiday Memory                          

From the coast road, springily square,
car-crammed, the family, bull-bumptious,
descends to the shore.
Aunt Maud mumbles a knuckle-Kyrie Eleison
of never-ending keeper-key prayers against rain.
Uncle Owen, bottle-party-bovate,
sets out drinks four-square
while Baby Ann, duck dummy
milkteeth-mine cry-baby,
spinach-spitting, sobs on the sand.
Cousin Willy two-times-tables the sandwiches
next to Father’s drum-duchy with his
spouse-special tobacco treasury
and orange-peel organisation.
Wearing her haberdashery-handy straw hat,
Mother, nightdress-nifty, certificate chatty,
sits Empress enigma on her silver strand,
despot-direct, drop-dwindle-feeding
the fidgety pastry-peckish children
as they bucket-bustle, sandcastle-building.

At Bank Holiday’s end
traipsing back to trunk-road Tuesdays,
the car’s hostage-houseful returns
to minute-book miseries and ashpan aspidistras
to wait, promising-proper, for the next
Jam-Jehovah all-allowed holiday
with a sand-scattered holdall-homecoming,
leaving the darkening beach
nightwatch-noble to the bow-legged breeze.


Pat Jourdan was writing poems even while at Liverpool College of Art. She has published five collections of poetry, the latest : Citizeness. Broadcast on BBC poetry Please, Radio Eireann, Radio Norfolk, Radio Suffolk. Latest poems in Orbis, Tears in the Fence and poetrycooperative.org.

Wolf, by Rob Walton

 
Wolf

To keep the wolf
from the door
I caught a wolf
trained it up
sold it
made a killing

Two months later
it returned
with some mates
who’d heard about the training
and the upskilling
and the attendant lupine employment opportunities

They ate me out of house and home

I tried to coral them
and sell them as a pack
but lost a fortune:
it wasn’t a bear
or a wolf
market

Scunthorpe-born Rob Walton lives in Whitley Bay. His poems and flash fictions are widely published, and his debut poetry collection, This Poem Here, was published by Arachne Press in 2021. He also writes for children. Twitter and Instagram: @robwaltonwriter

Destination : Land of Nod, by Jill Vance

 
Destination: Land of Nod

High-pitched hum of mosquito,
chant of ten green beer bottles,
bizarrely clucking chickens,
yet no sign of winged Hypnos
with his magic dust to sink me into sleep.

Lagoons, balloons, candles on cake,
endless counting of fence-dodging sheep,
tipping towards anger as I’m more awake.

Breezes, sunsets, turtles in the surf,
the whoosh-whoosh of waves,
feet downing into the plashy sand,
torso heavier, scent of lavender,
but no blasted sleep.



Jill Vance is a poet and interdisciplinary artist. Her poems have appeared in Truth Serum Press, Pure Slush, Dirigible Balloon and Green Ink Poetry. She hopes one day to have a pamphlet published of poetry and artwork.

Treadmill, by Karen Jones

 
Treadmill

The eve of Christmas Eve
Tills in overdrive, the carol
Of sale items no one wants
To give or receive

Cars snake into the underground
Of an out-of-town supermarket
Bulge in restrictive spaces
Swollen with purchases

Nearby at the chemist
Scripts arrive faster than FedEx
Inside a white-coated woman
Bags pills against the threat
Of rising inflammation, anything
To ease the innards of millions
Inhaling mince pies and Baileys

All to discard again
Dump from car to cistern
Via the slow mulch of bellies
Pressed against festooned tables

And now it is you bulging at the wheel
Rounding the corner on new year
Smelling of gift-boxed eau du parfum
That isn’t as nice as you had thought

But wager if nothing else
Masks the sulphur of January diets
En route to the gym again
Of retail conveyor belts

Karen Jones began writing poetry in 2019, and was privileged to be a student of the late Kevin Higgins. Born in Northern Ireland, she lives in Dublin and works in public relations.

The new Celtic Ode to the dreamed mother Nature, by Pawel Markiewicz

 
The new Celtic Ode to the dreamed mother Nature

Paweł Markiewicz

ABABACACA

You are an enjoyable juniper!
You are a pleasurable bush!
You are an agreeable poplar!
You are a delightful spruce!
You are a gratifying cedar!
You are an amusing birch!
You are a diverting corn!
You are a bonny pine!
You are a lovely palm!


Your sepal be alluring!
Your petals be delightful!
Your stamens be appealing!
Your carpel be graceful!
Your corolla be good-looking!
Your filament be pretty!
Your ovary be stunning!
Your ovule be foxy!
Your anther be ravishing!

You honor starlet-like dreamland.
You admire moonlet-like mirror.
You exalt moony fairyland.
You deify moonlit enchanted rose.
You praise starry gingerbread house.
You glorify starlit forest.
You apotheosize comet-like spell book.
You magnify spherical tower.
You gratify sunny Ovidian sword.

Paweł and the Neoceltism

This poem is a dreamy manifesto of the Neoceltism, the spirit, in which Paweł has created his English poesy.

Carluccio’s, Ealing, Before Christmas, by John Lanyon

 
CARLUCCIO’S, EALING, BEFORE CHRISTMAS

Antonio,
big smiling man with the puffball hair
it’s almost like we’re on first name terms
you rich old mushroom hunter
how I might adoro your pomodoro
you master of corporate rusticity.

Your customers worked all week for this
if they want to sit down
they’re going to have to stand up
eat in
eat out
it’s all been worked out
black shirts
white shirts
it’s so cold tonight
your red and gold wrappings and trappings
your vibrantly green beans
your snowy mozzarella
your tanned, smiling staff melt my cynicism
100g at a time.

You dug up a good one.

Sooner or later
we’ll bore of your flavours
all the window dressing
your one-stop Italy-to-go
but somewhere
as long as there are forests
there will be mushrooms.

John Lanyon lives in the Cotswolds. He works as an organic gardener, linguist, musician, and writer. Having failed his English Literature O Level, he came to love literature through reading it in French and German. He writes about art, the body, childhood, society, nature, the spirit of places, the secret lives of words.

The Archivist of Cathedral Hill, by Casey Jarrin

 

Casey Jarrin is a poet, painter, and educator whose writing appears in Irish, UK, and US journals (Banshee, Abridged, Washington Square Review, Belfield Literary Review, Banyan Review, Buzzwords, Grand Journal). She’s received the York, Goldsmith, and Fingal Poetry Prizes, been on the Bridport shortlist, and performed as a featured poet at Lime Square and the Nuyorican Poets Café. A Jewish-Catholic atheist raised in New York who’s since lived in Dublin and Minneapolis, she received her PhD in modern literature/film, taught at Macalester College for several years, and is founder-director of Live Mind Learning. She’s now completing her debut collection, The Naked Dinner. Website: www.caseyjarrin.com

Get Over it, by Tonnie Richmond

 
Tonnie Richmond is a retired local government officer who has spent the last couple of decades as a volunteer archaeologist, working on digs in Cheshire and on Orkney. Many of her poems reflect her archaeological experiences and love of Orkney. She has had poems  published by Yaffle, Dragon/Yaffle, Driech, Leeds Trinity University and others. She is currently working on her first collection.

Sort, by Sarah J. Bryson

 
Sort 

What sort are you?
Tea or coffee?
Victoria Sponge,
or a rich fruit cake?
Dark chocolate Bounty,
or a Milky Bar kid?
Would you choose
a bag of lemon drops,
or a sherbet dip?
Would you prefer
a large gobstopper,
or an Extra Strong Mint?
Milk Tray or Green & Blacks?
Are you a suck it and see type,
or a gobble and go individual?
Do you think birds of a feather
flock together, or rather that
opposites attract?
Maybe you are
a Foxes Glacier Mint?
Me? I’m a Licorice Allsort

Sarah is interested in words, words for well being, people and nature and the connections between these elements. She has poems in print journals, anthologies and on line.

Coventry, by David Court

 
Coventry

Invented;
bicycles,
jet engines,
black cabs,
roads shaped like rings.

A brief annotation;
a sad association -
Women putting cats into bins.

David is a novelist, freelance writer for Slash Film, and radio presenter. David lives in Coventry with his wife, Aslan the cat and a beard. David’s wife once asked him if he’d write about how great she was, and David said he would because he specialized in short fiction. Despite that, they’re still married.

Starless, by Patrick Chapman

 
Starless

Set to amuse an empress of India, diamonds are
not even fruit – but flush with satsumas

alone, try getting someone to love you for
money. Made in the whirl of a stellar

ballet, tangelos yield to the cut of my Japanese
blade. The crush of my hand makes me wonder

how diamond and orange are brought to our shores –
and what old blood we spill into new Mason jars.

PATRICK CHAPMAN has published nine poetry collections since 1991. Other books include a novel, three volumes of stories, and a guide to the work of David Cronenberg. His next poetry collection, The Following Year, appears from Salmon in 2023. He lives in Dublin.

On waiting for a poetry journal’s acceptance/rejection email, by Terri Metcalfe

 

Cumbria native Terri Metcalfe moved to Ireland with her Mayo born partner and two children in 2019. From a down-to-earth, tools of the practical trade family, she only recently in her forties thought it acceptable that she might be a serious poet. Terri has endured several decades of mental and physical ill health which she draws on in her work. She has been published in Abridged, A New Ulster, Green Ink Poetry, Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis and Skylight 47, amongst others. She was shortlisted for the Open Window 2023 mentorship programme and will be a featured reader at the 20th anniversary of Over The Edge Literary Events held in Galway city library this coming January.

Dearly Beloved, by John Lawrence

 
Dearly Beloved

This poem is
gathered here

to celebrate
the matrimony
of Couplet and Tercet.

This poem is not to be entered into lightly.
Thus, we need to confess

that Couplet hath played
fast and loose
with a sestet, thrice,

and Tercet hath also succumbed
to the tenderness of carnal union

with a haiku, in an act of confused
orientation. Nonetheless,
as a measure of forgiveness

and a certain degree of apathy,
if no-one can show just cause
or impediment, I proclaim
Couplet and Tercet
to be a quintain.

John has recently moved to Cambridge (voluntarily) from Worcestershire, and writes poems (involuntarily) because he feels he has to or something bad might happen. He is a popular (reportedly) performer and has published a collection The Boy Who Couldn’t Say His Name.

 
THE FULL ENGLISH TAKES A DNA TEST

Old Bean, Old Sausage, there are question marks.
I know you’ve had a lot on your plate.
How can I break this to you?
Your bacon is pure Viking.

Baked beans arrived here illegally
Uncle Sam wants them back
Hash browns have no right to remain
Plum tomatoes only speak Italian
Since 2006 HP sauce has called the Netherlands home
PG Tips must face up to its colonial past

Three mushrooms on your shirt
your England’s still dreaming

If you know which side your toast’s buttered
you’ll be a good egg.

Mr Full English, you are thoroughly scrambled.

John Lanyon lives in the Cotswolds. He works as an organic gardener, linguist, musician, and writer. Having failed his English Literature O Level, he came to love literature through reading it in French and German. He writes about art, the body, childhood, society, nature, the spirit of places, the secret lives of words.

The Yarn Spinner, by George Bastow

 
He sits in the corner of your local boozer 
Wearing a smile as broad as a battlecruiser
He's got the spiel of a champ and the luck of a loser
But lend him an ear and he's sure to amuse ya
He's the Yarn-Spinner, you know him

He's got a mouth that moves at the speed of light
Emitting patter sickly sweet as Angel Delight
He's as old as the hills and as young as the night
Halfway between an oracle and a gobshite
He's the Yarn-Spinner, you know him

He used to work for MI 5, but he keeps that on the low
He used to be a roadie, went on tour with Status Quo
He used to be a boxer, trained in the States with Smokin’ Joe
Plus, he played all the instruments on Enya's Orinoco Flow
He's the Yarn-Spinner, you know him

He's a world-famous artist with a masterpiece on his easel
He's an ex-Hollywood tough guy, former stuntman for Vin Diesel
He’s a lapsed circus performer with his own troupe of dancing weasels
Oh, and his wife’s a scientist who's discovered a cure for measles
He's the Yarn-Spinner, you know him

He spent decades as a TV exec, commissioning comedy and drama
He spent his work experience at the British Museum spit-polishing suits of armour
He spent seven years in Tibet as an organic yak meat farmer
And he spent yesterday as a Buddhist monk, making tea for the Dalai Lama
He's the Yarn-Spinner, you know him

He’s been known to beguile crowds with his eccentric charm
He often bewilders bar-staff with his far-fetched smarm
For a pint or three, he'll no doubt twist your arm
But everyone can agree he don’t mean any harm
He's the Yarn-Spinner, we all know him

George Bastow is a poet, writer, blogger and hat connoisseur from the picturesque wilderness of North Warwickshire. 

 

He has written for numerous publications and regularly performs at spoken word events. 

 

George also facilitates workshops for Writing West Midlands’ Spark Young Writers Programme. 

 

Blog: https://gdbastow11.wordpress.com

Twitter: @GDBastow

Formication, by Tonnie Richmond

 
Formication

If, sometimes, you like to indulge
in a spot of alfresco, illicit sex
be careful where you lie,
be wary of what might happen next.

If, following said fornication
while you have a cigarette and a little rest,
you feel a rush of formication
you may well be sitting on an ants’ nest.

Tonnie Richmond has, since retirement, spent a lot of her time doing archeology and writing poems. These days, the poetry is a little less arduous than digging. She has had poems published by Dreich, Yaffle, Dragon and others.

Doctor Zeus, by Tom Barlow

 
Doctor Zeus

A poet in my online crit group
wrote that the unintentionally
comedic couplets in my new poem
remind her of Doctor Zeus and I

am taken with the image of lightning bolts
thrown for no reason at Yertle the Turtle,
for capriciousness makes a god a god.
I realize the Lord of Thunder would never

have allowed himself to be incarcerated
in verse meant to draw giggles
and the good Doctor Seuss would
never have written about Zeus the Moose

and his incestuous appetites, for there
was seldom any innocence in those old
ribald tales of characters fated to suffer
or deal out suffering or both. What

parent would be foolish enough to put
their child to bed with the story of a god
who eats his wife when Doctor Seuss offers
the epicurious Sam-I-Am
and his beloved eggs and ham?

Tom Barlow is an Ohio writer of poetry, short stories and novels. His attention deficit disorder has kept his pen whirling like a merry-go-round horse and poems like these are what have flown off as he desperately tries to convince the carny to stop the ride. See more at tombarlowauthor.com.

The mighty, by Ruth Aylett

 
The mighty
--
He arrived in the sixth form
from a poxy private school
that thought itself posh,
and though he was local,
they’d rubbed his voice down
until our local accent came off
and he spoke like an Etonian.

He had that up-your-own-arse
confidence of the rich,
but wasn’t all that clever
when it came to school stuff,
almost like he felt above it.
And his grades weren’t much.

So the summer we left
I bumped into him in the street,
and just could not resist
telling him I was going to Uni.
I’m not bothering with that he said
(Daddy’s business I thought)
Because, he said, I’m in meat.

I didn’t know Daddy had gone bust
until I caught sight of him next:
the boy on the local butcher’s van.
In meat.

Ruth Aylett teaches and researches robotics in Edinburgh and has been known to read poems with a robot. Her pamphlets Pretty in Pink (4Word) and Queen of Infinite Space (Maytree) were published in 2021. For more see http://www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~ruth/writing.html

On Passion Spent, by Cait O’Neill McCullagh

 
ON PASSION SPENT
̶ Somewhat after William. Shakespeare &
Vita Sackville-West; would be lovers all

Now that night has bled back into the black earth
& I no longer covet the cloak of sleep, impossible,
my heart (that desirous old fat-spotted oven) cools,
quits bigging ‘memories’ never truly hers to own.

Teetin the truth of it, in quick quartz dazzled dawn,
I find love’s swim in us was as ill-fit as a finless fish.
Between our thighs trickles only the dampest regret.
Dear, it’s daft to conjure dreams from wreathy bones.

Awkward as a gang of hangers thrust sidewards into
a frantic-packed case, I half-exhume ‘forget-me-nows’
of screen-preened hair (exhausted with flicking), eyes
dripped-dry with feigning drookit-dewy & a fret of lips,
̶ un-kissed.

For if we had ever our ‘selves’ met, IRL with skin on,
offscreen, I doubt we would have set about to fraying
our zips. Perhaps, my Zoomy pal, my ‘could have been’,
my not ‘THE one’, we’ll let passion spend one last squib?

Then, I will weigh my eyelids down & steep my senses in
̶ forgetfulness.



Cáit started writing poetry, at home in Scotland’s Highlands in December 2020. Over forty of her poems have been published since. With co-author Sinead McClure she was a winner of Dreich’s ‘Classic Chapbook Competition’ 2022’, awarded for their chapbook ‘The songs I sing are sisters’. For more information visit https://linktr.ee/caitjomac

The Cost of Living, by Louise Longson

 
The Cost of Living
(after William Carlos Williams)

This is just to say

I bought
the plums
that you crossed off
the shopping list

and which
you said at £3.50 a punnet is
taking the piss
for just six of them

I’ll explain
they were Irresistible
so I’ve turned off the heating
and am now so cold

Louise Longson lives in West Oxfordshire and works for a loneliness charity. She started writing poetry during isolation in lockdown 2020. She is widely published in print and online, and author of the chapbooks Hanging Fire (Dreich Publications, 2021) and Songs from the Witch Bottle: cytoplasmic variations (Alien Buddha Press, 2022). 

Twitter @LouisePoetical

A Dish Made by Myself, by Kate Ennals

 
A Dish Made by Myself 
(after Neruda)

I’m sick of tray bakes, pies in the sky
banquets, vol au vents, pastrami on rye
I want delectable. I want something else
So, here’s a dish I created myself

I am at the table surrounded by cooks
in tall white hats, holding meat hooks
They are going to make merry with my insides
and prepare an andouillette stuffed with spice

They cut a deep incision above my bottom
Turn my intestine into one big sausage
The sous chefs add garlic, salt, wine and onion
They truss me up to give me a final pummel

I choose my head to be served as a main
So out of my orifices, they squeeze my brain
it spills from my ears, a grey mucous sauce
crammed with crunchy bits, thick and coarse

They whisk it with vigour and drizzle on my tongue
itself yanked out of my jaw, and secured open
by tiny cheese cocktail sticks staked into the gum
My eyeballs are glazed and marinated in urine

Thus, I am dished, an andouillette and a head
wordless, stylish with a French vinaigrette
they say I am served best with a little green gem
and to toast my health, raise a glass of phlegm.

Afters will be sweetbreads scored from my heart
a selection of my stomach, chest and throat
This is my offering, basic fare, honest food
I’m happy to be sacrificed for the greater good.


Andouillette is a French coarse-grained sausage made from the intestine of pork, pepper, wine, onions, and seasonings. Andouillettes are generally made from the large intestine and are 7–10 cm in diameter. True andouillettes are rarely seen outside France and have a strong, distinctive odour coming from the colon.

Goldfish Don’t Yawn, by Gram Davies

 
Goldfish Don’t Yawn



Surprised to find you listening still to this.
Though expectation is the toy of Fate,
by now, I thought, you would have caught my drift.

What you anticipate: I gave you it.
I am, considering I’ve spent the bait,
surprised to find you listening still to this.

I hate to think my readership are fish,
it’s rude. I would have given up the wait
by now. I thought you would have caught my drift.

Self-referencing the author, how ironic;
Writing is a conversation. Great.
Surprised to find you listening still to this.

Devices like economy and thrift
are wasted, aren’t we bored of rhyme
by now? I thought you would have caught my drift.

Don’t call me villain in my eagerness
to cut it short, as I’m, at any rate,
surprised to find you listening still to this—
by now I thought ok ok we get it

Double-speak, by Margaret Kiernan

 
Double-speak

-after Pablo Neruda, Walking- around.



I am sick of being the target, a patsy for all those money-making swindlers

out on a spin. Those double truthers lisping tongues on the fame game.

The fiddlers on how to write their family history, their gutter minds dawdling.

I am sick of neon-lit evening scenes on a boulevard somewhere, the rich and restless gossipers
sniffle, refuse to be the first to leave, polish off their double-speak.
I am sick of it all, the single supplement, the Friday take-out meal, unclaimed lotteries, and deals.

I’m the one to do tasks in full, only find them send back, again I am too swift.

I give the street beggar my last coins and laugh uproariously when a driver in a Mercedes arrives to fetch him and bring him home.

Today, I read that somewhere, far away, a scutching fire cleansed. End.

Margaret Kiernan

Margaret Kiernan s an Irish author, and a Best of The Net Nominee, for 2021 and 2022. She writes poetry and prose and is widely published. She writes with Over-the-edge, Galway. Her background is in social justice and Diversity.

On My Death Bed, by Kevin Higgins

 
On My Death Bed

I will not be calling out to any gods
though I'll probably drop Satan a text to thank him
and his daughters
for some of my more lively afternoons.

I will not be signing forgiveness treaties with the Frauds
but do tell them to stick their heads in the door
when it's least convenient
so I can stare at them and say nothing
and listen to their sphincters creak.

The rest of you who were just being
your honest arsehole selves
I forgive, absolutely
and hope you forgive me
my arseholeness.
There were days
it was all I had to offer.

KEVIN HIGGINS is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway. He has published six full collections of poems: The Boy With No Face (2005), Time Gentlemen, Please (2008), Frightening NewFurniture (2010), The Ghost In The Lobby (2014), Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital (2019), & Ecstatic (2022). His poems also feature in Identity Parade – New Britishand Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010) and in The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed Neil Astley, Bloodaxe May 2014). Kevin was satirist-in-residence with the alternative literature website The Bogman’s Cannon 2015-16. 2016 – The Selected Satires of Kevin Higgins was published by NuaScéalta in 2016. The Minister For Poetry Has Decreed was published by Culture Matters (UK) also in 2016. Song ofSongs 2:0 – New & Selected Poems was published by Salmon in Spring 2017. Kevin is a highly experienced workshop facilitator and several of his students have gone on to achieve publication success. He has facilitated poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre and taught Creative Writing at Galway Technical Institute for the past fifteen years. Kevin is the Creative Writing Director for the NUI Galway International Summer School and also teaches on the NUIG BA Creative Writing Connect programme. His poems have been praised by, among others, Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul, Observer columnist Nick Cohen, writer and activist Eamonn McCann, historian Ruth Dudley Edwards, and Sunday Independent columnist Gene Kerrigan; and have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, TheTimes (London), Hot Press magazine, Phoenix magazine, The Daily Mirror and on The Vincent Browne Show, and read aloud by Ken Loach at a political meeting in London. He has published topical political poems in publications as various as The New European, The Morning Star, Dissent Magazine (USA), Village Magazine (Ireland), & Harry’s Place. The Stinging Fly magazine has described Kevin as “likely the most widely read living poet in Ireland”. Kevin’s poetry has been translated into Greek, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Albanian, French, Russian, & Portuguese. One of Kevin’s poems features in A Galway Epiphany, the final instalment of Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor series of novels which is just published. His work has been broadcast on RTE Radio, Lyric FM, and BBC Radio 4. His book The Colour Yellow & The Number 19: Negative Thoughts That Helped One Man Mostly Retain His Sanity During 2020 was published in late 2020 by Nuascealta. His extended essay Thrills & Difficulties: Being A Marxist Poet In 21st Century Ireland was published in pamphlet form by Beir Bua Press last year. In December 2021 Kevin was both expelled from the British Labour Party, of which he was an overseas member, for publishing his poem ‘Tribute Acts’ in Socialist Appeal magazine and, on the very same day, awarded ‘Poet of The Year’ at the Labour Heroes Awards event at Conway Hall, London. Kevin now writers a regular book review page for Village Magazine, mostly focussing on poetry. This year Kevin received a dozen nominations for the position of Ireland Chair of Poetry – Ireland’s Professor of Poetry. Ecstatic, Kevin’s sixth full poetry collection was published in June 2022 by Salmon Poetry. For the past month Kevin has been in University Hospital Galway, where he is receiving chemotherapy for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.

When Infirmity Struck Modernity, by Julian Isaacs

 
When Infirmity Struck Modernity

At McCarty’s party everyone was hearty, if not hale.
They’d overdone it with the night porter
And the jugs of foaming ale.
The Paddy’s and the Power’s didn’t taste like what it oughtta,
And the weather was beyond the pale.
A blanket of Edgar Allen lay thick upon the ground,
And the ladies were sobbing Billie Jo Spears.
The hurdy-gurdy emitted the eeriest sound,
Wailing through their hopes and fears.
Lenehan was scoffing a plate of split striptease
As the barometer dropped and froze.
There were some people the contra-tenor just couldn’t please,
And somebody hit Maloney on the nose.
If you find this tale a little strange to understand,
It might help to read it tied up with a black velvet band,
Shivering on the sand at Sandymount Strand,
But new minutes will never catch the second hand,
For the man in the signal box who killed time
Has committed an ever unpunishable crime.

A Girl from Yorkshire, by Neil Windsor

 
A Girl From Yorkshire

Oh how the parents sigh, not inclined to rejoice
Dismayed from the outset at their offspring's romantic choice
They disapprove so blatantly as they take her presence in
Looks of curiosity, at a loss for words, of this potential next of kin
Then the floodgates open, there's no holding back
Lacking even the basics of civility and tact

Oh no, but the girl's from Yorkshire can't you see, she's just not our expected southern type
She's all flat vowels and sarcasm, excuse us while we snipe
She talks of strong tea and rugby league, she's left her whippet on the lawn
She's not a patch on a fragrant english rose, all sweet and Henley born
They're still living in the days of pit ponies, cobbles slick with icy rain, and beef dripping chip shop grease
Striking miners around braziers on the village green, we far prefer maypole country dancing, and afternoon cream teas

She's from Yorkshire they say, all Sean Bean, Hockney and Selwyn Foggit, working mens clubs and spam
She's not up to our southern ways, she's never been on the tube, paid the congestion charge, she's never watched The Arsenal or West Ham
The bustling size of London must be so hard for her comprehend, from The Docklands and Bermondsey to King's Cross and Harringay
She'd be out of her depth in Fortum's food hall or the opening night of a west end play
She's not our sort of girl, nice enough in her own way, but an uncultured square northern peg in a roughly hewn round hole
We can't bring ourselves to sanction your relationship dear. Good grief the girl's from Yorkshire after all

Pick a southern girl why don't you? Choosing to shower this one with your affections makes absolutely no practical sense
We need to protect our breeding stock, maintain a northern romance resisting defence
We're not prejudiced you understand we're just southernly civilised with a touch of self righteous attitude
It's the thin edge of the wedge to let her into our flock, we really don't mean to be rude
But the girl's from Yorkshire for goodness sake, all mills, chimneys, rhubarb and tripe. A trip around the charity shops is their idea of a day out
Her dysfunctional family probably lives in on of those terrible two up two down overcrowded terrace houses, replete with outside toilet no doubt

The girl's from Yorkshire my precious, we're tolerant and polite to a fault, but let's be realistic for a moment, she hasn't the refined attributes we seek and require
Heaven's above, the girl's from Yorkshire, She thinks Bremner, Giles and Boycott are gods, she's not the sort of potential daughter in law we desire
We all love to visit their quaint Dales and picturesque coastal and market towns now and again, but we wouldn't want to live there, all Chuckle Brothers and dregs of summer wine
They have scraps with their fish and chips, listen to brass and silver bands and treat Headingley like a shrine
Saints preserve us, the girl's from Yorkshire. She drinks pints as she quotes Bennet, knows Sutcliffe and Hutton's batting averages by heart, eats pork pies and parkin, and spreads mucky dripping on bread!
Oh but the girl's from Yorkshire darling, all rough edges and uncultured ways. For the sake of our sanity and social standing trust us, drop her like a hot potato, find a southern girl instead.

Neil Windsor is a Writer of children’s short stories, Artist and Poet from Leeds who produces and performs all his work with an absolute passion and a slightly slanted off – kilter view of life.
He also plays extremely bad left handed blues guitar.#neilwindsorart

Shakespeare has a Bad Day, by Clive Donovan

 
SHAKESPEARE HAS A BAD DAY

What is the question? To not do or do.
Do not do it lest it be more fortunate
That not doing may be the best?
But best to not do tardily, I guess.
Be not so tardy in this enterprise
For we may well wish to own this ill upon us
As those who wish us ill may not in actuality,
And in the end the not doing of it should surely be
My own will let to suffer right whatever cost.
Oh would it were that being just would be
Just not to do or yes, just do it
Or no, or yet, yes, maybe.
What's it all about anyway?
Toby or not Toby?

Clive Donovan is the author of two poetry collections, The Taste of Glass[Cinnamon Press] and Wound Up With Love [Lapwing] and is published in a wide variety of magazines including Acumen, Agenda, Crannog, Prole, Sentinel and Stand. He lives in Totnes, Devon, UK. He is a Pushcart and Forward Prize nominee for 2022’s best individual poems.

Writing on a Roman Wall, by Ben Macnair

 
Writing on a Roman Wall
Personal Adds

The Eunuch Support group meets on Mondays,
where we will discuss how to sing the high notes,
and how farmers can trust us with their goats,
between the end of February, and the Vernal Equinox,
we will not discuss how the Emporer got the pox,
but we will write these things on the walls,
for all the world to see.

The Inn of the Mule-drivers,
come and damage your livers,
Happy hour is none too frequent,
if you are looking for a wench.

Meat for sale,
it will soon be off,
don’t come looking for our sympathy,
when you get a cough.

Speakers with the leaders in the town hall.
If they were of any less use,
they would be no use at all.

Wanted: Sewage worker.
If you know what the job entails,
you know why we are looking for one.

Wanted: Road Worker
Please bring you own shoes.
Must have an excellent sense of direction.

Wanted: Lion Tamer
Short term contract.
Immediate Start.

Ben Macnair

The Day I Cooked my Son’s Speech Therapist, by Beth McDonough

 
The Day I Cooked my Son's Speech Therapist

she arrived all kindly shiny in thunder, ahead
of his school bus return. Full of plans,
ASD-specific wisdom. He crashed in, appalled.
I no wanted to see her.
She flashed three PECS cards
at his face, intoned, in triple slow time
H e l l o K eir
I have come to visit you and your Mum.
Put her whole fisog in his.
I no wanted to see her,
He dashed off his jacket. Ran out the back door.
She nodded towards my space.
I can help you understand how he communicates,
what he needs to let you know.
We followed him into the garden. He whizzed
for the trampoline. She chanted
from the circumference upwards. More cards.
My son turned to the fence,
bounded furiously, bounce, bounce, bounce
I no wanted to see her. Away now. Away!
Solicitously, she advised me
Sometimes he speaks very fast, and runs words
into one another, so we don't know what he says.
He turned quickly, saw her still standing, transplanted
from class to his own garden,
then he spun away in disgust.
No wanted to see her.
Jumped on and on. Small splats of rain
did not dissuade him. I took her inside,
made coffee. Offered scones.
If we sat inside the conservatory we could
observe, as he leapt up by the lupins.
She enjoyed everything, I think. Seemed pleased to eat
that scone, as she helped me along.
My temperature rose.
So I brought extra coffee, closed a window.
She took one more scone. I shut the door.
My son trampolined on.
Yes, she'd love another scone.
Steam rose from plants.
He pogoed on.
I'll come out whenever you want,
I'd love to help. I sealed
the last window. She lifted
her third scone as I watched
sweat drizzle on her lips.
At last I persuaded her that we must not
take more of her weighted time.
Slowly, I sluiced her to the front door,
thanked her hugely, assured her
if we needed, we'd certainly phone.
She stilted formulaic farewells.
Away! Away! he replied.
Don't worry. We'll soon learn what he's saying.
As her car departed, my son
came in for our usual time
of juice, maybe cake, and told me
I no wanted to see her.
We hugged. Don't worry. We won't.
Soon after, the Therapist married
and moved to a faraway post.
I gave her a pretty coffee pot.
Considered very hot scones.

Beth McDonough’s poetry appears in many places; she reviews in DURA. Her pamphlet Lamping for pickled fish was published by 4Word. Recently, her site-specific poem was installed on the Corbenic Poetry Path. Currently Makar of the FWS, she’s found year-round in the Firth of Tay.

Celebrity Stoning on Thin Ice, by Terri Metcalfe

 
Celebrity Stoning on Thin Ice

It’s very easy to shout insults
to people that I can’t look in the eye,
to an online presence who might as well be a ghost
haunting the blue walls of a white bird

They call it cancelling
but it used to be called public shaming,
boycotting
bullying

It’s a commodity –
you give me one opinion,
I give you two fingers
and three minutes to take it back

or you’re retweeted as threadworms
spreading from the anus to the mouth of the internet
but who wins in the end?
Gameshows, that’s who.

Cumbria native Terri Metcalfe has been published in Abridged, A New Ulster, Green Ink Poetry, Spilling Cocoa and Skylight 47 amongst others. Shortlisted for the Open Window 2023 mentorship programme, she will be a featured reader at the 20th anniversary of Over The Edge Literary Events held in Galway this January.

I Said, Pointedly, by Phil Huffy

 
I Said, Pointedly

Author, watch your language,
avoid the common traps
of amateur expression
and paraphrastic lapse.

Banish inclinations,
when speech you recollect,
to state the speaker’s motive,
describing her affect.

Poet, please consider
this thought as apropos:
You’ll make your meaning clearer
with words that people know.

If you fancy rhyming,
its use must be astute.
Don’t make your grand allusions
a trivial pursuit.
first published at Poetry Super Highway

The Passenger, by Lynn Valentine

 
The Passenger

November and everywhere turns mouse,
garden no longer good enough though
the compost heap smoulders with rot of apples.

The mice brush by inside discharging dark
pellets of shit, nips of urine, craze
of footprints. The air grows furred, weighs
heavy with whiskers, a particular brown-grey
colour scheme, rushing of small rodents.

He is frightened to open cupboards, too scared
to sleep, to become part of the scurry.
He puts down poison, traps, peppermint spray,
packed up clothes for a holiday.

The last item to sneak into his steamer trunk?
A wee sleekit beastie—mouse.


Lynn Valentine’s poetry collection, Life’s Stink and Honey, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2022 after winning their literature award. Her Scots language pamphlet, A Glimmer o Stars, was published by Hedgehog Poetry in 2021. Lynn is on Twitter @dizzylynn

When I Die, by Tonnie Richmond

 
When I die

please don’t say I’ve passed away
or gone to heaven. Instead,
I’ll hope that you will simply say
I’m dead.

You might say that I lived life well,
there were some ups and downs. I tried
to do my best, had fun with family and friends
but in the end, I died.

Please don’t suggest I’m somewhere in the sky
looking down on kith and kin. I’m sure
you wouldn’t really like that! Just accept
that I am here no more.

I hope that you remember me sometimes,
think of me kindly, memories don’t spoil.
But please don’t use some flowery euphemistic words —
I really have not stepped off this mortal coil.

Tonnie Richmond is retired and is interested in archaeology and poetry. These days she finds writing poetry easier than digging. She has had several poems published by Dreich, Yaffle and others.

Frustrations in the Office, by Sarah James

 
Frustrations in the Office

i) Behind the blinds

The office chair has an angle
on everything. Going nowhere itself,
it still feels it’s earned a higher position,
would floor all competition.

Despite purpose-moulded plastic
and a firm spine, it has learned
to turn its back on others’ pressure,
cushions itself against stress.

It refuses to carry excess weight,
won’t budge when asked to do more
than simple tasks, barely conceals
its steel tones and hard edges.

But, once the blinds are closed
and the night watchman passed,
it spins round and round on the spot,
imagines taking charge, and stock.

Instead of stationery, new wheels.
Oil, polish and, with the whole office
waiting on its orders, hope even
of finding a desk that’s a perfect match.


ii) Non-PC Ideas

This desk is tired of feeling used,
fed up of ending up pushed
into a corner or back against the wall.

It’s had enough of being treated
as part of the furniture, overlooked
by all or constantly dumped on:

PCs, screens and mice; piles
of paper and files; coffee mugs,
dirty stains and laptops; boxes,

and more boxes. Five years too
working with the same chair,
and, when their legs brush, no sign

that it could share the desk’s rush
of anticipation, that hint of a shiver of
a tingle of electricity, static or not,

which lets ungrounded hopes thrive.
One day the chair will notice it –
the battered desk wishes silently…

but remains stuck there ignored.

Sarah James is a poet, fiction writer and photographer. Her latest collection, Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic (Verve Poetry Press), is partially inspired by having type one diabetes since she was six. For her, good laughter is a medicine, sometimes even a path towards positive change. Her website is at www.sarah-james.co.uk.

Cabot Cove, by Jorge Leiva

 
Cabot Cove

I always wanted to be
Angela Lansbury
on Murder, she wrote.
Writing novels of mystery
in Cabot Cove.

During a book presentation
or visiting old friends,
when least expected,
someone will possibly die.
This is the life I’d like.

Police inspectors would hate me,
I will resolve what they can’t.
Getting ideas for new books
is enough reward.

The author of the crime
is always who you’d least suspect.
If this is something you don’t believe,
you could try asking her late husband.

Jorge Leiva is from South Spain and lived in Ireland for over eight years. Some of his work has appeared in A New Ulster, Skylight 47 Magazine, The Galway Advertiser, Drawn to the light press, Headstuff.org, Dodging the Rain, 2 Meter Review, Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis and The Waxed Lemon. In 2019 he was long listed in the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year competition.

Flies, by Neil Windsor

 
Flies

There's a fly in my living room, in fact recently there's been quite a few
Where on earth do they come from? Last week there were only two
Impervious to spray, they've been buzzing round for days
They help themselves to jam on the worktop, and lick the congealed fat off my oven trays
They feast on last week's chow mein remains in it's foil container
Then there's the spicy orange kebab juice on the kitchen drainer

And the crumpled weekend empties stacked at the side of the bin
In the sink they flit in and out of the budget brand baked bean tin
They graze on the empty humous tub next to the two dead spider plants
And the mysterious sticky stuff on the Sky remote that's attracted a colony of ants
They're getting on my nerves now, these flies ants and other crawly pests
I don't know what I've done to deserve this influx of unwanted multi legged guests

I'm going to lose it big style soon, they're messing with my head
I've tried catching the flies in empty crisp packets, there's a few at the side of the bed
I've thrown socks at them and tried swatting them with slices of furry bread, but it's not working, I need a radical plan to get rid of this six legged horde
Perhaps my domestic hygiene regime is marginally flawed
Maybe I should empty the bin and take the bulging leaking black sacks outside
Scrape the gunk off the carpet and consider insect genocide

Anyway, more importantly on another front, I'm fed up with being single, I think I need an urgent speed dating cupid love match
I really fail to understand why I'm still not spoken for, as a modern bloke I'm a totally domesticated homeloving hunk of a catch.
I need to entice a young lady into my web, like the spider and the fly, and invite her into my home
Thinking about it, perhaps a coat of paint and some lampshades wouldn't go amiss to help set the tone
Charm her with my small talk, followed by a game of Twister....and then who knows?
Excuse me a sec but I've just spotted some maggots wriggling in the salad crisper. If I want to be lucky in love I should probably get rid of those.

Neil Windsor is a Writer of children’s short stories, Artist and Poet from Leeds who produces and performs all his work with an absolute passion and a slightly slanted off – kilter view of life.
He also plays extremely bad left handed blues guitar.#neilwindsorart

Lockdown Adventurers, by Heather Wastie

 
Lockdown adventurers

8 people over ninety
falling from playground equipment
60 encounters
with venomous spiders

5,600 amateur builders
coming into contact
with electric hand tools
2,700 with hammer or saw

349 tussling
with lawnmowers
2,243 with hot drinks,
food, fats, cooking oils

Though many found comfort
adopting pets,
7,386 bitten, or struck,
by dogs

Ninety-year-old woman
bitten, or struck,
by crocodile
or alligator

Despite more time at home,
number struck by lightning
up
from 3 to 18

Adventurers
The tip of the iceberg

Found poem, written January 2021 using words from article: Covid: Thousands needed hospital treatment after lockdown DIY https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-59854919

Former Worcestershire Poet Laureate Heather Wastie was born in Cradley Heath and now lives near Kidderminster. She has performed extensively across the UK and published eight poetry collections. On Twitter and Instagram she is @heatherwastie. Her Facebook group is Wastie’s Space, and her websitewww.WastiesSpace.co.uk is embarrassingly out of date.



					

Ageing Process, by Jane Shaer

 
Have you ever looked in the mirror to reflect 
Your age
And noticed that cellulite and wrinkles have taken centre stage?
It's then you wonder to yourself
How old should I be?
What sort of a body is this to be given me?

Have you noticed the hair upon your head Is starting to thin out
When the roots underneath are turning White and suddenly beginning to sprout?
It's then you wonder to yourself
Am I really OK?
Why not have a wig when prematurely grey?

Have you ever been to the dentist and while
Lying in the chair
He's fitting you with a crown
And you gaze up his nose in despair?
It's then you wonder to yourself
This guy's a nice enough chap.
But I only wish he'd finish off
Bridging that gap.

Have you ever been to the doctor to get a Jab for the flu
And asked him time and time again
Can I make love to you?
It's then you wonder to yourself
If my senility's on par.
Why not have a man aswell
When I have a crush on my car?

Have you ever had a Garam or Tika Masala
From an Indian takeaway
Not realising the affects it has on you
For many a day?
It's then you wonder to yourself
If this stuff is going to keep on passing Through.
How much longer must I spend VINDALOO?

Internet Dating, by Fiona Sinclair

 
Internet dating

At first my ‘best side' photo is mobbed by men
so feel like Scarlett O'Hara at a ball,
until I discover lads seeking carefree cougar sex
or a meal ticket,
and from my own demographic;
inquiries after my hosiery,
and panting mobile numbers.

I search through my matches past Kray twin lookalikes,
married men wearing tell-tale dark glasses,
sad self portraits with bed sit back grounds,
for the handful of guys I might accept a drink from-

beginning to e-flirt with grin and wink emoticons,
over the week I virtual two time
men from Rochester and Deal,
who bus stop chat about work and their tea,
neither making the gear change up to seduction.
Difficult I suppose for most blokes
who barely scrawl a birthday card for mum,
to strike a balance between " Hello Sexy" and " It's raining here",
and write me into bed with Casanova craft.

Fiona Sinclair ‘s new collection Second Wind will be published by Dempsey and Windle Press, in Spring 2022. Her poems, which are broadly autobiographical, deal with the possibilities of later life; from learning to ride pillion on a motor bike to falling in love again. Fiona is also very open when writing about her health issues especially depression. Yet despite this her collections are full of humour and an exuberance for adventures when they present themselves. She lives in a village in Kent with a great many books and a feral garden that she battles with every year.

Waiting, by Patricia Phillips-Batoma

 
Waiting

The pharmacy texts to say
my covid booster is waiting
and my flu shot too.

My booster sits with her legs crossed
in one of their uncomfortable chairs,
her foot swinging in palpable agitation.

She checks the time on her new device
in a pink glitter-encrusted case
with a few choice emoji stickers.

My flu shot sits straight-backed
with both feet on the floor
and reads a book.

She slips it inside a canvas bag
to check out the reading glasses,
the new ones, with animal print motifs.

One of these Friday evenings
I’ll wander in and bring them home
one in each arm.

Patricia Phillips-Batoma is a French to English translator and teacher who lives in central Illinois, USA. Her poems have been published in Plants & Poetry, Parentheses, Offcourse, and Tuck Magazine. She can be reached at phillipsbatoma@gmail.com.

An Asinine Poem, by Bruce Morton

 
OK, somebody had to do it.
Get their ass in gear, so to speak,
And in so doing plant their butt
To write about the human posterior
Exterior—arse, heinie, tush, the fanny.
I am bummed that it had to be me.
But here we are. I am bummed that
It took us this long. We are not talking
About pirate’s booty here, but what
The French call the derrière, or shaken,
The can-can, oo-la-la. Accountants tell
Us we are in arrears when we get behind.
So would it be impolitic or cheeky of me
To assert that assholes who congregate
To legislate invariably are a rump
Session? At bare bottom, I must conclude
That all of this is but a prelude to us
Being sent head over keister, only to land
On the backside of our front side. I will not
Speak of the glutes in absolutes, because
That would, of course, entail deep-seated
Knowledge of the anatomy of the behind
Anything and everything. But I do know
That, like trains, we have a caboose, while
The Navy has Rear Admirals and poop decks,
And the simple automobile has a trunk
Where the elephant has its tail.

Bruce Morton divides his time between Montana and Arizona. His poems have appeared in many magazines, most recently Ibbetson Street, Muddy River Poetry Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, London Grip, ONE ART, and Ink Sweat & Tears. He was formerly dean at Montana State University.

Excuses, Excuses by Neil Fulwood

 
EXCUSES, EXCUSES

Blame the “anti-growth coalition”
Blame every woke lefty on television
Blame the immigrants dinghy-ing into Britain
But don’t blame Liz

Blame those scruffs in Extinction Rebellion
Blame that baldy bloke and his union
Blame everyone who’s Scouse or Mancunian
But don’t blame Liz

Blame Nicola Sturgeon and all the Scots
Blame that Irish fella, the bloody tea sock
Blame Boris for being a fat useless cock
But don’t blame Liz

Blame FB and Twitter and the death of the Queen
Blame that Kuenssberg woman for going off-team
Blame Keir Starmer for shaving so clean
But don’t blame Liz

Blame Michael Gove for opening his gob
Blame the Bank of England for doing their job
Blame the … the … oh, fuck it, just call them the mob
But don’t blame Liz

Neil Fulwood has published three collections with Shoestring Press, ‘No Avoiding It’, ‘Can’t Take Me Anywhere’ and ‘Service Cancelled’. A collection of political satires, ‘Mad Parade’ was published earlier this year by Smokestack Books. Neil lives and works in Nottingham.

When you type Liz Truss into a Random Title Generator – A Found Poem by Ben Macnair

 
 
5 Ways LIZ TRUSS Will Help You Get More Business
The Best Way To LIZ TRUSS
The Secret of LIZ TRUSS
LIZ TRUSS: The Samurai Way
LIZ TRUSS Shortcuts - The Easy Way
Turn Your LIZ TRUSS Into A High Performing Machine
LIZ TRUSS - So Simple Even Your Kids Can Do It
How To Take The Headache Out Of LIZ TRUSS
3 Ways Twitter Destroyed My LIZ TRUSS Without Me Noticing
LIZ TRUSS: Do You Really Need It? This Will Help You Decide!
How To Quit LIZ TRUSS In 5 Days
Why You Never See aLIZ TRUSS That Actually Works
The Next 3 Things To Immediately Do About LIZ TRUSS
Why Most People Will Never Be Great At LIZ TRUSS
5 Ways You Can Get More LIZ TRUSS While Spending Less
The LIZ TRUSS Mystery Revealed
If LIZ TRUSS Is So Terrible, Why Don't Statistics Show It?
Does LIZ TRUSS Sometimes Make You Feel Stupid?
LIZ TRUSS Is Crucial To Your Business. Learn Why!
Do LIZ TRUSS Better Than Barack Obama
The Secrets To LIZ TRUSS
10 Unforgivable Sins Of LIZ TRUSS
The Untapped Gold Mine Of LIZ TRUSS That Virtually No One Knows About
101 Ideas For LIZ TRUSS
14 Days To A Better LIZ TRUSS
3 Things Everyone Knows About LIZ TRUSS That You Don't
Why Ignoring LIZ TRUSS Will Cost You Time and Sales
Master Your LIZ TRUSS in 5 Minutes A Day
5 Surefire Ways LIZ TRUSS Will Drive Your Business Into The Ground
What Zombies Can Teach You About LIZ TRUSS
What Is a LIZ TRUSS and How Does It Work?
How To Win Friends And Influence People with LIZ TRUSS
How To Teach LIZ TRUSS Like A Pro
Why LIZ TRUSS Is No Friend To Small Business
7 Easy Ways To Make LIZ TRUSS Faster
How To Teach LIZ TRUSS Better Than Anyone Else
Secrets To Getting LIZ TRUSS To Complete Tasks Quickly And Efficiently
Fast-Track Your LIZ TRUSS
Take 10 Minutes to Get Started With LIZ TRUSS
Got Stuck? Try These Tips To Streamline Your LIZ TRUSS
Quick and Easy Fix For Your LIZ TRUSS
LIZ TRUSS: An Incredibly Easy Method That Works

The Thief of Rhyme, by Sandra Bond

 
THE THIEF OF RHYME


One morning in the summertime
I ran into the Thief of Rhyme.
I said “Good day” and “how’d’ye’do?
I’m Sandra Bond, and who are you?”

He grinned at me, and showed his teeth,
And said “Of rhyme I am the thief;
I steal from poets every day,
And then their rhymes all go to hell.”

I found, alas, that it was so;
My rhymes were gone, I had no more,
I couldn’t make them work a damn,
And was nonplussed what to do next.

I hoped good luck might come my way;
Instead I met the Scansion Thief,
Who took away my ability to make poems scan,
And now they’re as blank as a very blank thing indeed.
They don’t even all have the same number of lines per stanza any more.
Oh bloody hell.

Sandra Bond is a Staffordshire novelist, poet and tragedian who
considers it most unfair that writing one piece of verse every month
or so does not attract a living wage. Her first novel, THE PSYCHOPATH
CLUB, was published in 2021.
https://www.sandra-bond.com/

Live Laugh Love, by Roise Curran

 
“Live Laugh Love”
-Kim Jong Un

Former housemate Cillian (from Donegal)
bought him on Amazon for £12.99
and hung him high in the kitchen/living room
for all passers-by to admire his great glory.

He looks mighty chuffed
in front of his military sub,
and, cigarette in hand,
is quoted saying “live, laugh, love”
in beautiful curly cursive,
so, all us Irish twenty-whatever year olds
can look upon his superiority
and salute while preaching
our daily affirmations.

Right before we take our own cigarette
and burn a little hole in the flag fabric,
place a stolen public toilet sign over his head,
and drunkenly use him as a makeshift tea towel.

We’re just doing as we’re told, respected comrade,
We’re “live, laugh, love”-ing

Róise Curran is a 19 year old poet from Galway who has barely published any work but will get around to it eventually. She started writing when she was 15 as a way to express her disdain for school but I suppose she’s moved on a little. Now, she writes poems about all sorts of things like moving out, mental health and a good few about her cats. You’ll likely be hearing from her soon, she never shuts up (which is a good thing!)

Not an Epic, by Terri Metcalfe

 
Not an Epic

With my attention span,
I don’t write long poems
hanging off the ends of sentences
veering into the weather forecast

scattered wordy periods.

I chance the occasional romance
with assonance but like snow in May,
it bewilders me so I let it melt

away. I’ve always felt
I am four stanzas average,
five and I risk an accidental plummet
into my shopping list. Boy with a mullet

on Shop Street, don’t go bringing
back hairstyles that should only ever
be fish...pie mix, juice, not from

Terri Metcalfe has been published in Abridged, A New Ulster, Green Ink Poetry, Spilling Cocoa and Skylight 47. She was shortlisted for the Open Window 2023 mentorship programme and will be a featured reader at the 20th anniversary of Over The Edge Literary Events held in Galway this January.

One’s Own, by Kevin Higgins

 
One's Own
after Virginia Woolf & Father Jack Hackett

My psychotherapist agrees
I need to get to a place
where I think less
about my own arse
and more about other people's.

Like most of you I've long,
on the quiet, been a keen amateur bottomist.
She thinks I should haul it to the next level
become writer-in-residence at a nudist colony
or regular weekend orgy of consenting literary theorists.

And when I retire from that
or, better still, get tossed brutally out the gate
for conduct unbecoming for even
a writer-in-residence at a nudist colony
or weekend orgy of consenting literary theorists

that I must sit by my upstairs window spying
through my hyper-sighted binoculars
the pump action thrusts of morning cyclists;
become so focused on theirs

that, to paraphrase Virginia Woolf, I neglect
entirely that one has, in fact,
an arse of one’s own,
and is indeed sitting on it.

KEVIN HIGGINS is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway. He has published six full collections of poems: The Boy With No Face (2005), Time Gentlemen, Please (2008), Frightening NewFurniture (2010), The Ghost In The Lobby (2014), Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital (2019), &Ecstatic (2022). His poems also feature in Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010) and in The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed Neil Astley, Bloodaxe May 2014). Kevin was satirist-in-residence with the alternative literature website The Bogman’s Cannon 2015-16. 2016 – The Selected Satires of Kevin Higgins was published by NuaScéalta in 2016. The Minister For Poetry Has Decreed was published by Culture Matters (UK) also in 2016. Song of Songs 2:0 – New & Selected Poems was published by Salmon in Spring 2017. Kevin is a highly experienced workshop facilitator and several of his students have gone on to achieve publication success. He has facilitated poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre and taught Creative Writing at Galway Technical Institute for the past fifteen years. Kevin is the Creative Writing Director for the NUI Galway International Summer School and also teaches on the NUIG BA Creative Writing Connect programme. His poems have been praised by, among others, Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul, Observer columnist Nick Cohen, writer and activist Eamonn McCann, historian Ruth Dudley Edwards, and Sunday Independent columnist Gene Kerrigan; and have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times (London), Hot Press magazine, Phoenix magazine, The Daily Mirror and on The Vincent Browne Show, and read aloud by Ken Loach at a political meeting in London. He has published topical political poems in publications as various as The New European, The Morning Star, Dissent Magazine (USA), Village Magazine (Ireland), & Harry’s Place. The Stinging Fly magazine has described Kevin as “likely the most widely read living poet in Ireland”. Kevin’s poetry has been translated into Greek, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Albanian, French, Russian, & Portuguese. One of Kevin’s poems features in A Galway Epiphany, the final instalment of Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor series of novels which is just published. His work has been broadcast on RTE Radio, Lyric FM, and BBC Radio 4. His book The Colour Yellow & The Number 19: Negative Thoughts That Helped One Man Mostly Retain His Sanity During 2020 was published in late 2020 by Nuascealta. His extended essay Thrills & Difficulties: Being A Marxist Poet In 21st Century Ireland was published in pamphlet form by Beir Bua Press last year. In December 2021 Kevin was both expelled from the British Labour Party, of which he was an overseas member, for publishing his poem ‘Tribute Acts’ in Socialist Appeal magazine and, on the very same day, awarded ‘Poet of The Year’ at the Labour Heroes Awards event at Conway Hall, London. This year Kevin received a dozen nominations for the position of Ireland Chair of Poetry – Ireland’s Professor of Poetry. Ecstatic, Kevin’s sixth full poetry collection is just published by Salmon Poetry.

The Lighthouse Keeper, by Ben Macnair

 
Mr Jones, the Lighthouse Keeper,
had an ever increasing collection of masks,
finding them on Amazon,
going for a song on Ebay,
fading celebrities,
an Amazonian Warrior,
Donald Trump, the colour of desperation,
everyday waiting for the knock.
The Postman whistling his happy little tune,
handing over the packages,
waiting for the signatures,
the always offered cup of tea,
wanting to get away from the hundreds of faces,
with no eyes.

Mr Jones liked the silence,
time to himself,
with no disturbance,
no company.
So, when the four kids,
the two attractive ones,
the two unattractive ones,
and their Great Dane with his
liking for eight foot tall sandwiches,
called in, after being stranded
it all got a bit too much.

Mr Jones, tried on his masks,
finding the one with best fit,
and the worst intentions,
and scared the kids,
and that pesky, overweight dog right off,
but he forgot about the body in his back-yard,
the diamonds under the patio,
the blood on the roof,
from the previous tenants,
and the Police came and arrested him,
put him away for years.
No lawyer would take the case,
of a Lighthouse Keeper,
hiding behind someone else’s
plastic face.

Disco Badgers, by Neil Windsor

 
Disco Badgers 

What's that rustling in the trees? It's the Disco Badgers strutting their funky stuff
From their lofty perch high amongst the foliage they just can't get enough
They have a fondness for the 70s disco groove
You can tell that by the way they sway and move
They hang their transistor radio from a lower branch, tuned to retro golden disco hits
They party through the night shaking their badger bits

In the early morning light they retire to their underground homes
Clearing up their empty beer cans, burger boxes, and southern fried chicken bones
Bio diversity responsibilities matter to these funky types
As much as their chest hangin' medallions and perma tanned facial stripes.


They hold each others front paws for support as they stand on their hind legs and groove
In hip swingin' disco fashion they rhythmically move

You'll notice I've used move and groove twice now but you can never have enough
They have to concentrate and not let go otherwise they'll tumble to the ground luckily these badgers are tough
With plaintive 'eek thump eek thump eek thump' echoing in the dark, as gravity takes it's toll
They land with a wild yelled 'Geronimo!' and perfectly executed parachute roll
They traipse back homewards using the zebra crossing, road safety is their primary thought
'Now you see them, now you don't' as on the cctv they're caught

Carefully passing the convenience store the bar code faced badgers creep
Desperate not to set off the till scanners bip bip bip beep
They keep to the shadows, dropping their litter in the relevant receptacle
They recycle responsibly of course but remain global warming sceptical
They're eager to do their bit, it's what climate conscious creatures do
They're just happy the badger cull's been vetoed and banished to the back of the animal killing queue

Neil Windsor is a Writer of children’s short stories, Artist and Poet from Leeds who produces and performs all his work with an absolute passion and a slightly slanted off – kilter view of life.
He also plays extremely bad left handed blues guitar.#neilwindsorart

The Cat Lives Rent Free, by Bill Richardson

 
The Cat Lives Rent Free

This black and white cat arrived in the garden one day
and I made the mistake of feeding them.
I say them because I don’t know the cat’s gender
– or is that sex? –
and who’s to say they’re not sensitive about these matters.
You have to be careful these days.
I mean: not to offend…
Careful too about feeding a feral cat.
I didn’t go looking for a cat.
I don’t love them.
But they’ve got the idea now, of course.
The habit. Calling by each day -
sits patiently at the back door
licking paws in anticipation.
I open the door, and the cat seamlessly,
at the last second, shifts to one side.
Examines the food with multiple sniffs.
There are days when only the sauce will do
and the sardines get left behind.
Especially if they’re not John West.
What is it about John West?
Is it that they get John West at the house of the other neighbour,
the other one they’ve trained…
Or maybe more than one?

Bill Richardson’s poems have been published in a number of magazines. He is Emeritus Professor of Spanish at the University of Galway and has re-engaged in recent years with his passion for creative writing. He enjoys swimming in the Atlantic and practising tai chi to the music of Arvo Pärt.

I Wish I Were a Vicar, by Trisha Broomfield

 
I wish I were a vicar

I wish I were a vicar
penned by Agatha Christie,
I’d visit many well-known faces
who ‘d kindly ask, ‘More tea?’

I wish I were a vicar
in one of Christie’s books,
I’d wander round the place bemused
I’d wear befuddled looks.

And if I were a vicar,
one that Agatha had penned,
I’d find bodies in my library,
exclaim, ‘Good Grief! Heaven forfend!’

As a black and white penned vicar
I’d live on countless pages,
in many different languages,
and truly live for ages.

There Used to be Nazis in Haworth, by Tonnie Richmond

 
There Used to be Nazis in Haworth

strutting up the hill towards the Parsonage
where the Brontë family lived,
incongruous in wartime uniforms
amongst the tourist shops
and nineteenth century ginnels.

They would Sieg Heil! past the church
where Charlotte was married,
show no interest in the old schoolrooms
where her wedding breakfast
had been laid out long ago.

They would goose-step to the Old White Lion Inn,
drink beer with a bunch of British Tommies,
accompanied by their wives,
all dolled up in vintage clothes
and unflattering wartime hairdos.

They have banned the Nazis now.
These creepy annual nineteen-forties
re-enactment gatherings,
with their unpalatable nostalgia for the war,
have become a strangely one-sided affair.

Tonnie Richmond is retired and is interested in archaeology and poetry. These days she finds writing poetry easier than digging. She has had several poems published. Y Dreich, Yaffle and others.

What we don’t know the cows know about us, by Bryan Franco

 

Bryan Franco is a gay, Jewish poet from Brunswick, Maine. He competed with the Portland, Maine Rhythmic Cypher slam team in the 2014 National Poetry Slam in Oakland, California. He has been published in the US, Australia, England, India, Ireland, and Scotland and has featured for poetry events in the US, England, Ireland, and Scotland. He was a finalist in the 2022 NAMI NJ Dara Axelrod Expressive Arts Poetry Contest. He hosts Café Generalissimo Open Mic, is a member of the Beardo Bards of the Bardo poetry troupe, painter, sculptor, gardener, and culinary genius. His book Everything I Think Is All in My Mind was published in 2021 by Read Or Green Books.

Six Cornish Limericks, by Mark Totterdell

 
SIX CORNISH LIMERICKS 

There was a young man from Penzance
Whose chances of finding romance
Would have risen to ‘small’
Up from ‘no chance at all’
Had he thought about changing his pants.

There was an old biker from Newquay
Whose ways grew increasingly kooky.
He would ride up and down
All the streets in the town
In the nude, on his vintage Suzuki.

A grizzled old fisher from Newlyn
Wore a hat that he thought he looked cool in,
But which all of his crew
And the townspeople too
Thought he looked like a silly old fool in.

A foolish young man from Porthcurno
Thought drinking a bottle of Pernod
With a lamb vindaloo
Was a cool thing to do.
Now his guts are a raging inferno.

When a Methodist girl from Penryn
Heard that alcohol use was a sin,
She decided she oughta
Drink nothing but water;
The tonic sort, topped up with gin.

When a careless old man from Lamorna
Came out fully unclothed from the sauna,
Then the sight of his bits
Had his neighbours in fits
And upset all the neighbourhood fauna.


Mark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines. His collections are This Patter of Traces (Oversteps Books, 2014), Mapping (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018) and Mollusc (The High Window Press, 2021).

Fostering an Elephant, by Matthew Sissons

 
Fostering an Elephant

So far, no one has complained
about the late-night tanker truck
deliveries. She’s only a baby.
Drinks gallons of milk. We go
directly to a dairy. It’s expensive,
but who cares? I think the neighbors
are jealous.

A golden retriever or a Siamese
cat would have been ideal- we
live in a small house, with a
smaller backyard- but for the
elephant, it was us or the poachers-
so we took her in.

The kids are wild about her.
Walk her without complaint.
They promised to keep the yard
clean- My wife and I do most
of the pooper scoopering. We
spoil them.

When the constant trumpeting
began, we piled into the mini-van,
rushed her to the vet. She said
there was nothing wrong with
the elephant physically. Turns out
elephants are matriarchal- I think
she missed her family. She seems
to be settling in with mine.

I’m crazy about her too- built her
a house outback. When it’s warm,
she sleeps there. She’s smart. Easy
to train. Remembers everything-
Never has to be told things twice.

Matthew Sisson’s poetry has appeared in journals ranging from the “Harvard Review Online,” to “JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association.” He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and read his work on NPR’s “On Point.” His First book, “Please, Call Me Moby,” was published by the Pecan Grove Press, St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas.

The Black Nightshade, by Patricia Phillips-Batoma

 
The Black Nightshade

The butterflies return
to find me stooped
among the landscape stones,
tugging out Fleabane,
unearthing thick stems of sharp Thistle.

This time of year
my neighbors side eye
each other’s yards,
fear that my weeds
might invade their lawns.

Am I at war with a side yard
I’ll never control? It’s tempting
to use Borax, sprinkle wide-spectrum
pre-emergence broadleaf weed block.

Some life forms need little tending.
I pull Oxalis, Ragweed, and Wild Violets
wearing suede gloves
decorated with flowers.

For something so aggravating,
we have the most evocative names.
Doors to little worlds begging.

Down some pricy meat at the Lamb’s Quarter bistro.
Then jingle the brass bell at the Purslane book shop.
Gobble a sundae at Nutsedge, leave with a box of fudge.
And finger the hand-knit cardigans at Velvet Leaf Yarn Barn.

But in all seriousness,
if I owned a watering hole in this town,
I’d call it The Black Nightshade.
Because that’s a place I know you’d go
to find out what’s on tap.

Shopping, by Trevor Alexander

 
Shopping

I need to get stuff from the local mart,
but then my stupid car just will not start.
I ring the garage, but they cannot come
until a week on Thursday, minimum.
The buses are on strike, so they’re no use;
I silently bombard them with abuse.
A taxi then I guess, and hang the cost,
but time goes by – I think they must be lost.
At last a car arrives outside my gate
and toots as if to say it’s me that’s late.
I gallop down the drive and can’t resist
a much relieved internal pump of fist.
My head explodes when we get to the store;
I’ve left my wallet by the kitchen door



Trevor retired in 2013, and decided to write a novel. Stalled on chapter 3, he ventured into poetry. He has been published in anthologies and magazines in UK and USA, plus his own book in 2017. Trevor has read at several Literary Festivals, and regularly contributes at poetry/spoken word groups.

Meanwhile, on a Sardinian Beach, by Maeve O’Sullivan

 
Meanwhile, on a Sardinian Beach

She could be a young writer
this tattooed woman
in a yellow bikini

with laser-like attention
she watches for activity
along the shore

scribbling her thoughts
opinions and observations
into a hardback notebook

her work comes to fruition
much faster than that
of an author however

accosting the offender
in the act of stealing precious sand
she issues the on-the-spot fine.

How Spaffer Johnson got his name, by Colin Day

 
How Spaffer Johnson got his name
(or what I learned from John Wilmot , Earl of Rochester & Catullus )

Eton is a fine and competitive place
our betters arranged in a hierarchy of testosterone,
anticipation on each boy’s privileged and gleaming face
as they wait in thrall for the annual drumming of the bone.

It’s called the masturbatorium in extremis,
held in the dark days of December
a call to arms, firm grip on every penis,
the ultimate test of any patrician’s member.

They stand in line by the fives court wall,
up and over, spectacular arc of ejaculate,
tape measure ready to mark the viscous globules’ fall
distance, height, and consistency to debate.

The record stands where, with a resounding splat,
Johnson hit the far wall, proving beyond dispute,
he’s the man to garner all the loot
indeed that self-regarding institution’s greatest twat.

Looming Days of Covid, by Tim Dwyer

 
LOOMING DAYS OF COVID

Not another nature poem!
So the world shuts down
and suddenly journal after journal
features a 21st century Wordsworth
and a Mary Oliver back from the grave
with a strong dose of mindfulness
and ecopoetry thrown in.

Goodbye gritty streets and dive bars
and meeting on the stoop in Alphabet City
for an after-dinner smoke.
Hello moon and stars, flowers, and birds.

But here in Belfast after my second jab
Titanic Station with trashed streets, cranes
and construction sites on one side,
political murals and churches on the other,
a bell chiming for a lonesome funeral,

here on the tracks,
weedy yellow flowers
push through gravel and railway ties.

I couldn’t tell you their name
as they bend below the trains
passing over.

Dear Mary and Will,
that is the beauty of nature.

(Luke Nilan is a fictional, 75-year-old poet who moved from the East Village, NY to Belfast 10 years ago.)

Tim Dwyer’s poems appear regularly in Irish and UK journals, forthcoming in Allegro, London Grip, and The Stony Thursday Book. His chapbook is Smithy Of Our Longings (Lapwing). Raised in Brooklyn, NY, he now lives in Bangor, NI. These poems are from the unpublished manuscript, Luke Nilan Writes Again.

Biotechnology, by Patricia Walsh

 
Biotechnology

You use your paralysed hand in misdemeanour
Stating ‘all is well’ before the time does clock
Not repeating miracles for all, how liked
Cutting swathes through green grass and despair.

She’s the image of you, in the limited vision
I have already seen, resting on your shoulder
Studying for your sins, a generic degree
Writing scribble from your fingers, down to earth.

The battery is merciless.
Wishing to ring you
And offer my heart in condolence,
Something tarnishes in soul for centuries
But gold comes clear, seldom does it ever.

Begging at traffic lights, seeing the day,
When the caustic reminders take the bait
As I am, so you will be, a Catholic marker
Humbles himself for exaltion on the last day.

Warmth spills out of windows and doors
Guarded by housemates jealousy corralling
Artefacts from the stoic, gleaming on their own
Arresting the comfort of the welcoming soil.

Death can be sweet, for want of a better life,
In the next life, divested of sin
Enough to drink body and blood

Patricia Walsh was born and raised in the parish of Mourneabbey, Co Cork, Ireland. To date, she has published one novel, titled The Quest for Lost Eire, in 2014, and has published one collection of poetry, titled Continuity Errors, with Lapwing Publications in 2010. She has since been published in a variety of print and online journals. She has also published another novel, In The Days of Ford Cortina, in August 2021.

Cousin Ken, by Hilary Willmott

 
Cousin Ken

Cousin Ken from Cockermouth Cumbria
Has a wholesome rhythm to it.
Cuz-in-Ken-from-Cock-er-mouth-Cum-bri-a.
I loved him living there.
When friends asked after my cousin Ken
I would say ‘Oh, Cousin Ken? He’s well, still living in
Cockermouth, Cumbria.’
And then he called with his new address
making him cousin Ken from Romney Marsh, Kent.
I’ll never forgive him for this.

Hilary lives in Bristol close to the River Avon. She resides there with her partner and three dogs. Has been previously published by Templar Press, Bristol Poetrycan, Leaf, Velvet, Obsessed with Pipework, Exeter Broadsheet and Mr Garnham. Still planning to submit enough poems for a collection and still finding excuses not to send them off.

Submit (to poetry magazines) by Brian Kelly

 
Submit (to poetry magazines)

It’s easier to submit under the covers
Hands shaking a hasty rhythm
Ankles trembling as you click send
Convulsions into the pocketed atmosphere.
Beware the patient person
Who lies eye wide in front of lined white sheets
Empty minds bleached between verges and soft margins,
Where thoughts are an unmanned flock of birds
From hedgerow
Over hedgerow
To hedgerow....
I clip a wing on the drive there,
Ten percent over the legal speed limit
Leaves no discretion on five-foot-wide tarmac.
How insane am I? I wonder
Undiagnosed, I respond.
Stopping, I swing the door open
Step back from the vehicle
And pick up the bird, a crow.
Bringing it home smiling
I nail it to my refrigerator.
Good, another poem.

Brian Kelly is a bean from the west of Ireland who has recently given up his dreams and aspirations in the pursuit of poetry. What were once late night drunken chicken scratchings, etched onto any surface with something preferably sharp, are slowly evolving into bipedal beings traversing dry poetic lands.

George Actually, by Ros Woolner

 
George actually

King George (the First – though actually, they didn’t call him that
till George the Second’s time, by when, of course, our George was dead)
came in fact from Hanover in Germany, which means
his name’s not George at all, but Georg.

This George (or Georg), followed Anne – though actually, they changed
the rules to stop Anne’s Catholic relatives becoming kings
and queens, so really there were several other cousins closer
to the throne when George pushed in.

Well anyway, Anne died and he was crowned – though actually,
it took six weeks (no telephones to break the news, no cars
or trains or planes, and when he reached the sea he had to wait
for winds and ships so he could sail).

Despite not speaking English well, George ruled for thirteen years –
with ministers to help him, naturally. In any case,
in Europe in those days, the language of diplomacy
was French. Not English. Actually.

Ros Woolner lives in Wolverhampton. Her poems have appeared in anthologies and journals, including Magma, The Cannon’s Mouth, The Interpreter’s House and Under the Radar, and she won the Guernsey International Poetry Competition in 2021. Her pamphlet On the Wing is available from Offa’s Press. www.roswoolner.co.uk

Cliche, by Terri Metcalfe

 
Cliché

I could throw caution to the wind,
put all my eggs in one basket,
be a beacon for change
and give absolutely no fucks,
because at a certain age
it’s important to choose a cliché.
I could carry my pre-middle age
in a wicker basket,
amongst Gitanes and cognac,
and a Bichon Frise
I’d swim in the sea wearing only
a paisley headscarf
and oversized sunglasses.
I could develop a passion for plastic appendages
remoulding myself as “Polly Murs”,
rename the kids “Tupperware” and “Teflon”
influence the influencers
and become a cartoon of my former self.
I could grow my facial hair
into a handlebar moustache,
disappear from the internet
join MI5
and tell everyone
I’m now a European truck driver.
I could sell raffle tickets for a kidney,
host bingo for a pint of blood
defraud my siblings into handing
over mum’s Jacobean furniture collection
and leaving them dad’s Elvis memorabilia.
I could take up marathon running
but only on days with a c in them,
run for council
but only for a party with a heart in them,
adopt stray dogs
but only ones with a bit of feline in them.
Then again,
you can’t teach a young leopard new stripes
and a cat doesn’t change its tricks.

Forever Changed, by Susan Coyle

 
I can’t tell you anything about
the moment time stood still
as your world rearranged itself
feeling your heart silently crack
this fracture will mend
only those who really know you see the scars
you have the gift to conjure memories
hear a voice who scolds you for being sad
as refracted light on glistening tears sparkle
to know an unconditional love until the last breath
I am not exempt from the conclusion of this world
grief is a multitasking emotion
being happy and sad in the same moment
not something you fully know
until it's your front row at the funeral
there, long after the last sympathy card,
it becomes part of you

Susan Coyle is based in Galway and has been writing poetry since 2019.

She attends “Over the Edge” writing workshops with Kevin Higgins in Galway. 

She has had poems published in North West Words, Pendemic.ie and Vox Galvia section of “Galway Advertiser”

Camp Shangri-La by Arran Potts

 
Camp Shangri-La

He stopped for a quickie one night in her tent,
Made love to an egg-timer till he was spent,
The sand had run out, he came and then went;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

She lowered his zip and was so full of hope,
But all he could manage were fumbles and gropes,
So Val took the lead and showed Guy the ropes;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

They’ve put up two tents but they’re on the same pitch,
Four of them starkers, not wearing a stitch,
They’d do half an hour then partners would switch;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

Tommy was fuming and she was to blame,
Cos everyone here in the camp knew his name,
Last night Sue had screamed it out loud when she came;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

At sixty she knows how to tease and to coax,
She pulled off his trousers with two short, sweet strokes,
Just as she’d done, with dozens of blokes;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

Ronnie and Eileen at home in a yurt,
Strong green oak decking to cover the dirt,
But plenty of cushions in case they get hurt;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

Sally McNally the Shangri-La vamp,
Looking for strapping young men round the camp,
She only needs someone to sleep in the damp;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

Just rooves of soft fabric as somewhere to sleep,
The campsite is hidden, the price not to steep,
Those zips, flaps and awnings have secrets to keep;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

Arran Potts is from Wolverhampton, UK. He has recently taken up poetry as a hobby to rekindle a love for writing; and is finding Jo Bell’s ‘52 Poems’ book really useful. He is supported by family and friends. He is hindered by his job.

Moving Day by Leah Keane

 
Moving Day

Every day is moving day in Galway,
but it may not always be a physical thing.

You see, we don't live, we simply nest in fear
that the landlord might suddenly decide to "renovate" again
with as much notice as a suicide bombing,
only for you to see that same room advertised one month later
at double the cost and a new door handle.

It's hard to feel like a person in this city
when you've spent so long being treated like cattle.

Once in a mouldy blue moon, they'll come along
to "inspect" the holding and appear outraged
by the number of glass bottles in the hall
or an old scrape on the kitchen wall,
all the while ignoring the leak in your bedroom ceiling
or the dishwasher that's been broken for a hundred thousand years
at the cost of innumerable cracked and brittle hands.

But the worst part about moving day
is that you know who's truly behind it all.

You see their ugly faces on TV
making speeches in the Dáil.
They pretend to know what it's like,
and some of them even have the nerve to believe it
while owning multiple holiday homes
which they leave vacant for the majority of the year.

Affordable means nothing when the scale slides
forever in their favour. They won't listen to us.

We're too young to know anything,
but should be fit enough to put up with everything.

It's getting old now, Michéal.
I would like a toupeéd lapdance for my trouble.
I would like you to feel ashamed
because the rental market is an awful lot like the top of your skull.
Unfortunate and bald.

Leah Keane is from Castlerea, County Roscommon, Ireland. She graduated with a BA in English, German and Creative Writing from NUI Galway in 2018, and is currently working as an English language teacher. Her work has previously been published in Poetry Ireland Review, ROPES, Green Carnations and The Stony Thursday Book among others.

Oscar and Silicon Valley, by Anne Irwin

 
Oscar and Silicon Valley

Zen-like on the car roof,
Oscar inhales the autumn air
absorbing the warmth of the metal
into his marmalade body.

Languishing in his sleekness,
pristine as Silicon Valley,
he preens himself, one eye
on the chaffinch in the rowan.

Empathic as the Valley,
with its modern sensibilities,
egg freezers for the nubile,
fuzz-ball, beanbags, mindfulness spaces
for its twelve-hour-day workaholics
with no time for slackers,
he emanates serenity
while his internal algorithms calculate
the trajectory of his leap
from roof to branch.

With a twitch of his tail
a narrowing of eye, he springs
and the chaffinch shrieks its dying call.

Anne Irwin’s poetry is inspired by the glory of the universe seen in the microcosm of everyday life, and her ever-increasing family. She has three sons, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Her poems have been published in many literary journals including Poetry Ireland Review, Irish Left Review, High Window,

Epic Puma Fresh for Alpha Men not Boys, by Mandy Beattie

 
All new Puma Fresh is 100% epic
skin-silky anti-sweat pore blocking
pick-me-up roll up roll up spray under

those hairy oxters have the time
of your life sniffing our solvents can’t kill
but spurt away 15 inches in staccato

bursts in breezy rooms shut
your eyes in open doors outdoors
windows spray pecs cracks cheeks

for we don’t cause rashes itches so
it won’t matter if skin is broken
but our butane propane won’t

blow up your chances
because we odour bust for 72 hours
but even in heat waves cool

your Puma jets in fridge-freezers
no need to strike a match
when kissing companions will be

swooning with naked
flames before you combust
in grapefruit tropical pineapple twist

in cool fresh air that stuns senses
with our pro scent technology your future
smells amazing and we give fashion

tips dating advice so our men don’t do
dorky, geeky we’re more Mr Muscle and you’ll be
smelling bomb.com because your future smells

amazing with our high definition odour
busting technology Puma will help you
with your Tinder

and Bumble bios but because you wear
our 48 hours high-definition
fragrance you’ll be confident iconic Puma

gives you all the tools
when opportunity knocks and women
will swoon girls will want a sniff

sniff sniff pick me up
from your local shop we’ve cornered
the market we’ll keep you going all night

all day long our fragrance is 100% epic
protection at your fingertips Puma doesn’t do
greenwashing because

our cans are infinitely
recyclable we can go again and again Puma’s
raising our A game because

there is no Planet B and our bottles
are 100% recyclable plastic in 3 years
we’re aiming to include more recycled

stuff we’re well on our way we contain
ground-breaking detectable black technology
to help with recyclability

boom
our proud parents Unilever supports
some UN goals tackles
global climate protects trees sustainable

agriculture focused food security because we use
tobacco amber oud wood vanilla
and our latest Puma is Dark Temptation

aftershave smooth on after switch
of your blade we help you use
less water less energy through lower

eco impact we cause
a stink to tackle climate change
we talk to politicians


Biography:

Mandy Beattie frequently loses herself in poetry & imaginings. Pen, paper & words without borders are some of her favourite things. She has been published in Journals such as: Poets Republic, Dreich, Wordpeace, Spilling Cocoa, Last Stanza, Lothlorien Poetry. Poets Choice in Marble Broadsheet. Shortlisted, Black Box Poetry Competition.

Mindfulness + Beauty, by Heather Nelson

 
Mindfulness + Beauty

It’s the second Monday after I quit-
five years is epic, I can rest for a bit. Indulgences are strategic when shown the exit, I’ll get no sympathy if I wear a target.
On the morning of my pedi,
I can’t find my glasses, can’t seem to get ready
I take a Xanax, try to keep my gaze steady
get behind the wheel, text goodbye to the family. At the Beauty Spa I extend my swollen foot
to the technician who kneels at her habitual spot. She’s tired and practical, I’m deep in thought- my relaxation imperative seems overwrought.
I leave with toes the color of wine
not blissed out or bitter, I’ll settle for fine.

Heather Nelson has been a student of poetry since college, where she developed her thesis project under the guidance of CD Wright and Peter Gizzi at Brown University in 1991. She returned to writing in 2011 and has since been published in Ekphrastic Review, Lily Poetry Review, Free State Review, Spoon River Review and others. She currently leads a local free-write, runs writing workshops for high school students and hosts a book group in Cambridge, Mass. She has been active in the Boston area literary scene since she began writing, and has taught classes at Grub Street, planned events for Litcrawl, organized author talks and other activities. Heather has a manuscript of poetry titled “Motherland” out looking for a home and continues to write, and is already thinking about her next book of poetry!

Instructions for a Scouse Night Out, by Jenny Robb

 
Instructions for a Scouse night out
With thanks to the Urban Dictionary

Go into town to buy some new clobber,
have a few scoops in the spoons.

Go home and have a good scran.
You need to line your stomach before pre’s.

Make sure all your drinking mates are sound;
those who buy a round and have your back.

Listen to your best friend. If she says
the lad you’re necking is meff, trust her.

At throwing out and up time, have more scran.
You’re not bevvied enough if you go home

without a Vindaloo, or chips, or a sway
in the Hot Dog queue. Neck it!

Jenny Robb has been writing poetry since retiring. She’s been published widely in online and print magazines and in anthologies. Her debut collection, The Doll’s House, Yaffle Press, has recently been published. She lives in Liverpool with her partner and the family cat and has one grown-up daughter.

The App, by Kevin Higgins

 
Available soon in the privacy of your own phone
at the tap of a sweaty finger.
Whereas others enable you to order in lasagne
or argue away portions of your life
with neckbeards in places you’ve never been –
Lima, Reykjavik, Brisbane...
about the meaning of feminism or fascism;
this will put you a click away
from a whole menu of problem solving hitwomen.

Former auctioneers who’ve decided to make
more honest women of themselves.
A few who tired of sloping about Kinvara
wearing dark glasses
in search of purified water
and decided to finally do something.
Not all the women on there will offer
a full service. A few will just dish out
what we’ll call
warnings; dangle the target
from a twenty fifth floor window
and tell them not to do it again;
throttle them in hotel rooms
but at the last nanosecond
let the target splutter some air
and promise to catch up with him later.

The standard service will include
the usual pistol to the heart
in a multi-storey car park.
Our women always insist on silencers.
There will be cases of mistaken identity
for which this app accepts zero liability.
Try our premium service and have
a woman dressed as a Serbian anarchist
blow apart any skull you choose
(even, if you wish, your own)
in front of members of the skull’s extended family
and at least one local journalist.
You can also order death by arson
and leave the target looking like Joan of Arc,
only smokier. There will be
a couple of Spaniards on here who’ll offer
the always popular garrotting, served
traditional Cadiz style.

And we’ll be introducing a special
service for those with heart conditions
who could be finished
by someone blowing in their better ear
an unexpected trombone.

KEVIN HIGGINS is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway. He has published five previous full collections of poems: The Boy With No Face (2005), Time Gentlemen, Please (2008), Frightening New Furniture (2010), The Ghost In The Lobby (2014), & Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital (2019). His poems also feature in Identity Parade – New Britishand Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010) and in The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed Neil Astley, Bloodaxe May 2014). Kevin was satirist-in-residence with the alternative literature website The Bogman’s Cannon 2015-16. 2016 – The Selected Satires of Kevin Higgins was published by NuaScéalta in 2016. The Minister For Poetry Has Decreed was published by Culture Matters (UK) also in 2016. Song of Songs 2:0 – New & Selected Poems was published by Salmon in Spring 2017. Kevin is a highly experienced workshop facilitator and several of his students have gone on to achieve publication success. He has facilitated poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre and taught Creative Writing at Galway Technical Institute for the past fifteen years. Kevin is the Creative Writing Director for the NUI Galway International Summer School and also teaches on the NUIG BA Creative Writing Connect programme. His poems have been praised by, among others, Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul, Observer columnist Nick Cohen, writer and activist Eamonn McCann, historian Ruth Dudley Edwards, and Sunday Independent columnist Gene Kerrigan; and have been quoted in The Daily TelegraphThe IndependentThe Times (London), Hot Press magazine, Phoenix magazine, The Daily Mirror and on The Vincent Browne Show, and read aloud by Ken Loach at a political meeting in London. He has published topical political poems in publications as various as The New EuropeanThe Morning StarDissent Magazine (USA), Village Magazine (Ireland), & Harry’s PlaceThe Stinging Fly magazine has described Kevin as “likely the most widely read living poet in Ireland”. Kevin’s poetry has been translated into Greek, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Albanian, French, Russian, & Portuguese. One of Kevin’s poems features in A Galway Epiphany, the final instalment of Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor series of novels which is just published. His work has been broadcast on RTE Radio, Lyric FM, and BBC Radio 4. His book The Colour Yellow & The Number 19: Negative Thoughts That Helped One Man Mostly Retain His Sanity During 2020 was published in late by Nuascealta. His extended essay Thrills & Difficulties: Being A Marxist Poet In 21st Century Ireland was published in pamphlet form by Beir Bua Press last year. In December 2021 Kevin was both expelled from the British Labour Party, of which he was an overseas member, for publishing his poem ‘Tribute Acts’ in Socialist Appeal magazine and, on the very same day, awarded ‘Poet of The Year’ at the Labour Heroes Awards event at Conway Hall, London.  Ecstatic, Kevin’s sixth full poetry collection, was published last month by Salmon.  

Silent Order, by Joe Naughton

 

Joe Naughton lives in Galway has been writing poetry since 2017 which 

derives mainly from memoir and topical issues. 

He attends “Over the Edge” writing workshops with Kevin Higgins in Galway. 

He has had poems published in Vox Galvia section of “Galway Advertiser” 

and is a regular reader on online open mic platforms.

Moral Limbo, by Ben Macnair

 
There is a new game,
it’s named after a place,
one of those existential places
that people who don’t spend much time with people
know about it.
We shall call it Moral Limbo.

Shall we play?
It is not a competition,
We shall play it more for the kicks
than the kudos.

How low can you go?
Lower than a snake?
Lower than a raindrop?
How are your ethics?
Your sense of empathy?
Are you doing things for the common good,
or what you can get away with?

Nose in the trough,
riding the Gravy train.
Playing moral limbo.
How low can you go?
Letting everyone else
take the strain.

I will tell you all about I, Me and Mine.
How low can you go?
I can only go this low,
as I haven’t got a spine.

Ben Macnair is an award-winning poet and playwright from Staffordshire in the United Kingdom. Follow him on Twitter @benmacnair

Living the Alien, by Colin Dennis

 
Living The Alien

If I'm not an alien
Then who the heck am I?
Who was in that spaceship?
That fell down from the sky

If I'm not an alien
Where do I belong?
Been all round this galaxy
Searching for my song

If I'm not an alien
Send me back to bed
For if I'm not an alien
Who's this in my head?

Colin Dennis is poet that blames his military background and early exposure to Spike Milligan for much of his writing.

Just like the military, his writing constitutes ninety percent sitting around, and ten percent getting the job done – clearly a winning strategy.

An Ode to Monty Don and the Pet Shop Boys, by Robert Garnham

 
Disco in your greenhouse, Monty?
Flat cap rapping in the growbag scene.
I licked the outside of your shed window
While you were live on air,
The glass compressing my tongue into a
Flat pink slug.
It’s such a pane.
And it tasted to mallard shit.

I’ve always felt like a weed in the bedding
And I’m being hoed by Monty Don.
Why can’t we be proper mates?
I’d hang around him as he propagates.
And I’d wobble his bundle is to make
The morning dew
Rain down on his craggy Easter island statue face.
Is that a tear, Monty D?

I saw him out by the shed he was sprinkling his seed,
Tender frost-hid cuttings and I thought, indeed,
We always cut off more than we need.
Let me sniff your corduroy trousers, Monty D.

And here come his footsteps a-plodding and he’s
Got his garden shovel raised and you can tell
By the way his eyes glare as he holds it in the air
That he means to crack it down with venomous fury
On my head
And that’s when I shout,

Disco in your greenhouse, Monty?
I’ve got the karaoke set up and here’s
A parody of the Pet Shop Boy’s West End Girls
Except it’s about chocolate bars,
Do you like chocolate bars, Monty?
Do you like chocolate bars?

Sometimes you’re better off in bed
There’s a Twix in your hand
You wish it was a Flake.
You think you’re bad,
Totally incapable
The nutrition guidelines and the ingredients table
In a Toblerone
Or a Kit Kat Chunky
Call the policeman
I hope he’s quite hunky
Running down
To the shops
To get a Dime Bar
Or a Yorkie.

In a sweet shop queue with a Cadbury’s Twirl.
Whole nut boys and Toblerone Girls.
In a sweet shop queue with a Cadbury’s Twirl.
Whole nut boys and Toblerone Girls.

Too many Mars Bars
Wispas and whole nuts
Kit Kats on posters
Too many doughnuts
Iced
Glazed
Jam
Plain
Which one
Shall I claim?
If you got to pick out nuts
From a Fruit And Nut
What you got left
Is just a whole nut
It’s like a boiled egg,
Which do you choose,
The hard or soft option?

In a sweet shop queue with a Cadbury’s Twirl.
Whole nut boys and Toblerone Girls.
In a sweet shop queue with a Cadbury’s Twirl.
Whole nut boys and Toblerone Girls.

Monty Don’s face peers
From the compost heap
Like the moon rising over a
Mulched desert planet
And a sneer plays around his lips.
Come here, you bastard, he says,
And enough with the sweet talk.

Robert Garnham has been performing comedy poetry around the UK for over ten years at various fringes and festivals, and has had three poetry collections published by Burning Eye. He has made a few short TV adverts for a certain bank, and a joke from one of his shows was listed as one of the funniest of the Edinburgh Fringe. He was recently an answer on the TV show Pointless and, very briefly, on Britain’s Got Talent. His short stories have been published widely.

Sorry, by Emma Purshouse

 
Sorry 

this poem is pretty shit
I must apologise for it.

It has rhyme in its defence
though its rhyme, is not immense

It has no similes, nor metaphor.
I’ve no idea what it’s for.

It doesn’t seem to say a lot
but one thing it hasn’t got

(which is a plus I have to say)
is a shard, or soul, or heart cliché...

...and now it has. In that last verse.
I fear I’ve gone and made things worse.

At least I’ve got the deadline nailed.
Yesterday? Oh fuck, I’ve failed.

Yes, this poem is pretty shit
and I apologise for it.

Emma Purshouse is a writer and performance poet from the English Black Country. Her poetry is published by ‘Offa’s Press’. Her debut novel ‘Dogged’ came out with ‘Ignite Books’ in 2021.

Packaged, by Beth McDonough

 
Packaged

Stiffed over a couple of continents,
you arrive, a strange-patterned flatness.
My six pairs of vacuum-packed socks.


A minimal method to post merino,
knitted-up bits of running Greek keys,
orange chevrons and lined tiny fish.

One dozen ribbed ankles all drill up one side.
Flip over for overlaps of bright toes.
Sealed-in little labels offer real heat.

But, I must burst your pristine rigidity,
pierce your unbubbled tight wonder,
turn you into soft, just workaday wear.

Homing hairbrushes, by Sarah Dale

 
Homing hairbrushes

In appreciation of Douglas Adams,
who first noticed where biros go.

Hairbrushes have now joined
biros and socks as sentient life forms
with an irresistible homing urge –
watch them wriggling through
those ladders in time’s fabric,
catching their bristles
on filaments of space
off to their ideal planet
where every surface
is as smooth and bald
as a billiard ball.

After a misspent youth in libraries and museums, and some time in between, Sarah has finally achieved her dream job in Lichfield working for the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum (and book shop). She writes for fun and enjoys swimming.

I Thought I Would Be Invisible, by Karol Nielsen

 
I Thought I Would Be Invisible

I was at the pharmacy and I buzzed the clerk to unlock the vitamins case. I asked him for the Centrum Silver. “But that’s for women over 50!” I said, “I’m old enough.” “You don’t look it,” he said. The extra padding in my cheeks from Covid weight probably makes me look younger. I still get hit on even with my extra pounds. A cool dude downtown kept repeating, “I’m trying to get your attention!” A man in my uptown neighborhood stopped me to ask for directions and then he said, “Can I ask you out for a drink?” My downstairs neighbor who is subletting from coop owners stopped me on the street and asked me to have coffee with him. The next day when I came back with coffee after six am he opened his door without a shirt on. He was so disappointed I already had coffee. I thought that I would be invisible by now. It would be nice sometimes.

Karol Nielsen is the author of two memoirs and two poetry chapbooks. Her full-length collection was a finalist for the Colorado Prize for Poetry. Her poem, “This New Manhattan,” was a finalist for the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize.

A Practical Woman, by bern butler

 
A Practical Woman

She used to sigh
throw eyes to heaven
push feet, irritated, into slippers
at first comedic bars of Yakety Sax

when nurses in scant uniform
came on, to buzz and bend
in frantic rhythm round
the suspect wheelchair patient,
pursue in tottering, mindless
swarm, the masquerading nimrod
in the fleeing doctor’s coat.

While we guffawed merrily,
in a fashion then acceptable
for dullards and buffoons
she made toast and tea for us
noted contents of the cupboards,
rinsed cups and spoons,
pushed home the bolt –

used Page 3
(if one snuck in)
to light the fire
in the morning.



From Galway, Ireland, bern butler’s work has featured in Force 10, Ropes Anthology, Galway Review, North-West Words, Abridged, The Ireland Chair of Poetry, Dodging Rain, The Madrigal, Gnashing Teeth, Cuirt New Writing Showcase. She holds an MA Writing from NUI Galway.

On taking a poet to bed!, by Rona Fitzgerald

 
On taking a poet to bed!

A big decision, I take my time
savouring lines images moods
metaphors. Considering palette.

Soft greens, vivid blues
maybe some orange zest
no red-hot lines or purple prose.

Yeats on tranquillity

Bee loud glade
leafy islands, flapping herons
drowsy water rats.

I’m partial to the waters and the wild, ready for dripping peace

Mind you, I like the muscularity of Robert Bly.
He’s nocturnal a walker like myself.

His lines about unknown dust waves breaking on shores
Energetic, maybe too much activity for night.

In the morning, I’m weary from pondering and wandering.

More drowsy water rat than graceful heron.

Ah, solitude, a book!

But I ‘m aware of the perils of eating alone
the benefits of sociability

I’ve read about long lasting Ikarians.
Morning rambles, herding sheep, coffee at three.
Aperitifs at 5.00.

So I ask Shamus Heaney to stop digging
to join me for an Irish fry-up.

Before you can say rashers there’s Jimmy Joyce
and Sam Beckett at the table.

Insisting, if you please they’ll both have eggs Freud!



Rona Fitzgerald ‘s poetry is published in UK, Scottish, Irish and US,
in print and online.

Recent publications include Dreich Number 8, Season 2, April 2021, Littoral Magazine 2021, The Brown Envelope Book, 2021, The Arbroath Anthology 2021, Marble Broadsheet September 21, Fixator Press September 21, Dreich Season 4 no 3 2022, A Fish Rots From the Head, Culture Matters 2022.

The Bonxies, by Tonnie Richmond

 
The Bonxies

They are the bad boys of the north,
nobody is safe when they’re around,
ready to mug you at a moment’s notice.

They’ll steal your lunch as soon as look at you,
don’t care a toss about your hungry kids
waiting at home to be fed.

They’ll swoop down, stab you, stick the boot in,
grab your stash without a moments thought.
Happy that you’ve done all the work.

Thugs. Pirates. No moral conscience at all.
Off they’ll fly, your fish in their beak,
taking the spoils back to their young.


————————————————————————
Bonxie is the Scottish word for the Artic Skua
Tonnie Richmond has, since she retired, spent her time either doing archeology or writing poems. As the digging gets harder, she finds writing a slightly easier choice. She has had several poems published and is currently working on a collection of poems about Orkney. 

English Spelling, by Sarah Lawson

 
ENGLISH SPELLING

Practically since the dawn of history
English spelling has been a mystery.
And everything you ever learn’ll
Not prepare you for the r in colonel.
Do not expect a tidy law
To explain the end of Arkansas.
Spelling is just a rough mnemonic
And not reliably always phonic.

Sarah Lawson lives in London, originally from Indiana, educated in the US and Scotland; has published poetry pamphlets and two collections; translates from French, Spanish, and Dutch; has also written one play, one novel, and two memoirs.

 

Insects, by Gill McEvoy

 
Insects


We applaud the little ant
for its strong community;
we venerate the bee
for its firm autocracy.

We might commend the wasp
for it also has a grasp
of the above.

Alas for it, its sting
makes us want to kill the thing.

My name is Gill McEvoy, previously published by both Happenstance Press and Cinnamon press, now with Hedgehog Press. I won the Michael Marks Award in 2015 for my pamphlet “The First Telling” (happenstance Press 2014. I currently live in Devon which hasn’t been a bit warm and sunny of late. Probably a bad choice!

The Correspondence Promotion, by R. Gerry Fabian

 
The Correspondence Promotion

Having quickly fallen out of favor,
he steadies his guard
and keeps his chin tucked in.
Somehow, life goes on.
He becomes office dust
and scatters himself
into various nondescript places.
He knows the broom closet
will soon need
a new fluorescent bulb
and thus draws a parallel
to his own dilemma,
The water cooler
begins to growl
and sputter
and he sees
that no one pays any attention.
The carpeting is pulling
away from the wall
in such a manner
that people curse it
each time they trip.
Secure in this area,
he secretly sends emails
to the home office
until he works his way
to executive vice-president.

Summer Pastoral, by Maurice Devitt

 
Summer Pastoral

The weather was so good that I left
a poem unfinished on the desk,
swapped slippers for dancing shoes
and stepped out onto the street.
As I did, every door seemed to open
in sync, disgorging a series
of flawless figures, just about recognisable
as my neighbours, dressed uniformly
in chiffon and silk – greys, blues
and powdery pinks – falling
into geometric formation.

A man passed me a parasol
and I sashayed into the swell,
toes and heels in perfect time
to the lush music that enveloped
the scene, every movement
choreographed to a jaunty rhythm,
smiles appearing on even the cloudiest
faces. When we reached the end of the street
we twirled and bowed in concert,
hats and caps erupting into the sky
as the music crescendoed and started to fade.

Conversation turned to the rumour
that a famous musical director
had bought a house on the road
and we wondered would he really fit in.

A past winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland and Poems for Patience competitions, he published his debut collection, ‘Growing Up in Colour’, with Doire Press in 2018.

Curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site, his Pushcart-nominated poem, ‘The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work’, was the title poem of an anthology published by Hibernian Writers in 2015.

A Joke in French, by Mark Connors

 
A joke in French

We had it tough. Miss Finnegan,
hair bunned so tight it stretched her face
taut, gave it a lift plastic surgeons
could only dream of. When she took Religon,
fine! French brought out her psychopathy.
She terrified us, stalked our dreams
like a sexless sadist from a video nasty.
I have lost all hope. You lot are a disgrace,
she'd say, her head boiling without steam.
But get her talking about Jesus
turning water into wine, or talking Zacchaeus
down from his tree, and she was a love!
And man, she could make her pupils laugh:
Remember it this way: one egg is un eouf.

It Wasn’t Me, by Neil Fulwood

 
IT WASN’T ME
(after Shaggy)

Sue Grey came in and she caught me red-handed
puking on the Comms Room wall.
Picture this: there were two guys fighting,
the shindig was a free-for-all.

How could I forget that
I’d sent a round robin email?
All the invites I’d texted out,
she’d screengrabbed the WhatsApp trail.

How could you give investigators access to your office,
empty bottles and a discoloured patch where the boff is,
nasty stains spattered high enough to reach the soffits:
all bad publicity from which the Opposition profits.
You want to be a true blue Conservative MP?
Then deny the evidence that’s there for all to see,
never admit a single transgression publicly
and lie through your teeth just like me.

But she caught me chugging Bolly
(it wasn’t me)
leaving drinks with a colleague
(it wasn’t me)
BYOB for a skinful
(it wasn’t me)
can of lager with the ring pulled
(it wasn’t me)
fifth of vodka with the cap off
(it wasn’t me)
told security to fuck off
(it wasn’t me)
and now it seems the party’s over.

I’m not going to say I’m sorry for the parties I held,
but I really wish the media would stop giving me hell.
I’ll maintain I followed legislation set down at the time
and I’ll whinge and piss and bitch about my fifty quid fine.

And all because …

Sue Grey came in and she caught me red-handed,
knocking back the Pinot G.
Picture this … well, I guess you don’t have to,
some bastard took a picture of me.

Neil Fulwood was born in Nottingham, England, where he still lives and works. He has three collections out with Shoestring Press: No Avoiding It, Can’t Take Me Anywhere and Service Cancelled. A collection of political satires, Mad Parade, is due for publication with Smokestack Books in July 2022.

Worms, by Sarah Dale

 
Worms
…are hermaphrodites, and much addicted
to venery, and consequently very prolific.

History of Selborne Gilbert White

Be as jealous as you like,
worms have it both ways
without shame, or guilt –
check them out,
any warm damp night
going at it hammer and tongs
all over your garden.

Do old worms complain
about the morals of the young?
You bet they don’t –
there’s no age of consent
if you’re a worm,
no tabloid worms digging dirt,
bugging other worms’ phones.

Every single worm is busy
having as much sex
with as many other worms
as he/she/they can possibly reach
and making as many new worms
as he/she/they can manage –
good news for gardeners.

After a misspent youth in libraries and museums, and some time in between, Sarah has finally achieved her dream job in Lichfield working for the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum (and book shop). She writes for fun and enjoys swimming.

The politics of envy, by Janet Sillett

 
The politics of envy

1
I am eaten up
each day waiting in front of this house
for the 24 bus to King’s Cross
twisted with it
transfixed at the stuccoed veneer
draped with wisteria
shot with purple perfuming the hallowed air
of Keat’s ‘melodious plot’

I loathe the inhabitants of the house with Heath views
Hampstead Heath once wild now as tamed as the middle class
reading beige sex in not-quite-made-it booker longlists
a city banker’s family perhaps
he looks like one
the nanny, dragging a small child
his jacket emblazoned by the crest of a school
where five year olds can learn Mandarin. And there are
no additives for lunch
a small fretful dog, pampered
by plaid rugs and vegan biscuits
sniffing at Hampstead’s rare detritus

I want that banker to be exposed
as a uber fraudster
the nanny sent back to Sweden
the poor dog in kennels
the child in state school, tieless
picking at frozen chips

the elegant façade cracked
its blue plaque smashed


11

After work in Betjeman’s Parliament Hill café
I take what counts for tea in NW3
tiny petals floating in urine coloured water
High up here with London displayed
like a Victorian panorama
a glimpse of the Shard, fuzzy in sun mist

I catch a bus, sweat smelling, to Highgate
a pilgrimage to Marx’s grave.
Would he have disowned me
if we had met on his weekly walk on Hampstead Heath
or at the meeting of the Congress of the Communist League
the Red Lion Soho
explaining the tenets of socialism
over borscht and German beer?

Yes of course he would

it’s just I crave that house
with its perfect symmetry

I am, I’m afraid,
largely
unreconstructed

Janet Sillett recently took up writing poetry and short fiction again after decades of absence. She has had poems published in the Galway Advertiser, Spilling Cocoa, Green Ink Poetry, Paws for Thought, Poetry Plus and flash fiction published in Litro. She just retired from from a think tank.

A Mossy Rock in the Forest, by Robert Garnham

 
There's a mossy rock in the forest
A place I always like to go
A mossy rock in the woods
I go there when I'm feeling low.

And I sit on the rock in the moss
And it's hard and it makes me forget
I sit on the rock in the woods
If it’s damp it’ll make my bum wet

There's a mossy rock in the forest
Surrounded by foliage and leaves
And big arse rhododendrons
It's a place that puts me at my ease

And I sit on the rock in the moss
And the ground it's wet and spongy
And there's mushrooms sprouting up
And other types of fungi

There's a mossy rock in the forest
Its ok I suppose it could be worse
There are badgers and squirrels in the forest
That's it now I'm done with this verse

And I sit on rock in the moss
I only like to sit here a whiles
And the rock is not exactly comfy
You wouldn't want to sit here with piles

There's a mossy rock in the forest
the branches here are terribly scratchy
I try to watch some porn on my phone
But the WiFi signal here is patchy.

And I sit on the rock in the moss
And I sit on the rock in the moss
And I sit on the rock in the moss
And then my mind wanders off.

Robert Garnham has been performing LGBT comedy poetry around the UK for ten years at various fringes and festivals, and has had three collections published by Burning Eye. He has won slams in places such as London, Edinburgh and Swindon and headlined or featured at events such as Bang Said the Gun, Raise the Bar, and Milk and in 2019 was the Hammer and Tongue featured artist for a tour of the UK. He has supported artists such as John Hegley, Arthur Smith and Paul Sinha. His website is https://professorofwhimsy.com/

Davros’s Daughter, by Simon Williams

 
Davros’s daughter
rebelled in her teens,
took against her father’s
domineering ways.
By 20 she had left Skaro
now glides the streets of Brixham,
never too close to the slipway.

Davros’s daughter
doesn’t take well to jokes
about climbing stairs.
Lives in a bungalow, though.
She enjoys cool jazz,
looks straight to camera,
murmurs ‘Extemporise’.

Davros’s daughter
has a blue light on her forehead.
She believes she got the idea
from an Indian lady.
She dresses from Saltrock,
fleece hoodies hide her spiky hair,
to blend with other Brixham folk.

Davros’s daughter
wears a bra with 48 cups,
often slips it off and sighs
at the end of a long day.
She knows little of love,
can be quite abrupt
but, oh, how she glides.

Simon Williams has been writing since his teens, when he was mentored at university by Roger McGough. He has nine collections, the latest being The Magpie Almanack (www.simonwilliams.info), from Vole, published December 2020. Simon was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013, founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet and published the PLAY anthology in 2018.

The Cannibal who Came to Tea, by Arran Potts

 
The Cannibal Who Came to Tea

Hello I see you made it then?
I’m not too hard to find.
Between your teeth? Aperitif
Small pieces of my mind.

This spoon is finest silver
So you can gouge and pry;
I’ll never see, your love for me
As I give you the eye.

I’ll lend an ear, poke out my tongue,
If you can fit it in.
Then I propose, you pick my nose;
My gravy on your chin.

No-one knows that we are here,
I’m glad that we’re alone.
No need to cook, I’ll let you suck
The marrow from my bone.

Pull me apart, eat out my heart
Slurp up my blood and bowels.
I’m such a giver, please take my liver
Mop up my mess with towels.

Make some bacon from my back
Carve into my cheek;
Have a nibble, on my nipple
Chew me till I'm weak.

Now take my hand, you’re nearly done,
I see you have the guts.
It doesn’t hurt, and for dessert
I’ll let you eat my nuts.

Arran has friends who are poets and fancies a little bit of the glory and adulation they receive. He’ll also settle for someone saying, ‘That’s ok.’ He’s a husband, father and teacher.

Help, by Yash Seyedbagheri

 
Help

a word shoved into a garbage can
you know? beneath Swedish meatballs and empty Pepsis
help is a man beneath the sun-colored walls of some coffee shop
carrying cardboard shame and coughing toxicity
help is

a flaccid man in Bermuda shorts
murmuring sudden defeat, you know the type
waddling down a street with divorce papers, smile an upside-down parabola
you’ve only explored five hundred options
but help is a triviality. you know

every problem has its own solution
so help yourself
brush away words stalking like crazed Lifetime psychos
delinquent, overdue, risk, management,
they’re just little crumbs

nothing that can’t be swept away
and waterboarded in Merlot
doused with a few episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm
for comparison. after all Larry David got a fatwa from the ayatollah right?
and if they rise to the surface----visualize positivity


a week out
a month
a year into the expanse of time
just never ask for help
call it assistance, don’t call it help
it’s feedback.

yes, you’re sinking into negativity, you’ve bounced too many times
liver rotting like Rasputin, eyes rife with rings
get feedback, evaluate the options
eat more TV dinners, don't eat onions, visualize, self-actualize, cut streaming services while

asking for encouragement, support, assistance
after all you’ve sunk a little lower
the numbers like icebergs, your sheets stale, space rife with dust
but it’s just support, fine it’s assistance
but it’s not help

Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA program in fiction. His work has been published in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Write City Magazine, and Ariel Chart, among others.

The I.T. Guy, by Sarah James

 
The I.T. Guy

Wired, he talks high speed
in a language beyond us,
our faces blank screens.

He e-valuates our systems
with zip and drive,
recommends new leads.

He keeps our firm’s site
secure; but can’t help close
frozen windows.

His fast processing
mega memory leaves us lost
for Word’s.

His virus checks clear,
we return to work
with our hacking coughs.

And yes, when we call
to request more back-up,
sometimes he bytes.

Sarah James is a poet, fiction writer, journalist and photographer. Her latest collection, Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic (Verve Poetry Press), is partially inspired by having type one diabetes since she was six. Good laughter is a medicine she’s not always found easy to come by. Her website is at www.sarah-james.co.uk.

Inside my Head, by Susan Lindsay

 

Inside My Head                                                                           

After Grayson Perry, Channel 4 

 

Under the skull

shaped to be my own,

smooth curves I’d love

to run my hands along

when gone –

I do love bone –

 

wild circuitry.

All my fingers tip

flashing right in;

impulses deployed 

for digital dance

 

the beat of my feet,

heat and my heart’s 

thump, thump

never missing a beat

flowing red, taking

oxygen from the rise

and fall of my chest

cleared blood, 

                           dear kidneys

thank-you, back for more

once it’s done servicing

the sorting house, my brain

 

and, still not mentioned –

fuel, taste, the process of waste.

 

I can see

not only through skin

that tree –

100 billion neurons

dendritic spines, soma –

deluged with light

ALL around perceived

to sort, prioritise

register, file

for recall 

reaction

through changing

expressions, 

                       voice,

speech central 

sound: sound-box – check Ö

language, words – check Ö

tone- check Ö

mouth shape – check Ö

sufficient breath – check Ö

speak….  AND listen,

more again,

simultaneous

      transmission

in system central

 

who knows who,

what, is behind it

maybe the great

sky mother –

 

and monsters

God and the gods,

utopias, dystopias

vibrating paint box

clay, the earth

the moon and, yes,

the stars

 

my own rocket

control centre

blasts off 

in less than nanoseconds

24/7

 

grey matter matters

the gut’s great

processor                              

under the skin,

who needs cylinders

I’ve got brain

the world

 

inside my head.

 

 

Biography. 

Susan Lindsay … a most compelling and unique voice in Irish poetry, Eamonn Wall, at her February 2022 Reading, University Missouri-St. Louis. Milling the Air (2018) is Susan’s third collection from Doire Press. Her work is published in journals, she has read at festivals and facilitates Conversations mediated by poetry. Blog: http://susanlindsayauthor.blogspot.com

Why to run half marathon?, by Jorge Leiva Ardana

 
Why to run a half marathon?


I don’t see myself in flashy clothes.
At my age, corduroy suits best,
why to run a half marathon?

There’s too many people
but I hate crowds,
why to run a half marathon?

I would skip training,
if there’s a chance of raining,
why to run a half marathon?

I prefer blisters
not self inflicted,
why to run a half marathon?

I can’t stand a ovation
when I’m last,
why to run a half marathon?

When all are gone
and I’m alone,
I have this thought.

Is it really worth
to run a half marathon?

Jorge Leiva is from South Spain and lived in Ireland for over eight years. Some of his work has appeared in A New Ulster, Skylight 47 Magazine, The Galway Advertiser, Drawn to the light press, Headstuff.org, Dodging the Rain, 2 Meter Review, Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis and The Waxed Lemon. In 2019 he was long listed in the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year competition.

So Surrey, by Trisha Broomfield

 
So Surrey

I’m tired of being Surrey
with vowels of pure cut glass
surface good intentions
and Pilates perfect arse

I’m tired of being Surrey
with legs like licorice sticks
tipped into boots, DuBarry
where obese is still size six

I’m tired of being Surrey
with hair five shades of fair
driving blind to others
volunteering just to care

I’m tired of being Surrey
sunglasses half my face
Botox, fillers, collagen
and running out of space

but being here in Surrey
it’s full of all things green
Pesto sauce and olives
and kale to keep me lean

I think I’ll stay in Surrey
though not so near a beach
I’ll take up Bikram yoga
and do my roots, so pass the bleach.

It Always Starts with Jumpers for Penguins, by Jennifer A. McGowan

 
It Always Starts with Jumpers for Penguins

Stitch small. You’re covering
apology, not sin. Light fabric’s best,
to match their bones.

Flash colours. British birds
are little brown jobbies. They yearn
to steal the jazz of peacocks, lay down
a riff of hypersonic tremolos. Cardinals
want dominos, to pass unnoticed.

Mind the seams are on the outside.
You don’t want to ruffle feathers.

Confessions of a Teenage Cigarette Smoker, by Sheila Jacob

 

Confessions Of A Teenage Cigarette Smoker

Woodbines were my first: the cheapest, the commonest. Whose Dad hadn’t angled one in his mouth, picked flecks of tobacco off his tongue as he stooped on the front path, mended the puncture on his pushbike? Angela, my classmate, nicked some from her brother, invited me to her house in the school holidays. My throat raged. I dripped ash, burned a hole in my favourite dress. Never again, I vowed. Mum and Dad hadn’t suspected, knew I always rode home on the top deck of the bus where passengers flipped open packets of Players, Senior Service, Park Drive, swathed everyone in smoke. Four years later, in the Kardomah, New Street, I took drags of Silk Cut between sips of percolated coffee, shared steamy Sixth Form chat about D.H.Lawrence and The Rainbow. I made new friends at college. We pooled our Embassy Regal coupons, saved up for a hair dryer. I sampled Disque Bleu with my French pal Cathie, pretended I enjoyed the acrid taste, the dizzying after-kick. If I closed my eyes, I drifted on a pungent haze to Paris, the Metro, the pages of a Francoise Sagan novel. In my final year, I met a boy who loved me, bought me Lindt chocolate bars and shots of vodka and lime. My heart thumped when he placed two Dunhills between his lips, lit both cigarettes and handed one to me.

Sheila Jacob lives in N. E. Wales with her husband. Born and raised in Birmingham. she finds her Brummie ancestry a source of inspiration. She’s had poems published in many U.K magazines and webzines, is working on her first pamphlet and hoping life begins at seventy-one.

Infinite reveries, by Pawel Markiewicz

 
Infinite reveries

The loveliest dawn dwelleth in the bosom.
A mild magic word rests far below.
A balmy spark flying in the soul.
Homeland would be charmed!
I love slight journey towards stars.
I will wing conjuringly moonwards,
where the most reflective poem is made.
I long for dreaming angel,
who donates oneself – for your wings.
Most fervent fancy be unfolded!
Attractive muse, that attends me.

Paweł Markiewicz was born 1983 in Siemiatycze in Poland. He is poet who lives in Bielsk Podlaski and writes tender poems, haiku as well as long poem.

They hire a Badminton Champ to Comment on Wimbledon, by Sarah Lawson

 
THEY HIRE A BADMINTON CHAMP TO COMMENT ON WIMBLEDON

First I must explain some crucial things:
Yes, there are racquets strung with strings,
But what you are about to see
Would shock you without some notes from me.
The racquets are clunky in the extreme—
They must handle like a wooden beam.
The shuttlecock becomes a ball, completely round,
And the heavy nets reach to the ground!
This ball can bounce before you hit it
Or not, if you’re fast enough to get it.
The game goes on for hours outside in the sun
And you will probably fall asleep before it’s done.
If you think the game sounds arcane and boring,
Just wait until you hear about the scoring!

Sarah Lawson, Anglo-American, lives in London and has always delighted in stringing words together. Educated at Indiana University and the University of Glasgow, among a few other places. Besides poetry, she has written a play, a novel, and two memoirs plus some translations, mostly from French.

Tania and Tim the Cat, by David Ludford

 
Tania and Tim the Cat



Troubled Tania hugged her cat

And gave his head a gentle pat

“I’m worried, Tim, about the moon

Surely it will fall down soon?

And then the sun, today so bright

Where on earth does it go at night?

I know you’ll think me a silly child

But thoughts like these just drive me wild.

I can’t ask mum, I can’t ask dad

About these funny thoughts I’ve had.”

Tim considered her worries and fears

Flicked his tail and twitched his ears.

“Dry your tears, no need for that

And listen to a wise old cat.

The moon when high, the moon when low,

Is where it is because God said so.

And when he speaks thus, from afar,

Things will stay just where they are.

The sun when past the church and steeple

Goes to visit other people

Our day’s their night, our night’s their day

When dark we sleep, when light we play

It’s all just part of earth’s great history

The way things are, there’s no big mystery.

Now I see I’ve made you smile

So now I’ll go and sleep a while.

Go out to play and have some fun,

I’m a wise old cat whose work is done.”


Author bio:

David Ludford is a writer from Nuneaton. His short works of horror, science fiction and poetry have appeared at a variety of locations both online and in print.

Ballet Dancer, by Lesley Quayle

 
Ballet Dancer

More like a farmer’s wife
than a ballet dancer.

I know a farmer’s wife,
delicate as a fawn,
voice soft as moss,
face a sun-tipped flower.

I know a ballet dancer
who could squeeze the life
from the strongest man
using only her thighs.

Lesley Quayle is a prize-winning poet, an editor, folk/blues singer and co-founder of 4Word Poetry Press. (https://www.4word.org/about/) Her next collection, Invisible Woman, is due out later this year from Yaffle. She is also a retired sheep farmer.

An Archaeology Student Thinks about Sex in Maes Howe Chambered Tomb, by Tonnie Richmond

 
An Archaeology Student Thinks about Sex in Maes Howe Chambered Tomb

She’s aware that Gavin’s staring at her bum
as she bends double, clambers along
the long dark passageway into the tomb.
The others follow, cluster round, eager to learn.

Her lecturer begins his talk; all about midwinter
when this tomb aligns with the setting sun.
He offers theories -
about it being a humongous womb,
the sun-god penetrating the long stone vagina,
rays striking the back wall, impregnating Mother Earth,
ensuring fertility and good harvests in the year to come.

As theories go, it’s pretty good.
Gavin’s standing close, she feels his body heat
in this claustrophobic chamber.
All this talk of penetration, sexual congress overwhelms;
her nipples tingle. She moves, imperceptibly,
leans in towards him. Feels his breath upon her neck.

————————-

Tonnie Richmond has, since she retired from working in Local Government, spent her time either doing archeology in Orkney or writing poems. As the digging gets harder, she finds writing a slightly easier choice. She has had several poems published and is currently working on a collection of poems about Orkney.

The Queen’s Secret Siberian Sisters, by Bryan Franco

 

Bryan Franco is from Brunswick, Maine, USA. He is published in the US, Australia, England, Ireland, and Scotland, has featured for poetry events in the US, Canada, England, Ireland, and Scotland; hosts Café Generalissimo Open Mic; his book Everything I Think Is All In My Mindwas published in 2021.

Adjusting Attitude at High Altitude, by Clive Donovan

 
ADJUSTING ATTITUDE AT HIGH ALTITUDE

My flight instructions are arrived;
My centimetred oblong allowance
Measured, sorted and obeyed;
My zippered kit of pastes, gels, lubes,
Creams, liquids, ready to inspect.
I know they'll nick my water off me
And, of course, bombs, and all components of bombs,
Are disqualified. But what's this?
An interesting list of new prohibitives:
'Knuckle-dusters, clubs, coshes, rice-flails,
Num-chucks, kubotans and kabusaunts.'
The dictionary is defining kubotans and kabusaunts
As 'Instruments of attitude adjustment'.

So assuming confiscation protocol is in its place,
We shall be flying safe. The pilot will eat his ready-meal
At high altitude with his attitude firmly not-adjusted
Holding steady to his pre-determined course
And we shall all be peaceable, intact, secure, serene and well
Immune from num-chucks and their clubbing cousins
Till we land.

Clive Donovan is a Totnes poet, widely published in magazines and with a first collection, The Taste of Glass, published by Cinnamon Press. At open mics he likes to see people laugh and cry at the same time.

Alternative Weather Fronts, by Sarah Dale

 
Alternative Weather Fronts
(most not mentioned in the shipping forecast)

Erotic fronts are twerking
round both poles
whipping their hailstoned g-strings
into every nook and cranny
of the coast.

Erratic fronts have forgotten
to take their medication,
consequently it’s raining gin
and the snow is lemon sorbet
with water biscuits.

Exotic fronts are offering
a massage service
to ship wrecked mariners
who it’s likely will decide to stay
at sea.

Esoteric fronts have discovered
surprising facts that are now written
for everyone to read
in towering cumuli
of clouds.

Ecstatic fronts are dizzy
with delight, causing spontaneous
dancing in the streets
spreading blissful havoc
world wide.

Emetic fronts vomit –
they’re best avoided
by staying indoors.

Blob-Fish, by Ben Macnair

 
Blob-Fish 

Some people claim the Lion as their Spirit animal,
because of its bravery.
Some people choose a cheetah,
for its speed.
Others choose a Llama,
because of its habit of spitting.
Politicians choose Ostriches
because they bury their heads in the sand.
I would choose the Blob-Fish.
Patron saint of grumbling.
The living embodiment of the phrase,
‘Cheer up, it may never happen’
because people assume that IT is always a bad thing.
Supposing though, just for a moment, that IT
is a good thing, and being told it may never happen
only re-enforces the negativity.

The Blob-Fish was never once imbued with looks or charisma,
designer fashions, or even a useful role to play in the ocean,
knowing that it will be the punch line of a joke,
happier fish will tell him to cheer up,
when it is just his resting face,
and maybe if it had a better name,
it would feel better about itself.

Virtual Afterlife, by Alan Garrigan

 
Virtual Afterlife

By 2122, Facebook VR had, grown to involve—
500 million, accounts. Of dead people—
Meta, exclusively levelled,
On figural profits. zero-sum outcomes,
Heaping currency on your posthumous avatar.

By 2122, immersive dynamics, Rylan robotics and Kuramoto model,
Brought eternal equipoise of the cell—
Digital reanimation, made possible, through VR multi-verse —
Technological singularity, deterministic ontology—
Wonderous miracle of virtual afterlife.

By 2122, Moore’s law and Deus ex Machina,
Proven right—should have heeded Engels and Marx,
Even Televangelists were correct,
Money can buy a ticket to heaven.
Logical binary control structure: defunded species designed for hell.

By 2122, loop algorithms, going berserk —
Hobbesian leviathan, Homo Futuris—death destroyer of worlds—
the novel ape’s, dystopian trick, brassbound mastery—
Mystical Markov chain, myopic, ceteris paribus, homogeneity.

By 2122, sociobiological evolution—Darwin’s curse,
Unfashions the homo sapient.
Today —commercialisation, utilitarianism, gentrification—
Tomorrow—outmoded human chondriosomes.

Money buys both respect and right—
But money means a losing side, which side are you on?
Is there a choice? —start piling cash— monetary conduit—become Homo Futuris.

Alan is a Master of Arts graduate (set to feature in the upcoming LGBTQIA+ Anthology Peace in the Valley, 2022. He has also had poems featured in Hullwrites magazine (University of Hull), Poetry during lockdown (UCD) and Washington Square Review (upcoming). He has also featured poems in Consilience and BASCE journals. Alan is also a dog person.

If I were interested in the history of the wireless, by Tonnie Richmond

 
If I were interested in the history of the wireless

I’d make the effort to visit the Orkney Wireless Museum.
I’d marvel at the early crystal sets and cats’ whiskers
and admire the styling of the radios from the 1930s.

I’d applaud the early ones made from Bakelite
and laugh aloud at the novelty transistor radios
saved for posterity from the 1960s.

If I were interested, I’d look in awe
at the WW2 radio-in-a-suitcase and the one
from the cockpit of a Spitfire aeroplane.

Oh, I love the radio, I listen almost every day,
BBC’s radio 4 is my very favourite station.
But I honestly can’t say I’ve ever have the yen,

when visiting Kirkwall to see the sights
or go Tesco and and the butchers shop,
to spend any time at all in the OWM.

Tonnie Richmond has, since she retired from working in Local Government, spent her time either doing archeology in Orkney or writing poems. As the digging gets harder, she finds writing a slightly easier choice. She has had several poems published and is currently working on a collection of poems about Orkney.

Jacqueline Wilson Lives Under my Bed, by Paula Gilfillan

 
Jacqueline Wilson Lives Under My Bed

Jacqueline Wilson lives under my bed,
eating cherries and berries as she
reads my stories scribbled on crumpled
paper. At a book signing, I
lured her into my wheely bag
with a tin of stuffed olives,
for I’m a fan as great
as any hurricane. Then, secreted her
beneath the squeaky springs and beside
the dusty socks. But every so
often, she grabs my ankle with
her ring laden fingers and pleads
to let her go. I reply,
‘One more story. Just one more.’

Bio:

Paula lives near Lockerbie with her family and an overly chatty cat. She likes scientific stuff, zombie films and books, and is partial to a slice of cake. She blogs on Twitter @paula_nicolson and Facebook as DeckyWriting.

Russian Roulette, by Aoife Cunningham

 

Russian roulette

We watch in horror,
This game of Russian roulette.

A land painted red,
By the political artist.
The remaining trees bore witness
to the stares of man’s darkness.
With our sons in caskets.

They served with fidelity and fought with valour.
Like lambs sent to slaughter.
Fathers and brothers fighting their neighbour’s.

History offers hindsight but it seems to duplicates with greed.

There won’t be a eulogy for this lie we call democracy.
As orders uttered from leaders,
With what they believe are sainted breaths.
But are really exhalations and perorations
Of Satan on earth here to challenge your birth
And right to breathe.
If you don’t fit their template of acceptability
Or argue their culpability in this holocaust
It will come with the ultimately cost
Of liberty.

The patriotic fabric burns.
And we slowly learn,
The regression of our progression is down to man.


Get Outlook for iOS

Lent in a Time of Coronavirus, by Sharon Larkin

 
Lent in a Time of Coronovirus
‘The Wet Market Sources of Covid-19: Bats and Pangolins have an Alibi’

A forty day diet can focus the mind
flatten the curves and trim the behind.
So, in choosing food for a modest dinner
to boost the spirit and make tums thinner,
why not just opt for tomato soup
and leave the bats to dive and swoop?

It would be best to eliminate snacks
to fit back into our jeans and slacks
but if the munchies come upon us
and we’re sick of all that hummus,
for our elevensies or for our tiffin,
let's not p-p-pick up a pangolin.

Do you want to stay asymptomatic
of a nasty virus and global pandemic?
Well, here’s some advice, long overdue,
when making casserole, hotpot or stew,
a couple of hints and easy quick wins –
just leave out the bats and the pangolins.

Taming the flesh refines the spirit,
in time for lots of Easter Eggs, innit?
So as we discipline mind and body,
to purge the flesh of all our gluttóny
and deliver ourselves from beastly sins,
let’s set free the bats and the pangolins.


With thanks to Professor David Macdonald, University of Oxford Science Blog, Jun 2021
https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/science-blog/wet-market-sources-covid-19-bats-and-pangolins-have-alibi

Sharon Larkin’s poems often begin with a visual stimulus but soon become ‘infected’ with psychosocial concerns, evident in ‘Interned at the Food Factory’ (Indigo Dreams, 2019) and ‘Dualities’ (Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2020). She runs Eithon Bridge Publications https://eithonbridge.com, edits ‘Good Dadhood’ ezine https://gooddadhood.com and blogs at ‘Coming up with the Words’ https://sharonlarkinjones.com

15 Love, by Ben Macnair

 
15 Love

Tennis is a game,
where they talk about love,
but spare none for the ball.
The thwack of the racket,
played politely by vicars,
with more than the scriptures
on their minds.

We are left out for the dog,
when our playing days
are little remembered.
We are mouldering,
greener than jealousy.
Chewed up,
spat out,
over the line,
under the net,
one last game,
for old time's sake.

It’s Fine, by Phil Huffy

 
It’s Fine
A question to be answered, please:
Why do most men avoid M.D.’s?

At thoughts of office calls we scoff
unless there’s something falling off.

And if our ankle’s had a twist
we hop around and then insist

that it’s improving very well
although, of course, it hurts like hell.

Sinus pressures, nasty fevers,
failures of most pain relievers,

bellies sad and oozing sores
propel us not through clinic doors.

The answer to this riddle, though
is well concealed although we know

that such recalcitrant displays
are just one part of manly ways.

first published by Light Poetry Magazine

Phil Huffy writes early and often at his kitchen table, casting a wide net as to form and substance. His work has appeared in dozens of journals and anthologies, including Schuykill Valley Review, Eunoia, Lighten Up Online, Orchards Poetry, The Lyric, andseveral haiku publications. Phil’s other interests are cycling, camping, pet care, potato chips, moonlight, and motor trips. He has published three collections of his poems and is proud to have recorded one of them (Magic Words) as an audiobook.

The Bible as a Haiku, by Mark Ramsden

 
The Bible as a Haiku

Grumpy old God: GRIM.
Hippy son hailed, nailed, prevails.
Zombie’s gang. News: GOOD!

I was a professional musician for decades, writing and performing half a hit single, which did not result in fame and fortune. I was also a highly unprofessional, alcoholic addict, who eventually dabbled in transgender sex work. Published work includes a widely critically acclaimed trilogy for Serpent’s Tail, more recently two novels for Fahrenheit Press and a story in Outcast Press’s sex work anthology Slut Vomit.

Death Becomes Me, by Julian Matthews

 
Death Becomes Me

Hey Death!
When you come a-knocking, will you step out of the darkness and punch me in the face?
Or will you come from behind, tap me on the shoulder and say, Boo!?
Will you kindly whisper in my ear as I lay down to sleep?
Or will you drown me when I am in too deep?

Maybe I will see you coming in the distance, your long shadow growing shorter and shorter
And I will put my house in order and greet you at the door
Or maybe i will try to shut you out
And jump out a back window --

Perhaps, you will come as my breath grows shallow
Sucking the air from me at every deep pause
Maybe the grump in me will swallow up all my dry humour
And infect those around me like an angry tumour

Maybe you will chew me from the inside out
A slow, growing entity that would go unnoticed
Until it's too late -- and I collapse like a hollow, empty shell
An insidious inception into several levels of my own private hell

Hey Death!
When you do come -- early or late
Just don't bait me and let me wait
No prank calls, please. No creeping up on me!
No last-call dying disease tease!

I know I cannot change what's already fated
But it's never too late to exorcise and heal all this hatred
And Death, I have a bucket list now before I kick it
So let me go about my business and just fulfill it, ok?

I know I fear you not at this final, windy bend
As long as there's some wit left at this twit's end
Don't curse me with any "sudden unforeseen circumstance"
Instead let the last twirl of this mortal coil be a whirling dervish dance!

Julian Matthews is a former journalist finding new ways to express himself through poetry, fiction, memoir and essays. His work has been published in the American Journal of Poetry, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Borderless Journal, Spilling Cocoa on Martin Amis, and various other literary publications. He is a minority based in Malaysia. Link: linktr.ee/julianmatthews

Sutra, by Eddie Gibbons

 
SUTRA

I’ve never had casual sex.
No, it’s always been frantic –
in the pantry, in the kitchen,
up in the attic.

But frankly, those antics
had to stop when I reached 60.
Nothing nifty or athletically
tricksy fitted the bill.

The new drill involved
a bucket of pills, creams,
an ocean of lotion just to
get a semblance of motion.

Then I discovered the art
of Tantra. That long-sought-after
calmer sutra.

Goodbye to hectic, hello to Tantric-
two weeks to prepare for a kiss?

Bliss


Eddie Gibbons has six published poetry collections. 'What They Say About You' was shortlisted for the 'Scottish Poetry Book of the Year', 2011. He was a prize winner in the inaugural 'Edwin Morgan International Poetry Competition', 2008. His latest collection is available here-Roughly Speaking (leamingtonbooks.com)
Twitter- @1Eddie_Gibbons

Redefining Ireland, by Kevin Higgins

 
Redefining Ireland
“Ireland must reassess military power” Simon Coveney

In the absence of Seamus Heaney,
if Ireland is to be renowned for anything other
than bog water, cabbage and
our negligible corporate tax rate,
we must invest in at least one
intercontinental ballistic missile
which until the necessary
Plutonium – 239 gets here
we’ll fill with hydrogen sulphide
reinforced regularly
courtesy of our world famous piggeries
and drag it to every St. Patrick’s Day parade
from Castlerea to Bantry
because people need something to celebrate.

Instead of the perfect simile
we’ll offer annihilation
for somewhere roughly the size of Iceland.
Instead of metaphors we’ll give you death
immediate or lingering
(terms and conditions will be applied
no liability admitted).
Instead of the occasional Haiku
we’ll build a leprechaun Hiroshima
put it in a box
then skulk the Earth
looking for someone to drop it on.

KEVIN HIGGINS

Lecher, by S.F. Wright

 

LECHER

Genose
Had a goatee,
A large stomach.
A bible-thumping
Christian,
He’d sprinkle
Conversation
With:
“God sees all,”
Or,
“The lord giveth as taketh away.”
If someone said,
“Jesus Christ,”
Genose would say,
“It’s not his fault.”

Despite his Christianity,
Genose, 55, hit on
18-year-olds
Who worked at
The bookstore’s café.

I’m sure the girls
Thought him creepy,
But felt bad;
Hence,
No one reported him.

Once,
Genose got hung up
On an 18-yr-old
Blonde-haired girl;
Despite there being
No evidence that
The girl was interested,
He was heartbroken
When she told him that
She’d prefer if Genose
Never speak to her again.

In the breakroom afterwards,
Genose
Took large bites
Of a reheated
Philly cheesesteak sandwich.
Grease trickled down his chin,
His eyes wet.

“She was the one,” he said.
I punched out at the timeclock.
“She would’ve been perfect.”

I didn’t know what to say;
I mumbled something
About things like this happening;
Then walked out to my car.

On the way to
The hamburger place
Across the street,
I thought of Genose—
And felt
Distant disgust
Yet relief;
And wondered
Which was worse:
To end up like Genose
And be aware of it;
Or to become someone
Like Genose
And be so delusional
That you’d think that
A pretty 18-yr-old
Would be receptive
To your advances;
That you were as normal
As everyone else.

Beach Body Ready by Ben Macnair

 
Beach Body Ready 

The human body is never really
Beach body ready.
It is designed for rain,
for offices, for chairs and sofas.
So if I was to get a body,
ready for the Beach,
I would develop a Crab’s body.

A hard outer shell,
two razor-sharp pincers,
I would grow stalks for my eyes,
learn to walk sideways,
and always look angry.
It would be brilliant for the beach,
but a dead loss in nightclubs, car parks,
night classes,
making friends would be difficult,
and Line Dancing would be impossible.

Chairs would be uncomfortable,
young children would point and stare,
and it doesn’t matter how good a hard shell is,
it never protects you from the slings and arrows
of careless laughter.

Should I Take my Bumbershoot With Me?, by Rodney Wood

 
SHOULD I TAKE MY BUMBERSHOOT WITH ME?

should I take my bumbershoot with the crook handle pimped with a sterling silver knob
& a rainbow of Swarovski crystals?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a sword, walking or shooting stick?
should I take my bumbershoot that covers the face of the newly dead?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a plant pot or a vase for hydrangeas?
should I take my bumbershoot that enters the forest of other bumbershoots?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a clumsy paint brush used with a puddle?
should I take my bumbershoot that stop drips falling on my head when painting the ceiling?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a film screen for say Fast & Furious 27?
should I take my bumbershoot whose ribs are used for drying my large smalls?
should I take my bumbershoot that makes me fly like Mary Poppins?
should I take my bumbershoot that points to the person responsible for whatever?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a symbol of protection & shelter?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s the gelatinous body of a jellyfish?
should I take my bumbershoot that breaks my fall when jumping from the 3rd floor?
should I take my bumbershoot that hangs from the ceiling as a decoration?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s covered with notes & phone numbers?
should I take my bumbershoot that holds rubbish & discarded poems?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s used when I’m a detective & under cover?
should I take my bumbershoot that cannot takes punches & just folds up?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a temporary headstone?
should I take my bumbershoot that protects me from bird shit?
should I take my bumbershoot that captures the sound of clapping?
should I take my bumbershoot that frightens tigers, dogs & cats?
should I take my bumbershoot that has a crest above its ferrule?
should I take my bumbershoot that prevents anyone seeing a stolen kiss?
should I take my bumbershoot that diffuses the light in a photo studio?
should I take my bumbershoot that danced with Gene Kelly & Rihanna?
should I take my bumbershoot is a lover, friend or partner with a wedding ring?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a boat?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a shopping bag?
should I take my bumbershoot that deflects bullets?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a baton I lead parades or funerals with?
should I take my bumbershoot that displays magazines like Penthouse or Marxism Today?
should I take my bumbershoot that is always under the weather?
should I take my bumbershoot that shades me from the sun?
should I take my bumbershoot that keeps me dry when it’s raining?

But today I'm going by car to the shop to buy some milk
so I don’t need to take my bumbershoot

Rodney Wood lives in Farnborough, co-hosts a monthly open mic at The Lightbox in Woking and has published two pamphlets :Dante Called You Beatrice, and When Listening Isn’t Enough.

The Ballad of Laurel Blaney, by David Ludford

 
The Ballad Of Laurel Blaney



Old Tally was a minstrel
He wandered free and wild
And one day he met Annie
And Annie bore his child.

Now Laurel loved to play, she did
She loved to fool around
But went too near the river
And Laurel went and drowned.

Now if you should see Laurel
Just run away, just go
For Laurel’s now the devil’s girl
She’ll drag you down below.
Beware the deep, deep water
Beware the devil’s daughter.

Now think of young Jack, a boy
Who loved to dive and swim
Just think back for a moment
You may remember him.
Jack he was an active boy
Yes, swimming he loved most
He wasn’t scared of monsters
He’d never seen a ghost.
Jack stood on the riverbank
One lovely summer’s day
When Laurel grabbed him by the foot
And swept him clean away.
Beware the deep, deep water
Beware the devil’s daughter.

Remember too poor Jenny
Just strolling back from town
A shortcut by the river
She hadn’t meant to drown
A bully boy from school she saw
A silly girl he thought her
He rushed and pushed
She slipped and slid
And fell into the water.
No Jenny hadn’t meant to drown
Wicked Laurel dragged her down.
Beware the deep, deep water
Beware the devil’s daughter.

The purpose of these tales, my friends
That make you shake and shiver
Just beware
And take great care
When you are near the river.
For every tale, old or new
There has to be a moral
And my advice
I won’t give twice
Remember wicked Laurel.
Beware the deep, deep water
Beware the devil’s daughter.

End


Dave Ludford is a writer from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, where not many writers come from. Except George Eliot. His short works of horror and science fiction have appeared in a variety of online locations.

They Will All Take Us With Them in the End, (After Tom Lehrer), by Neil Fulwood

 
THEY WILL ALL TAKE US WITH THEM IN THE END
(after Tom Lehrer)

When you click into your news app
it’s not comforting that what’s hap-
penning out there is global brinkmanship.
Europe’s status quo’s been ballsed up
by a goon who wants to call up
every missile that he’s got and let them rip.

But don’t you worry.

No more Tory lockdown scandals,
no more guff about Prince Andrew,
or price hikes, NHS, or student debt;
if BoJo, Biden and Vlad P
push this shit past DefCon 3,
you won’t care about bent coppers in the Met.

‘Cause they will all take us with them in the end,
when diplomacy’s been fucked off round the bend
and a jab of that red button
vends total world destruction -
you’d be “M.A.D.” not to know how this one ends.

They will all take us with them in the end,
loudly claiming they had something to defend.
Was it a patch of foreign soil
or the current price of oil?
Did the Footsie close ahead right at the end?

Oh they will all take us with them to the grave,
telling lies about the lives they tried to save.
There’ll be no more cant and spin
with the planet all done in
and no world leaders left to rant and rave.

Down by the old maelstrom,
Liz Truss is wondering what went wrong.

And they will all drag us down with them in flames,
with no scapegoat left behind to take the blame.
We’ll finally be united
when that fireball’s ignited,
nearly eight billion unrecorded names.

They will all drag us down to dust and ash,
the victims of an act both cruel and rash,
dead as some assassin’s mark
care of a pissed off oligarch
deprived of his wads of laundered cash.

Of course they’ll take us with them in the end,
they’d do the same if they had their time again,
so hum a Missa Solemnis
just before that Yellow Sun hits
and the farewell bash concludes at Number Ten.

You will all go directly to your version of heaven.
There will be no hero to save the day, no 007.

For they will all take us with them in the end,
every man, woman, child, foe and friend.
When history overtakes us
and we all turn slightly vaporous,
yes they all will take us with them,
oh they all will take us with them,
yes they all will take us with them in the end.


Neil Fulwood was born in Nottingham, England, where he still lives and works. He has three collections out with Shoestring Press: No Avoiding It, Can’t Take Me Anywhere and Service Cancelled. A collection of political satires, Mad Parade, is due for publication with Smokestack Books in July 2022.

Me and Joanna Lumley, by Jennifer A. McGowan

 
Me and Joanna Lumley

I caught Joanna Lumley reaching
through the open window of a bakery for bagels
crisp and hot and frankly

much tastier than any dreams
that had consumed us
in our adult lives (as I said to Joanna)

and she agreed, then added, “Except for the Gurkhas.
I’m proud of that,” and I agreed,
then at the corner we went our separate ways

to stare at the sky, to dream of mountains,
of hot butter running everywhere, equally.

Jennifer spends as much time as she can in the 15th century, but comes back for hot showers and bagels.

The Happiest Days, by Finola Scott

 

The happiest days

Do you remember gym, Amanda?
Do you remember a gym?
And the toilets that smell of piss and booze
and the games we play so scared to loose?
And the fleas that tease everyone's knees
and the cheers and jeers of the lower years?
And the years and years of our growing fears
The casual division of girls here boys there
The binary allocation without any care

And the years and years of our quiet tears
at the thump on the floor for more and more?
And the linking hands and the birl and swirl
of the girls dreaming and wild romancing
on those mats rolled back for social dancing
Do you remember the cotton and crimplene
and the boys' hot glances in between?
The wanting and waiting to be chosen
and those hard shoulders so very frozen

Do you remember a gym Amanda?
Never again Amanda
only the handbags laid on the floor
and the drum beat and bass line's solid roar
as we strut and show we know the score
Those string vests sweaty hands no more
Only the bright laughter of fierce women
who stamp and chant that it's raining men
Only the boom as we own the room

Finola Scott’s poems are scattered on the wind as well as on posters, tapestries and magazines. Her work is in The High Window, New Writing Scotland, I,S&T and Lighthouse. Red Squirrel Press publish her pamphlet Much left unsaid. Dreich publish Count the ways

Combat Cheese, by Sally McHugh

 
Combat Cheese


On the shores of Lough Ree
(although not known for its Fromageries),
solidified cheese surfed through the airwaves-
a lightning strike to the head of Queen Maeve.
As she stretched and bathed in full display,
she was crushed by the cunning of curds and whey;
aged-fresh Maeve, wrinkled white to grey rind,
was struck via sling (it’s prehistoric times).
Was the chalky meteorite of creamy Camembert
or of an ancient Brie - with a buttery flair?
Perhaps it was a local fromage blanc
or a full-bodied shaving of Parmesan?
How about a goatmilk flat white from Port du Salut
or a Provolone vegan with a vodka hue
or a chewy Caerphilly à la castle cellar store
or a blue ram’s rocket filled with Roquefort?
Whatever churned concoctions prevailed
and imbued this calcium-infused cocktail,
Maeve’s aged, matured, rapturous reign
crumbled - by combat cheese to the brain.

Sally McHugh lives in Co. Galway. Her poetry has appeared in ROPES2018, The Blue Nib Literary Magazine (2019), Pendemic (2020) and Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis (2021). She also likes to dabble in art and calligraphy. Twitter:@fordofthekings

Monitoring my body, by Carla Scarano D’Antonio

 
Monitoring my body

I don’t know when it happened,
the slowing down of the limbs
the desiccation of skin
the pains breaking in me.
I borrowed the body of a spider,
the waist plump
the back arched
and legs and arms thinning.
My hair changed too
from straight and black
to crispy and grey
like my Sicilian grandfather.
Impossible to revert.

Inside I feel the same as before
slimmer and in shape.
In my dreams I fit in size 10-12
the mirror reflects 14-16.
Nothing is safe.

This fragmentation is my doing
invoking change.
The days spiral down
like yarn unravelling in the wind
spinning a shapeless web.

Thank you for my life flowing.
Thank you for the years that will come.

Carla Scarano D’Antonio obtained her MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and has published her creative work in magazines and reviews. Her short collection Negotiating Caponata was published in July 2020. She was awarded a PhD on Margaret Atwood’s work at the University of Reading in April 2021.

http://www.carlascaranod.co.uk/

Wrinkles.UK, by Rachael Clyne

 

Rachael Clyne – from Glastonbury, is widely published in journals and anthologies. Her prizewinning collection, Singing at the Bone Tree (Indigo Dreams), explores our broken relationship with nature. Her pamphlet, Girl Golem (www.4word.org), concerns her Jewish migrant heritage and sense of otherness. @RachaelClyne1

Elon’s Folly, by Sue Spiers

 
Elon’s Folly


It’s tall as four whales or Victorian folly.
A knob at the top like the bud of a lily.
The rocket, some tell us, resembles a willy.
We snigger and wink at the billionaire wally.

It’s thrust into space with no weight in its belly,
the glamorous passengers wobble like jelly,
all posed for their show on terrestrial telly.

He’s looking for Martians, like Mulder and Scully,
to work in his factories and make him more lolly.
He’s touting the rides to rich guys on a jolly,
returns on investment, exploiting space fully.

His moon shots drop junk in its silvery valleys
and boosters’ debris falls dark-side without tally
His ship spills its drool in a rocket-fuel chalice.

Sue Spiers lives in Hampshire. Her poems have appeared on Spilling Cocoa, Ink, Sweat & Tears and Atrium and in print with Acumen, Dream Catcher, The North and Obsessed with Pipework. Sue tweets @spiropoetry. Don’t follow me, I’m lost too.

Circular, by Sharon Phillips

 
Circular

when the exit road was blocked
and a sign said men at work
although no men were working
and I couldn’t find the diversion
and the ring road kept on turning

when my satnav turned itself off
and the map from the passenger seat
was flapping in the footwell
and my armpits pricked with sweat
and the ring road kept on turning

when I’d forgotten the address
and I couldn’t find my phone
which had vanished from my bag
and I wanted to go home
but the ring road still kept turning

Sharon stopped writing poetry in 1976 and started again forty years later, after retiring from her career in education. Her poems have been published online and in print. Originally from Bristol, Sharon now lives in Otley, West Yorkshire.

Yes, the post-op went swimmingly, by Beth McDonough

 
Yes, the post-op went swimmingly

May I say... an excellent job!
Elegant at the bedside, she re-examined,
re-admired her neatly-stapled line,
on yet to purple flesh.
Damned good work!
You'll be in a bikini soon!

Residual anaesthesia and brocht-upness
kept back my awful truth. I'm more
a regulation one-piece sort of gal.
I gagged my thought-reply.
Doctor, had you carved some Celtic knot
across my abdomen, I'd be chuffed.
At last the fucking cyst is gone.

Beth McDonough’s poetry appears in Magma, Causeway, Gutter and elsewhere; she reviews in DURA.Her pamphlet Lamping for pickled fish is published by 4Word.

The Naked Lecturer of Chorlton Cum Hardy, by Michelle Diaz

 
He targeted Catholics, female and busty,
he donned floral shirts, his hairline was dusty.

He invited me back for an innocent drink,
when my coffee arrived I was ever so pink.

For I came eye to eye with what looked like a nose,
but noses don't dangle. It hit me. I froze.

I tried to ignore his distinct lack of cloth,
when he asked me, quite brazenly,
Do you fancy a bath?

My coffee cup fell, up jumped a splinter.
The silence that followed was worthy of Pinter.

Then he wiggled and jiggled and willied about,
turned red in the face, then let out a shout;

I'd have thought there was more chance of winning the lottery
than slicing my love sack on Portmeirion pottery.
This damn piece of crockery's stuck in my scrotum!
His penis resembled a freshly felled totem.

I wanted to help, so I looked for a bandage
to dress his split bits and damaged appendage.
But my searching was fruitless, all I found was a sock.
And what use is that to a honeycombed cock?

Defeated, I left. I suppose it was rude,
but I'd started to tire of this fool in the nude.

So beware all young things of lecturer guile.
If he asks you to dinner, just say with a smile;

No thank you professor, I'd rather be dead.
If you value your testicles, quit, while you're ahead...

Michelle Diaz has been published in numerous poetry publications both online and in print. Her debut pamphlet ‘The Dancing Boy’ was published by Against the Grain Poetry Press in 2019.

She is currently working on her first collection.

My Son Teaches me How to Dress, by Jinny Fisher

 
My Son Teaches Me How to Dress

Last week, I staged a major wardrobe de-clutter,
expelling my dated clothes: velvet Biba frocks
flopped, sulking, in a heap; a purple boa
shed a turkeyful of feathers on the stairs.
Platform over-thighs, Mary Janes, and Uggs
trotted off to The Very Vintage Shop.

Last year, you bought sixty T-shirts at one go
from spreadshirt.com— all with geeky formulae
and puns. In astro-language I can’t speak
or type, they jokify your starry mind
and meme the passion of your working life:
a massive telescope, its sweeping audit of the skies.

I can play that game: an online jaunt to Zazzle
yields rainbow fabrics, wordy slogans in fancy fonts.
I stuff my basket—fifteen hoodies and twenty tees
should be enough to see me out: Grammar Ninja,
The Oxford Comma,
and Let’s Eat, Grandma.

Jinny Fisher lives in Glastonbury. She is published in numerous print and online magazines and has been successful in national and international competitions — including first runner-up in Prole Laureate 2020. In 2019, V. Press published her pamphlet The Escapologist. She is Principal Pusher of The Poetry Pramhttps://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=The%20Poetry%20Pram

Twitter: @MsJinnifer

Appearances of the Loch Ness Monster, by Neil Fulwood

 
APPEARANCES OF THE LOCH NESS MONSTER

“They spoke ... in a desultory fashion of current events. The news from abroad, events in the world of sports, the latest reappearance of the Loch Ness monster.”
- Agatha Christie: ‘And Then There Were None’


The latest reappearance of the Loch Ness monster
was at a book launch by a sceptic
who had scientifically proven its non-existence.
The old saw about no such thing
as bad publicity was applicable here: the book
sold more than it might have
without the headlines and hasty, half-blurred photos
but the author wasn’t best pleased.

Prior to that, it had been spotted in a phone booth,
a call to a bookie to place a bet
on its own newsworthiness. Whether the bookie
paid out has gone unrecorded
and sightings of it dropping in at the Dog & Duck
on the way back for a swift half
and a whisky chaser made a minor buzz on Twitter
but remain unsubstantiated. And prior

to that, well it had pulled one of its remain-hidden-
from-the-eyes-of-the-world stunts,
decades having past since it was noticed
at a White City dog race, wearing
a trilby and a trench coat, a rolled up copy
of the local sporting fixtures paper
tucked under one fin. Some say it had a fag on,
others that it was a pipe smoker.

All so long ago it might have been in black and white.
Those were the days it preferred, anyway:
stentorian Movietone voiceovers, fleapits fogged
with cigarette smoke, bored usherettes
doing the intermission rounds. Walking back
through misty streets, the last bus
swallowed by distance. Night falling as the monster
disappears into familiar waters.

Neil Fulwood was born in Nottingham where he still lives and works. He has published three collections with Shoestring Press. His latest collection, Mad Parade, is due out with Smokestack Books in July.

Superwoman and the mote, by Rose Lennard

 
Superwoman and the mote

My special power
is removing tiny things
from the eyes of the one I love.
I say, special power, but
if I’m honest it’s just myopia
that lets me peer in close up
under my thick lenses
to examine the naked orb
exposed and vulnerable in bright light.
Sometimes there’s an obvious culprit,
a wayward lash, nestled, easily fished out
with a twist of moistened tissue.
Other times, I have to peel back lids
taking liberties with my love’s lashes
to scrutinise the angry white.
Eyeballing my beloved’s rolled back eye,
despite my tenderness this looks like terror
as he submits to my inspection.

Once I lifted the finest hair –
it just kept coming, nearly two inches
and almost invisible. That
was a job well done.
I gave my cape
a little twirl of satisfaction.

Early photos of Rose show her up to her chin in daisies, and five decades later, not much has changed. She loves arranging leaves, sticks and stones in ephemeral artworks, or arranging words, often on long walks or in the small hours. 

 

Gowildwithrose (Instagram – ephemeral art, not poems)

Winter Wasp, by Nikki Robson

 
Winter Wasp
At first I thought it next door’s saw
starting on their stack of tree trunks.
But it was a queen

buzzing over open books
as if searching for an exact word
on which to light

somnolent sluggish drowsy

anchor her middle legs over her wings
and not turn a page until spring.
She would pare the words

and shred their letters, roll around
her regal mouth re-write them as a nest.
Her temporary rest on Margaret Atwood

stung me to respond. Clive James, I thought,
is not long gone and Seamus would not
conscience such a deed,

so in the end the Oxford’s weight of words
in common usage circa 1983
was brought to bear, pupating her into a

yellow (colour between green and orange in the spectrum) sticky (tending or intended to stick to what is touched)
splat (crush or squash).

Nikki is originally from Northern Ireland and currently lives in Scotland. She holds an MLitt in Writing Practice and Study from Dundee University and has had poems in journals and anthologies in print and online including Poetry Scotland, Acumen, Northwords Now, Under the Radar, the Lake and Scotia Extremis.

I Wish I Lived in a Bungalow, by Robert Garnham

 
I wish I lived in a bungalow

I wish I lived in a bungalow
One floor is enough for me.
Mooching round in my bungalow,
Now what shall I have for my tea?
People would call
They’d stand in the hall
They’d look around
And say, ‘Is that all?’
I wish I lived in a bungalow
One floor is enough for me.

I wish I lived in a bungalow
I’d go from room to room.
I’d only need one plug you see
When I use the vacuum.
It’s ever so static
I’d feel so ecstatic
And going upstairs
Only leads to the attic
I wish I lived in a bungalow
Or possibly a chalet.

I wish I lived in a bungalow
My god it would be such a laugh.
People would visit my bungalow
And ask, ‘Where’s the other half?’
I’d have no cares
I’d ignore their stares
There is no cupboard
Under the stairs
I wish I lived in a bungalow
Or perhaps a ground floor flat.

I wish I lived in a bungalow
My bedroom down the hall.
Would I get bored of my bungalow?
No, not a chance, not at all.
It’s what I adore
I’d be thrilled to the core
My plan only has
One major floor
I wish I lived in a bungalow
And be closer to planet earth.

I wish I lived in a bungalow
Imagine the plaudits and glory
Like the Star Wars franchise the place
Only has the one storey.
It’s what I’d do
Without much ado
The downstairs loo
Is just called the loo
I wish I lived in a bungalow
Also, I’m ever so lonely.

I wish I lived in a bungalow
You try it, you can’t go back.
I wish I lived in a bungalow
Perhaps in a cul-de-sac.
It’s made out of brick
I get such a kick
You can keep your stairs
They’re making me sick
I wish I lived in a bungalow
With Darren from the coffee shop.

I wish I lived in a bungalow
It’s something I’ll always regret.
Nothing better than a bungalow,
You can keep your maisonette.
That’s my intent
The hours I’ve spent
It’s one step away
From being a tent.
It wouldn’t be far
You can visit by car
You can come right in
The door is ajar.
I’d make my stamp
Buy a standard lamp
You’ll have to admit
It’s kind of camp
I wish I lived in a bungalow
I wish I lived in a bungalow
I wish I lived in a bungalow
One floor is enough for me.

Robert Garnham has been performing LGBT comedy poetry around the UK for ten years at various fringes and festivals, and has had three collections published by Burning Eye. He has won slams in places such as London, Edinburgh and Swindon and headlined or featured at events such as Bang Said the Gun, Raise the Bar, and Milk and in 2019 was the Hammer and Tongue featured artist for a tour of the UK. He has supported artists such as John Hegley, Arthur Smith and Paul Sinha. He is the editor of Spilling Cocoa magazine and his website is https://professorofwhimsy.com

Facebook Update, by Kevin Higgins

 

Facebook Update
after Zbigniew Herbert


I am humbled (and heartfelt) to announce that, in perhaps the greatest honour ever given a poet of my little variety, I’ve been invited to read my poem ‘What Caligula Did Next’ at the Emperor’s leaving do in the Horti Lamiani Imperial Gardens, Rome next Wednesday. If only my late Mother wasn’t ten years incinerated, she’d be so proud. Surely now, National Academy of Burnished Versemakers, here I come! It’d be a red embarrassment for them if I died still outside their walls, yowling like a stray tabby with a toothache, without the official people claiming ownership of me. I can see the scene: insignificant old me being borne through those state-moneyed gold-plated gates on a small throne by six naked minor male poets of advanced years. No one anyone’s heard of. Though they’ve all heard of each other.

KEVIN HIGGINS is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway. He has published five previous full collections of poems: The Boy With No Face (2005), Time Gentlemen, Please (2008), Frightening New Furniture (2010), The Ghost In The Lobby (2014), & Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital (2019). His poems also feature in Identity Parade – New Britishand Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010) and in The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed Neil Astley, Bloodaxe May 2014). Kevin was satirist-in-residence with the alternative literature website The Bogman’s Cannon 2015-16. 2016 – The Selected Satires of Kevin Higgins was published by NuaScéalta in 2016. The Minister For Poetry Has Decreed was published by Culture Matters (UK) also in 2016. Song of Songs 2:0 – New & Selected Poems was published by Salmon in Spring 2017. Kevin is a highly experienced workshop facilitator and several of his students have gone on to achieve publication success. He has facilitated poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre and taught Creative Writing at Galway Technical Institute for the past fifteen years. Kevin is the Creative Writing Director for the NUI Galway International Summer School and also teaches on the NUIG BA Creative Writing Connect programme. His poems have been praised by, among others, Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul, Observer columnist Nick Cohen, writer and activist Eamonn McCann, historian Ruth Dudley Edwards, and Sunday Independent columnist Gene Kerrigan; and have been quoted in The Daily TelegraphThe IndependentThe Times (London), Hot Press magazine, Phoenix magazine, The Daily Mirror and on The Vincent Browne Show, and read aloud by Ken Loach at a political meeting in London. He has published topical political poems in publications as various as The New EuropeanThe Morning StarDissent Magazine (USA), Village Magazine (Ireland), & Harry’s PlaceThe Stinging Fly magazine has described Kevin as “likely the most widely read living poet in Ireland”. One of Kevin’s poems features in A Galway Epiphany, the final instalment of Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor series of novels which is just published. His work has been broadcast on RTE Radio, Lyric FM, and BBC Radio 4. His book The Colour Yellow & The Number 19: Negative Thoughts That Helped One Man Mostly Retain His Sanity During 2020 was published in late by Nuascealta. His extended essay Thrills & Difficulties: Being A Marxist Poet In 21st Century Ireland was published in pamphlet form by Beir Bua Press this year. In December 2021 Kevin was both expelled from the British Labour Party, of which he was an overseas member, for publishing his poem ‘Tribute Acts’ in Socialist Appeal magazine and, on the very same day, awarded ‘Poet of The Year’ at the Labour Heroes Awards event at Conway Hall.  Ecstatic, Kevin’s sixth full poetry collection, will be published by Salmon in March.  

Prayer Before Sleep, by Nikki Fine

 
Prayer Before Sleep


I’d like an upgrade, please,
one with an installation wizard,
so I don’t need to go through
the pain of strict dieting,
an exercise regime,
self-improvement classes (plus homework),
or hours and hours of therapy
to convince me I’m good enough already
with no need of an upgrade,
or a wizard.



Nikki Fine used to be an English teacher but has now found better things to do with her time. She also writes, sings and runs. Mad fool.

Birthday Cake Flavoured Protein Bar, by Stephen McNulty

 
Birthday Cake Flavoured Protein Bar

In a place full of things
People Need and People Want
and stuff
People Think They Need Or Want
you reside alone on a shelf marked “Other”.

A capitalist bet
on how farfetched its reach
led to your creation
so now you sit
strategically by the checkout
flirting with consumers
who cling to handbags and sanity
in equal measure.

You trespass into my eyeline
and I wonder
who is your target market?
An annual gym bunny?
A desperate diabetic?
I bought you out of a sense of mutual pity,
boredom,
the half-promise of a press up
and a poem.

You taste…unnecessary.

But after the Earth has been reduced to clear
and before the next delivery crawls out of the sea
I pray you will survive
in a New World starter pack
along with insulin
a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger
and a leaflet
on the dangers of excess.

Stephen scribbles poetry whenever he is not forcing a member of the public into a CT scanner. His poems have appeared in Boyne Berries, Drawn to the Light, ROPES, Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis, Strukturriss and Vox Galvia.

Super Spreader, by Vanessa O’Reilly

 
Super Spreader

Super Spreader
Covid's gonna find me
But I won't be ill
Vaccines working too
As long as I don't infect you

I was sick and tired of everything
When I called you last night on WhatsApp
All I do is eat and sleep and sing
Wishing isolating weren't so crap
(Wishing isolating weren't so crap)
So imagine I was glad to hear you're staying (Glad to hear you're staying)
Staying right the f**k away
(Stay right the f**k away from me)
And it's gonna be so different
In my little room today

I am a Super Spreader
Covid's gonna find me
Teaching in Tipton (Su-p-per Spread-d-der)
Nursery through Year One (Su-p-per Spread-d-der)
I'm infecting everyone
I am a Super Spreader
Covid's gone and found me
But I won't be ill
Vaccines working too
As long as I don't infect you

Facing twenty children in a class
'So, how many are off with Covid?'
Doing my job gives me a free pass
Working everywhere makes me worried
There are moments when I think I've been infected
But it's gonna be okay
Because on Days 6 and 7
I'll be negative
Hooray!

(Chorus)

When I emerge into the light
My isolation done, I'm free! I fought the fight
And when you take me in your arms
And hold me tight
I'm gonna take my mask off, it's alright

(Chorus)

Brace Yourself, by Vinny Glynn-Steed

 
Brace Yourself


You are someone’s saliva
Swirling in the arse
of a Dutch Gold can.
That metallic hit
off a cigarette, as it corrodes
into the filter. You’re the aroma
of that same can abused all night as an ashtray.

Wash up. Yours is no dreamlike
tumble off heaven’s kerb.
Your face and the tarmac
enjoy rounds of golf together.
You’re the nine pm doorbells
nobody wants to answer.

Get up. ‘This time I’m finished’
carries the weight of a child’s
flatulence during hurricane season.
Your sincerity equals Ms. Pageant
confessing concern for anything at all.
You are Pat Kenny without the charisma.

Face up. You’re that important detail
which fails to download on a smart phone.
You are the ham and cheese sandwich
innocence pulverised into pavement.
You’re the ending to a long anticipated
TV series scrawled on a public toilet door.

You are a gift-wrapped Western present
the Taliban would return.

Vinny Glynn-Steed is an award winning poet from Galway. His debut chapbook Catching Air was published by Maytree Press in December 2020.

I Wore a Red Hat, by Trisha Broomfield

 
I Wore a Red Hat



I wore a red hat
odd looks from the cat
you said I looked fat
your boots on my mat
on my bed you sat

our futures were set
I wish we’d not met
I’ll try not to fret
I’d love to forget
I won’t though, I’ll bet

my life you once lit
we were a good fit
my right cheek you hit
my sharp words I bit
and now here I sit

we started off hot
and did such a lot
you don’t care one jot
our time spent will rot
just part of your plot

there’s no point in, ‘but…’
my heart has been cut
I’m out of my rut
you called me a slut,
I wore a red hat.

Tripping with TJ, by Steve Bailey

 
Tripping with TJ

by Steve Bailey


Tom Jefferson, while working on something profound,
Was surprised and distracted, buy a soft knocking sound.
"Do come in," he called out, "My daughter so sweet."
And tell me, dear Patsy, do you have my treat?"

"A traveler," she said," from far New Spain,
Journeyed through the cold and rain
He brought you these buttons and said with a grin
You should chew on them all for the mescaline."

He took all the buttons; she gave him a kiss.
For the next several hours, his mind she would miss.
"A truly new world now I shall see,
So, thank you, now leave my darling Patsy."

Strange images jumped in and out of his mind.
Tom found himself flying through centuries of time.
No longer was he in old Monticello
Not frightened was Tom. Instead, he felt mellow.

He was still in his country, but it was all rather odd.
The twenty-first century made him rather slack-jawed.
In each of the houses, colors made a box glow.
And from this same box, endless chatter did flow.

Close to one house, Tom moved in for a look,
Then a dog began barking, thinking he was a crook.
When its owner arrived, he called it Big Burr
It was snarling and snapping, this ugly old cur."

"This is my guard dog, and friendly he's not.
If he had a gun, he would so take his shot.
Come now, Big Burr, you're annoying us so.
Harassing a POTUS! To the doghouse, you go!"

Delighted, TJ responded with glee
"The doghouse is where A. Burr should be."
"A leader bad Burr would never make."
"A. Burr is a scoundrel. A. Burr is a fake."

"Whatever you're on, I certainly am not.
Can I offer instead a few bowls of pot?
The election returns are now on TV.
Come in the house and watch them with me."

On a couch, they then sat and toked on a pipe.
Watched talking heads talk and heard all their hype.
"So, this box called TV decides how it goes?"
And the candidates come from one of its shows?"

"The box, it must like you. It's as simple as that.
Did you notice we talk like The Cat in The Hat?"
"A cat in a hat? This is something new.
I tell you I'm learning, one thing or two."

"I want to say more, but now I forgot.
I say it's delightful, this stuff you call pot."
"This has truly been fun; I want you to know.
But the magic is leaving, and so, I must go."

"The questions I have for you come in a bunch.
Can you come back tomorrow and join me for lunch?"
But the room it was empty, it was easy to see,
No answer was coming. He was gone, POTUS3.

Back in his room, in dear Monticello,
For a time, TJ just sat, a reflective old fellow.
"How was your trip?" young Patsy inquired.
"You were gone a long time. Are you newly inspired?"

"I thought that my buttons would take me to God
To see if he's real or show faith is a fraud.
But that did not happen. No secrets unlocked.
Unless what we call God is this strange-looking box."

"I'm done with the buttons, though I liked them a lot,
I think I'll be better, just toking on pot.
The fate of the nation, it's easy to see,
Rests not with the people, but with a box called TV."

Steve Bailey is a freelance writer living in Richmond, Virginia. There he writes fiction, creative nonfiction, long and short stories. He has two novel-long manuscripts in search of a publisher. His writings are at vamarcopolo.com.

On First Looking into the Oriental Chill Cabinet at Waitrose, by John Lanyon

 
On First Looking into the Oriental Chill Cabinet at Waitrose

Susie, roll the rice,
form a mutant teenage Liquorice Allsort,
a distant runt-cousin of a Swiss Roll.
Let’s have it in black and white –
You see, I’m a stranger here myself.

Susie, roll me your sushi,
sharpen the blade,
perform the rite, just for me.
Show me the eye of the cucumber,
a little vinegar for my rice,
a dream of ginger.

Taking off the lid,
I discover your miscellaneous
drug dealer-like micro-packages:
the green plastic fern,
the plastic fish that squirts soy sauce.

I wouldn’t have bought you
if you hadn’t been reduced,
you cut-price Samurai,
A dream of skill and love
swimming round the kitchen,
a little fish out of water.


This poem appeared in the anthology A Funny Way with Words published by The Wychwood Press (2012).

Bio: John Lanyon lives in the Cotswolds. He works as a gardener, linguist, musician, and writer. Having failed his English Literature O Level, he came to love literature through reading it in French and German. He writes about art, the body, childhood, society, nature, the spirit of places, the secret lives of words. He believes you can create complex things from simple means.

Bored, by Margaret Jennings

 

Bored, by Margaret Jennings

Margaret Jennings lives near Portsmouth with a dog and a cat and a husband. Her first poetry chapbook, ‘We Are The Lizards’, published by Dempsey and Windle came out just as the country went into lockdown, which was not good timing. Margaret is currently working on a novel, ‘Ten Tricks’. https://www.dempseyandwindle.com/margaret-jennings.html also available from Amazon and Waterstones

The Storage Unit, by Jeremy Szuder

 

The Storage Unit

I was in a band with a kid
named Johnny Angel.
One day Johnny’s mom,
a patron saint for fostered animals,
told us we couldn’t rehearse
in her living room anymore.

It was fine by me,
the smell of cat urine was
too much to bear and
I no longer wanted to clean
animal hair from my drums.

Someone had the bright idea
that we should rent out
a storage unit and just practice
there instead, whenever we wanted.

The process was simple enough,
it was the sheer amount of volume
however that no one could
have warned us about;

corrugated metal walls and roof,
with cold concrete floors-
the sound was torturous.

So we rolled down the front gate
and played inside under a single
green light bulb for hours at a time,
almost until we couldn’t breathe
any longer.

And we would come out of that
tin green dungeon with multiple rows
of teeth in our mouths like sharks,
and the perspiration garnered from
within that stomach of storage madness
streaked into our eyes until we
saw multiple green light bulbs
melt and dance across our irises.

That volume was beginning to
puncture the inner hollow ways
of our bones and after two or
three months of that, we crumbled
under the weight of Inland Empire
industrial wasteland, and quickly found
somewhere else to rock.

I learned, after we split from the scene,
that there were a few storage units
very near the one we practiced in
that were being used for meth labs.

And though, with our clamorous
residency, our surf/monster/sci-fi/guitar hell,
we might have earned a few new
jittery, nervous, paranoid and highly
strung out new fans,

still, they were glad to see us go.

Jeremy Szuder (he/him) lives in a tiny apartment with his wife, two children and two cats. He works in the evenings in a very busy restaurant, standing behind a stove, a grill, fryers and heating lamps, happily listening to hours of hand selected music and conjuring ideas for new art and poetry in his head. When his working day ends and he enters his home in the wee hours, he likes to sit down with a glass of wine and record all the various words and images that bear fruit within his mind. Jeremy Szuder only sets the cage doors free when the work begins to pile up too high. In this life, Szuder makes no illusions of being a professional artist in any way, shape, or form.
https://jeremyszuder.wordpress.com/

Recycling is good for the planet, by Finola Scott

 

Recycling is good for the planet

Seeing my ironed socks, polished glass
friends declare he’s servicable, a keeper.

But they don’t know, can’t imagine
his moonlit yearnings, his penchant

for rubber – not lingerie but stationary.
The flip side of those origami scribbles

fluttering from pockets, the notes stuck
on the fridge urging me to eat his plums.

Let’s not speak of housework. l say
live and let live, but dusting in a wet suit?

Vacuuming in lederhosen? Buffing
me in the buff? Even Alexa has given up.

I tried – took him to my book group
to the Ukulele girls, to Capoeira. No takers.

So next week he’s going on Freecycle –
Banker, slightly worn, one careless owner.

William Carlos Willams was not harmed 
in the writing of this poem. 

Abominable Manners, by Catherine Doherty Nicholls

 

Abominable Manners

Looking like a hairy yeti
Sitting sucking his spaghetti,
Bolognesey bits
all splattered on his face
I watched him gulp and slurp,
Sniff and pick and blow and burp,
When his plate was licked
he never left a trace.

She’s a winner of no Poetry Ireland Competition, or any other competition. No published debut collection, nothing printed anywhere else yet except here.
Her poems have been nominated for nothing so she’s nominating this poem to go on this page – a great place to start nominating.
She is the curator of nothing. Her anthology doesn’t exist, yet she keeps going.
She recently read some out in Charlie Byrne’s bookshop, Galway. People clapped.

Bohemian Raspberry (Liqueur), by Vanessa O’Rielly

 

Bohemian Raspberry (Liqueur)

I drank a little Amaretto with my Nan
Crème de Menthe, Crème de Menthe will you drink a cold Tango?
Thunderbolts, White Lightning, very, very frightening me
Galliano, Galliano
Galliano, Galliano
Galliano, Aperol, Limoncello

Corpus Christi College has no pastry chef, by Natalie Shaw

 

CORPUS CHRISTI COLLEGE HAS NO PASTRY CHEF

Also the gold pelican on the JCR wall has gone,
as I believe has the JCR itself.
This despite the fact that Jack Turvey
stapled himself to the pelican and the wall
to prevent its sorry loss.

I digress: without a pastry chef and with the sorry loss
of the pelican, poor Corpuscles
have sorrier options. Adam Spicer,
senior Corpus sous chef and Masterchef:
The Professionals quarter-finalist

has been blamed for the crisis.
With no pastry chef,
a dearth of formal halls; the passing
of the loving cup in a silver horn
must pause. Worse, students are forced

to breakfast at Catz or possibly Fitzbillies:
the sole college founded by townspeople
in 1352, site of the oldest living court in Cambridge,
home of the hideous Chronophage and Parker Library,
now with no cake to crumb in fledgling mouths.

</