Health Check, by Mary Dickins

 

HEALTH CHECK

Your veins are full of butter.
Your body mostly lard.
Teeth like wire cutters.
Arteries rock hard.

Your body mostly lard.
You’ve never heard of kale.
Arteries rock hard.
You’ve broken all the scales.

You’ve never heard of kale.
Your breath is rank with smoke.
You’ve broken all the scales.
Your diet is a joke.

Your breath is rank with smoke.
You love a Milky Way.
Your diet is a joke.
Ever heard of five a day?

You love a Milky Way.
You say Quinoa makes you gag.
Ever heard of five a Day?
You won’t give up the fags.

You say Quinoa makes you gag.
You claim whisky keeps you sane.
You won’t give up the fags
And the Friday night cocaine.

You claim whisky keeps you sane.
It’s not pleasant down below
And the Friday night cocaine
Keeps you going with the flow

It appears that what you fancy has set your spirit free.
So have another pasty. After all you’re ninety-three.

Mary wrote her first poem when she was four and poetry has been her passion and life support system ever since. However it took her another 56 years to begin sharing her work at poetry events, street parties and slams. She has been on television and radio as part of the Nationwide Building Society poetry ad campaign and continues to dish up poems all over the country as part of the Poetry Takeaway team. In 2017 she set up the “Poems not Pills” project to promote the therapeutic value of poetry for health professionals and their patients. Her debut pamphlet “Happiness FM” published by Burning Eye Books has just been selected as one of 10 uplifting books by the NHS for the NHS (see link below).
https://readingagency.org.uk/news/media/the-reading-agency-and-health-education-england-announce-a-new-book-collection—uplifting-resources.html

Penny Dreadful, by Phil Binding

 

Penny Dreadful – or The Terrible Tale of the Drive-By Poetry Murders of Old London Town

A cold wet dawn in the London fog,
an old man shuffled along with his dog
didn’t clock the limo with dark glass
whispering up from behind his arse.

The unseen driver yelled aloud
“I wandered lonely as a cloud,”
lobbed out a quill and sped away.
The shock of Wordsworth on a Walthamstow day

gave the old sod a seizure on the spot.
The only witness, a drunken old sot
bathed in vomit simply cried
“the daffodils, the daffodils!”, and died.

Officers exchanged significant looks.
“It’s another one”, they noted in their books
“Yus, he’s bin Wordswuffed alright.”
CID rocked up and security was tight.

A few days earlier, a little old bird
towing her shopping to the kerb
got buzzed by a flash motor, and heard
“…..let us go then you and I when the evening….”

In Doppler and missed the Routemaster Flyer
that crushed her beneath its Boris-funded tyres.
As she slipped into her own wasteland
she croaked to paramedics “It didn’t scan.”

The Daily Express pounced on the spate
of sonnet-soaked crimes, trumpeting hate,
“Catch the villanelle villains!!!” in red.
The Old Bill were baffled. “We’re baffled,” they said.

A senior Inspector gathered his cops
walls all plastered in digital shots
of grisly blood-spattered drive-by recitations
from Brixton High Street to Euston Station.

“You’ve had the briefing, now you know it
We’ve got a serial drive-by poet,
and he’s got to be vigorously sought.
We mustn’t rest til he’s eventually caught.”

“It’s the worst case I’ve ever met.
Oi is my cup of tea ready yet?
Gordon Bennett it’s a right old mess”
He adjusted his syrup to talk to the press.

“Just had reports of another one, guvnor.”
Some poor Nine Elms coster-monger
got Coleridged this morning, bad luck,
sadder and wiser, crushed by his sack-truck.

They raided the local poetry sessions,
poncey bards got nicked for possession
of venal volumes of popular verse,
others for criminal doggerel and worse.

Bethnal library had its shelves blocked
and records combed for lent-out stock
of Motion, Thomas, Plath and McGowan.
Open Mic evenings were brutally shut dowan.

Rumours abounded of writers rejected
underappreciated and dejected
who might consider revenge through crime
to be a creative use of their time.

Anyone caught with cravat or sandals
were stopped on the street like common vandals
entries to local competitions
were viewed with increasing and dire suspicion.

Then a breakthrough. After a hip-hop
attack of Keats in Kingston chip-shop
CCTV picked up the reg number in the night
“We’ve got im, guvnor. E’s bang to rights”.

The motor was registered miles from here
to a W Shakespeare in Warwickshire.
“Warwickshire?” What’s he doing here?”
And he hadn’t paid road tax for 400 years.

But hang about, result – it all stopped.
That couplet killer never got copped.
He faded into memory like William McGonagall.
No surprise – the enquiry turned up bugger-all.

In a quiet lane all covered in trees,
a burnt-out motor cooled in the breeze.
Nearby a discarded doublet and hose,
but who they belong to, nobody knows.

BIOG – Phil Binding
A poet and writer gently sliding into decrepitude in Burton and a member of The Lichfield Poets. I am all over Staffordshire like a rash at open-mikes and events despite friends begging me to stop. It’s already too late.

Juniper Park, by Lee Campbell

 

Juniper Park

My mother was convinced for 30 years that Joni Mitchell sang,
‘They made paradise and went to Juniper Park’
when in reality: ‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot’

Juniper Park exists everywhere and anywhere you want it to

Climb aboard a bus and watch Juniper Park pass you by
Wave everyone now and then to what catches your eye
Don’t let anyone convince you that you have misheard
No one can tell you otherwise. For you, there is no such wrong word

Whilst not being complacent about the effects of elision
When two letters adjacent make one hell of a collision
Perfectly embrace it, that sonic slur
When the vowel and the consonant get together and blur

Back as a teenager, Dad drove me and my friend Kundai
into the centre of my hometown Tunbridge Wells
Royal, I may add, though there was nothing royal about me, my dad nor my friend
Kundai, new to the area at that time, had not quite grasped the lay of the land
‘I can’t find it, I can’t find it in the A-Z’, she panicked at the end of the night
‘Can’t find what?’, answered I
‘Botmer Hill. I can’t find any hill on the map called Botmer.
Botmer Hill – where your dad told us he is going to pick us up from now’, Kundai flustered
‘Oh dear’, replied I. ‘Dad said ‘Bottom of the hill’’

And how can we forget the glottal stop?
Those unvoiced letters that make sentences pop
It’s the Yorkshireman’s and Cockney’s spoken aberration
The naughty little brother of Received Pronunciation

Beginner level lesson in my English as a Foreign Language classroom around 2003
Vocabulary focus: Jobs
At the start of the activity, I told students that today I was not a teacher
and asked them to guess my new job
‘Are you a chef?’ asked Miguel. ‘No’, replied I
‘Are you an astronaut?’ asked Selma. ‘No’, replied I
‘Are you a tennis player?’ asked Pierre. ‘No’, replied I
‘Are you Harry Potter’? asked Yu Lin. ‘Harry Potter? That’s not a job’, replied I
‘Job. Yes. Harry Potter!’ replied a frustrated Yu Lin
‘Are you a doctor?’ asked Jorge. ‘No’, replied I
‘Are you a journalist?’ asked Malgorzata. ‘Yes’ replied I. ‘Well done, Malgorzata!’
‘Teacher! Journalist – Harry Potter!’ shouted Yu Lin
‘Okay, Yu Lin. Please write this on the board’, said I
Yu Lin took my chalk and wrote on the blackboard: ‘Are you a reporter?’

Let’s celebrate these mis-hearings from my days teaching TEFL*
And donated by friends, by my mum and my nana Ethel

They made paradise and went to Juniper Park
I believe in Milko. Where you from? You sexy thing
One of those dames were as sexy as hell. I said ‘Ooh I like your socks’
I’ve got shoes, they’re made of plywood

If you dream of sand dunes and salty air. Quant little feelings here and there
Solitude resistor. Is there still a part of you that wants to give?
Mega mega white pig. Mega mega white pig
The trucks don’t work they just make you worse, but I know I’ll see your face again

And moustache could defend any clipper
Like a gerbil touched for the very first time
I wish I could have told him in the living room
Anna Friel like a disco home

No one loves and no surprises
Calling Jamaica. Calling Jamaica
Poppadum Street. I’m in trouble deep
Sea lions on the shore

You’re the wizard of Oz. Ooh, ooh, ooh, honey
You come to me in a submarine. How deep is your love?
Let’s get biblical, biblical
We called in a tramp

Fairies cross the Mersey
Excuse me, while I kiss this guy
How can we be lovers if we can’t beat trends?
I believe in Malcolm

Slow walkin’ Walter, fire-engine guy
This ain’t rock and roll, it’s dinner time
… move that bunch of people
… to cut your nose off despite your face

*TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language

https://youtu.be/g5JZi2L6EjM

Twitter: leejjcampbell 
Lee Campbell’s poem ‘Clever at without being Seen’ was recently included in Sometimes, The Revolution is Small, Disarm Hate x Poetry’ project by Nymphs & Thugs Recording Co. UK and published in Queerlings online magazine. 

One of my Finest, by Clive Oseman

 

ONE OF MY FINEST

I’ve written a poem that I think is good.
Probably the third best I have written
if I’m honest,
and the fourth best is awesome!
It was published in a journal
edited by my mate.
But I’m not one to blow my own trumpet.
I’ve tried. God knows I’ve tried,
but I’m not flexible enough.

I shouldn’t be reading it tonight really
because I’ve submitted it to Poetry North…. Swindon.
Yeah, Poetry North Swindon.
But I don’t think they’ll be listening.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t perfect.
The rhyme scheme is as obvious as a
Tory at an empathy farm,
and it doesn’t always flow perfectly
which is a shame I suppose, probably.

And there are bits where
I lost concentration because
the ferret was up my trouser leg.
I keep telling it, not when I’m writing,
but it never listens.

The strength of the poem is its depth.
It’s deeper than the Atlantic Ocean
if all the whales took a piss at the same time
on a particularly rainy day,
So you’ll have to listen at least twice
before you get it.

The poem deals with
the issues of the day
in a very novel way,
like why Margaret Thatcher is
the human equivalent of Smallpox
and why Man at C&A is the
only way to shop for clothes.

Ok, it seems a bit behind the times
but you know history has a way
of repeating itself like a
particularly vengeful gherkin
on a wet Sunday evening,
so really it’s ahead of its time
in a Swindon kind of way.

What? Why a wet Sunday?
When else would you eat gherkins, stupid?
Jeez some people ask
the most ridiculous questions.

Anyway, the poem is so good
I’ve decided not to read it tonight.
If you want to hear it send
£20 via bank transfer.

I’m sorry to inflict
this rubbish on you instead

Just class it as a metaphor
for disappointment.
Crushing, soul destroying
disappointment,
and a valuable lesson learned.

Clive Oseman is a a Brummie spoken word artist, comedian, satirist and promoter based in Swindon. His third poetry collection was published by Black Eyes Publishing UK in 2020.

Apple, by Clive Donovan

 

APPLE

A man and a woman presented themselves to God,
Tired and bloody from their futile war,
Wishing above all to make peace and retire
Into each others’ arms.
‘For Mighty Maker we know well our purpose
‘But cannot unite.’
Well God brought out and forth an apple
(From off his special tree)
And with his jack-knife smote it into two.
‘Observe now, this browned and swollen flesh,
‘That no longer neatly meets;
‘Refresh your mind upon this cloven fruit
‘For this is how you are.’
The man looked sad, the woman mad,
But both knew what to do.
‘Oh Lord please pare us, spare us not,
‘Cut our wounds off, shave us new
‘And stick us fast together again.’
But God had gone, his pie to make
And left the earnest pair to deal
With the osmotic principle,
And oxidation, too.
‘Let us at least eat of this apple,’
Said she of the twinkling eye.
They crunched and saved the seeds to dry
And after, lay concealed, curved and curled together,
Like spoons in a secret drawer.

Clive Donovan devotes himself full-time to poetry and has published in a wide variety of magazines including Acumen, Agenda, Fenland Poetry Journal, Neon Lit. Journal, Prole, Sentinel Lit. Quarterly and Stand. He lives in Totnes, Devon, U.K. quite close to the river Dart. His debut collection will be published by Leaf by Leaf in November 2021.

Slipping back into the creation of me, by I Am Cereal Killer

 

Slipping back into the creation of me

Slipping back into the creation of me,
I find myself hollow and nobody can help,
My thoughts are mine and nobody can change them,
Someone might want to,
Lisa said “One way to float is if you die”
But I am not of that,
There is too much life there to live,
To hold,
To love,

I am rising again like a flock that floats,
Up to the cloud for no one to find,
Hide again to shock me out of this world,
The tapping of the plastic that annoys me,
Rubbing and then buff for the showing of the world,

I’m done – complete,
The finishing of this story is never near,
But to the end we mustn’t advance,
The wow in my life has been rocked back and forth, forth and back,
Rocking until we feel sick with emotion, I can’t find the right metaphor but it will come,
On air I am hungry but that era is done,
I’ve begun but I do not know how to stop,

I slipped away and nobody noticed.

I AM CEREAL KILLER was born in 1995 out of grief and anger. After 19 friends and acquaintances died from complications from AIDS over a three year period, I was advised to “get it all out, write it all down.” And once I had it on paper, what would I do with it but put on a show? Inspired by the Divine David, I discovered I AM CEREAL KILLER’s extraordinary look, a kaleidoscope of colors constantly shifting with his mood of the moment.

I AM CEREAL KILLER is also the proud author of two books, This Isn’t a Gift, It’s Just the Way I Feel (yes, never fear to reutilize a title that worked the first time) and A Collection of Dildos on My Shelf. These can be found on the shelves of The British Library and are sold on Amazon (not by him) for exorbitant amounts. There is also a spoken word CD with tracks produced by Richard Torry of Minty, and a guest appearance on the Fuzzbox video, WGAF-AWFUI!

Now, I AM CEREAL KILLER talks about a much wider range of topics in regards to LGBT rights and acceptance. A new show is coming to New York City with fresh material and the fresh title of The Aerodynamics of Giraffes and How to Slice Them Properly (see show to understand title).

Ketchup : An Obituary, by Kevin Higgins

 

Ketchup: An Obituary

It all started that Friday he came home brandishing
another bottle of it, when there was already one
gleaming unopened in the fridge. A mistake,
the whole house told itself.

Next week he turned up dragging
six bags of almost nothing else.
From then on, had it with everything:
on his bread instead of butter; with
his cornflakes instead of his usual
low-fat milk.

Eventually, dispensing with all else,
as his main course,
tomato ketchup with a side of
another shining blob of itself.

After which, he hardly opened the front door,
except to sign for deliveries, the vast jars of it
that arrived twice weekly in a van
marked Ketchup.

When he wasn’t golloping it by the basin load,
he used it instead of shaving foam,
toothpaste, and as an ointment
to balm embarrassing rashes.
Spent most of the day bathing in it.

By the time he made it safely to his coffin
he was the colour of it,
looked as if all you need do was squeeze him
and the perfect dip for a plate of hand-cut fries
would spurt gloriously from between
those tomato coloured lips.

Kevin Higgins was born in London. He mostly grew up in and lives in Galway City. In 2016 The Stinging Fly magazine described Kevin as “likely the most read living poet in Ireland. His poems have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times (London), Hot Press, The Daily Mirror and on The Vincent Browne Show, and read aloud by film director Ken Loach at a political meeting in London. His sixth full collection of poems ‘Ecstatic’ will be published by Salmon in March 2022.

Jax, By Anne McDonald

 

Jax

You know the feeling when you want to go
And he’s enrapt in stretching conversation
You wait for hours
For pause or punctuation
And when it comes
You say politely, if somewhat sharply
“Lookit, I have to go to the Jax.”
Hoping something will hold it in ‘till you find the loo
You get there fit to burst and find
A bursting, red faced, cross legged queue
And so, we females exercise our amazing ability
Not to burst.
By various positions of the legs,
Crossed, Knotted, shifting the weight from one to the other
And your bladder feels like Friesian’s udder
When the milking machine breaks down
Or there’s a power cut.
In a brilliant attempt at mind over matter
You join in gossips delirious chatter
Of fellow sufferers
Until at last the toilet’s empty-
Rush in,
Bang door,
Knicks down
Then you notice there is no lock,
O.K.
So you hold the door with one hand
Stretched 3 inches longer than its normal length
And squat,
Never, ever sit on the bowl!
Because your jeans were tight
And your position is unnaturally elongated
(on account of the door)
Your aim deflects,
But you can’t stop
Four pints and two gins
The force of which is producing enough electricity
To do a seven pound wash on a short spin.
Then you begin
the hapless search
Under the bowl
And on the floor
And this is very difficult
When you are squatting with one hand
Still holding the door,
Your heart sinks
When you realize there is none.
Not a square,
Not a scrap
Not a cardboard holder
And so,
You almost dislocate your shoulde
As one hand still holding the door
You yank your jeans up and your knickers roll
Into a rope around the tops of your legs
Like they do when you go swimming
And don’t dry yourself.
Electric shock of a wet waistband
means the shirt you so meticulously tucked
In when dressing will hopefully hang outside
And be long enough to prevent people guessing
If you’ve wet yourself.
Now, some of us have tried to make a stand on this issue
And put off performance to march defiantly to the bar
to ask for some toilet tissue.
“Certainly Madam” the bar man says
“Will you be wanting it with ice and lemon?”
As he and his cronies piss themselves laughing
If you’ll pardon the pun
And he hands you a catering bale of Andrex.
So you take the rolls and cross the room
Trying to look nonchalantly cool
And feeling like an eejit
Until you reach it
Ladies loo
Complete with queue
Then it’s you
And then you’re in
Bang the door
Kacks down
Arm out
Paper ready
But
You
Cant
Go.
Nothing.
Not a drop.
Not a trickle.
Cold sweat,
And then a Lone Pathetic Dribble
After all that.
When this happened to me
I heard a woman next door
Grumble and fumble and feel on the floor,
“Do you want paper?” I shouted
My voice getting higher
“Paper?” she shouted
“I need a fucking hair dryer!”
Now I know that paper is made from trees
And people are genuinely worried
about the slaughter
Of the tropics
Which is affecting the ozone
And messing up the weather
But if this happens to you
I would humbly suggest
you use half a roll
for spite and badness
And put a wad inside your pocket
In case you get caught short on the way home.
So girls you might as well lash back the pints
And drown in the gin
With the jax in the pub
A woman can’t win.

Anne McDonald is an award winning writer and spoken word poet. She has performed in Dublin and London as part of a Women Of Wit collective and is a regular reader on open mic nights in Ireland, the US and the UK.
Her first collection “Crow’s Books” was published in March 2020. https://creativelythinkingweb.wordpress.com/

There’s a pervert in the craft shop, by Ronnie Leek

 

There’s a pervert in the craft shop he’s coming down the aisle
he’s been watching me for ages and following me for miles
if I’d seen him by the Velcro
I’d have torn him off a strip
if I’d seen him near the scissors
I’d have given him the snip
his trouser flies are open
his privates on display
there’s a pervert in the craft shop
please make him go away
his manhood’s very off-putting popping through the decoupage
he’s parading it like it’s on display
a whopper extra large
he collared me at watercolours
I said I’m in a rush
he asked if I had anything to help with his stiff brush
I told him I was married
said my wife was in the store
he said it won’t affect his stroke
and then he showed me more
he lowered down his trousers
and bent to touch his toes
I got a shock my heart did stop
it took me back to Wookey Hole
I slapped him with a bumper pad of Daler Rowney cold pressed
it sent him tumbling to the ground
he didn’t look impressed
and now he’s looking out for me
this sex pest’s gone astray
there’s a pervert in the craft shop
please make him go away.

Ronnie has been an actor and writer for over forty years. Appearing on television and theatres up and down the country.
His comedy play ‘Trollope’ won best comedy at the GMfringe and the Northern Soul award for best fringe production in 2018.
And his play
‘My Fitbit called me a fat bitch!’ Received rave reviews in 2019.

Nursery Rhyme to a President, by Joan Hardiman

 

Nursery Rhyme for a President
There was a crooked man who had a crooked smile
He found himself in Washington, helped out by Russian guile
Beat Hillary Clinton with Comey and spies
Moved to the White House, with jobs for his boys
“The working guy would elect me, he likes me”

Putin had a little scam to infiltrate the orange man
And everything the Kremlin said Donald had to do
Who dares impeach the commander in chief, credentials as white as snow
Nancy Pelosi, outed Zelensky for vilifying family of Joe
Blackmailed Ukraine, to Republicans shame,
played out In The Room Where It Happened
“What you’re seeing, is what you’re reading, is not what’s happening”

Immigrants and Mexicans climb the border wall
Along came the militia who tried to make them fall
Separated, incarcerated, the children put in pens
The world looks on in anger and doesn’t do a thing
“We are rounding ‘em up in a very humane way”

Climate change scientific hoax Greenhouse gases and factory smoke
Thunbergs glare, he said who cares
for plastic oceans or polar bears
NATO alone, world is prone, no yankee dollar
China and Jung had such fun, laughing at his pallor
“Man we could do with a big fat dose of Global Warming “

Two little Dickie Birds sitting on the fence
one named Donald the other named Pence
Tweet away Donald though you make no sense,
shame on you Pence for your deference
Come back Barack, come back Michelle
the country really needs you it’s all gone to hell
“Show me someone with no ego and I’ll show you a big loser”

Sing a song for Floyd, I can’t breathe they heard him cry
While three other coppers stood idly by
When Donald’s mouth was open the Klan began to sing
Wasn’t that an insult to the followers of King
“African Americans, I like them and they like me”

Melania in her tower house laying out her clothes
Trump was in the tanning room whipping of his robes
Epstein in the basement with the Duke of York
When along comes Virginia to do you know what
“I will be phenomenal to women”
“Frankly I don’t have time for political correctness”

There is an old fella called Biden,
who surely will give trump a hiding
The Jackasses will laugh,
when the NRA pass wagging their toy guns behind them
The Unite the White rally, full of hatred and spite
While cold blooded Covid destroys everyday life
“Guns, no guns it does’nt really matter
“I will make America great again”

CNN in The Rose Garden trying to get a clue
Fauci in the background face all askew
Trump is in the front row insisting it’s a flu
While fox news are airing fake Covid news
“USA will be stronger than ever before and soon”

Humpy Trumpy sat on The Hill
Humpy trumpy took a big spill
All his cohorts and red neck friends
couldn’t get him elected again
Good job, Good job.
“We used to have victories but we don’t have them anymore”

Joan Hardiman

Chicken Mystery, by Catherine Doherty Nicholls

 

Chicken Mystery

I found a frozen chicken in a hedge.
Fully wrapped, not a bit defrosted,
Maybe I could roast it with potatoes.
Who threw it there?
Some litterbug had tossed it.

I put it in my bag
and kept on walking,
White winter sunlight,
blinding as it set,
Then more things rolled towards me on the tarmac,
A tin of beans,
and lemons in a net.

If I took them would that count as stealing?
I pondered
as I wandered back to mine,
Was I being followed by the owner,
of a chicken that cost two pounds ninety nine?

Something told me someone was behind me,
It was creepy, l felt right on edge,
Panicking, I ran till I was gasping,
and threw the chicken, beans and lemons in a hedge.

Winner of no Poetry Ireland Competition, or any other competition, no published debut collection, nothing printed anywhere yet.
Her poems have been nominated for nothing so she’s nominating this poem to go on this page – a great place to start.

She is the curator of nothing. Her anthology doesn’t exist, yet she keeps going.

A student of Kevin Higgins.

Fairy-tale Romances, by Ama Bolton

 

Fairy-tale Romances

“Happily ever after”
(forgive my hollow laughter)
it’s fantasy, a figment of folklore.
Your knight in shining armour
could turn out to be no charmer
but a bully or a silly pompous bore.
Even sweet Maid Marian
may turn out to be a harridan,
and Sleeping Beauty! You should hear her snore!

Though the Prince may seem adorable
his manners are deplorable.
Cinderella’s pretty, but quite dim.
Snow White is vain and shallow
And Jack’s a tedious fellow;
he’s always at the golf-course or the gym.
Unless you’re into farming
don’t tie the knot with Charming
you’d soon run out of things to say to him.

Beauty’s a part-time Beast,
the prince, half frog, at least.
Beware Bluebeard! Beware of Reynardine!
The end of the love story
is far too often gory.
Living on your own can be just fine
with a dog or a cat
to sleep on your lap.
You can make up your own storyline.

Ama Bolton, former member of The Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream and Pun, convenes a Stanza group in Somerset. Her poems have featured at festivals, on Radio 3’s The Verb, and in magazines and anthologies including Bridport Prize 2008. She blogs at http://barleybooks.wordpress.com/

Disappearing Act, by Lucy Tertia George

 

Alright, alright, quiet down. I have an announcement and I hope you understand
that due to circumstances beyond the control of The Ritzy Music Hall and Working Man’s Club, tonight’s performance of Magnifico
will not go ahead as planned.

When we booked Magnifico, straight from Blackpool’s Magic-o-rama,
we had every intention of bringing you the Winner of the Most Promising Comeback Award, with all the trimmings
but without all this drama.

The last communiqué we had from the artiste said he was on the A324. But somewhere between Little Billingsdene and Crug we lost all contact. To the management this qualifies
as ‘force majeur’.

His assistant Delores is backstage, crying her eyes out, confidence cracked. She’s done up like a Christmas Tree, but her nerves are shot
and your hollering has upset the doves
they use in the act.

We regret there’s no refund but you’re not paying for nowt, you enjoyed the free buffet and the singalong with Marjorie and that, we feel, should constitute
a good night out.

No, this is not like the time we promised Night of 100 Stars,
when, in a misunderstanding that some of you felt should come to the attention of the Advertising Standards Authority,
we only had 12 people on stage
and three of them didn’t have their Equity Cards.

Of course, I’ve called his mobile phone, I’ve dialled his agent twice.
I even rang the Magic Circle, but have you tried getting information from a secret society? No dice.

Throwing anything at the stage will result in a lifetime ban.
You’ll not see the panto or get a seat for the Tom Jones tribute act where he wows the crowd with Sex Bomb like the very man himself— and I know you’re a fan.

You’re only hurting yourself if this place is trashed.
I’ll cancel Weekly Bingo and the darts team will be forced to practice in the boys changing room at the Youth Club
and that place stinks of Flash.

If you won’t listen to reason, I’m off, do your worst.
I’m taking Delores to the All-U-Can Eat at the Golden Horseshoe and if I see Magnifico I’ll have his guts for garters.
That’s if you don’t get him first.

Lucy Tertia George is an author, publisher and satirist, sometimes known as Lucy Lyrical. Her novel, Three Women, was published by Starhaven Press in 2018.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lucytertiageorge
Twitter: @Wordville

Broccoli, by Melanie Branton

 

Broccoli

If you have to eat broccoli,
gobble it cockily.
Flaunt it with pride,
don’t gulp it with guilt!
You’ve done nothing wrong –
it will make you grow strong,
for broccoli-eaters
are stockily built.

If you have to eat broccoli,
stick to it doggedly:
pick up your fork
and submit to your fate.
Don’t let it go cold
and disintegrate soggily.
Eat all that broccoli
up off your plate!

Melanie Branton is a spoken word artist from North Somerset who is totally obsessed with cats, linguistics, Vikings and vegetables. Her published collections are Can You See Where I’m Coming From? (Burning Eye, 2018) and My Cloth-Eared Heart (Oversteps, 2017) melaniebranton.wordpress.com

For the Breakdown Men of the Leamington Spa Vehicle Recovery Office, by Kerry Priest

 

For the Breakdown Men of the Leamington Spa Vehicle Recovery Office

O breakdown men, O Bob, O Mick, O Roger, when fourth gear
failed to engage on the A46 just south of Coventry,
we were right there, Eileen and I, between those twin keeps,
the castles of Warwick and Kenilworth, and it transpired that chivalrous
men worthy of Elizabeth I still walk, or rather drive,
the asphalt and tar of the low-slung heart of England.

When we attended the conference, Hello Kitty from a Feminist Perspective
at the department of Sociology of a nearby university,
it was suggested in some quarters that academic standards must be slipping.
But standards in vehicle recovery in the South Midlands are, if anything,
clearly rising, O Mick, O Roger, O Bob!

With an exhaustive collection of alphabetized Haynes manuals,
you await the phone in the back office
like three Tibetan Bodhisattvas with a library of ancient scrolls.
And there’s something about your matching waffle-weave polo shirts,
call it a casual formality, but it took only one glance
to know you’d never presume to assume that it was friction disc wear
that left Eileen and me stranded on the dual carriageway,
but would allow for the possibility that the clutch pressure plate
was prevented from sliding on the transmission input splines,
or that you might need to refit the clutch release bearing and lever,

for you combine a sharp sense of the way things should be,
of a job done right, with the purest instinct of those who have laboured
a lifetime in a vehicular environment.

Breakdown men, you know your camshaft from your crankshaft
as easily as I know any two Sanrio characters from one another.

I’d wager your MOT checks are thorough without being overly stringent.

And is it The Specials or Madness or some more obscure Two Tone release
that you play, Mick, on your retro record player with inbuilt speaker
when you go back to your virgin Queen, your Anne Hathaway,
who you keep in Yorkshire terriers and cream leather sofas?
And is it a Ruby Porter or an IPA you gulp of an evening, Bob?
as you share a table in a 1930s brown brick tavern?

O breakdown men, we were brought together by hapless luck,
but our entire lives were one long collision course
to this enormous corrugated box, a testament to metal
where Eileen and I bask momentarily in your benevolence.
Such benign technocracy O Bob, O Mick, O Roger!
What rottweilers, what girders, what stanchions of steel!

I want to be . . . By Geraldine Ward

 

I Want to Be…

like Pam Ayres
and Victoria Wood.
Not care what others think,
and are highly talented.
I want to be a cross between Julie Walters and Buddy Holly.
Get your head around that!
I do not have the sideburns
or matching quiff
of dark suits and shades and sixties glitz.
I would have loved to have been Debbie Harry.
Blondie was just the biz.
Eighties punk rock glamour puss.
Name a celebrity you admire?
Chances are they are either still here,
or harps and lyres.
Shaken not stirred.
Bond had his last dance.
Sean Connery really was a class act.
The problem I am left with, is who I could choose to be?
Well, everyone else is taken, all that’s left is me.

Geraldine Ward is an author and poet from Kent. She has had work in ‘The Sunday Tribune,’ and ‘International Times’ among other publications. She enjoys playing the piano, cello and ukulele. Her twitter handle is @GWardAuthor

To my first boyfriend, by Carla Scarano

 

To my first boyfriend

You liked my loose denim dungarees
and the XL second hand chequered man’s shirts
I bought at Porta Portese Sunday market.
My girlhood knee-length skirts and matching tops didn’t fit.
I felt fat, my body rounding
shaping itself beyond my teenager’s imagination, dangerous.

But you liked my new look
you thought I was cool.
I could sit on your knees during the break,
the trousers brimming under my shoes
dragging when I walked.
The hem became ragged so mum sewed it up.

The head teacher called me one day
and asked why I was dressing in such a way
despite my good marks.
I said I felt fat, I needed loose clothes
I needed space to fit my body,
a better chance.

Carla Scarano D’Antonio lives in Surrey with her family. She obtained her Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and has published her creative work in various magazines and reviews. Her short collection Negotiating Caponata was published in July 2020. She worked on a PhD on Margaret Atwood’s work at the University of Reading and graduated in April 2021.
http://carlascarano.blogspot.com/
http://www.carlascaranod.co.uk/

What’s that?, by Judy Darley

 

What’s that?

I glimpsed a water vole.
You declared it a rat.
I wasn’t sure why it mattered.
One flourishes alongside
our slack species, the other
struggles amid choked rivers
in shrinking habitat.
Either way, I admire
the opportunists battling
to eke a life from scraps:
snub-nosed voles nibbling
their burrows neat door mats,
and rats thriving from dropped
chips and suspect kebabs.
Discarded snacks clog canals
and blood vessels alike.
I tell you, we’re all a little vole
and a bit rat, even if
we’d rather not admit that.

Judy Darley writes prose and poetry in Bristol, UK. She is the author of short fiction collections Sky Light Rain and Remember Me to the Bees. Her third collection, The Stairs are a Snowcapped Mountain, will be published by Reflex Press in 2022. You can find Judy at http://www.skylightrain.com; https://twitter.com/JudyDarley

To Whom It Concerns A Late Late After Word, by Susan Lindsay

 

To Whom It Concerns A Late Late After Word

Have you noticed the dead don’t pronounce their ‘ts’?
Indistinct they offend my ears. I ran a campaign, you know, down there,
the tongue to tip the roof of the mouth behind teeth.
Tutt, tutt. It’s not quite like that here. Marian dear

I didn’t expect to see you so soon.
That Brendan lad took over your gaff, I hear
not doing too bad, I believe, but hasn’t your style I think.
he has a thing or two to learn I expect. He will.

But I’m out of touch. Touch doesn’t quite cut it here.
Was it all as we were taught; Peter, the pearly gates, all that?
Yes, I asked myriad persons, while alive, on air
they were often vague in response. Of course

vagueness was the scourge besetting you and me.
Broadcasting vagueness is like inviting grey sky
it is neither limpid like mist, nor sharp as frost
but we needn’t concern ourselves with that any more.

Tell me, how are they treating you? Have you
acclimatized to your new regime? We can’t open doors
for each other here. Doors, a bygone thing.
What say us to Joe, Liveline, Ryan and the crew?

The last deadline past. From beyond,
I wish you and our listeners well, my dear.
It’s good not to talk. To no longer have need. From the later
Late, Late – cross your ‘T’s, thanks for listening, that’s it.

Note. R.I.P. Long-term Irish Radio and Television stars Gay Byrne (4.11.2019) and Marian Finucane (2.1.2020).

Susan Lindsay has had three books of her poetry published by Irish publisher Doire Press: Milling the Air (2018), Fear Knot (2013) and Whispering the Secrets (2011). Her work has appeared in national and international journals. She blogs at susanlindsayauthor.blogspot.com

You Know!, by Carl Burkitt

 

YOU KNOW!

The other day I was chatting to that pig.
You know, the one with the wig.
The wig that’s too big
and made of figs and bits of twigs.

You know, the pig,
he’s friends with that goat.
The goat with the tiny boat
made of dusty coats and TV remotes.

You know, the goat and the pig,
they hang out with that cow.
The cow with the eyebrows
made of snow ploughs and know how.

You know, the cow and the goat and the pig,
they’re always chatting to that duck.
The duck with the monster truck
made of hockey pucks and dog muck.

You know, the duck and the cow and the goat and the pig,
they’re buddies with that horse.
The horse with the racecourse
made of brute force and tomato sauce.

You know, the horse and the duck
and the cow and the goat and the pig!
You know what,
maybe I’ve never introduced you.

Carl Burkitt likes to tell tales. He tells long tales, short tales, silly tales, sad tales, and likes to tell them online, behind a mic, in books, in schools or on the sofa with his young family in Manchester. His debut collection What Does A Baby Think It Is? And Other Questions was published in 2020 by Enthusiastic Press.

Diminishing Poem Spliced with an Ovi, by Trisha Broomfield

 

Diminishing Poem Spliced with an Ovi

My Nan has got an iffy bladder
not good when climbing up a ladder
she was once bitten by an adder
though it came off worst

She did let out a curdling scream
and reached for antiseptic cream
I wrote it up, it took a ream
But I doubt it will ever be published

Nan quite soon lifted up a glass
she always was a dypso lass
and once rode naked on an ass,
made page three of the Daily Mirror.

My Other Sticker is Funny, by Claire Hadfield

 

My other sticker is funny.

They began as a statement, a declaration, proclaiming affection for a prime location.
I ‘heart’ New York- a harmless affirmation of warmest thoughts- just information.

Then things evolved, just a slight mutation; we began to proclaim our procreation.
Baby on board, Lil’ Princess, Lil’ Man all hail and salute the next generation.
Do we really need such information in the form of an adhesive notification?

But the worst, the nadir, the abomination is a relatively recent innovation;
Your family in graphic representation.
The mum, the dad and confirmation of their successful insemination, cartoonified in silhouette
Reduced to a ‘quirky’ simplification of hetero-normative ideation.

“So what?”, you say, “Cease your assassination!
Why begrudge us confirmation of our plastic-coated validation?”
No! Go look elsewhere for your aspiration.
There’s only one cure for my vexation: total sticker annihilation!

Twenty years of teaching teens led to a highly developed sense of cynicism, a thick skin, and the compulsory eyes in the back of the head. Now a teacher-trainer at Plymouth Marjon University, Claire gets paid to indulge her curiosity, enthusiasm and passion for words on a daily basis.

Not every mushroom is safe to eat, by Jorge Leiva Ardana

 

Not every mushroom is safe to eat

Whenever you switch on the telly
there are always people cooking.
You come home with an empty belly,
in a blink they have finished a pudding.

They cook from home, Mexico or Brittany,
their food doesn’t burn or get soggy.
Like Beethoven composing a symphony,
while yours is rejected by the doggy.

With sharper knives than a two edge sword,
plenty of gadgets you can’t afford.
All you have is a ruined frying pan
that sticks when heating up a can.

Using fancy ingredients like tamarind or tahini,
but in the store they’ve run out of tapioca.
What’s the difference between courgette and zucchini?
why do some call it yuca and others mandioca?

Why your stew doesn’t look like theirs?
Why in yours there is always hair?
What are the benefits of Himalayan salt?
Is that flavoursome for what it cost?

Without the necessary piece of advice,
no cooking lesson is ever complete,
so you won’t end up paying the price.
Mind you, not every mushroom is safe to eat.

Jorge Leiva is from South Spain and has been on the waiting list for a tonsillectomy since he was a child. Some of his work has appeared in Skylight 47 Magazine, The Galway Advertiser, Drawn to the light press, Headstuff.org, Dodging the Rain and 2 Meter Review. In 2019 he was long listed in the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year competition.

Alive in the Age of Stupidity, by Chad Norman

 

ALIVE IN THE AGE OF STUPIDITY

Here in
Nova Scotia
the party in power
overlooks
the importance of
protecting and
allowing to stand
the structures
and buildings
from the Past
(somehow still with us).
Mostly men
unfortunately
who
without knowing
each day include
their names
by believing
there is no profit
in being wise enough
to be part of History
through its preservation
and making sure
as politicians they avoid
a category of fools.

Chad Norman lives and writes beside the high-tides of the Bay Of Fundy, Nova Scotia, Canada. His poems continue to appear in various literary publications and anthologies around the world. His latest book, Simona: A Celebration Of The S.P.C.A., is out now with Cyberwit.Net (India).

Paddy Andy, by Joe Naughton

 

Joe Naughton 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.

Vague Notions, by Ruth Marshall

 

Vague Notions

Quizzical buttons, spurious seam rippers
Sketchy fabric markers, dubious zippers,
Threadbare illusions, unbiased binding,
Fat quarters, gauze, and cloudy lining,

Measuring tapes that are imprecise,
Embroidered cats and felted mice,
Bags of stuffing and hair for dolls,
Lace, as always, full of holes,

Evasive trimmings, circular cutters,
Scissors that couldn’t cut through butter,
Buckles, toggles, crochet hooks,
Yarn and paper pattern books,

Hesitant hessian, unsure curtain ties,
A loose collection of hooks and eyes,
Tassels and fringing of questionable quality,
Elastic guaranteed to stretch credulity,

Thimbles, tape, magnetic catches,
Tailor’s chalk and elbow patches,
Hazy braid, ribbon by the yard,
Needles, pins and rolls of cord,

Applique trim, and frogging loops,
Large and small embroidery hoops,
Bins of remnants, green and red,
And somewhere in there, my lost thread.

Doing It, by Heather Moulson

 

Doing It

Sexual intercourse did not begin for me.
In 1973.
That science lesson when we were told
we will all Have Sex in adulthood.
What?! Every night?! Doesn’t it hurt?!
I look down at my grey school skirt.
Girl’s faces screwed up in distaste.
Sir! Julie piped up, would we get paid?!

The lesson was a disaster,
Julie was sent to the headmaster

Against a tree during the miner’s strike,
Julie was known as the local bike.
But it wasn’t true, she was taking the piss,
it never went further than a kiss.
A french one with tongues, I believe,
although maybe I’m being naïve.
But she was intact like the rest of the class.
To be honest, it just sounded a pain in the arse.

Cleaning Up, by Sue Spiers

 

Cleaning up

I’ve a hoover that no longer sucks
despite clearing out all kinds of muck:
three spiders, my hair
and John’s underwear,
So, I have to concede that it’s fucked.

I’ve rinsed out my J-cloths and duster
of grime with what zeal I can muster.
I’d rather be fed
cockroaches instead.
At best my approach is lack-lustre.

I have mopped Flash and polished my brass
I’ve grown weary to Windowlene glass.
I’ve sprayed Mr. Sheen,
got surfaces clean.
That’s enough for this year. Kiss my ass!

Sue lives in Hampshire and has poems in Acumen, Orbis and Stand magazines and on-line at Ink, Sweat and Tears. Sue works with Winchester Poetry Festival and is editor for the Open University annual poetry anthology. Find out more on twitter @Sue Spiers

Recently Reactivated Twitter Account, by Stephen McNulty

 

Recently Reactivated Twitter Account

My name is @barryotoole12345
but you can call me BOT
if you wish.

Though we have been
seen in the same chatroom
I am no relation of
@barryotoole54321.

I will respond to your
each and every tweet
regardless of insult.

Trust me, I have the time.
I speak fluent algorithm
do ratios in my
faceless oval head.

I am a shuttlecock
of political opinion
flying from one
Twitter racket to the next.

Or at least I would be
if I was capable of metaphor.
I detest the left as they cannot afford me.

My parents were opinion polls
before I strangled them to death
with a hashtag.
Between elections, I sleep.

Bio:
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, Strukturriss and Vox Galvia.

Advice for undergraduates re-submitting work for this semester’s poetry module, by Emma Purshouse

 

Advice for undergraduates re-submitting work for this semester’s poetry module

If you see a cliché kill it dead.
Don’t use rhyme for rhyme’s sake, red.

Steer clear of obscure abstraction,
it will drive your lecturer to distraction.

Want to piss of him or her?
Then use a t’will, a t’was, a t’were.

All good things in moderation
applies in particular to alliteration

which when wildly wielded will
wind one up and make one ill.

At this point I’ll interject,
that it should only be used for deliberate effect.

As for rhythm don’t get me started
Please, avoid extra long lines which jut out miles further than the rest of the poem, these lines probably should be split and parted.

Oh and never say the same thing twice.
Don’t be an oxymoron all your life.

No tormented soul or bleeding heart,
this makes my nervous twitching start.

Show me, show me, please don’t tell.
Follow this advice and all will be well.

Emma’s first novel Dogged is now available to buy from Ignite Books.                                              https://ignitebooks.co.uk/products-page/emma-purshouses-books/

Tuesday, by Hugh Maxwell

 

Tuesday

In the depths of the ocean he found it, he did, he did.
Golden hero from the deepest sea he came.
Warbled and wriggled, it did, it did,
And rejoiced at the light of day.

On a cushion of mandrakes he brought it, he did, he did,
And offered it to her on her throne all fey.
Placed it on her head, she did, she did,
And they danced with the moon till day.

Hugh is in his late sixties and lives in St Leonards on Sea

Tango, by Trevor Alexander

 

Tango

You’ve heard of policemen out walking their beat,
while wearing those shiny black boots on their feet,
a slow measured march as they come down your street,
but now what if that beat was a tango?

They’d shimmy and slide to a rhythm so hip,
while lookin’ so cool the kids wouldn’t give lip;
watch out for the sergeant and give him the slip,
because he’d want to switch to fandango.

The neighbourhood hoodlums in bovver-boot shoes
come round every week to pass on the bad news,
and make you an offer that you can’t refuse
‘cause the boss man is channelling Brando.

If you’ve got the chutzpah, decide not to pay,
I’m sorry to say they won’t just go away,
because if you’re late they’ll be round the next day
to break both your legs with a Kango.

The coppers are useless, say their hands are tied,
there’s nowt they can do until somebody’s died,
and not even then ‘cause they’re all alibied
in a place where the rest of the gang go.

The gang leader hangs with the rest of his crew,
till the squad comes around and they’re all dressed in blue,
‘cause somebody squealed so that all he could do
is to scarper and hide in Durango.

Forever and an Hour, by Patricia Walsh

 

Forever and an Hour

Recommending some films on back of experience,
watching same under pain of repetition,
burning poetry in a ghost of an existence
nothing comes close to having the rights.

Handling pressure, the better through the fakes,
die-hard cartoons bounce back on themselves
the smell of chocolate wafts through the confines
reading into a cough turgid with indifference.

Death, dropping slow, reads all with due care.
The academic disposal weeds out the hour
poetic gems tweaked out of other existence
some rarity of form calls for recognition.

Government fakes weigh down the reserved,
raw literature in its thousands decreed,
taking pictures of monuments capturing souls,
jealously committing to a lover in-box.

Incidental hatred, poured in the kitchen,
an omnibus realised, taken seriously, never.
Fed on this horror of worthy exclusion,
sleeping for preferment is a righteous burn.

Reading into another book like there was no choice,
cursed from adolescence to live like a freak,
falling from love and its lowly citizens
hoarding the experiential until further notice.

Patricia Walsh was born in the parish of Mourneabbey, in north Co Cork,and educated at University College Cork, graduating with an MA in Archaeology. Her poetry has been published in Stony Thursday; Southword; Narrator International; Trouvaille Review; Strukturrus; Seventh Quarry; Vox Galvia; The Quarryman; Brickplight, The Literatus, and Otherwise Engaged. She has already published a chapbook, titled Continuity Errors in 2010, and a novel, The Quest for Lost Éire, in 2014. A second collection of poetry, titled Citizens Arrest, was published online by Libretto in 2020. A further collection of poetry, titled Outstanding Balance, is scheduled for publication in late 2021. She was the featured poet in the inaugural edition of Fishbowl Magazine, and a further novel, In The Days of Ford Cortina will be published in late 2021.

Trial by Poetry, by Oscar Windsor-Smith

 

Trial By Poetry

My first time at a formal workshop:
Comes the question of poetic voice and
I’m soon stumped.
Worrying.
It seems I’m not one person
for long enough to tie-down
a single stable output;
flibbertigibbet:
north/south, east/west
mongrel that I am;
a middler;
a literal mediocrity…

But then again,
the middle may provide
firm footing
for a bridge
between divergent minds.

And what’s so wrong with that?

Oscar Windsor-Smith lives in Hertfordshire, UK. He has fooled enough editors to get fiction, creative non-fiction and non-fiction published in diverse places, in print and online, and has occasionally been falsely accused of poetry. By jammy luck he has been a finalist/shortlistee in various international competitions. He graduated from the Birkbeck, University of London BA in creative writing in 2018.

Oscar Windsor-Smith – Writer

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oscar.windsorsmith

LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/in/oscarwindsorsmith/

Blog: http://oscarwindsor-smith.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @OscarWindsor

Precitive Text, by Nigel Lloyd

 

Predictive Text

I am not really a fanbelt of that predictive text
It’s giving meat loads of grief
I would steal a manuel on how to correct it
If only I was a thief.

I’ve spoken to the staff at the phone shop
Who Canterbury help me with my plight
At one point I threw the phone at them
Saying “take bacon your pile of shite”.

I know I am getting on a bit
And technology is not my thing
But I need a phone that when someone needs me
The bugger will vibrate and ringworm.

The mobiles now are very light
Where as my old phone’s made of stone
I don’t have a camera or any apps
I only use it as a phonebox.

Everything’s typed out in full
No abbreviations or emoji face
Every full stop and comma
Is in the right placebo.

Should I invest in a hands free kitten
For when I am out on the road?
I feel like going back to a more reliable system
Good old morsel code.

Nigel Lloyd lives in rural Donegal and has had poems published in several magazines
From Crannog to Progressive Rock Magazine, he also had a poem featured on
BBC Radio Ulster Soundscapes programme and was a finalist in the
Bring your Limericks to Limerick competition 2018 and a finalist in
The Piano Academy of Ireland Limerick competition 2021.

www.nigellloydpoet.com



I Used to Smoke, by Rodney Wood

 

I USED TO SMOKE

before, during and after a break, while smelling jasmine, feeding penguins,
on buses, trains, the top of church towers, in domes, at home, police stations,
prisons, crematoriums, sanatoriums, sci-fi conventions or the birth of a nation,

before, during and after sex, when wearing spandex, carrying a briefcase,
having an enema, practising yoga, in cinemas, open spaces, hiding places,
deep space, being chased, playing bass, being embraced or holding an ace,

before, during and after bugger all, measuring rainfall, drinking highballs,
at football grounds, suburbs, inner cities, digging up the grave of Andy Warhol,
in jail, under sail, playing pinball, crawling, at shopping malls or concert halls,

before, during and after a meal, when kneeling, playing with myself, watching TV,
walking, talking on my mobile, blinking, in bookshops, outside Westminster Abbey,
being filthy, looking at pornography, dancing to Bowie, having a pee or drinking tea,

before, during and after flying, when saying goodbye, beneath the London Eye,
when sitting on the loo, pruning roses, blowing a balloon under a mackerel sky,
riding a bike, circumscribing a lake or rafting down the Thames in the middle of July,

before, during and after a cigarette I had to have a cigarette.

Ultimate Bathroom Experience, by Kevin Higgins

 

Ultimate Bathroom Experience

The bathrooms of Late Capitalism differ
from the bathrooms of feudalism
and the bathrooms of the industrial revolution
in that they exist.
No more throwing it
out into the street
in the hope of hitting the neighbour
you argued with yesterday.

As you depart
the bathrooms of Late Capitalism
the attendant tries to sell you
bottles of your own widdle, jars
of what you worked so hard
to make, labelled Organic.
When they succeed
you feel like you came away
with a great bargain.

The perfect skin cream
for the Father’s Day market
to help them stop withering
in the face of Late Capitalism;
a dressing to drizzle
on your favourite salad
to stop it wilting
in the light of
Late Capitalism; the perfect
pep me up

days you’ve visited the doctor
and been told: Madam,
it’s Late Capitalism.
But, tragically,
not terminal.
On your way out
kindly swipe your card
on the relevant part
of the receptionist
and continue to the exit.

Kevin Higgins is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway. He has published five 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 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, 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”. 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 is just published by Nuascealta. Kevin’s sixth full poetry collection, Ecstatic, will be published by Salmon.

Saboteurs, by Holly Conant

 

Saboteurs

The mice knew they were lucky, or did they. It’s one thing to infest a windmill, another thing ripping the piss by getting the elves to tailor them clogs. Maybe they’d caught wind of the Pied Piper from the rats, made contingency plans to save their children. Maybe they were blind, and were adapting to echo location. I thought they’d seen the horses at the mill and wanted to be fashionable. That’s what happened with me, anyway. I’d heard about the mice in Amsterdam, thought they sounded fun. I wanted to clip clippitty clop like them, like the grown-up women going to work in a skirt and cloppy shoes. I found some little clogs for my fingers in my Grandma’s thimble collection, and I’d drive them along flat, wooden surfaces, wear a thimble on my thumb like a fez, sing clip clippitty clop. My fingers got too big after a while. I upgraded to my mum’s rank, cloppy-cloggy shoes. I wore them to school fancy dress, remember clopping to collect my first prize. I wore them out on the concrete in the rain, remember clippittying water back into clouds. I pretended they were tap shoes, and tried to become the first clog dancer/tap dancer/ Irish dancer hybrid. Maybe that’s what the mice were doing, dancing, whilst they could, because there’s only so long the world will let you wear clogs for, before they start grinding.

Holly is a mature student, studying at the University of Leeds. She likes sarcasm and silliness. Her poems have appeared with Ink, Sweat & Tears, Anti-Heroin Chic, Dreich and more.

Five Limericks, by Mark Totterdell

 

FIVE LIMERICKS

When Rick, a young workman from Limerick,
Started strimming, they yelled ‘watch that strimmer, Rick!’
When he slipped off the bank
Of the Shannon, and sank,
Then they cried ‘what a shame you’re no swimmer, Rick!’

If pigeon that’s sly does a sly coo,
And pigeon that’s shy does a shy coo,
Does a pigeon that strives
To coo 5-7-5s
From the top of a tree do a high coo?

This limerick’s started so well,
I could just carry on. What the hell,
If I reach line nineteen
With repeats, it will mean
That I’ve written a damn villanelle!

A talented poet called Nina
Attempted to write a sestina.
Her end-words were ‘bum’,
‘Bugger’, ‘bollocks’ and ‘cum’,
And then two that were somewhat obscener.

There was a young poet from Cheam
Whose limericks ran out of steam.
After four lines had passed
He just couldn’t be arsed…

Mark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines and have occasionally won prizes. His collections are This Patter of Traces (Oversteps Books, 2014) and Mapping (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018).

Dear Sir/Madam – by Karen Jones

 

Dear Sir/Madam – by Karen Jones

We hope this finds you well
No need to respond
Our letters always start this way

Thank you for your recent correspondence
It languished in our inbox
Growing mouldier by the day

We refer to the issues raised
Certain you will feel heard
By their very mention on this page

And sorry you feel that way
(Add allegation here) without prejudice
The lawyers got their hands on this

Out of an abundance of caution
Very pedestrian steps have been taken
And nothing will change

We can assure you of that
It sounds solid when you read it back
We liked that last line a lot

There are no plans at present
We’ll bend like palm trees in the morning
It’s a fluid situation at the end of the day

As a gesture of goodwill
We hope the enclosed brings no luck
But needs must, court and whatnot

The matter has been referred
Somewhere, someone, head office
That dark hole of corporate resolve

Don’t hesitate to call
If we can be of any assistance
Now piss off pal, jog on

Committed to the highest standards
Is this statement of vague ambition
We like to shoehorn in at the end

Kind regards
Customer Services
(No, you can’t have the manager instead)

Karen Jones is new to writing poetry, a student of Kevin Higgins, and putting her head above the parapet with this first submission. Born in Northern Ireland, she lives in Dublin and works in public relations.

Evolution of a Complaint, by Roisin Bugler

 

Evolution of a Complaint

Neanderthal man enters the cave
throws another carcass of deer
at Neanderthal woman’s feet.
Grunts and gesticulates towards fire.
Woman sighs loudly
throws arms up in exasperation
sets about preparation.

Always the same old meat.
He never cleans up the bones.
Not once has he covered the piss corner with dirt.
Same old charcoal for decorating the wall.
A bit of help with the babies would be nice.
He’s always out hunting with the guys.

I’d kill for a bit of mammoth
or red ochre
or a sleep on
Why can’t he just evolve and become a man?

Róisín Bugler is working on her TBW (to be written) pile.  She was the winner of Strokestown Percy French prize for Witty Verse and runner up in the Padraig Colum International Gathering competition both 2019.

The agony of treading on Lego in bare feet at 3.30am, by Gabi Marcellus-Temple

 

The agony of treading on Lego in bare feet at 3.30am

Dovchenko Bazooka Pants is up in the attic
He’s been there for years
He’s definitely plotting something
Fulfilling all my fears
Dovchenko Bazooka Pants
Is under the bed
I can hear him there sniggering
Trying to get in my head
Dovchenko Bazooka Pants
Hides in a kitchen drawer
Under old lighters and tape
Doesn’t like it there
He says it’s a bore
Dovchenko Bazooka Pants
Is down the back of the sink
For one little minifigure
He’s more active than you think
Dovchenko Bazooka Pants
Is under my foot
It’s 3.30 am
And now sleep is kaput.

Truth, by Maurice Devitt

 

Truth

In my early years,
The Zebra Book of Facts for Boys
was my go-to reference;
rarely stuck for a capital city, flag
or element on the Periodic Table.
It was only when, at fourteen,
I brought it as a comfort blanket on my first date,
that I realised its shortcomings:
the conversation flowed
as I sought to impress my consort
with the range of my general knowledge,
but when I left her to her door
and she asked me
if I’d ever kissed a girl before
I didn’t know the right answer.

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.

His poems have been nominated for Pushcart, Forward and Best of the Net prizes and his Pushcart-nominated poem, ‘The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work’, was the title poem of an anthology published by Hibernian Writers in 2015. He is curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site.

The Half-Starved Virgin, by Bobbie Sparrow

 

The half starved virgin

Mother told me not to be greedy,
to sit on my hands and wait.
‘Hold in your stomach and tighten,
you never know who’s at the gate.’

Mother always looked good in an A-line,
kept her fingers off the cream buns.
Smoked cigarettes at breakfast,
tried filling her hunger with puns.

‘Keep smiling at those dancing boys
be cheerful and do not pout.
Go walking, cycling, play games of cards
and never ever give out.’

Mother frowned at my father’s kiss,
sat straight on her stool thinking thoughts.
Did the crossword and drank fizzy water
for the little pleasure it brought.

I wore white on the night that he took it –
a boy with clean nails and a purse.
He spent longer than I thought
but during it I caught

desire is a belly full of want. Now

give me some sweet with my sugar,
give me chocolate with my wine,
give me tongues in my kisses,
give me rapture in my crying.

Give me saunas in the sunshine,
give me plunge pools in the rain,
give me sand in the desert,
give me ecstasy in pain.

‘Leave the table wanting more’ said mother,
To hell with that, I state.
Give her food when she’s hungry ,
unlatch the half-starved virgin’s gate.

Bobbie Sparrow‘s poems have been published in many journals including Orbis, Crannog, Skylight 47, The Honest Ulsterman, Cordite, and Southword. Bobbie won 3rd prize for her Chapbook in the Blue Nib competition 2018 and came second in the Saolta Arts Trust Poems for Patience competition 2020. Her Chapbook Milk and Blood was commended in the Fools for Poetry competition 2020 and she was nominated as one of Dodging the Rain’s best published poets 2018/19. She loves lake swimming and cycling downhill.

Gannet, by Catherine Doherty Nicholls

 

Gannet

Alice had a mallet
and she swung it at a gannet
as it swooped
to steal her sandwich at the beach

Then the gannet landed on the
sandwich,
and with malice
pecked her hand that held the mallet
till she screeched.

She was really bleeding
but the tide was not receding
so she swung again
and nearly cracked his head

In the great commotion
they were swallowed by the ocean
as they fought for ham and bread
and now they’re dead.

Catherine Doherty Nicholls

Winner of no Poetry Ireland Competition, or any other competition, no published debut collection, nothing printed anywhere yet.
Her poems have been nominated for nothing so she’s nominating this poem to go on this page – a great place to start.

She is the curator of nothing. Her anthology doesn’t exist, yet she keeps going.

A student of Kevin Higgins.

Nothing, by Ama Bolton

 

Nothing

Nothing’s worse than toothache.
Nothing’s worse than fleas.
Nothing’s worse than finding
half a maggot in your cheese.

Nothing’s worse than tasting
coffee you thought was tea.
Nothing’s worse than failing
your Maths GCSE.

Nothing’s worse than losing
car-keys down a drain.
Nothing’s worse than choosing
the wrong till, once again.

Nothing’s worse than Christmas
when you wake up with the ‘flu.
Nothing’s worse than birthdays
when no-one’s there with you.

Nothing’s worse than meeting
right person at wrong time.
Nothing’s worse than G&T
without a slice of lime.

You’re right, my dears, for nothing’s
far worse than all of these.
You’ve got one life. Enjoy it.
And stop complaining. Please.

Ama Bolton, former member of The Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream and Pun, convenes a Stanza group in Somerset. Her poems have featured at festivals, on Radio 3’s The Verb, and in magazines and anthologies including Bridport Prize 2008. She blogs at
http://barleybooks.wordpress.com/

Do dust mites eat ginger biscuits?, by Trisha Broomfield

 

Do dust mites eat ginger biscuits?

I did wonder as I sipped my morning tea
dark and caffeine free
accompanied by a ginger biscuit or three
it was the crumbs, you see
parent mites with little mites of their own
living on the breadline during Lockdown
but then I thought, of course not
they’d have gorged themselves on me
I know they eat people,
if only by miniscule degrees
but perhaps I could tempt them away
with my ginger biscuit crumbs, flax filled, gluten free.

Trisha has had three pamphlets published by Dempsey and Windle. She is a regular contributor to Surrey Libraries Poetry Blog and has a regular poetry spot on her local radio. Humour escapes from her work regardless of any constraints applied. https://www.facebook.com/Trisha-Broomfield-Poetry-2340859049276291

Ads for adults, not suitable for children, by Carole Donaldson

 

Here’s one concerning my embarrassment at the conversation I was forced to have with a highly inquisitive and precocious four-year-old boy to which I’ve always told the truth …erm, except in this case. I mean, how does one start?

Ads for adults, not suitable for children

When your four-year-old is smart and bright,

and sat there watching telly one night,

Well it’s not quite what I’d call ‘night’ really,

more afternoon/early evening clearly,

then he looks to you to innocently ask,

while you look on, somewhat aghast,

about the advert he’s just seen.

And he’s like “What does it all mean?”

and in that moment it’s soon the case,

that you don’t know where to put your face

 Why so untimely the ads must show,

such intimate detail to let your child know,

that ladies suffer at a certain age,

and especially after the menopausal stage

It’s stunning these inappropriate ads

in front of young impressionable lads

without a hint of unbridled shyness,

discuss the ins and outs of vaginal dryness

Buffoon in a flowery shirt, by Hannah Kiely

 

Buffoon in a flowery shirt

Hannah Kiely

Bastard, you took a piece of my life, screwed it
into a younger version, razed, ripped, torn apart

Bastard, you took the piano, the silent hall
echoes torment, tears, spartan space

And bastard, I cursed you harshly at night
closed the outside light, curled like a gnarled arthritic hand

Damn you, big shot, deluded at the apex
of your own illusions, a buffoon; child seats, schools

Who are you now, living under hollow pretence
is it greener on your side?

Your flowery shirts, an over-compensation
the rise and fall of a default man

Ill-fitting skinny jeans, Gen Z or millennial
you are not, they won’t make you younger

Long hair, an ageing rocker, who never made it
your fondness for the old wedding cake, three slices so far

Unbroken, I begin to steal it back,
middle aged fool.

I secretly don’t envy you anymore.

Hannah Kiely is from Galway. Kiely completed an MA in writing at NUIG in 2020. She has been published in Vox Galvia, RTE Sunday Miscellany, Pendemic.ie and has been a featured reader on Over The Edge.

Never eat shellfish, by Janet Sillett

 

Never eat shellfish

My aunt, nothing like my mother,
used me as a sounding board, captured,
ten years old, in her stifling kitchen,
smelling of chicken soup
and terror

I was licking the cake bowl dry,
she proclaiming
that the Russians sent bad weather,
on purpose
tell your father that, the commie,
insisting I pray for Israel,
and that I must never eat shellfish
on pain of death from God

My aunt, never one for irony, was firm
that I should trust my instincts
and be myself,
but even then, I thought being myself
might mean downing small pink shrimps
from seaside stalls,
striped in pink sweet rock colours

I should shun men with slinky hips, especially
those with guitars
I had never met one of these wonders
but from then on, I would look for them on every street corner

Be careful what you wish for
I wished for Cadbury’s dairy milk,
and that her daughter,
younger than me, whose life’s work was snitching,
would be kidnapped to a desert island,
clutching her Hebrew scriptures
as her book of choice

Things happen for a reason,
I knew she meant
bad things,
as I mixed chopped fish in her yellow cracked dish

My father died later that year

My aunt was a lodestar
a beacon to what not to do,
an upside down road map
from childhood to flimsy maturity

In middle age, diagnosed depressive,
I missed her declarations
In old age, visiting my dying mother,
she picked wild flowers for her bedside

Janet Sillett recently took up writing poetry and short fiction again after decades of absence. She has had a poem published in the Galway Advertiser and is about to have her first flash fiction piece published in Litro. She works for a think tank.

What the Dickens, by Julian Isaacs

 

Angela Merkel, reading Edwin Drood,
Said she liked Durdles the best.
Although she never found how Eddie met his end, And without intending to be rude,
She felt sure Jasper had something on his chest, And was not a faithful friend.
That night in the hookah bar,
It was just like Cabaret.
She played the part of Rosa Budd,
And was certainly a star.
She’d learned all her lines to say,
And looked like Joan Collins in The Stud.
Thus demonstrating that all the world is nothing but a stage,
Whether for Schubert’s Unfinished, Mahler’s 10th, or Edwin Drood performed off the page. That’s the thing about literature and history;
Read all you like — some of it will remain a mystery.

Duolingual and becoming 007, by Beth McDonough

 

Duolingual and becoming 007

Lately, I have become anxious in Spanish.
Sonia. Trust me, I must keep checking.
Does she really have two jobs, this Sonia?
Clearly someone is certain this matters.
That maybe explains why she’s tired every Tuesday.
After all, she can’t even rise in the mornings at 5,
which I’m told my own Abuelo does daily.

How much does she need other work?
I’m assured that her bosses (Amanda y Ana)
are muy simpáticas. Undeniably.
(I can only assume they’re superiors
in job number one. Name her other employers!
Although I can now order up to 39 beers,
that number of jobs seems extreme).

So, I’m worried poor Sonia’s moonlighting,
perhaps as a tasseled pole-dancer, in a club
owned by inexpressibly sinister figures.
That’s confirmed by el jefe’s grey graphic. He’s mean.
What can Fernanda, her much older sister,
be thinking? She’s always annoyed in her big house,
loving three pretty cats and a dog.

But I’m sure El Señor Perez has noticed.
After all, he’s a man with two desks.
What is he jotting with his red bolígrafo?
Surely that can’t be nothing. We know
he is hungry, though yet again he is eating
his favourite cheese sandwich (no ketchup)
with a café con leche. He never drinks wine.

El Señor Gomez is now part of the scene,
wearing his brand new zapatos.
Don’t be fooled by his boleto from Mexico!
He arrived at the estación de tren!
One Señor Castro claims he is a friend!
No-one has mentioned that this one’s Cubano!
Oh, how I fear for you, Sonia.

Then out in WhatsApp, there is Babs.
She tells me nothing of Sonia, but thinks
she’ll just quit this, then ascend some Via Ferrata.
So she’s switched to Italian, to be shocked
that she’s to survive solely on chocolate ice cream,
which she hates. No beers or wine. That won’t help poor Sonia,
as my voice lisps a much slower Sean Connery.

Beth McDonough is adept at spilling cocoa, particularly after winter swimming in the Firth of Tay, or escaping from a bramble bush whilst foraging. She tries hard not to spill on poetry books, including her own fairly recent pamphlet Lamping for pickled fish(published by 4Word). 

Wallpaper, by Anne Donnellan

 

Wallpaper

It was no menial operation nineteen sixty seven
when the decision was taken to paper the kitchen
with walls that climbed to the sky flaking and bruised
a reek-making timber ladder from a the hayshed was used
lugged to the decorating site by a fleet of giddy relations
eager to exhibit their finer skills of smoothing ridges
they attacked the tedious of peeling scraping and filling
made festival of their chalky chore
with whistling lilting and tale spinning

our mother muttered at the makeshift paste bench
fretted over flour and water stirred in thick strictness
relieved when all was prepped to hang the sticky sheets
her elder sister plumbline dangling matched patterned strips
precision scissored like the postman’s moustache
she sponged bubbles and creases without blemish
patted the pink Victorian flora
splashed on velvet red finish

after decades of fading layers
I remember decorators no longer there
stories crawl from wallpaper

Anne Donnellan’s work has been published in the NUIG Ropes Literary Journal 2018 and 2019, A New Ulster, The Linnet’s Wings, Bangor Literary Journal, Boyne Berries, Poethead, Vox Galvia , Clare Champion, Orbis and The Galway Review. She was a featured reader at the March 2019 “Over The Edge: Open Reading” in Galway City Library.

Coup de Tea, by Bern Butler

 

Coup de Tea

I can’t remember when lunch muscled in
shunting dinner, in our house, from one to six,
and spiriting tea away altogether, but recall
it was the same time as kiwis, broccoli,
Telecom Eireann, a flat beige phone in the hall.

No-one missed luncheon-sausage that was
Already dead; rancid slices of blood moon,
or tomatoes, quartered like seasons, falling
backward over lettuce, or salad-cream
blobbed across sulphurous eggs, tinned
salmon, Welsh Rarebit, beetroot from a jar.

Baked beans survived but the toasting-fork
fashioned from a coat hanger was banished
to soot-black tiles at the back of the range
where dour chimney brushes hung
like artefacts from a frightening age.

Corned beef took off to America.
Bananas endured with bunches being
purchased as before but not eaten so much
between slices of bread; more relegated
to the fruit bowl from where they were
abducted, stuffed into Tupperware

to be eaten at school (but only with friends
whose mothers acquiesced with reform)
while we looked down our noses at those girls
who still went home at lunchtime for dinner,
and continued to speak of tea as a meal.

Bern Butler writes poetry and prose. Her work has featured in The Ropes Anthology, TheGalway Review, North West Words, The Blue Nib, Abridged 0-60, The Ireland Chair of Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears. She has an MA in Writing from NUI Galway and will be a guest reader at Cuirt Festival Galway New Writing Showcase 2021.

able, by beam

 

able
I wrote into my note app
I ate beans on toast for the millionth time
no exaggeration
I wore pink velvet trousers
I looked at myself and thought ‘’cute’’
I smiled
I fed my dog purina, carrot and peanut butter
but held onto my porkchop
I sang into my computer
I felt like the wheels of my life were moving again
I watched benjamin button become a baby
I felt cold
I wanted to be close again to gone friends
I read kevins book
I was outside
I peed
I used the magic of the internet
I forgot to connect my feelings to the mains of my friends
I warmed up and down
I used my fingers, feet, hands, body
I was able to imagine myself next year
not in a pandemic

‘beam’ is a woman from Galway who is interested in self expression, politics, art and human-beams. Her recent work includes surviving the pandemic and several disappointing sourdough loaves. You can find more of her poetry at @personalbeam on instagram.

The Weather says ‘Wake up’, after Dorothy Parker, by Art Ó Súilleabháin

 

The weather says ‘Wake up’
after Dorothy Parker

You do
nutrients flowing against gravity
through xylem to extremities
from spear to soft
brown to green
cased to unfurled
you are cloaked in a new life
dressed in a spring trousseau
yellow for forsythia
white for blackthorn
pink Japanese Sakura
multi-coloured apple blossom
but what of a late frost in April
We’re here now
We might as well live.

Art Ó Súilleabháin was born in Corr na Móna, Co. Galway and spent some years in Boston USA. He has worked in Dublin, Castlebar and Washington DC before returning to Corr na Móna. He has been featured in Poetry Ireland, Writing Home (Daedalus Press), Hold Open the Door (Ireland Chair of Poetry), Boyne Berries, Skylight 47, Salt on the Coals (Winchester) and Cinnamon Press. He has published books for children as Gaeilge. His first collection of poetry for adults ‘Mayflies in the Heather’ was published by Revival Press in in March 2021. (www.artosuilleabhain.com)

Fruit, by Stephen Wren

 

Fruit

I rub my wrists, being a male lemur,
to produce aldehydes that smell of fruit
they attract mates. I must be a dreamer!
I rub my wrists, being a male lemur,
the smell was designed by the redeemer
He devised bespoke aromas to suit
I rub my wrists, being a male lemur,
to produce aldehydes that smell of fruit

Dr Stephen Paul Wren was educated at Cambridge and worked as a chemist in industry for many years. He transitioned back into academia at Oxford before joining Kingston University in September 2018 where he works as a Senior lecturer.

Stephen’s poetry can be read at www.stephenpaulwren.wixsite.com/luke12poetry and on Twitter @Stephen34343631.

A Grudge, by Heather Moulson

 

A Grudge

On my tenth birthday, I got a toy horse
A party was out of the question of course
But I really wanted a Tiny Tears Doll

Gran got me Playdough, my smile
became thin
I thanked her profusely as it went in
the bin
But I really wanted a Tiny Tears Doll

Was there no end of crap presents today?!
Oh, a construction set! Cheers, auntie Gaye!
But I really wanted a Tiny Tears Doll

Mum baked a cake, the icing was pink
I pigged the lot and was sick in the sink
But I really wanted a Tiny Tears Doll

Heather Moulson has been writing and performing poetry since 2016, and has featured extensively in London and Surrey. Heather’s first pamphlet Bunty, I Miss You! Was published in 2019 She mainly hankers for a certain era and lives in Twickenham with a stroppy black cat.

Good Morning Mr Magpie, by Teresa O’Connor

 

Good Morning Mr Magpie

So how is life in your new job?
It couldn’t be simpler
Your brush stroke always black
Not a hint of light
Only your face calico white

Do you still magnify a molehill?
Huff and puff it into a peak
like the Reek and talk is cheap
And have you climbed it yet?
Oh! and don’t forget your umbrella

And whose ear do you burn now?
You’re a gossip blogger, I hear
Always knew you as a luddite
But then you usually found someone
useful just around the corner

By now you must have genius status
It takes a lot of time to be a genius,
you have to sit around so much
doing nothing, really doing nothing

Teresa O’ Connor-Diskin’s poems have been published or forthcoming in The Galway Review, Skylight 47, Dodging the Rain, Vox Galvia, The Irish Farmers Journal and she was shortlisted for Poems for Patiences 2019.
One of her poems has been added to Poetry in Lockdown collection at the James Joyce Library UCD

The Emperor and the Daddy, by Michael Allsopp

 

The Emperor and the Daddy

I am a Great Emperor attracted by the light of the many Moons and you are a Daddy Long Legs, are you ready to dare enter the court of man, where there are so many rooms.

Whilst I flap and flutter you just rest now on the bottom of the door and when the door is opened, just the tiniest ajar, in we’ll go and muster, dancing in afar.

But, dear Great Emperor this is not a game, these men inside these courts I’ve heard they’re not quite so tame and their children act so beastly, grab my wings, pull off a leg, so I no longer can fly, surely to enter is to be murdered and to die.

Don’t be silly, as Emperor I’ll sit majestically in the corner of a wall, these beasts if to kill me would have to be like seven foot tall. I’ll claim this my castle and my Kingdom if you break-in with me, we won’t become of fate, in fact once inside you might find a loving long legged mate.

Now I’m dancing in excitement at the thought of finding love, so glad that you did tell me, thank you Emperor Moth, I’ll float in through any window for I have such little time and desperate to find a mate and of course it’s dark now and getting rather late.

So, these beasts of these courts, to be greeted by a spindly bug and a buzzing ball of fluff turns them into murderers, sounding sort of huff. The light of their many moons, trance us into a trap, oh no what is happening as I hear a cloth being rapped.

The moth takes off again and again as the beast takes aim, circling at eye level now and seems to have lost rudder control, smacking into the walls in this deathly game. He circles lower and lower, spinning around a moon in tighter revolutions, like a soap sud over an open drain. A few times he seems to touch the light but dances off unhurt but the beast succeeded and reduced him to dirt.

Now I dance and flit and plead don’t kill me I am not full of venom and I cannot bite, I was just attracted by the lure of your lights but I can feel a leg detach and a searing sensation of pain, I was just looking for a mate and now death be my fate.

I dream of flower beds and grasslands and wooded coppice, free with all the wildlife and pretty flowers and trees. But here I am dying inside this court of man, slain a slow death as I dream of flying across the Great Gromboolian Plain.

Enrichment, by Katherine Noone

 

Enrichment

When you shake the family tree,
my branch will yield no heirs, no heirlooms.
Mired in brambles, curved
clinging to the garden wall.

Look,
a restless robin lingers there.
A wind chime tinkles heavenly tones,
in the gentle evening breeze .

Hold back the pruning shears.

Katherine Noone’s first  poetry collection ‘Keeping  Watch’ was published by Lapwing  Publications in 2017. Shortlisted Vallum Poetry Award (Montreal).Her poems have appeared in Orbis, Crannog, Boyne Berries, Linnets Wings, Skylight 47, Vallum digital edition, A New Ulster,Ropes.  Poethead. ‘Out Here’ was published in 2019.

The World Has Run Out of Curry, by Nigel Lloyd

 

The World Has Run Out Of Curry

It came to my attention last night that the world has run out of curry
I woke up this morning in a cold sweat with my head all full of worry
The one I had last Friday may have been my last
I never thought that curry would be a thing of the past.

What am I going to do without my Vindaloo?
There’s only so much pepper you can add to Irish stew
I am thinking of all the plain food and how to pep it up a bit
I hope they haven’t run out of chillies or were really in the shit.

There’s no more Biryani, no more Keema Nan
The spice suppliers have closed their warehouse
and sold their fleet of vans
There’s no more Tikka Masala, no more Beef Madras
The government have declared a state of emergency
And the Pope has cancelled mass.

There’s talk of foreign countries
Going to invade in our weakened state
The news channel headlines refer to Tandoori Gate
All the politicians are keen to show they care
There’s even a Curry Crisis Celebrity Special
Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

I am really starting to panic now with all these thoughts I’ve had
I reach over and wake my wife and tell her things are bad
I wait for her reply as the news given might sound odd
She said “go back to sleep there’s plenty of curry
You dreamt it you silly old sod”.

Nigel Lloyd lives in rural Donegal and has had poems published in several magazines
From Crannog to Progressive Rock Magazine, he also had a poem featured on
BBC Radio Ulster Soundscapes programme and was a finalist in the
Bring your Limericks to Limerick competition 2018 and a finalist in
The Piano Academy of Ireland Limerick competition 2021.

www.nigellloydpoet.com

Honorificabilitudinitatibus, by Mohammad Zahid

 

Honorificabilitudinitatibus

This is no gasconade, do I need to depone
or cull an imprimatur to asseverate
that I am pretty good at anamnesis
I am no lamb that you may calumniate
for having muddied your waters flowing down from you
Your puissant depredation shall yield you no more
I’ve grown intransigent tenaciously
My skin has overgrown your claws
My heart, deaf to your war cries
My silence, louder that your vociferation.
Scan your fortress walls there’re cracks
My determination has insinuated in them
Your shields, armours have grown questionable
For, spears of my sight shall pierce them athwart
Count your days, despot,
I’ve etched my ingress to emerge
Honorificabilitudinitatibus

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

Openings, by Mary Lee

 

Openings

Henry Moore walks sideways
on the stairway down to the cellar –

keeps his eyes on the lighted doorway,
frightened of the dark as he fetches
apples for his coalminer father. Henry,
needs to find a way out,

remembering the crypt and the sun
struggling to press through the slag
heaps and the cavernous subterranean
world of his youth’s landscape. He sculpts

stone; the light enters through its
many openings.

chiselled poems– pursue precision,
may puzzle – a glimmer’s enough –
the tiniest ray, a wave, crossing
distance like sound – immensely faster.

Mary Lee’s poems have been published nationally and internationally; including Skylight 47; Orbis; The Galway Literary Review; Poems for Patience competition, (highly commended, 2018) Crannog; The Poet’s Quest for God, 2016 (anthology, Eyewear Publications, UK); Dodging website; A New Ulster website; The Wild Word website; Her work has been broadcast on A Living Word, RTE Radio 1. Mary’s second poetry collection Everyday Epiphanies is due in 2021.

Dr Queenie May, by Sally McHugh

 

Dr Queenie May | she/her

Dr Queenie May is an awful state
Hard working academic, a lot on her plate
Colleague of the Dean of Improbable Possibilities
A woman of integrity and acutely high abilities.
Dr Queenie May designs robust measures
Of students opinions, though not heeded, what treasures!
Nominated for excellence in research and teaching
Another honour for LinkedIn and some serious retweeting.
‘Assessing Assessment’ webinar, she needs to sign on
Dr Queenie May tells herself it won’t take long!
Committees on committees, all the day through
Four hour zooms with the camera on, troubling too.
‘Can you oblige? We have no woman for the panel
It’s an issue with which we must graciously grapple’
Committee-ing with the Dean of Desperate Dissertations
He suggests she produce some collegiate presentations.
Dr Queenie May devised a prototype app
For struggling academics, a clear word map
Her jargon generator runs on full poop
As she chairs the Diversity in Inclusive Communities sub-sub-group.
Dr Queenie May longs for time to renew,
When she can catch up on her writing, publications, reviews
When will they give her a free weekend?
Some yoga, mindfulness, time to mend.
With a string of publications, and a professorship in the bag
Dr Queenie May suffices with an odd quick shag
While the Dean of Wild and Wicked Atlantic Ways
Golfs his way around greens on yellow sunny days.
She knows no other life, bound to academia
No family, partner, children, just a house in suburbia
Grant proposals, funding, where is the time?
Dr Queenie May is driven to ‘doing a line’.
She needs an external outlet to let off steam
So she’s on Twitter as the academic dot queen
She vents her anger tweet by tweet
The Dean of Succulent Stoicism suggests they meet.
Dr Queenie May has just had enough
Time to set her generator to engender gruff
She sets the auto-reply on her phone and email
‘Sod off! I’m the new Executive Director of my own ship’s sail.’

Sally McHugh lives in the West of Ireland. She has published poems in ROPES 18 (2018) and The Blue Nib (2019).

After the . ., by Siobhan Potter

 

After the

…Suffering divine Jesus Christ almighty
Grant me the serenity to be an utter fucker
Grant me paucity of desire
Render that further into scarcity
Grant me the courage to change all I
Hold in contempt and still hold them
Grant me a dictatorship of vegans and
Wisdom whilst wielding a
Hand held tongue remover
Let me crow lyrical
Give me sleight of hand. No more
Sitting at home writing poetry
Let me fly- fleet of foot in
Boots of zoom leagues from
Open mic to open mic, garnering
Lines and concepts from the
Unpublished work of newcomers to
Plaster online and call my own. Take
Your only begotten son from his cross
Nail me on. Re-crucify him, because
I am worth it. Take everything so
I can write. Leave nothing but
Poetry. No lover nor kin, nor dog, be
Damned. Take my bitterness, leave me
Nothing to warm me but
Occasional spite. Then take that
Leave me reasonably content. Then
Come down, from on high on the
Backs of all four horsemen, so fast
That you trample the reaper
Leave me here in the woods, training for
Life. When I am proficient, have me
Eat fruit from the lonely tree and
Be driven back to the village I
Burned to the ground, with an
Olive branch, its adjoining tree and a spade
Make me fit in. Do—or
Let me never forget why I don’t
Take away access to the cupboard under
The stairs. Leave the stairs, so I
Neither remember nor forget
Make me love again
Fiercely
Wholly and holy
Have me swoon and gush and
Let it end there, on a corner
Let that light shine on me
Have me die in no doubt, my
Work here remains undone, that
My next job is lined up, and
That Mother is there

Waiting…

Siobhan Potter Bio
Siobhan Potter is a verbal artist.Her practice centred in relationship explores the capacity of oral epic poetic form to midwife experience. She has poetry published in oral and print form, curates ‘not the time to be silent’ and is a recipient of an Arts Council of Ireland Literature Project Award 2021

Twitter @soma_psyche

You Gave me a Geranium, by Robert Garnham

 

You liked me enough to give me a geranium

You gave me a geranium.
I said,
‘You know I’m not into salad.’
You said, ‘It’s a houseplant.
Not even you could kill this’.

But it was your way of saying
I love you.
The geranium sat there in passive,
Filtering C02 and judging me,
Reporting back my foibles and transgressions,
Taking photographs
When it should have been taking
Photosynthesis.

But you looked at me,
Your eyes as dopey as a spaniel,
And I forgave you your hardy annual.
‘When will it flower and bloom?’, I asked.
‘When will it light up my room?
When will its scent take to the breeze,
Provide pollen for the bees,
Put me at my ease,
Probably make me sneeze,
Each one of which is
One eighth of an orgasm,
That eight of these
And I should think of you?’

That night I trailed my fingers through a box of
J. Arthur Bowyer’s Syncho-Boost Houseplant Compost,
And it reminded me of you, Pete.
The geranium made me complete, Pete.
My life so recently deplete, Pete,
Of love,
Now suddenly filled like the pot,
This upturned cranium
With the roots of the geranium,
Need I explainium?
Sorry for being a painium.

Because you liked me enough
To give me a plant
And I liked you enough
To keep it
Pot it, plant it, deadhead it,
Water it, feed it, treat it for greenfly,
I even gave it a name, ‘Dirty Liza’,
Because she liked her fertiliser.
Every time I looked she was there
And still alive because I still care
And even though you eventually
Disappeared
Like the pests I treated,
Like the greenfly,
I never did
Glean why
You gave it to me to begin with,
Suffice to believe
You liked me enough
To give me a geranium.

Robert Garnham has been performing comedy poetry around the UK for ten years at various fringes and festivals, and has had two 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 quiz show Pointless. Lately he has been writing short stories for magazines and a humorous column in the Herald Express newspaper. In 2020 he was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Robert is the editor of Spilling Cocoa. His website can be found at https://professorofwhimsy.com

Particles, by Marcus Bales

 

Particles

With Einstein, we have gone too far to call
Him real. That’s antithetical
To physicists like him, who, after all,
Are purely theoretical.

The cop asked Werner how fast he was going.
When writing up a speed citation.
Heisenberg said stopped there is no knowing,
But he did know his location.

Schroedinger’s box — it doesn’t matter that
It’s opened or remains still closed.
There doesn’t even have to be a cat —
It’s only meant to be supposed.

There’s rumor that there is a tape-recorder,
Paul Dirac is heard to talk
And place his normal evening take-out order
For himself: a Pizza Dirac.

“Minnesota Twins?,” asked Wolfgang Pauli
“Don’t give me any crooked spin
And if they are identical, by golly,
There’s no state they can both be in.”

The Night I Told Genesis to Fuck Off, by Rodney Wood

 

THE NIGHT I TOLD GENESIS TO FUCK OFF
27 May 1972, Farnboro Tech

Chubby set up a trestle table inside & said to me
Mike was a student here & I’ve seen
the band practising at the Farnham Maltings.
They’re on fire!
I nodded, took the tickets
from my old school friend.
The Melody Maker
shakes hands with you on that, I said, Pass
my Dad’s regards on to yours.
The stairs behind
him went to room 306 where I spent two
years, one night a week, studying, & failing,
English A level. Then to the bar for two halves
of mild & ten Embassy.
The equipment
gathered dust on stage, the drums & guitars
waited like groupies but the band were elsewhere
high, smoking, drinking & talking like me
and my girlfriend gabbing about how I never
spoke to Chubby at school, why I couldn’t
pass English, I mean, I knew Brave New World,
Two Cheers for Democracy & Anthony
and Cleopatra backwards.
It wasn’t that,
said my girlfriend, it was the essay, your teacher
said you wrote funny & not in a good way.
Just then a smell of musk arrived followed
by the ginger-haired Jasper, swearing as usual
and scratching his nose.
Then Nick, striking a pose,
saying Genesis sounded like a river of silver
that glows, & Jon, who really made an effort
to be hip with long hair, wooden beads, flowery
shirt, flares & suede boots; he was posh
and came from Farnham, the nicest town in Surrey
We sit & talk till the support come on
to play their dreamy cross of Bach & Bee Gees.
A break, two more glasses of mild then
ex-public schoolboys, Genesis, amble
from the wings & they looked earnest, the real deal
for a few seconds until the lead singer came on
dressed as a daffodil & sang, in falsetto,
Walking across the sitting-room, I turn the television off
Sitting beside you, I look into your eyes
As the sound of motorcars fades.
My girlfriend didn’t like this bunch of posers.
Jon & Nick loved them.
An hour later Daffy shouted
Do you want more?
I yelled back Fuck off.
The hall was silent & the band slunk off stage.
My girlfriend gave me a kiss & that was the best
thing I’ve ever done.
Telling Genesis to fuck off.

Mind Games, by Emma Purshouse

 

Mind Games

We played
imaginary Kerplunk.
He won.
Very quickly
it seemed
all of my marbles
dropped!

Never one
to give up
I suggested
invisible Buckaroo.
But he said
it was getting late
and
couldn’t be bothered
with setting it all up.

Emma’s first novel Dogged is now available to buy from Ignite Books.  https://ignitebooks.co.uk/products-page/emma-purshouses-books/

This Is Not a Pipe Dream, by Julian Isaacs

 

This Is Not A Pipe Dream

The cow sprained its fetlock jumping over the moon,
Claude Rains went shopping in Monsoon,
The cowboy mauled by the viper fell in the dune;
Good morning midnight — this is death in the afternoon.

However Ernie and Jean were seldom seen
In the same Parisian bar at once;
Though always on the absinthe, shying grenadine,
When drunk they could both be eyes fronts.

In Natalie Barney’s Temple d’Amitié,
They were scoffing a moveable feast;
The phantom of the opera slept all day,
Dining on cake not bread because there was no yeast.

They got drunker and drunker till the hour became late,
And the hunchback of Notre-Dame straightened right out;
At the Porte de Clichy, André Gide had straitened the gate,
And in Benjamin’s arcades all the lights had gone out.

So beware the demon drink, for it may ruin you;
You’ll think the sun is black with melancholy.
As Baudelaire said, opium’s far better, it’s true.
Your dreams may be bad, but you’ll kid yourself they’re jolly.

The Bigger Issues, by Clive Oseman

 

THE BIGGER ISSUES

Some people seek answers to big issues
like the meaning of life,
or what happens to us when we die.

To them my issues are small fry,
insignificant in the scheme of things
and i have to confess, that stings.
Because I may not be intellectual,
my grey cells are somewhat ineffectual
when deep thought is deemed essential,
but to me, the small things matter more.

What are wasps actually for?
They get mildly angry and it’s all out war.
You try to repel them and they sting you to fuck.
Then they do it one more time for luck.
They show no compassion, not one little bit
The barbarous pointless stripy shits.

When I want to appear clever
I step it up a level and ask questions like….

If music be the food of love,
are cheese quavers an aphrodisiac?
Is there such a thing as cheese semiquavers to give a quick thrill?
If so, toss one my way if you will.

On the subject of food,
does a fruitfly count as one of your five a day?
I have my doubts
but if it does I can ditch the sprouts.
They’re not veggies, it’s a well known fact
They are Beelzebub’s scrotal sac.

It’s not just food that fascinates me.
Other things I need to know.

Is a really hard Englishman in Australia
called a Pommy Granite?
If I wrote a book on the history of censorship
would they ban it?
Is David Icke for real, damn it?

If a group of crows didn’t mean to get together are they a manslaughter?

Do waterpolo players ride seahorses?
Are you lot bored stiff, or is it rigor mortis?

If you buy a wok on the internet
is it an ewok?
When it arrives are you in for a shock?

And here’s a thing.
Will the first non binary monarch
be called their majesty the qing?

When they assess the age of a dinosaur fossil
is it even remotely possible
to know if it used anti ageing creams?
Calculations could all go to hell
if it used those products by L’oreal.

But the question that concerns me most may come as a surprise.

If you stick your head down the toilet,
Which is not very wise,
do you get floaters in your eyes?

Clive Oseman is a multi slam winning Brummie spoken word artist,comedian, satirist and promoter based in Swindon. His third collection “It could be verse” was published by Black Eyes Publishing UK in 2020, and his debut one man show “Getting To Know Elizabeth” was first performed on Zoom in February 2021..

Delta of Venus on the Bus, by Neil Fulwood

 

DELTA OF VENUS ON THE BUS

Cruelly, I bend the pages back
until the force can be felt in the spine.
The volume opens like a calyx,
freeing its horny pollen of words.

My hand trembles. I lay my palm
against the cool smooth paper,
flex a single quivering finger
and caress the length of a sentence

that ends with the word “vigorous”.
I have hidden cover, title, author’s name –
folded them hard into each other.
But the words writhe shamelessly;

inky exhibitionists. How many times
can one use “penis” in a ten-page story?
How many times before it launches
itself into the aisle, daubs its likeness

on the steamed-up windows, provokes
the driver in an obvious fashion?
How long before all eyes are on me,
everyone knowing what I’m reading

and forming their own conclusions?

Neil Fulwood was lives and works in Nottingham. His new collection, Service Cancelled, is published by Shoestring Press later this year. 

Pants, by Sue Cose

 

PANTS

Your underpants offend me.
I don’t care for the designer label,
I’d be happier if you felt able
To pull your sodding jeans up.
Up round your hips where they should be
Not sagging down towards your knee
So the rest of us are forced to see
Your PANTS!
Which may have a print of smiley faces
But fail to raise a smile on mine
And ‘no’, I’m not a moody swine,
My mood was actually quite fine
Until I saw your arse.
Which really doesn’t pass
For fashion sense or class.
If that is creativity
The art in it is lost on me
For all I see is PANTS.
And ‘yes’, this is a rant,
But one I feel is overdue,
For far too many men like you
Have got their underwear on view
And I don’t think it’s right.
It’s not a pleasant sight.
And even though you might
Claim your look is ‘hip’ or ‘street’
Your jeans are bagging round your feet
And seal the fate you soon will meet.
For suddenly you trip and fall
And face-down on the pavement sprawl.
Your jeans now well below your arse,
There’s nothing you can do to pass
For trendy, hip or cool.
You’re just a flat-out, fashion, fettered, fool.

Trousers, by Ray Givans

 

TROUSERS

“Is there no one who feels like a pair of pants?” Kenneth Koch, from his poem ‘Fresh Air’.

38L

54% Polyester, 44% Virgin wool, 2% Elastane.

We met in the Men’s department of Marks and Sparks.
I was hanging on a ‘bargain rail’
squeezed between a short-sleeve, Hawaiian-style shirt
and a chunky mauve jumper, XX Large.
He examined my labels. Dry Clean Only.
I recall being taken only twice to Ballyhackamore Dry Cleaners.
The attendant addressed me as, ‘one pair of pants’.

I am, what-they-call, a year-rounder
which gives me an advantage over the 30 + pairs
vying for a prominent position on his wardrobe rail:
chinos, cargo, drawstring, khaki, joggers, jeans – regular,
relaxed and loose – suit pants, moleskin, 3 band hi-vis polycotton
and corduroy – narrow and wide wale, in cream, blue and green.
In lightweight wool I am his favourite for the Office,
but, in truth, I am uncomfortable in summer, supplanted by
cropped trousers, shorts and long-leg cool linen.

Sometimes I am worn 2-3 days consecutively,
then shunned for several weeks.
Stich by stich my loop-holes are unravelling,
I see the day when I am turfed out for some bright young Turk.
I stay positive, think back to happy days of our association.
I was there when his son was forceps delivered in theatre,
proud to carry the digital compact in my front pocket.

There is still a faint stain on my knee
from the spilled celebratory flute of bubbly.

Ray Givans lives in Belfast. He has been published in five poetry pamphlets, and in one full collection. The latter was ‘Tolstoy in Love’, published by Dedalus Press, Dublin. This collection was shortlisted for the Strong award, for best first collection by an Irish poet in 2009. His most recent pamphlet collection is, ‘The Innermost Room’, Salzburg Press, at the University of Salzburg

In Praise of the May Tree (Perhaps an Ode) by Hillary Willmott

 

In Praise of the May Tree (Perhaps an Ode)

I want to praise thee, May Tree
For the joy you’ve given me
For those few weeks each year
You set my spirit free

When your gentle flowers bloom
You cover all that open space
that’s twixt my neighbour’s window
and what I call my private place

So for that special time
when you reach up toward the skies
I can run round bollock naked
Without his prying eyes

Hilary has been writing for a very long time.  Her poems have been published by Templar Press, Bristol Poetry Can, Obsessed with Pipework, Leaf, Velvet, The Exeter Broadsheet and Mr Garnham himself. She has also been shortlisted nationally.

When Two Worlds Collide, by Jeff Horsey

 

When two worlds collide

Eric worked at the post office.
Sorting letters at 6 am.
Finished early.
Home at four.
Picked up guitar.
Played ‘til his fingertips were sore.
He had a plan,
he had a goal.
Dug the blues and jazz and soul.
One a these days “Johnny Sansom” gonna MAKE the grade,
not just get post office pay.

Johnny played in pubs at night
until one am and only then,
did he worry about the early shift,
sifting letters and whistling riffs.
See Johnny was Eric in the broad daylight.

Monday morning six am
One of his post office friends
said “Man, you look just like the guy
played down the Bull and Bush last night.
Me and the Missus went for a drink,
she said she couldn’t even think,
‘coz this guy Johnny was in the bar,
trying to play an old guitar.
He could NOT sing.
He could NOT play.
What a WANKER,
she said to me.”

And here’s a video of Jeff ‘The Horse’ Horsey:


Invisibility Rant, by Abigail Ottley

 

The young think they invented cool but they know diddly squat.
Those ankle-snappers shut their eyes to what we wise ones got.
So this old bird is set to strut and fan her tail and crow.
She’s primed to blow her cover. Here’s a thing or two the yoof should know.
This woman’s old but she ain’t dumb. She ain’t pretending she ain’t grey.
Don’t matter if she’s billiard-bald, she still deserves to have her say.
And what she says is simply this. She’s deep-down tired of being dissed.
At worst reviled, at best dismissed, if there’s a mill, then she’s the grist.
Now guys that used to flirt and stare will mostly fail to see she’s there.
One day, she’s classy, gorgeous, hot. Next morning, passé, clean forgot.
How plaintive sounds her shrill lament as she asks where her ‘sexy’ went.
Now just existing leaves her fazed. A life outside her master’s gaze.
That gaze which won’t admit she’s there and for the most part doesn’t care
but turns its back and sends no flowers. In bars, sometimes she waits for hours
before the barman can’t ignore the fact that what she’s waiting for
is to be served like all the rest. Great hulking guys with beards and chests
that press against the bar where she can’t get, can’t hear, can’t even see.
And girls with boobs and killer shoes marked out like maps with blue tattoos
and all the heartless, hip-less yoof who cruelly mock those long of tooth.
In restaurants waiters turn their heads to tiptoe round the dining dead.
In any queue how cursed is she by this in-vis-i-bil-i-ty.
I’m here to say that such as we reject this anonymity.
We won’t sit down, we won’t shut up calm down, make tea. We’ve had enough.
We’re women. We have earned our stripes our stretch marks and our right to gripe.
We’ve paid our dues, we’ve lived this shit. And now we’ve had enough of it.
It isn’t fair, it isn’t just.Where is it writ we woman must
accept our lot and know our place in short, that we must self-efface?
Back in the day when I was young my grandma said a woman’s tongue
dripped wisdom, sweet and strong as wine that, aged in oak, improves with time.
And she was right to teach me how a woman grows into her power.
A witch is but a woman who won’t still her tongue as others do.

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley writes poetry and short fiction from her home in Penzance. A former English teacher with a lifelong interest in history, she has been Pushcart nominated, translated into Romanian, and is carer to her very elderly mother. Find her on Facebook or @AbigailLaLoca on Twitter

The best superhero we can conjur, by Rob Schofield

 

The best superhero we can conjure

sits in splendid self-isolation. He
does not fret about provisions, other
than how best to keep the plebs supplied with
bread and circuses. And toilet roll. His
tenebrous consigliere, last seen
scuttling away from the black door sans
smug grin, is at home now, mired in his blog,
scribbling his fiendish marginalia
and plotting how and where to push the blame.
How will he muddy waters already
soiled by years of verbal diarrhoea?
Where were his not-so-super forecasters
when the rest of us were glued to the news
from Wuhan? And the second string, these Lords
of Misrule, whose misplaced confidence rides
shotgun with incompetence, snatch at the
coat tails of the experts they scorned, alive
to the scapegoat’s scent. Eton College closed
its doors before our children were sent home.
What of the rich, no longer able to
stake sole claim to being idle? Boltholes
undetected, they feed foie gras and fox
cubs to the hounds, riding out the storm while
trusting their Joker to keep their backsides clean.

Rob Schofield writes fiction and poetry from a temporary bunker in the Yorkshire Dales. Rob is a member of the 2021 Northern Short Story Festival Academy and has been published in The Blue Nib and Prole. He has been long and short listed for several short story prizes. Rob publishes work in progress at robschofield.uk.  

 

Uncle Peter, by Nigel Lloyd

 

Uncle Peter

Uncle Peter wasn’t Elvis, but he thought he was.
Admittedly, at family parties even after a skin full
he could hold a tune, but Elvis didn’t need to be
helped into a taxi after a gig, and he didn’t have to retrieve
his false teeth from the garden the following day.

Uncle Peter wasn’t Fred Astaire, but he thought he was.
Admittedly, at his daughter’s wedding, even with indigestion
after a three course meal and several brandies,
he could throw a few shapes.
But Fred Astaire didn’t nearly get arrested
because he was running through the town centre
with a traffic cone on his head.

Uncle Peter wasn’t Casanova, but he thought he was.
Admittedly, he was married three times
and always seemed to find plenty of women
who liked the aroma of Brylcreem and Castella cigars.
But Casanova didn’t put so much Hi Karate on
that you could smell him in the next street.

Uncle Peter wasn’t a young man, but he thought he was.
Admittedly, he had read the NME since the 60’s
but you can’t be cool forever.
He started to look like he had lost it
When he thought Kanye West was a holiday destination.

Uncle Peter wasn’t my favourite uncle, but he thought he was.

Nigel Lloyd lives in rural Donegal and has had poems published in several magazines

From Crannog to Progressive Rock Magazine, he also had a poem featured on 

BBC Radio Ulsters Soundscapes programme and was a finalist in the 

Bring your Limericks to Limerick competition 2018 and a finalist in

The Piano Academy of Ireland Limerick competition 2021.

Www.nigellloydpoet.com

I’m sorry I’m late, by Susan Jordan

 

I’m so sorry I’m late
it was the weather the trains the traffic
a deluge of rejection letters I had to open
six weeks’ washing-up that couldn’t wait
a freak rainstorm that only fell on me
a hole in the road that swallowed me up
a crocodile that punctured my back tyre
a bomb somewhere that might have exploded
the clock starting to go backwards
the dog eating my sense of time
me losing the way inside my house
the streets turning back to front.
Actually I’m just late.

What I’m Like, by Kevin Higgins

 

What I’m Like

Lively as an elderly blue-arsed fly
that’s just been clattered by
the weekend edition of the New York Times.
About as much use in a debate about anything
as a weighing scale floating through outer space.
Reassuring as a naked funeral director
stepping into the same hot tub as you
in search of new customers.
My future smells delicious
as the used odour-eaters
I was going to send you for Christmas
until I saw the price of the postage.
My dream, that little children of every
complexion and gender
will one day gather together
to play Frisbee with stray toilet seat lids
they plucked from the rubble.

Kevin Higgins has been described by The Stinging Fly magazine has described Kevin as “likely the most read living poet in Ireland. His sixth full collection of poems ‘Ecstatic’ will be published by Salmon in June 2021.  

The Mermaid and the Onion Seller, by Rosie Barrett

 

The Mermaid and the Onion Seller

Eckphrastic after The Picnic Basket by Dawn Timmins

I’ve just made a huge mistake
This man’s not mine for goodness sake
He’s bonny, brown and looks the part
but life is more than simply art.
Sat here on his bike I’m cold.
We’ll not be lovers when we’re old.
Mermaids don’t eat cheese, drink wine.
When I’m on land I know I’ll pine
for gentle currents, wafting weeds,
for whale songs drifting through the reeds.
My sisters, combing out their hair,
if they were here would simply stare
and tell me not to be so daft.
But they weren’t here when he laughed
said “Ma choupette, come, marry me
the good Lord will bless you, set you free
to be my wife, bear me a son.
I’ll teach you French, we’ll have some fun”.
He really hasn’t thought this through
but he’ll have a tale to tell his crew.
For the moment I’ll sit here
My nipples hardening in the air.
And later on I’ll tell him “No
We really can’t – I have to go”.

The Astronomer’s Wife, by Rose Cook

 

The Astronomer’s Wife

That was the night she told us
her husband is an astronomer,
who drives off every day to his planetarium
with a box of sandwiches and a Mars bar.

He’s always has that faraway look in his eyes,
it’s quite attractive, we all thought so.
He has no idea of time though,
his head so full of space.

He knows all the stars and planets
and is looking into Saturn at the moment,
which has been troublesome.
Last year it was Venus, things got very tense.

He’s lovely though, they have four children.
He calls them satellites.
And a dog.
Pluto.

Rose Cook is a Devon based poet whose work has been published in six collections. Her latest book is Shedding Feathers (published by Hen Run, Grey Hen Press).

www.rosecook.wordpress.com

My Shot, by Nikki Fine

 

When offered, I took it like a shot,
a shot in the arm – literally –
to boost the current state of existence.
It’s a shot across the bows of
the viral armada, steaming through
an unnerved population.
It may be a shot in the dark, though
I doubt it, with all the scienceing
put into it. It feels more like
a money shot, profiting everyone.
A twofer, it’s a Parthian shot.
Has the virus shot its bolt?
I’ll be okay, that’s my parting shot.

Nikki Fine is a one-time English teacher, now tutor and writer, with occasional forays, when permitted, into the theatrical world (off-stage). She has had work published in The Interpreter’s House, on Ink Sweat and Tears, and Riggwelter, and self-published a collection of poetry inspired by quantum physics.

Maisie, by Maggie Duffy

 

Maisie

Maisie went crazy out in St Tropez
And got sunburned wearing her thong
And when calamine cream caused it to steam
She knew something was terribly wrong

The waiter he brought her 10 pints of cold water
He just thought she was drinking a lot
And despite a quick look in her trusty phrase book
There was no translation for “I’ve toasted my Bot”

When Maisie got home she was right on the phone
A doctor must really be sought
Though the pain had subsided the redness increased
And poor Maisie was quite overwrought

For her bum like a beacon shone through her clothes
Through satin or linen or silk
It was most disconcerting to have a red bum
Which at one time had been whiter than milk

The Dr he uhmed the Dr he aahed
His diagnosis struck poor Maisie dumb
He said that one day the red might fade away
But for now she had St Tropez Roseacea Bum!

There was not much research the Dr had said
The condition was rare in these climes
He asked for a photo to show in the Lancet
But Maisie now fully dressed had declined

Well down in Blackawton where poor Maisie lived
There were equal parts of condolence & teasing
Some said look on the bright side, if you were a baboon
Your bum would be aesthetically pleasing

Well the days they did come & the days they did go
There was wind hail, frost and sunshine
And Maisie’s condition showed no sign of improvement
And she now sat down most of the time

But there was a day I am to tell
When Maisie came into her own
For one night at the WI meeting
It was just time to go home

There was a big bang a clash & a clang
And a terrible darkness descended
A thunderbolt in Dartmouth knocked out the transformer
And electricity supply was suspended

Well what could they do oh what a hullabaloo
As no one could see nothing at all
And the whole of the village for warmth & companionship
Crammed themselves into the hall

Well when Maisie arrived, oh what joy, what a welcome
She lit up the whole of the place
And the heat from her rear gave comfort & cheer
There was a warm glow on everyone’s face

Some toasted crumpets & some lit their pipes
And some just admired the view
And Maisie was happy to help where she could
After all it was the least she could do

Now I’m happy to say Maisie’s bum is OK
It finally regained natural colour
And the St Tropez Roseacea faded away
And the whole of her atmosphere was cooler

But down Blackawton way in Devon today
There’s a statue to Maisie’s good deed
It stands in the square it looks so good there
And everyone stops & takes heed

The surface has smoothed, not with weather & time
But because all the old men as they pass
Just cannot resist touching Maisie’s behind
And they say “That’s a nice piece of SCULPTURE

(Maggie says:

The W.I. at Blackawton had a social fun evening and I was their entertainment. 
All Women’s Institute gatherings have a little themed event whereby the members either bring something homemade, craft work, floral display, painting etc. The guest speaker must judge and give a 1st,2nd,3rd,. 
The theme that night was to write an amusing poem.
The president asked me as I was the speaker if I would also write an amusing poem about Blackawton !!???.
I am sure you will agree that was a fairly testing subject.(probably not for you being a full time pro) but for me it took a bit of thinking about 
I decided to come at it from a different angle and make it about a lady who had gone for the high life holiday in St Tropez and had come home to Blackawton to face the consequences.)

it started with a Body, by Julian Isaacs

 

it started with a Body / of evidence
a combined cadet corps / d’esprit
a white outline on the Parade ground.
Mysteriously // in the preceding chapter
it had been in the / Library.

There was no lead Piping
but there were some Soldiers / the nanny
and the little Princes in her care
were feverishly licking them / to get
as High as they could // before high Tea.

the simple Fact is that / the only thing
that starts with a Body is a Birth
and even that starts with // Two bodies.
Even the Sacrament / of corpus Christi
started with Blood as well // as a Body.

the Train of Essence / was in fact
set in perpetual Motion / by the difficulty
in identifying Somebody // as Nobody.
it all Started with no Body / and nobody
can always be recreated in their // Own self-Image.

if Death is so Bloody thrilling
then King Lear must be a // Thriller
but Shakespeare wrote it / and that makes Him
a Killer / so it didn’t Start with a // Body
it Ended with one.

in a Seminar on mary shelley’s / Frankenstein
Sheila asked Shirley / how she was going to approach
the Essay. ‘i’m going to look at the / Body’
she replied with a Face as straight as // the back
of a Hairbrush.

Author’s Note: NB primary research revealed the Body Shop does not sell // Bodies.

Art Students in a City Park, by Patrick Deeley

 

Penniless, sodden, splattered
with mud and paint,
we cling to our brushes and easels,
catch tree-bark and bareness,
the on-off colours
of January light between showers.

What we offer the world
is what the world feels it can do
without. Futility,
say the cars tail-backed beyond
the railings, futility
the wind-wrecked umbrellas,

the errant golf shots
in far green spaces, the drug deals
done on side-streets,
futility the bank executives
in tinted restaurants
laughing off their latest messes.

Here, snowdrops cluster;
a scribble of moss
resembles yellow crayon-marks
where sunlight hits;
a sleeping moth, all
but etched into an old oak trunk,

gathers us together
to chaunt the idea of it as a tawny,
inverted love heart.
The park is about to be shut.
Suppose, one of us
suggests, suppose we mosey up

to the sour-puss
key-rattling park attendant posing
as Saint Peter
and smile our Mona Lisa smiles,
will he allow us
to stand just one more half-hour

in the wind and muck?
At which we all splutter into our
aqua marines, indigos,
burnt siennas, alizarin crimsons,
behind the tall,
rusty, suffering gates of Paradise.

Patrick Deeley’s awards include the 2001 Eilís Dillon Award, the 2014 Dermot Healy International Poetry Prize, and the 2019 Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award.  Recently he has had poems published in The Rialto, The London Magazine and Staying Human, an anthology edited by Neil Astley.  His seventh collection with Dedalus Press, ‘The End of the World’, was shortlisted for the 2020 Farmgate National Poetry Award.

Three Poems by Daniel Ryan

 

Haircuts and House Parties

Newscasters and politicians
looking dapper on the telly.

The neighbours in Flat 54
giving it welly.

Me on my tod
writing shit poetry.

Vaccinated

The poet couldn’t find anything
to rhyme with Astra Zeneca,
so he watched the North London
Derby instead.

Should Gareth Bale Cut His Hair?

I don’t care.

Daniel Ryan has come out of poetic retirement, but when his poetry gets rejected, he’ll probably go back in.

Jan, Jen or Jean, by Thomas McColl

 

JAN, JEN OR JEAN

I hadn’t seen her in years.
Her name was Jan, Jen or Jean,
I couldn’t remember which.

My face lit up like a fruit machine
when she caught my glance
as we passed each other on Southwark Bridge.

“Hi, Tom,” she said,
and as if she’d pressed PLAY,
I felt compelled to take the chance.

The names began to spin inside my head –
Jan, Jen, Jean.
I pressed STOP too quickly –
I had little choice –
and settled on Jean.
“Hi, Jean,” I said.

We passed.
I pressed COLLECT,
and got a sick feeling in my gut,
as the name Jan,
for first prize,
flashed before my eyes.

Thomas McColl lives in London. He’s had poems published in magazines such as Envoi, Iota, Prole and Ink, Sweat and Tears, and has had two collections of poetry published: ‘Being With Me Will Help You Learn’ (Listen Softly London Press, 2016) and ‘Grenade Genie’ (Fly on the Wall Press, 2020). 

Yes, But He Lives in the Philippines, by Thom Boulton

 

Yes, But He Lives in the Philippines

She said,
“And Bob’s your uncle!”
and he replied (as always)
“Yes, but he lives in the Philippines.”

And when,
the penny dropped down
they said, “and Bob’s your uncle!”

“Yes, but he lives in the Philippines.”

The words
greeted by a frown
traced down the shadow of
their nose, out the open mouth, making

the most
perfect question mark.
Bob’s dead now. So, when they say
“And Bob’s your uncle!” and he replies

he adds,
“Though he is dead now.”

He can
still remember Bob’s
body sliding out the boot
of the car, folded neatly in an
envelope.

The Elysium Fields
are located at the back of Plymouth Athenaeum.

Come Sail Away by Styx plays on loop.

He went there after Bob died
just to check his moustache was dead too.

Asked each pyschopomp
if they knew where the pot
for Bob’s wake was,
they nodded towards the casino
filled with ethereal funeral directors,

gave him directions

“Take a left.”

“Mind the ending.”

“And, Bob’s your uncle!” They said.

“Yes,” he began, “But…”

“Not anymore.” They said.

Two Limericks from Mark Totterdell

 

Anaconda

I once had a pet anaconda,
Of which I could not have been fonder,
Though it caused some alarm
And significant harm
By its strong inclination to wander.

Stegosaurus

We take care with our pet stegosaurus,
Lest the spikes at its rear end should gore us,
As with one mighty flail
Of its big spiky tail
It could render us horribly porous.

Mark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines and have occasionally won prizes. His collections are This Patter of Traces (Oversteps Books, 2014) and Mapping (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018).

What Can You Do?, by John Murphy

 

What Can You Do?

You know what it’s like
when you open a can of beans
and empty them into a bowl
and you look in the can
and there’s 4 or 5 beans
that resolutely refuse to move?
So you hit the bottom of the can
to shift those beans but they have
only moved halfway down the can?
So you have to get a spoon
to get them out. and it’s a clean spoon.
F***ing hell, you have to get a CLEAN
spoon to shift those f****ers into the bowl.
More bloody work for me washing cutlery,
which, by the way, I F****ing hate.
Modern life. What can you do?

You know what it’s like
when you start to nod off
when reading a book and you lose
your place in the book because
you dropped it? And you snap awake
and wonder what the F***k, where am I?
And then you try to get back into the book
but you don’t remember the last 20 pages you read?
Modern life. What can you do?

You know what it’s like
when wrapping a parcel
you can’t get the edge
of the sellotape, because
you can’t see it on the tape spool
and you have to feel around the spool
to feel the edge? And then you spend
F***ing ages trying to get your nail
under the edge do you can peel off a strip?
And when you do peel it back you reach
for the scissors and the tape drops back
on to the F***ing spool? And then you finally
get to cut a strip but it folds back on itself?
And when you want to wrap a parcel you peel off
four or five strips and stick them to a table top
and one by one they curl under and stick
so you have to peel them off and they get all twisted
and stick to themselves? Modern life. What can you do?

John Murphy is a retired lecturer and musician. He has been published in many journals and magazines over the years and is the editor of the online magazine The Lake. He published a book in 2009, The Thing Is…

What Can You Do?, by John Murphy

 

What Can You Do?

You know what it’s like
when you open a can of beans
and empty them into a bowl
and you look in the can
and there’s 4 or 5 beans
that resolutely refuse to move?
So you hit the bottom of the can
to shift those beans but they have
only moved halfway down the can?
So you have to get a spoon
to get them out. and it’s a clean spoon.
F***ing hell, you have to get a CLEAN
spoon to shift those f****ers into the bowl.
More bloody work for me washing cutlery,
which, by the way, I F****ing hate.
Modern life. What can you do?

You know what it’s like
when you start to nod off
when reading a book and you lose
your place in the book because
you dropped it? And you snap awake
and wonder what the F***k, where am I?
And then you try to get back into the book
but you don’t remember the last 20 pages you read?
Modern life. What can you do?

You know what it’s like
when wrapping a parcel
you can’t get the edge
of the sellotape, because
you can’t see it on the tape spool
and you have to feel around the spool
to feel the edge? And then you spend
F***ing ages trying to get your nail
under the edge do you can peel off a strip?
And when you do peel it back you reach
for the scissors and the tape drops back
on to the F***ing spool? And then you finally
get to cut a strip but it folds back on itself?
And when you want to wrap a parcel you peel off
four or five strips and stick them to a table top
and one by one they curl under and stick
so you have to peel them off and they get all twisted
and stick to themselves? Modern life. What can you do?

John Murphy is a retired lecturer and musician. He has been published in many journals and magazines over the years and is the editor of the online magazine The Lake. He published a book in 2009, The Thing Is…

What Can You Do?, by John Murphy

 

What Can You Do?

You know what it’s like
when you open a can of beans
and empty them into a bowl
and you look in the can
and there’s 4 or 5 beans
that resolutely refuse to move?
So you hit the bottom of the can
to shift those beans but they have
only moved halfway down the can?
So you have to get a spoon
to get them out. and it’s a clean spoon.
F***ing hell, you have to get a CLEAN
spoon to shift those f****ers into the bowl.
More bloody work for me washing cutlery,
which, by the way, I F****ing hate.
Modern life. What can you do?

You know what it’s like
when you start to nod off
when reading a book and you lose
your place in the book because
you dropped it? And you snap awake
and wonder what the F***k, where am I?
And then you try to get back into the book
but you don’t remember the last 20 pages you read?
Modern life. What can you do?

You know what it’s like
when wrapping a parcel
you can’t get the edge
of the sellotape, because
you can’t see it on the tape spool
and you have to feel around the spool
to feel the edge? And then you spend
F***ing ages trying to get your nail
under the edge do you can peel off a strip?
And when you do peel it back you reach
for the scissors and the tape drops back
on to the F***ing spool? And then you finally
get to cut a strip but it folds back on itself?
And when you want to wrap a parcel you peel off
four or five strips and stick them to a table top
and one by one they curl under and stick
so you have to peel them off and they get all twisted
and stick to themselves? Modern life. What can you do?

John Murphy is a retired lecturer and musician. He has been published in many journals and magazines over the years and is the editor of the online magazine The Lake. He published a book in 2009, The Thing Is…

Neighbourhood Watch, by Maurice Devitt

 

Neighbourhood Watch

When she woke he was gone,
the scent of him still dawdling
on the stairs, phone
and wedding-ring abandoned
on the console table in the hall.

After three weeks, she packed
his clothes into a suitcase
and left it in the porch.
In the morning it had vanished
except for the shoes he never liked,
perched squarely on the step.

A woman down the road,
dowdy and disinterested
since her last romance,
has been spotted wearing lipstick
to the bin and the milkman
has remarked, in the form
of an open question,
how she’d increased her order
from one bottle to two.

Winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition in 2015, he published his debut collection, ‘Growing Up in Colour’, with Doire Press in 2018.

His poems have been nominated for Pushcart, Forward and Best of the Net prizes and his Pushcart-nominated poem, ‘The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work’, was the title poem of an anthology published by Hibernian Writers in 2015. He is curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site.

Boring, by Carl Burkitt

 

BORING

10 minutes into wandering
through an M&S petrol station
I realised I’d forgotten my headphones

and the podcast I thought was boring
was in fact two middle aged men behind me
chatting about A roads.

Carl Burkitt likes to tell tales. He tells long tales, short tales, silly tales, sad tales and likes to tell them online, behind a mic, in books, in schools or on the sofa with his young family in London. Read more at www.carltellstales.com

How to Read at an Open Mic, by Susan Jordan

 

How to read at an open mic

When it’s your turn to read
make quite sure you’re still muted.
People like to watch you mouthing.

Spend most of your time
shuffling through your papers, saying,
‘I’m sure I’ve got it somewhere.’

Give a long, rambling introduction
about how your father used to go fishing
only this poem isn’t about that.

Keep your head down over your copy
or hunch up, squinting at your phone.
At all costs avoid facing the camera.

Ideally, print your poems
on the back of private documents
and hold them up in front of your face –

bills and bank statements are ideal.
That way you’ll keep the audience’s interest
and get lots of comments in the chat.

Read in a poetry voice that goes up
wherever you’d expect it to go down.
Draw out the last syllable of each line.

If you read a second poem,
say, ‘I’ve only just written this
and haven’t managed to revise it yet.’

Before you finish, do apologise –
if you haven’t done so already –
for not having written your poems better.

Sit staring vacantly afterwards
so people don’t know if you’re done
then forget to mute your coughs and slurps of tea.

4 By Bloody 4’s, by Lisa Lopresti

 

4 By Bloody 4’s

Huge SUV, 4 by bloody 4,
Parked right outside my front door.

In narrow Edwardian city streets,
Those 4 X 4’s like to retreat.

I can admire the metallic paint,
That the late evening sun warmly glints.

But there is no light streaming through,
My tall beckoning windows as it ought to do!

The pollution that these vehicles exhale,
Dust’s lungs and glass in dirty veils.

My city is not 4 X 4’s natural habitat,
Country lanes and tracks is where that’s at.

But what about the snow!
4 by four drivers want to know.

Well in our cities, those 2 days a year,
Mean you should stay at home and drink beer.

Lisa Lopresti (she/her)is a poet from the statue toppling City of Bristol. She has been broadcast on BBC Radio Bristol and published in magazines and anthologies. Lisa performs in spoken word events and has found this both terrifying and exhilarating. She likes to convey poems to portray, this life.
https://lisa-lopresti-poetry.webnode.com/

Cocks, by Mohammad Zahid

 

Cocks

Things were never easy
nor were they hard
The conflict was an unending one
with seven blind men groping the elephant
rightly at all wrong places.
For the onlookers it was a comic show
For the blind men a harsh reality.

The hens kept clucking
Perhaps giggling at the eternal dilemma
Humans faced while deducing
the evolutionary equations
about who came first,
the clucking hens
or their encapsulated embryos.

The poor cocks were left unattended
Till they ran unbridled
like their human homonyms.
They too sometimes became easy
and sometimes hard.

Mohammad Zahid is a poet and translator from Kashmir, India. His maiden poetry collection The Pheromone Trailbagged 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.

Double Negative Party, by Melanie Branton

 

Double Negative Party

There ain’t no party like a double negative party,
ain’t nothing better you can get.
You think that sounds exciting?
Well, you ain’t heard nothing yet!

There ain’t no party like a double negative party.
Nothing never felt so great!
Don’t never start till midnight
and don’t never end till really late.

You’ve heard that they’re “bad grammar”?
You’ve heard they “don’t make sense”?
You’ve heard they are “confusing”,
sound “uncouth” or “cause offence”?

The French use double negatives!
The Polish use them, too!
There ain’t no foreign language
that supports that snobbish view!

They were used by William Shakespeare
and Chaucer! Goodness sakes!
Ain’t no-one gonna tell me
Will and Geoffrey made mistakes!

There ain’t no party like a double negative party –
the guest list’s full of stars!
Ain’t no-one who is no-one
would give that bash a pass.

There ain’t no party like a double negative party –
Not nowhere in no nation.
No-one don’t want nothing else –
just an invitation.

Melanie Branton is a spoken word artist from North Somerset who is totally obsessed with cats, linguistics, Vikings and vegetables. Her published collections are Can You See Where I’m Coming From? (Burning Eye, 2018) and My Cloth-Eared Heart (Oversteps, 2017) melaniebranton.wordpress.com

Marc Maron, by Tina Sederholm

 

Marc Maron

They say never meet your heroes,
but after a gig that
I had just commented
was breathtakingly crafted
and delivered with an ease I long for,
we passed the stage door
as Marc Maron walked out.

Thank goodness I needed to use
the ladies’ after the show
and that the queue
had been the exact length required
to facilitate this moment
is not what I said
as I shook Marc Maron’s hand.

But what I enjoyed most
was the way Marc Maron didn’t wait
for Neil to approach
but stepped towards him,
hand outstretched,

thus ending a seventeen-year loop
of disappointment, caused
by an underwhelming chance
encounter with Philip Glass.

Tina Sederholm is a performance poet and theatre-maker. Described as ‘Completely spellbinding’ ***** (Edfringe Review), she has created and extensively toured four solo shows, including six runs at the Edinburgh Fringe. This poem comes from her latest collection, This Is Not Therapy, published July 2021 by Burning Eye.

Quark, by Trisha Broomfield

 

Quark

Mum is on a diet, is always on a diet
today’s wonder ingredient, low calorie Quark.
‘Come on,’ she says,
wicker shopper over one arm,
‘we’re going down to Budgen’s.’
I pull on my boots

we reach the chill counter
via the Walnut Whips, Mum searches,
cream cheese with or without chives
cottage cheese, with or without most things,
Lancashire, Wensleydale, Cheddar
Edam and Gouda, no Quark

Toby, who went my school, stands
dreamily replenishing stocks of hazelnut yoghurt,
Mum approaches, ‘Quark?’
Toby, nonplussed, bends his six foot frame, silently,
Mum, thinking him hard of hearing, repeats
at volume, ‘Quark! Quark!’

Her mouth lost for words
she searches for gestures to express her need
I backtrack to Walnut Whips,
Toby’s eyes glossily imply that nothing in his brief training
has equipped him to deal with a woman
who thinks she is a duck.

Trisha has had three pamphlets published by Dempsey and Windle. She is a regular contributor to Surrey Libraries Poetry Blog and has a regular poetry spot on her local radio. Humour escapes from her work regardless of any constraints applied. https://www.facebook.com/Trisha-Broomfield-Poetry-2340859049276291

Mourning what he lost, by Rodney Wood

 

MOURNING WHAT HE LOST

Steve found it boring caressing his hair each morning
because his hair was arrogant, luxuriant and elegant.
He never thought one day he’d need a transplant
for the 2 foot Mohican attached to his cranium.

Hair dyed pink geranium and not bright cerulean, maroon,
bubble gum, cinnamon, electric crimson or even violet-red (medium).

He poured cereal into a bowl then found he had no milk.
His blessed day had shattered, gone belly up, shattered
and his hair had fallen out. He could no longer caress,
flout, shout or watch sprout from his cranium

hair dyed pink geranium and not bright cerulean, maroon,
bubble gum, cinnamon, electric crimson or even violet-red (medium).

All his hair had vanished but one remained and thrived
and each morning he combed, shampooed and conditioned,
trimmed, pinned and gelled that strand so it lay flat on his head.
Then he lost that single hair as it departed his cranium.

A single hair dyed pink geranium and not bright cerulean, maroon,
bubble gum, cinnamon, electric crimson or even violet-red (medium).

What should Steve do with it? Have it displayed or framed,
dipped in formaldehyde, electroplated or suffer immersion
in alcohol? Steve must let everyone know a 2 foot Mohican
once flourished on his now empty cranium.

That hair dyed pink geranium and not bright cerulean, maroon,
bubble gum, cinnamon, electric crimson or even violet-red (medium).

Rodney Wood lives in Farnborough, co-host the monthly Write Out Loud (Woking) and is widely published.

Lockdown Haircut, by Mogs

 

Lockdown Haircut
(Printed in Write Out Loud charity anthology ‘Beyond The Storm’ – Poems From The Covid 19 Era.)

She says I need my haircut,
I look like a mad professor,
She’s gonna drag me into town
Leave me there with her hairdresser.
I remind her there’s a ‘Lockdown’,
Every hair salon is closed.
And while she ponders what to do
My hair just quietly grows.

Yes, she says I need my haircut,
Every minute, it gets longer,
Well, perhaps i’m like that Samson bloke,
While it grows, I’m getting stronger.
I know it’s not been touched for months,
But I just could not care less,
I can’t go out, so no one can see
That my Barnet is a mess.

Still, she says I need my haircut,
As she ties me to a chair,
Grabs the wallpaper scissors
and starts hacking at my hair.
She ignores my screams when snipping blades
Give my ear a painful prod,
It seems she honed her hair cutting skills
From watching Sweeney Todd.

So, I no longer need my hair cut,
At my feet, in clumps, it’s scattered,
She’s hacked and slashed, I’ve lost an ear
And my poor nerves are bloody shattered.
This Lockdown just brings misery
And it seems there’s no relief,
Because now she’s found some pliers
And is eyeing up my teeth!

Mogs (aka John Morris) has written poetry since the late 1970’s. He retired from an IT career in 2003 because of failing eyesight. He regularly performs at open mic events.

Books published 

‘Poems Your Parents Won’t Like’ – for ‘children’ aged upto 100.

‘Griff’ – children’s novel.

Poem by Jonathan Humphrey

 

The Puissant Penguin of Portsmouth
Partaking of pork, and port, and peas
Roguishly reclining in his sedan chair
Entirely at his ease

Said unto his bearers:
‘What days, what times are these
When an avuncular avine such as myself
Can be so perfectly pleased?

Here am I in my sedan chair
Borne by such stout young men
And hither and yon you take me
Bound by my every whim

The people of Portsmouth they give me,
Cheered by my sleek black form,
Port and pork and prunes and pies
And all other good things under the sky

For such is the birdish beauty
Of my flippers and claws and beak,
That all those who see me realise
Unknowing, it is I they seek

And knowing they bow down before me
Knowing they bend the knee
My beauty; it overwhelms them
They shall have no God but me

And thus here I am reclining
Borne by such bold lads as these
And thus do I partake of pork and port
Entirely at my ease.’

How to have the perfect wardrobe, by Heather Moulson

 

How to have the perfect Wardrobe

Let the party dress, stiff with deodorant
marks, stay on that wire hanger
to remind you of its glory days,
and that it will never fit you again.

If you must have a cashmere piece – essentially an
overpriced cardi – then avoid hot washes at all costs.
In fact, avoid wearing it altogether.
They only look good on retired movie stars.

A classic trench coat, too warm yet not
warm enough, will look good with anything –
assuming you actually put it on.

Invest in a well-cut pair of trousers –
not those elasticated things you’re wearing now,
so you can look as bland and invisible as possible.

Stick that flowered Laura Ashley dress on eBay,
because those days have truly gone,
and you’ll need more room for that beige collection.

Have a quick guilty look at those patent leather loafers –
bought only because you could.
Followed by a swift glance at your Mother’s old
Jumpers, as you visualise her sitting there knitting.
Then slam the door quickly. And get yourself up Primark!

Heather Moulson has been performing poetry since 2016.  She has featured extensively in London, and Surrey. Heather’s first pamphlet Bunty, I miss you was published in 2019.  Her work is mainly hankering for a certain era, and lifestyle tips.  Heather lives in Twickenham with a stroppy black cat.  

Long Johns, by Jamie H. Scrutton

 

Long Johns

He has such a sensuous appearance,
Still, after 20 years of being wed,
But when he wears his long johns,
I ban him from the bed!

They are such a repulsive garment,
They are such a ghastly sight,
They don’t particularly arouse me,
They give me such a fright!

Oh, fancy seeing your husband,
With his wobbly, knobbly knees,
His thighs and shins the size of twigs,
Oh no thank you please!

He has his champion features,
It’s his legs that I cannot bear,
I would rather see him in his tighty-whities,
And thermal underwear!

My personal inner thoughts of him in them,
Are completely obtruse,
With him lying next to me in bed wearing the long johns,
I strictly refuse!

It prevents him from the bitter winter, I shall give him that,
But the material is frantically coarse,
He needs to burn the long johns,
Otherwise I am filing for a divorce!

Jamie H Scrutton is a Yorkshire based Artist specializing in Performance Poetry and Animation. His material is often witty with a spec of seriousness. He performs and showcases his work widely around the UK. 
Youtube – Jamie Harry Scrutton

Long Johns, by Jamie H. Scrutton

 

Long Johns

He has such a sensuous appearance,
Still, after 20 years of being wed,
But when he wears his long johns,
I ban him from the bed!

They are such a repulsive garment,
They are such a ghastly sight,
They don’t particularly arouse me,
They give me such a fright!

Oh, fancy seeing your husband,
With his wobbly, knobbly knees,
His thighs and shins the size of twigs,
Oh no thank you please!

He has his champion features,
It’s his legs that I cannot bear,
I would rather see him in his tighty-whities,
And thermal underwear!

My personal inner thoughts of him in them,
Are completely obtruse,
With him lying next to me in bed wearing the long johns,
I strictly refuse!

It prevents him from the bitter winter, I shall give him that,
But the material is frantically coarse,
He needs to burn the long johns,
Otherwise I am filing for a divorce!

Jamie H Scrutton is a Yorkshire based Artist specializing in Performance Poetry and Animation. His material is often witty with a spec of seriousness. He performs and showcases his work widely around the UK. 
Youtube – Jamie Harry Scrutton

I will survive, by Dora Wright

 

First I was afraid I was petrified
I felt your neck to feel a pulse
I thought you’d died
then I spent so many nights
just sitting by your bed
as I watched you
being intravenously fed
so now come on, open your eyes
when you do you’re going to get
a really big surprise
I’ve got the minister here
to marry us today
I really need to be your wife
before you pass away
so come on open your eyes
just nod your head to say I do
before you die
I want to be your wife
I want your money too
so nod your head to tell
the minister you do
I’ll kiss you on the lips
I’ll whisper I love you
and when I’m standing
by your grave
I’ll shed a tear or two
I will survive
Well I’ll survive you.
And when I’m finished grieving
they’ll be no more making do
I’ll spend your money wisely
I’ll never waste a dime
I intend for it to last me
a very long time.

Dora is a member of several writing groups, has been published in anthologies and newspaper and magazine. Dora lives near Loch Lomond.

Ending up a vegetable, by Ray Pool

 

ENDING UP A VEGETABLE

Russell Sprout was rather stout
As wide as he was tall,
His appearance was hysterical
Verging on the spherical
Exactly like a ball.

As marmite’s not to everyone’s taste
While others seem to love it,
Russell drew a parallel
With some put off by a rotting smell
While others rose above it.

In one thing he was much admired
And worthy of a mention,
His green credentials were intact
An essential way of life in fact
And worthy of attention.

He never thought to change his name
Thinking that his shape was good,
While some it’s said look like their dog
He was a blend of toad and frog
Trying to be Robin Hood.
Let’s take leave of Russell Sprout
A tale as wide as tall,
It had its moments magical
But also some more tragical
It’s poetry after all.

Banana Pooh!, by Andy Brown

 

Banana Pooh!
Should you decide to ever quietly walk and to never ever absolutely not talk
whenever you go to the bustling zoo that means you won’t slip on Banana Pooh
because you may not actually even know bananas have ears that expand and grow
that hear you’re about to eat them whole it goes slap bang into the banana soul
but should they ever knowingly hear then you will trigger all that banana fear
and what will happen is what we would do and bananas feel they have to also pooh
and if you look and note their little ruse of how they camouflage and easily bruise
beware of that little bit on the end that you just can’t help but to bend
and remove before it goes into your mouth and then what happens, it all goes south!

It’s not just the bananas that generate that mess, sometimes it is more but often it is less,
tends to be the ones that consume it the most, the proper primates, the living and the ghost
of zoos gone by with Scrooge’s revenge, from ancient times and new-Stonehenge
the tales have come from down the years of how humans conquer banana fears
and give them to the monkeys and the apes watching all their frenetic merry japes
their swinging and climbing, laughing glee, but then they stare, and sit upon the tree
and let it out with messy, meticulous aim competing with each other for Olympic fame
of splattering and spluttering and splashing, of beating, hitting and crescendo crashing
as we look at them swing and do their tricks they communicate with each other, call us dicks
and know they have always been here first and always know what species is the worst
as they watch us eat their staple food, moon us, laugh and generally be rude.

If chancing to unzip that yellow fruit don’t think to wear a high-heel boot
forever be aware of whatever shoe is worn to venture to your local zoo
because it’s so definitely so, so true you could slip or slide on banana pooh!
Perhaps you need legs like storks or need to balance on prong-like forks
if you would ever venture to that zoo where you could slip on banana pooh!

So should you ever again go to your local zoo and perhaps never have seen banana pooh
just get your camera, aim and click, stand back and watch their evil trick
see them act as if on Shakespearian stage unleashing fiery, ferocious Gorilla rage
as needless, unthinking reflective glare makes many a normal calm primate swear
then beware, see how they run, they rushed to get that infernal, flashing camera crushed
thinking if they could get you in their paws they would scratch you with serrated claws
and then they would definitely sit upon you deliberately despatching bombing banana pooh
with gorilla smiles, chewing, looking serene claiming innocence as if have never been!
Please keep your senses fully tuned or you could easily find a wound
but should you ever damage leg or arm your reckless nonsense led to harm
because didn’t heed all sound advice you deserve your limbs cut, sliced or diced!

Purple? Purple?, by Simon Williams

 

Purple? Purple?

When I am an old man
I shall wear a hi-viz teal hoodie
with a cerise one in reserve
and cord trousers that aren’t black, brown or Navy
and Gore-Tex hiking boots when I’m asked out for tea.
I shall gorge on giant Toblerone –
we’ll need to move near an airport –
Tempura prawns, Tiramisu
and other delicacies beginning with T.
I shall eat them all with my fingers.
No Tofu.

I shall ride a Tango unicycle, read reviews
in Unicycle Plus of the 10 best unicycling helmets
and pick one made from repurposed oil tank baffles
or genetically enlarged walnut shells.

I shall demand real cocoa when others order coffee
and lace it with Jack Daniels from a hip flask.
I’ll take copies of the Daily Mail
and throw them on the floor in Smiths.

Since old is still 10 years away,
as it has always been, I have time to develop this further.
Purple isn’t where I’m going.