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.