Camp Shangri-La by Arran Potts

 
Camp Shangri-La

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moving Day by Leah Keane

 
Moving Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oscar and Silicon Valley, by Anne Irwin

 
Oscar and Silicon Valley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Biography:

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

Mindfulness + Beauty, by Heather Nelson

 
Mindfulness + Beauty

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

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

Instructions for a Scouse Night Out, by Jenny Robb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The App, by Kevin Higgins

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

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

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

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

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

Silent Order, by Joe Naughton

 

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

derives mainly from memoir and topical issues. 

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

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

and is a regular reader on online open mic platforms.

Moral Limbo, by Ben Macnair

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living the Alien, by Colin Dennis

 
Living The Alien

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry, by Emma Purshouse

 
Sorry 

this poem is pretty shit
I must apologise for it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Packaged, by Beth McDonough

 
Packaged

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


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

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

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

Homing hairbrushes, by Sarah Dale

 
Homing hairbrushes

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

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

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

I Thought I Would Be Invisible, by Karol Nielsen

 
I Thought I Would Be Invisible

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

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

A Practical Woman, by bern butler

 
A Practical Woman

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

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

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

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



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

On taking a poet to bed!, by Rona Fitzgerald

 
On taking a poet to bed!

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

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

Yeats on tranquillity

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

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

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

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

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

More drowsy water rat than graceful heron.

Ah, solitude, a book!

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

The Bonxies, by Tonnie Richmond

 
The Bonxies

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

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

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

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


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

English Spelling, by Sarah Lawson

 
ENGLISH SPELLING

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

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

 

Insects, by Gill McEvoy

 
Insects


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

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

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

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

The Correspondence Promotion, by R. Gerry Fabian

 
The Correspondence Promotion

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

Summer Pastoral, by Maurice Devitt

 
Summer Pastoral

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

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

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

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

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

A Joke in French, by Mark Connors

 
A joke in French

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

It Wasn’t Me, by Neil Fulwood

 
IT WASN’T ME
(after Shaggy)

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

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

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

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

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

And all because …

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

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

Worms, by Sarah Dale

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

History of Selborne Gilbert White

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

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

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

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

The politics of envy, by Janet Sillett

 
The politics of envy

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

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

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

the elegant façade cracked
its blue plaque smashed


11

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

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

Yes of course he would

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

I am, I’m afraid,
largely
unreconstructed

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

A Mossy Rock in the Forest, by Robert Garnham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Davros’s Daughter, by Simon Williams

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

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

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

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

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

The Cannibal who Came to Tea, by Arran Potts

 
The Cannibal Who Came to Tea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Help, by Yash Seyedbagheri

 
Help

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The I.T. Guy, by Sarah James

 
The I.T. Guy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside my Head, by Susan Lindsay

 

Inside My Head                                                                           

After Grayson Perry, Channel 4 

 

Under the skull

shaped to be my own,

smooth curves I’d love

to run my hands along

when gone –

I do love bone –

 

wild circuitry.

All my fingers tip

flashing right in;

impulses deployed 

for digital dance

 

the beat of my feet,

heat and my heart’s 

thump, thump

never missing a beat

flowing red, taking

oxygen from the rise

and fall of my chest

cleared blood, 

                           dear kidneys

thank-you, back for more

once it’s done servicing

the sorting house, my brain

 

and, still not mentioned –

fuel, taste, the process of waste.

 

I can see

not only through skin

that tree –

100 billion neurons

dendritic spines, soma –

deluged with light

ALL around perceived

to sort, prioritise

register, file

for recall 

reaction

through changing

expressions, 

                       voice,

speech central 

sound: sound-box – check Ö

language, words – check Ö

tone- check Ö

mouth shape – check Ö

sufficient breath – check Ö

speak….  AND listen,

more again,

simultaneous

      transmission

in system central

 

who knows who,

what, is behind it

maybe the great

sky mother –

 

and monsters

God and the gods,

utopias, dystopias

vibrating paint box

clay, the earth

the moon and, yes,

the stars

 

my own rocket

control centre

blasts off 

in less than nanoseconds

24/7

 

grey matter matters

the gut’s great

processor                              

under the skin,

who needs cylinders

I’ve got brain

the world

 

inside my head.

 

 

Biography. 

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

Why to run half marathon?, by Jorge Leiva Ardana

 
Why to run a half marathon?


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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it really worth
to run a half marathon?

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

So Surrey, by Trisha Broomfield

 
So Surrey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
It Always Starts with Jumpers for Penguins

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

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

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

Confessions of a Teenage Cigarette Smoker, by Sheila Jacob

 

Confessions Of A Teenage Cigarette Smoker

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

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

Infinite reveries, by Pawel Markiewicz

 
Infinite reveries

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

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

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

 
THEY HIRE A BADMINTON CHAMP TO COMMENT ON WIMBLEDON

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

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

Tania and Tim the Cat, by David Ludford

 
Tania and Tim the Cat



Troubled Tania hugged her cat

And gave his head a gentle pat

“I’m worried, Tim, about the moon

Surely it will fall down soon?

And then the sun, today so bright

Where on earth does it go at night?

I know you’ll think me a silly child

But thoughts like these just drive me wild.

I can’t ask mum, I can’t ask dad

About these funny thoughts I’ve had.”

Tim considered her worries and fears

Flicked his tail and twitched his ears.

“Dry your tears, no need for that

And listen to a wise old cat.

The moon when high, the moon when low,

Is where it is because God said so.

And when he speaks thus, from afar,

Things will stay just where they are.

The sun when past the church and steeple

Goes to visit other people

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

When dark we sleep, when light we play

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

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

Now I see I’ve made you smile

So now I’ll go and sleep a while.

Go out to play and have some fun,

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


Author bio:

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

Ballet Dancer, by Lesley Quayle

 
Ballet Dancer

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

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

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

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

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

 
An Archaeology Student Thinks about Sex in Maes Howe Chambered Tomb

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

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

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

————————-

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

The Queen’s Secret Siberian Sisters, by Bryan Franco

 

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

Adjusting Attitude at High Altitude, by Clive Donovan

 
ADJUSTING ATTITUDE AT HIGH ALTITUDE

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

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

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

Alternative Weather Fronts, by Sarah Dale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blob-Fish, by Ben Macnair

 
Blob-Fish 

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

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

Virtual Afterlife, by Alan Garrigan

 
Virtual Afterlife

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
If I were interested in the history of the wireless

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jacqueline Wilson Lives Under my Bed, by Paula Gilfillan

 
Jacqueline Wilson Lives Under My Bed

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

Bio:

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

Russian Roulette, by Aoife Cunningham

 

Russian roulette

We watch in horror,
This game of Russian roulette.

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

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

History offers hindsight but it seems to duplicates with greed.

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

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


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Lent in a Time of Coronavirus, by Sharon Larkin

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

A forty day diet can focus the mind
flatten the curves and trim the behind.
So, in choosing food for a modest dinner
to boost the spirit and make tums thinner,
why not just opt for tomato soup
and leave the bats to dive and swoop?

It would be best to eliminate snacks
to fit back into our jeans and slacks
but if the munchies come upon us
and we’re sick of all that hummus,
for our elevensies or for our tiffin,
let's not p-p-pick up a pangolin.

Do you want to stay asymptomatic
of a nasty virus and global pandemic?
Well, here’s some advice, long overdue,
when making casserole, hotpot or stew,
a couple of hints and easy quick wins –
just leave out the bats and the pangolins.

Taming the flesh refines the spirit,
in time for lots of Easter Eggs, innit?
So as we discipline mind and body,
to purge the flesh of all our gluttóny
and deliver ourselves from beastly sins,
let’s set free the bats and the pangolins.


With thanks to Professor David Macdonald, University of Oxford Science Blog, Jun 2021
https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/science-blog/wet-market-sources-covid-19-bats-and-pangolins-have-alibi

Sharon Larkin’s poems often begin with a visual stimulus but soon become ‘infected’ with psychosocial concerns, evident in ‘Interned at the Food Factory’ (Indigo Dreams, 2019) and ‘Dualities’ (Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2020). She runs Eithon Bridge Publications https://eithonbridge.com, edits ‘Good Dadhood’ ezine https://gooddadhood.com and blogs at ‘Coming up with the Words’ https://sharonlarkinjones.com

15 Love, by Ben Macnair

 
15 Love

Tennis is a game,
where they talk about love,
but spare none for the ball.
The thwack of the racket,
played politely by vicars,
with more than the scriptures
on their minds.

We are left out for the dog,
when our playing days
are little remembered.
We are mouldering,
greener than jealousy.
Chewed up,
spat out,
over the line,
under the net,
one last game,
for old time's sake.

It’s Fine, by Phil Huffy

 
It’s Fine
A question to be answered, please:
Why do most men avoid M.D.’s?

At thoughts of office calls we scoff
unless there’s something falling off.

And if our ankle’s had a twist
we hop around and then insist

that it’s improving very well
although, of course, it hurts like hell.

Sinus pressures, nasty fevers,
failures of most pain relievers,

bellies sad and oozing sores
propel us not through clinic doors.

The answer to this riddle, though
is well concealed although we know

that such recalcitrant displays
are just one part of manly ways.

first published by Light Poetry Magazine

Phil Huffy writes early and often at his kitchen table, casting a wide net as to form and substance. His work has appeared in dozens of journals and anthologies, including Schuykill Valley Review, Eunoia, Lighten Up Online, Orchards Poetry, The Lyric, andseveral haiku publications. Phil’s other interests are cycling, camping, pet care, potato chips, moonlight, and motor trips. He has published three collections of his poems and is proud to have recorded one of them (Magic Words) as an audiobook.

The Bible as a Haiku, by Mark Ramsden

 
The Bible as a Haiku

Grumpy old God: GRIM.
Hippy son hailed, nailed, prevails.
Zombie’s gang. News: GOOD!

I was a professional musician for decades, writing and performing half a hit single, which did not result in fame and fortune. I was also a highly unprofessional, alcoholic addict, who eventually dabbled in transgender sex work. Published work includes a widely critically acclaimed trilogy for Serpent’s Tail, more recently two novels for Fahrenheit Press and a story in Outcast Press’s sex work anthology Slut Vomit.

Death Becomes Me, by Julian Matthews

 
Death Becomes Me

Hey Death!
When you come a-knocking, will you step out of the darkness and punch me in the face?
Or will you come from behind, tap me on the shoulder and say, Boo!?
Will you kindly whisper in my ear as I lay down to sleep?
Or will you drown me when I am in too deep?

Maybe I will see you coming in the distance, your long shadow growing shorter and shorter
And I will put my house in order and greet you at the door
Or maybe i will try to shut you out
And jump out a back window --

Perhaps, you will come as my breath grows shallow
Sucking the air from me at every deep pause
Maybe the grump in me will swallow up all my dry humour
And infect those around me like an angry tumour

Maybe you will chew me from the inside out
A slow, growing entity that would go unnoticed
Until it's too late -- and I collapse like a hollow, empty shell
An insidious inception into several levels of my own private hell

Hey Death!
When you do come -- early or late
Just don't bait me and let me wait
No prank calls, please. No creeping up on me!
No last-call dying disease tease!

I know I cannot change what's already fated
But it's never too late to exorcise and heal all this hatred
And Death, I have a bucket list now before I kick it
So let me go about my business and just fulfill it, ok?

I know I fear you not at this final, windy bend
As long as there's some wit left at this twit's end
Don't curse me with any "sudden unforeseen circumstance"
Instead let the last twirl of this mortal coil be a whirling dervish dance!

Julian Matthews is a former journalist finding new ways to express himself through poetry, fiction, memoir and essays. His work has been published in the American Journal of Poetry, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Borderless Journal, Spilling Cocoa on Martin Amis, and various other literary publications. He is a minority based in Malaysia. Link: linktr.ee/julianmatthews

Sutra, by Eddie Gibbons

 
SUTRA

I’ve never had casual sex.
No, it’s always been frantic –
in the pantry, in the kitchen,
up in the attic.

But frankly, those antics
had to stop when I reached 60.
Nothing nifty or athletically
tricksy fitted the bill.

The new drill involved
a bucket of pills, creams,
an ocean of lotion just to
get a semblance of motion.

Then I discovered the art
of Tantra. That long-sought-after
calmer sutra.

Goodbye to hectic, hello to Tantric-
two weeks to prepare for a kiss?

Bliss


Eddie Gibbons has six published poetry collections. 'What They Say About You' was shortlisted for the 'Scottish Poetry Book of the Year', 2011. He was a prize winner in the inaugural 'Edwin Morgan International Poetry Competition', 2008. His latest collection is available here-Roughly Speaking (leamingtonbooks.com)
Twitter- @1Eddie_Gibbons

Redefining Ireland, by Kevin Higgins

 
Redefining Ireland
“Ireland must reassess military power” Simon Coveney

In the absence of Seamus Heaney,
if Ireland is to be renowned for anything other
than bog water, cabbage and
our negligible corporate tax rate,
we must invest in at least one
intercontinental ballistic missile
which until the necessary
Plutonium – 239 gets here
we’ll fill with hydrogen sulphide
reinforced regularly
courtesy of our world famous piggeries
and drag it to every St. Patrick’s Day parade
from Castlerea to Bantry
because people need something to celebrate.

Instead of the perfect simile
we’ll offer annihilation
for somewhere roughly the size of Iceland.
Instead of metaphors we’ll give you death
immediate or lingering
(terms and conditions will be applied
no liability admitted).
Instead of the occasional Haiku
we’ll build a leprechaun Hiroshima
put it in a box
then skulk the Earth
looking for someone to drop it on.

KEVIN HIGGINS

Lecher, by S.F. Wright

 

LECHER

Genose
Had a goatee,
A large stomach.
A bible-thumping
Christian,
He’d sprinkle
Conversation
With:
“God sees all,”
Or,
“The lord giveth as taketh away.”
If someone said,
“Jesus Christ,”
Genose would say,
“It’s not his fault.”

Despite his Christianity,
Genose, 55, hit on
18-year-olds
Who worked at
The bookstore’s café.

I’m sure the girls
Thought him creepy,
But felt bad;
Hence,
No one reported him.

Once,
Genose got hung up
On an 18-yr-old
Blonde-haired girl;
Despite there being
No evidence that
The girl was interested,
He was heartbroken
When she told him that
She’d prefer if Genose
Never speak to her again.

In the breakroom afterwards,
Genose
Took large bites
Of a reheated
Philly cheesesteak sandwich.
Grease trickled down his chin,
His eyes wet.

“She was the one,” he said.
I punched out at the timeclock.
“She would’ve been perfect.”

I didn’t know what to say;
I mumbled something
About things like this happening;
Then walked out to my car.

On the way to
The hamburger place
Across the street,
I thought of Genose—
And felt
Distant disgust
Yet relief;
And wondered
Which was worse:
To end up like Genose
And be aware of it;
Or to become someone
Like Genose
And be so delusional
That you’d think that
A pretty 18-yr-old
Would be receptive
To your advances;
That you were as normal
As everyone else.

Beach Body Ready by Ben Macnair

 
Beach Body Ready 

The human body is never really
Beach body ready.
It is designed for rain,
for offices, for chairs and sofas.
So if I was to get a body,
ready for the Beach,
I would develop a Crab’s body.

A hard outer shell,
two razor-sharp pincers,
I would grow stalks for my eyes,
learn to walk sideways,
and always look angry.
It would be brilliant for the beach,
but a dead loss in nightclubs, car parks,
night classes,
making friends would be difficult,
and Line Dancing would be impossible.

Chairs would be uncomfortable,
young children would point and stare,
and it doesn’t matter how good a hard shell is,
it never protects you from the slings and arrows
of careless laughter.

Should I Take my Bumbershoot With Me?, by Rodney Wood

 
SHOULD I TAKE MY BUMBERSHOOT WITH ME?

should I take my bumbershoot with the crook handle pimped with a sterling silver knob
& a rainbow of Swarovski crystals?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a sword, walking or shooting stick?
should I take my bumbershoot that covers the face of the newly dead?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a plant pot or a vase for hydrangeas?
should I take my bumbershoot that enters the forest of other bumbershoots?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a clumsy paint brush used with a puddle?
should I take my bumbershoot that stop drips falling on my head when painting the ceiling?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a film screen for say Fast & Furious 27?
should I take my bumbershoot whose ribs are used for drying my large smalls?
should I take my bumbershoot that makes me fly like Mary Poppins?
should I take my bumbershoot that points to the person responsible for whatever?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a symbol of protection & shelter?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s the gelatinous body of a jellyfish?
should I take my bumbershoot that breaks my fall when jumping from the 3rd floor?
should I take my bumbershoot that hangs from the ceiling as a decoration?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s covered with notes & phone numbers?
should I take my bumbershoot that holds rubbish & discarded poems?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s used when I’m a detective & under cover?
should I take my bumbershoot that cannot takes punches & just folds up?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a temporary headstone?
should I take my bumbershoot that protects me from bird shit?
should I take my bumbershoot that captures the sound of clapping?
should I take my bumbershoot that frightens tigers, dogs & cats?
should I take my bumbershoot that has a crest above its ferrule?
should I take my bumbershoot that prevents anyone seeing a stolen kiss?
should I take my bumbershoot that diffuses the light in a photo studio?
should I take my bumbershoot that danced with Gene Kelly & Rihanna?
should I take my bumbershoot is a lover, friend or partner with a wedding ring?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a boat?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a shopping bag?
should I take my bumbershoot that deflects bullets?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a baton I lead parades or funerals with?
should I take my bumbershoot that displays magazines like Penthouse or Marxism Today?
should I take my bumbershoot that is always under the weather?
should I take my bumbershoot that shades me from the sun?
should I take my bumbershoot that keeps me dry when it’s raining?

But today I'm going by car to the shop to buy some milk
so I don’t need to take my bumbershoot

Rodney Wood lives in Farnborough, co-hosts a monthly open mic at The Lightbox in Woking and has published two pamphlets :Dante Called You Beatrice, and When Listening Isn’t Enough.

The Ballad of Laurel Blaney, by David Ludford

 
The Ballad Of Laurel Blaney



Old Tally was a minstrel
He wandered free and wild
And one day he met Annie
And Annie bore his child.

Now Laurel loved to play, she did
She loved to fool around
But went too near the river
And Laurel went and drowned.

Now if you should see Laurel
Just run away, just go
For Laurel’s now the devil’s girl
She’ll drag you down below.
Beware the deep, deep water
Beware the devil’s daughter.

Now think of young Jack, a boy
Who loved to dive and swim
Just think back for a moment
You may remember him.
Jack he was an active boy
Yes, swimming he loved most
He wasn’t scared of monsters
He’d never seen a ghost.
Jack stood on the riverbank
One lovely summer’s day
When Laurel grabbed him by the foot
And swept him clean away.
Beware the deep, deep water
Beware the devil’s daughter.

Remember too poor Jenny
Just strolling back from town
A shortcut by the river
She hadn’t meant to drown
A bully boy from school she saw
A silly girl he thought her
He rushed and pushed
She slipped and slid
And fell into the water.
No Jenny hadn’t meant to drown
Wicked Laurel dragged her down.
Beware the deep, deep water
Beware the devil’s daughter.

The purpose of these tales, my friends
That make you shake and shiver
Just beware
And take great care
When you are near the river.
For every tale, old or new
There has to be a moral
And my advice
I won’t give twice
Remember wicked Laurel.
Beware the deep, deep water
Beware the devil’s daughter.

End


Dave Ludford is a writer from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, where not many writers come from. Except George Eliot. His short works of horror and science fiction have appeared in a variety of online locations.

They Will All Take Us With Them in the End, (After Tom Lehrer), by Neil Fulwood

 
THEY WILL ALL TAKE US WITH THEM IN THE END
(after Tom Lehrer)

When you click into your news app
it’s not comforting that what’s hap-
penning out there is global brinkmanship.
Europe’s status quo’s been ballsed up
by a goon who wants to call up
every missile that he’s got and let them rip.

But don’t you worry.

No more Tory lockdown scandals,
no more guff about Prince Andrew,
or price hikes, NHS, or student debt;
if BoJo, Biden and Vlad P
push this shit past DefCon 3,
you won’t care about bent coppers in the Met.

‘Cause they will all take us with them in the end,
when diplomacy’s been fucked off round the bend
and a jab of that red button
vends total world destruction -
you’d be “M.A.D.” not to know how this one ends.

They will all take us with them in the end,
loudly claiming they had something to defend.
Was it a patch of foreign soil
or the current price of oil?
Did the Footsie close ahead right at the end?

Oh they will all take us with them to the grave,
telling lies about the lives they tried to save.
There’ll be no more cant and spin
with the planet all done in
and no world leaders left to rant and rave.

Down by the old maelstrom,
Liz Truss is wondering what went wrong.

And they will all drag us down with them in flames,
with no scapegoat left behind to take the blame.
We’ll finally be united
when that fireball’s ignited,
nearly eight billion unrecorded names.

They will all drag us down to dust and ash,
the victims of an act both cruel and rash,
dead as some assassin’s mark
care of a pissed off oligarch
deprived of his wads of laundered cash.

Of course they’ll take us with them in the end,
they’d do the same if they had their time again,
so hum a Missa Solemnis
just before that Yellow Sun hits
and the farewell bash concludes at Number Ten.

You will all go directly to your version of heaven.
There will be no hero to save the day, no 007.

For they will all take us with them in the end,
every man, woman, child, foe and friend.
When history overtakes us
and we all turn slightly vaporous,
yes they all will take us with them,
oh they all will take us with them,
yes they all will take us with them in the end.


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

Me and Joanna Lumley, by Jennifer A. McGowan

 
Me and Joanna Lumley

I caught Joanna Lumley reaching
through the open window of a bakery for bagels
crisp and hot and frankly

much tastier than any dreams
that had consumed us
in our adult lives (as I said to Joanna)

and she agreed, then added, “Except for the Gurkhas.
I’m proud of that,” and I agreed,
then at the corner we went our separate ways

to stare at the sky, to dream of mountains,
of hot butter running everywhere, equally.

Jennifer spends as much time as she can in the 15th century, but comes back for hot showers and bagels.

The Happiest Days, by Finola Scott

 

The happiest days

Do you remember gym, Amanda?
Do you remember a gym?
And the toilets that smell of piss and booze
and the games we play so scared to loose?
And the fleas that tease everyone's knees
and the cheers and jeers of the lower years?
And the years and years of our growing fears
The casual division of girls here boys there
The binary allocation without any care

And the years and years of our quiet tears
at the thump on the floor for more and more?
And the linking hands and the birl and swirl
of the girls dreaming and wild romancing
on those mats rolled back for social dancing
Do you remember the cotton and crimplene
and the boys' hot glances in between?
The wanting and waiting to be chosen
and those hard shoulders so very frozen

Do you remember a gym Amanda?
Never again Amanda
only the handbags laid on the floor
and the drum beat and bass line's solid roar
as we strut and show we know the score
Those string vests sweaty hands no more
Only the bright laughter of fierce women
who stamp and chant that it's raining men
Only the boom as we own the room

Finola Scott’s poems are scattered on the wind as well as on posters, tapestries and magazines. Her work is in The High Window, New Writing Scotland, I,S&T and Lighthouse. Red Squirrel Press publish her pamphlet Much left unsaid. Dreich publish Count the ways

Combat Cheese, by Sally McHugh

 
Combat Cheese


On the shores of Lough Ree
(although not known for its Fromageries),
solidified cheese surfed through the airwaves-
a lightning strike to the head of Queen Maeve.
As she stretched and bathed in full display,
she was crushed by the cunning of curds and whey;
aged-fresh Maeve, wrinkled white to grey rind,
was struck via sling (it’s prehistoric times).
Was the chalky meteorite of creamy Camembert
or of an ancient Brie - with a buttery flair?
Perhaps it was a local fromage blanc
or a full-bodied shaving of Parmesan?
How about a goatmilk flat white from Port du Salut
or a Provolone vegan with a vodka hue
or a chewy Caerphilly à la castle cellar store
or a blue ram’s rocket filled with Roquefort?
Whatever churned concoctions prevailed
and imbued this calcium-infused cocktail,
Maeve’s aged, matured, rapturous reign
crumbled - by combat cheese to the brain.

Sally McHugh lives in Co. Galway. Her poetry has appeared in ROPES2018, The Blue Nib Literary Magazine (2019), Pendemic (2020) and Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis (2021). She also likes to dabble in art and calligraphy. Twitter:@fordofthekings

Monitoring my body, by Carla Scarano D’Antonio

 
Monitoring my body

I don’t know when it happened,
the slowing down of the limbs
the desiccation of skin
the pains breaking in me.
I borrowed the body of a spider,
the waist plump
the back arched
and legs and arms thinning.
My hair changed too
from straight and black
to crispy and grey
like my Sicilian grandfather.
Impossible to revert.

Inside I feel the same as before
slimmer and in shape.
In my dreams I fit in size 10-12
the mirror reflects 14-16.
Nothing is safe.

This fragmentation is my doing
invoking change.
The days spiral down
like yarn unravelling in the wind
spinning a shapeless web.

Thank you for my life flowing.
Thank you for the years that will come.

Carla Scarano D’Antonio obtained her MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and has published her creative work in magazines and reviews. Her short collection Negotiating Caponata was published in July 2020. She was awarded a PhD on Margaret Atwood’s work at the University of Reading in April 2021.

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

Wrinkles.UK, by Rachael Clyne

 

Rachael Clyne – from Glastonbury, is widely published in journals and anthologies. Her prizewinning collection, Singing at the Bone Tree (Indigo Dreams), explores our broken relationship with nature. Her pamphlet, Girl Golem (www.4word.org), concerns her Jewish migrant heritage and sense of otherness. @RachaelClyne1

Elon’s Folly, by Sue Spiers

 
Elon’s Folly


It’s tall as four whales or Victorian folly.
A knob at the top like the bud of a lily.
The rocket, some tell us, resembles a willy.
We snigger and wink at the billionaire wally.

It’s thrust into space with no weight in its belly,
the glamorous passengers wobble like jelly,
all posed for their show on terrestrial telly.

He’s looking for Martians, like Mulder and Scully,
to work in his factories and make him more lolly.
He’s touting the rides to rich guys on a jolly,
returns on investment, exploiting space fully.

His moon shots drop junk in its silvery valleys
and boosters’ debris falls dark-side without tally
His ship spills its drool in a rocket-fuel chalice.

Sue Spiers lives in Hampshire. Her poems have appeared on Spilling Cocoa, Ink, Sweat & Tears and Atrium and in print with Acumen, Dream Catcher, The North and Obsessed with Pipework. Sue tweets @spiropoetry. Don’t follow me, I’m lost too.

Circular, by Sharon Phillips

 
Circular

when the exit road was blocked
and a sign said men at work
although no men were working
and I couldn’t find the diversion
and the ring road kept on turning

when my satnav turned itself off
and the map from the passenger seat
was flapping in the footwell
and my armpits pricked with sweat
and the ring road kept on turning

when I’d forgotten the address
and I couldn’t find my phone
which had vanished from my bag
and I wanted to go home
but the ring road still kept turning

Sharon stopped writing poetry in 1976 and started again forty years later, after retiring from her career in education. Her poems have been published online and in print. Originally from Bristol, Sharon now lives in Otley, West Yorkshire.

Yes, the post-op went swimmingly, by Beth McDonough

 
Yes, the post-op went swimmingly

May I say... an excellent job!
Elegant at the bedside, she re-examined,
re-admired her neatly-stapled line,
on yet to purple flesh.
Damned good work!
You'll be in a bikini soon!

Residual anaesthesia and brocht-upness
kept back my awful truth. I'm more
a regulation one-piece sort of gal.
I gagged my thought-reply.
Doctor, had you carved some Celtic knot
across my abdomen, I'd be chuffed.
At last the fucking cyst is gone.

Beth McDonough’s poetry appears in Magma, Causeway, Gutter and elsewhere; she reviews in DURA.Her pamphlet Lamping for pickled fish is published by 4Word.

The Naked Lecturer of Chorlton Cum Hardy, by Michelle Diaz

 
He targeted Catholics, female and busty,
he donned floral shirts, his hairline was dusty.

He invited me back for an innocent drink,
when my coffee arrived I was ever so pink.

For I came eye to eye with what looked like a nose,
but noses don't dangle. It hit me. I froze.

I tried to ignore his distinct lack of cloth,
when he asked me, quite brazenly,
Do you fancy a bath?

My coffee cup fell, up jumped a splinter.
The silence that followed was worthy of Pinter.

Then he wiggled and jiggled and willied about,
turned red in the face, then let out a shout;

I'd have thought there was more chance of winning the lottery
than slicing my love sack on Portmeirion pottery.
This damn piece of crockery's stuck in my scrotum!
His penis resembled a freshly felled totem.

I wanted to help, so I looked for a bandage
to dress his split bits and damaged appendage.
But my searching was fruitless, all I found was a sock.
And what use is that to a honeycombed cock?

Defeated, I left. I suppose it was rude,
but I'd started to tire of this fool in the nude.

So beware all young things of lecturer guile.
If he asks you to dinner, just say with a smile;

No thank you professor, I'd rather be dead.
If you value your testicles, quit, while you're ahead...

Michelle Diaz has been published in numerous poetry publications both online and in print. Her debut pamphlet ‘The Dancing Boy’ was published by Against the Grain Poetry Press in 2019.

She is currently working on her first collection.

My Son Teaches me How to Dress, by Jinny Fisher

 
My Son Teaches Me How to Dress

Last week, I staged a major wardrobe de-clutter,
expelling my dated clothes: velvet Biba frocks
flopped, sulking, in a heap; a purple boa
shed a turkeyful of feathers on the stairs.
Platform over-thighs, Mary Janes, and Uggs
trotted off to The Very Vintage Shop.

Last year, you bought sixty T-shirts at one go
from spreadshirt.com— all with geeky formulae
and puns. In astro-language I can’t speak
or type, they jokify your starry mind
and meme the passion of your working life:
a massive telescope, its sweeping audit of the skies.

I can play that game: an online jaunt to Zazzle
yields rainbow fabrics, wordy slogans in fancy fonts.
I stuff my basket—fifteen hoodies and twenty tees
should be enough to see me out: Grammar Ninja,
The Oxford Comma,
and Let’s Eat, Grandma.

Jinny Fisher lives in Glastonbury. She is published in numerous print and online magazines and has been successful in national and international competitions — including first runner-up in Prole Laureate 2020. In 2019, V. Press published her pamphlet The Escapologist. She is Principal Pusher of The Poetry Pramhttps://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=The%20Poetry%20Pram

Twitter: @MsJinnifer

Appearances of the Loch Ness Monster, by Neil Fulwood

 
APPEARANCES OF THE LOCH NESS MONSTER

“They spoke ... in a desultory fashion of current events. The news from abroad, events in the world of sports, the latest reappearance of the Loch Ness monster.”
- Agatha Christie: ‘And Then There Were None’


The latest reappearance of the Loch Ness monster
was at a book launch by a sceptic
who had scientifically proven its non-existence.
The old saw about no such thing
as bad publicity was applicable here: the book
sold more than it might have
without the headlines and hasty, half-blurred photos
but the author wasn’t best pleased.

Prior to that, it had been spotted in a phone booth,
a call to a bookie to place a bet
on its own newsworthiness. Whether the bookie
paid out has gone unrecorded
and sightings of it dropping in at the Dog & Duck
on the way back for a swift half
and a whisky chaser made a minor buzz on Twitter
but remain unsubstantiated. And prior

to that, well it had pulled one of its remain-hidden-
from-the-eyes-of-the-world stunts,
decades having past since it was noticed
at a White City dog race, wearing
a trilby and a trench coat, a rolled up copy
of the local sporting fixtures paper
tucked under one fin. Some say it had a fag on,
others that it was a pipe smoker.

All so long ago it might have been in black and white.
Those were the days it preferred, anyway:
stentorian Movietone voiceovers, fleapits fogged
with cigarette smoke, bored usherettes
doing the intermission rounds. Walking back
through misty streets, the last bus
swallowed by distance. Night falling as the monster
disappears into familiar waters.

Neil Fulwood was born in Nottingham where he still lives and works. He has published three collections with Shoestring Press. His latest collection, Mad Parade, is due out with Smokestack Books in July.

Superwoman and the mote, by Rose Lennard

 
Superwoman and the mote

My special power
is removing tiny things
from the eyes of the one I love.
I say, special power, but
if I’m honest it’s just myopia
that lets me peer in close up
under my thick lenses
to examine the naked orb
exposed and vulnerable in bright light.
Sometimes there’s an obvious culprit,
a wayward lash, nestled, easily fished out
with a twist of moistened tissue.
Other times, I have to peel back lids
taking liberties with my love’s lashes
to scrutinise the angry white.
Eyeballing my beloved’s rolled back eye,
despite my tenderness this looks like terror
as he submits to my inspection.

Once I lifted the finest hair –
it just kept coming, nearly two inches
and almost invisible. That
was a job well done.
I gave my cape
a little twirl of satisfaction.

Early photos of Rose show her up to her chin in daisies, and five decades later, not much has changed. She loves arranging leaves, sticks and stones in ephemeral artworks, or arranging words, often on long walks or in the small hours. 

 

Gowildwithrose (Instagram – ephemeral art, not poems)

Winter Wasp, by Nikki Robson

 
Winter Wasp
At first I thought it next door’s saw
starting on their stack of tree trunks.
But it was a queen

buzzing over open books
as if searching for an exact word
on which to light

somnolent sluggish drowsy

anchor her middle legs over her wings
and not turn a page until spring.
She would pare the words

and shred their letters, roll around
her regal mouth re-write them as a nest.
Her temporary rest on Margaret Atwood

stung me to respond. Clive James, I thought,
is not long gone and Seamus would not
conscience such a deed,

so in the end the Oxford’s weight of words
in common usage circa 1983
was brought to bear, pupating her into a

yellow (colour between green and orange in the spectrum) sticky (tending or intended to stick to what is touched)
splat (crush or squash).

Nikki is originally from Northern Ireland and currently lives in Scotland. She holds an MLitt in Writing Practice and Study from Dundee University and has had poems in journals and anthologies in print and online including Poetry Scotland, Acumen, Northwords Now, Under the Radar, the Lake and Scotia Extremis.

I Wish I Lived in a Bungalow, by Robert Garnham

 
I wish I lived in a bungalow

I wish I lived in a bungalow
One floor is enough for me.
Mooching round in my bungalow,
Now what shall I have for my tea?
People would call
They’d stand in the hall
They’d look around
And say, ‘Is that all?’
I wish I lived in a bungalow
One floor is enough for me.

I wish I lived in a bungalow
I’d go from room to room.
I’d only need one plug you see
When I use the vacuum.
It’s ever so static
I’d feel so ecstatic
And going upstairs
Only leads to the attic
I wish I lived in a bungalow
Or possibly a chalet.

I wish I lived in a bungalow
My god it would be such a laugh.
People would visit my bungalow
And ask, ‘Where’s the other half?’
I’d have no cares
I’d ignore their stares
There is no cupboard
Under the stairs
I wish I lived in a bungalow
Or perhaps a ground floor flat.

I wish I lived in a bungalow
My bedroom down the hall.
Would I get bored of my bungalow?
No, not a chance, not at all.
It’s what I adore
I’d be thrilled to the core
My plan only has
One major floor
I wish I lived in a bungalow
And be closer to planet earth.

I wish I lived in a bungalow
Imagine the plaudits and glory
Like the Star Wars franchise the place
Only has the one storey.
It’s what I’d do
Without much ado
The downstairs loo
Is just called the loo
I wish I lived in a bungalow
Also, I’m ever so lonely.

I wish I lived in a bungalow
You try it, you can’t go back.
I wish I lived in a bungalow
Perhaps in a cul-de-sac.
It’s made out of brick
I get such a kick
You can keep your stairs
They’re making me sick
I wish I lived in a bungalow
With Darren from the coffee shop.

I wish I lived in a bungalow
It’s something I’ll always regret.
Nothing better than a bungalow,
You can keep your maisonette.
That’s my intent
The hours I’ve spent
It’s one step away
From being a tent.
It wouldn’t be far
You can visit by car
You can come right in
The door is ajar.
I’d make my stamp
Buy a standard lamp
You’ll have to admit
It’s kind of camp
I wish I lived in a bungalow
I wish I lived in a bungalow
I wish I lived in a bungalow
One floor is enough for me.

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

Facebook Update, by Kevin Higgins

 

Facebook Update
after Zbigniew Herbert


I am humbled (and heartfelt) to announce that, in perhaps the greatest honour ever given a poet of my little variety, I’ve been invited to read my poem ‘What Caligula Did Next’ at the Emperor’s leaving do in the Horti Lamiani Imperial Gardens, Rome next Wednesday. If only my late Mother wasn’t ten years incinerated, she’d be so proud. Surely now, National Academy of Burnished Versemakers, here I come! It’d be a red embarrassment for them if I died still outside their walls, yowling like a stray tabby with a toothache, without the official people claiming ownership of me. I can see the scene: insignificant old me being borne through those state-moneyed gold-plated gates on a small throne by six naked minor male poets of advanced years. No one anyone’s heard of. Though they’ve all heard of each other.

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

Prayer Before Sleep, by Nikki Fine

 
Prayer Before Sleep


I’d like an upgrade, please,
one with an installation wizard,
so I don’t need to go through
the pain of strict dieting,
an exercise regime,
self-improvement classes (plus homework),
or hours and hours of therapy
to convince me I’m good enough already
with no need of an upgrade,
or a wizard.



Nikki Fine used to be an English teacher but has now found better things to do with her time. She also writes, sings and runs. Mad fool.

Birthday Cake Flavoured Protein Bar, by Stephen McNulty

 
Birthday Cake Flavoured Protein Bar

In a place full of things
People Need and People Want
and stuff
People Think They Need Or Want
you reside alone on a shelf marked “Other”.

A capitalist bet
on how farfetched its reach
led to your creation
so now you sit
strategically by the checkout
flirting with consumers
who cling to handbags and sanity
in equal measure.

You trespass into my eyeline
and I wonder
who is your target market?
An annual gym bunny?
A desperate diabetic?
I bought you out of a sense of mutual pity,
boredom,
the half-promise of a press up
and a poem.

You taste…unnecessary.

But after the Earth has been reduced to clear
and before the next delivery crawls out of the sea
I pray you will survive
in a New World starter pack
along with insulin
a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger
and a leaflet
on the dangers of excess.

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

Super Spreader, by Vanessa O’Reilly

 
Super Spreader

Super Spreader
Covid's gonna find me
But I won't be ill
Vaccines working too
As long as I don't infect you

I was sick and tired of everything
When I called you last night on WhatsApp
All I do is eat and sleep and sing
Wishing isolating weren't so crap
(Wishing isolating weren't so crap)
So imagine I was glad to hear you're staying (Glad to hear you're staying)
Staying right the f**k away
(Stay right the f**k away from me)
And it's gonna be so different
In my little room today

I am a Super Spreader
Covid's gonna find me
Teaching in Tipton (Su-p-per Spread-d-der)
Nursery through Year One (Su-p-per Spread-d-der)
I'm infecting everyone
I am a Super Spreader
Covid's gone and found me
But I won't be ill
Vaccines working too
As long as I don't infect you

Facing twenty children in a class
'So, how many are off with Covid?'
Doing my job gives me a free pass
Working everywhere makes me worried
There are moments when I think I've been infected
But it's gonna be okay
Because on Days 6 and 7
I'll be negative
Hooray!

(Chorus)

When I emerge into the light
My isolation done, I'm free! I fought the fight
And when you take me in your arms
And hold me tight
I'm gonna take my mask off, it's alright

(Chorus)

Brace Yourself, by Vinny Glynn-Steed

 
Brace Yourself


You are someone’s saliva
Swirling in the arse
of a Dutch Gold can.
That metallic hit
off a cigarette, as it corrodes
into the filter. You’re the aroma
of that same can abused all night as an ashtray.

Wash up. Yours is no dreamlike
tumble off heaven’s kerb.
Your face and the tarmac
enjoy rounds of golf together.
You’re the nine pm doorbells
nobody wants to answer.

Get up. ‘This time I’m finished’
carries the weight of a child’s
flatulence during hurricane season.
Your sincerity equals Ms. Pageant
confessing concern for anything at all.
You are Pat Kenny without the charisma.

Face up. You’re that important detail
which fails to download on a smart phone.
You are the ham and cheese sandwich
innocence pulverised into pavement.
You’re the ending to a long anticipated
TV series scrawled on a public toilet door.

You are a gift-wrapped Western present
the Taliban would return.

Vinny Glynn-Steed is an award winning poet from Galway. His debut chapbook Catching Air was published by Maytree Press in December 2020.

I Wore a Red Hat, by Trisha Broomfield

 
I Wore a Red Hat



I wore a red hat
odd looks from the cat
you said I looked fat
your boots on my mat
on my bed you sat

our futures were set
I wish we’d not met
I’ll try not to fret
I’d love to forget
I won’t though, I’ll bet

my life you once lit
we were a good fit
my right cheek you hit
my sharp words I bit
and now here I sit

we started off hot
and did such a lot
you don’t care one jot
our time spent will rot
just part of your plot

there’s no point in, ‘but…’
my heart has been cut
I’m out of my rut
you called me a slut,
I wore a red hat.

Tripping with TJ, by Steve Bailey

 
Tripping with TJ

by Steve Bailey


Tom Jefferson, while working on something profound,
Was surprised and distracted, buy a soft knocking sound.
"Do come in," he called out, "My daughter so sweet."
And tell me, dear Patsy, do you have my treat?"

"A traveler," she said," from far New Spain,
Journeyed through the cold and rain
He brought you these buttons and said with a grin
You should chew on them all for the mescaline."

He took all the buttons; she gave him a kiss.
For the next several hours, his mind she would miss.
"A truly new world now I shall see,
So, thank you, now leave my darling Patsy."

Strange images jumped in and out of his mind.
Tom found himself flying through centuries of time.
No longer was he in old Monticello
Not frightened was Tom. Instead, he felt mellow.

He was still in his country, but it was all rather odd.
The twenty-first century made him rather slack-jawed.
In each of the houses, colors made a box glow.
And from this same box, endless chatter did flow.

Close to one house, Tom moved in for a look,
Then a dog began barking, thinking he was a crook.
When its owner arrived, he called it Big Burr
It was snarling and snapping, this ugly old cur."

"This is my guard dog, and friendly he's not.
If he had a gun, he would so take his shot.
Come now, Big Burr, you're annoying us so.
Harassing a POTUS! To the doghouse, you go!"

Delighted, TJ responded with glee
"The doghouse is where A. Burr should be."
"A leader bad Burr would never make."
"A. Burr is a scoundrel. A. Burr is a fake."

"Whatever you're on, I certainly am not.
Can I offer instead a few bowls of pot?
The election returns are now on TV.
Come in the house and watch them with me."

On a couch, they then sat and toked on a pipe.
Watched talking heads talk and heard all their hype.
"So, this box called TV decides how it goes?"
And the candidates come from one of its shows?"

"The box, it must like you. It's as simple as that.
Did you notice we talk like The Cat in The Hat?"
"A cat in a hat? This is something new.
I tell you I'm learning, one thing or two."

"I want to say more, but now I forgot.
I say it's delightful, this stuff you call pot."
"This has truly been fun; I want you to know.
But the magic is leaving, and so, I must go."

"The questions I have for you come in a bunch.
Can you come back tomorrow and join me for lunch?"
But the room it was empty, it was easy to see,
No answer was coming. He was gone, POTUS3.

Back in his room, in dear Monticello,
For a time, TJ just sat, a reflective old fellow.
"How was your trip?" young Patsy inquired.
"You were gone a long time. Are you newly inspired?"

"I thought that my buttons would take me to God
To see if he's real or show faith is a fraud.
But that did not happen. No secrets unlocked.
Unless what we call God is this strange-looking box."

"I'm done with the buttons, though I liked them a lot,
I think I'll be better, just toking on pot.
The fate of the nation, it's easy to see,
Rests not with the people, but with a box called TV."

Steve Bailey is a freelance writer living in Richmond, Virginia. There he writes fiction, creative nonfiction, long and short stories. He has two novel-long manuscripts in search of a publisher. His writings are at vamarcopolo.com.

On First Looking into the Oriental Chill Cabinet at Waitrose, by John Lanyon

 
On First Looking into the Oriental Chill Cabinet at Waitrose

Susie, roll the rice,
form a mutant teenage Liquorice Allsort,
a distant runt-cousin of a Swiss Roll.
Let’s have it in black and white –
You see, I’m a stranger here myself.

Susie, roll me your sushi,
sharpen the blade,
perform the rite, just for me.
Show me the eye of the cucumber,
a little vinegar for my rice,
a dream of ginger.

Taking off the lid,
I discover your miscellaneous
drug dealer-like micro-packages:
the green plastic fern,
the plastic fish that squirts soy sauce.

I wouldn’t have bought you
if you hadn’t been reduced,
you cut-price Samurai,
A dream of skill and love
swimming round the kitchen,
a little fish out of water.


This poem appeared in the anthology A Funny Way with Words published by The Wychwood Press (2012).

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

Bored, by Margaret Jennings

 

Bored, by Margaret Jennings

Margaret Jennings lives near Portsmouth with a dog and a cat and a husband. Her first poetry chapbook, ‘We Are The Lizards’, published by Dempsey and Windle came out just as the country went into lockdown, which was not good timing. Margaret is currently working on a novel, ‘Ten Tricks’. https://www.dempseyandwindle.com/margaret-jennings.html also available from Amazon and Waterstones

The Storage Unit, by Jeremy Szuder

 

The Storage Unit

I was in a band with a kid
named Johnny Angel.
One day Johnny’s mom,
a patron saint for fostered animals,
told us we couldn’t rehearse
in her living room anymore.

It was fine by me,
the smell of cat urine was
too much to bear and
I no longer wanted to clean
animal hair from my drums.

Someone had the bright idea
that we should rent out
a storage unit and just practice
there instead, whenever we wanted.

The process was simple enough,
it was the sheer amount of volume
however that no one could
have warned us about;

corrugated metal walls and roof,
with cold concrete floors-
the sound was torturous.

So we rolled down the front gate
and played inside under a single
green light bulb for hours at a time,
almost until we couldn’t breathe
any longer.

And we would come out of that
tin green dungeon with multiple rows
of teeth in our mouths like sharks,
and the perspiration garnered from
within that stomach of storage madness
streaked into our eyes until we
saw multiple green light bulbs
melt and dance across our irises.

That volume was beginning to
puncture the inner hollow ways
of our bones and after two or
three months of that, we crumbled
under the weight of Inland Empire
industrial wasteland, and quickly found
somewhere else to rock.

I learned, after we split from the scene,
that there were a few storage units
very near the one we practiced in
that were being used for meth labs.

And though, with our clamorous
residency, our surf/monster/sci-fi/guitar hell,
we might have earned a few new
jittery, nervous, paranoid and highly
strung out new fans,

still, they were glad to see us go.

Jeremy Szuder (he/him) lives in a tiny apartment with his wife, two children and two cats. He works in the evenings in a very busy restaurant, standing behind a stove, a grill, fryers and heating lamps, happily listening to hours of hand selected music and conjuring ideas for new art and poetry in his head. When his working day ends and he enters his home in the wee hours, he likes to sit down with a glass of wine and record all the various words and images that bear fruit within his mind. Jeremy Szuder only sets the cage doors free when the work begins to pile up too high. In this life, Szuder makes no illusions of being a professional artist in any way, shape, or form.
https://jeremyszuder.wordpress.com/

Recycling is good for the planet, by Finola Scott

 

Recycling is good for the planet

Seeing my ironed socks, polished glass
friends declare he’s servicable, a keeper.

But they don’t know, can’t imagine
his moonlit yearnings, his penchant

for rubber – not lingerie but stationary.
The flip side of those origami scribbles

fluttering from pockets, the notes stuck
on the fridge urging me to eat his plums.

Let’s not speak of housework. l say
live and let live, but dusting in a wet suit?

Vacuuming in lederhosen? Buffing
me in the buff? Even Alexa has given up.

I tried – took him to my book group
to the Ukulele girls, to Capoeira. No takers.

So next week he’s going on Freecycle –
Banker, slightly worn, one careless owner.

William Carlos Willams was not harmed 
in the writing of this poem. 

Abominable Manners, by Catherine Doherty Nicholls

 

Abominable Manners

Looking like a hairy yeti
Sitting sucking his spaghetti,
Bolognesey bits
all splattered on his face
I watched him gulp and slurp,
Sniff and pick and blow and burp,
When his plate was licked
he never left a trace.

She’s a winner of no Poetry Ireland Competition, or any other competition. No published debut collection, nothing printed anywhere else yet except here.
Her poems have been nominated for nothing so she’s nominating this poem to go on this page – a great place to start nominating.
She is the curator of nothing. Her anthology doesn’t exist, yet she keeps going.
She recently read some out in Charlie Byrne’s bookshop, Galway. People clapped.

Bohemian Raspberry (Liqueur), by Vanessa O’Rielly

 

Bohemian Raspberry (Liqueur)

I drank a little Amaretto with my Nan
Crème de Menthe, Crème de Menthe will you drink a cold Tango?
Thunderbolts, White Lightning, very, very frightening me
Galliano, Galliano
Galliano, Galliano
Galliano, Aperol, Limoncello

Corpus Christi College has no pastry chef, by Natalie Shaw

 

CORPUS CHRISTI COLLEGE HAS NO PASTRY CHEF

Also the gold pelican on the JCR wall has gone,
as I believe has the JCR itself.
This despite the fact that Jack Turvey
stapled himself to the pelican and the wall
to prevent its sorry loss.

I digress: without a pastry chef and with the sorry loss
of the pelican, poor Corpuscles
have sorrier options. Adam Spicer,
senior Corpus sous chef and Masterchef:
The Professionals quarter-finalist

has been blamed for the crisis.
With no pastry chef,
a dearth of formal halls; the passing
of the loving cup in a silver horn
must pause. Worse, students are forced

to breakfast at Catz or possibly Fitzbillies:
the sole college founded by townspeople
in 1352, site of the oldest living court in Cambridge,
home of the hideous Chronophage and Parker Library,
now with no cake to crumb in fledgling mouths.

Is Poetry Pointless?, by Alanna Hammel

 

Is Poetry Pointless?

I don’t write poetry
I don’t think I ever will
It’s a rotary system
It’s one aim to kill.

I admit I did once overdose
On Lowell’s polyphonic prose.
You don’t see that lot nowadays,
With your Robert Frost
Or your Terrance Hayes.

They have all moved on to screenplays
If they do write it is melodic phrase.
What does pointless even mean?
Without purpose or meaning?

Purpose in poetry is fairly drastic
Some just want a book to read quick.
I doubt most poetry would please the reader
Unless you care for iambic pentameter.
I can see the poet waving its beater
Easy to confuse with the grim reaper.

Poets are killers
I’ll say it again
From your Rupi Kaur to your Dickinson
On rhythm the poet stabs to death
That’s about as good as poets get
While the poet goes through the alphabet
And thinks for a minute about their next sonnet.
Being struck by lightning odds at 500,000 to one
But Increased massively by reading John Donne.
They say you are what you eat
You also are what you read I learnt that from a man with a degree in ‘filíocht’
Little did he know his future would have sucked.
Writing poetry is pointless
I’m telling you now
That’s coming from someone who doesn’t know how.

My last joke, by Jorge Leiva Ardana

 

My last joke
After Luis Buñuel

Should the day come and my soul be released,
though a convinced atheist, I’ll call in a priest
and the barber that messed up so much my hair
will tell those presents about our secret affair.

The service will be set around plastic flowers,
the ceremony held at the most inconvenient hour.
Bagpipes will be nicely played out of tune,
your headache will last until the following June.

A party horn shall be resting on my lips,
a bubble pipe between my fingertips.
Buried in a place I’ve never been,
I thought –why not- of Aberdeen.

Arranges will be made as follows:
Weeping or sorrow not allowed.
A ventriloquist must read my eulogy.
Please, invite to speak an expert on ornithology.

All the money I have although is not much,
will be donated where it’s really needed,
the Oregon Taxidermy Association,
where I can finally get a standing ovation.

My relatives won’t get a dime
which might be the last of my crimes,
and if you think all the above sinister,
remember a Nobel Peace Prize
was awarded to Kissinger.

Sprouts, by Claire Hardisty

 

Sprouts

The son cooks sprouts at Christmas
Virgin olive oil
Garlic
Butter, blocks of it.
Sprouts chopped to fine feathers
There’s a technique you know, Mumma

And during this process, you are wrestling with Delia’s Roasties and
Jamie’s Turkey Crown and Mary’s Homemade Sherry Trifle
Marshalling mint sauce, cranberry sauce, bread sauce.
Running from the hob to the table
Folding napkins into origami something or others
Why do we have 23 knives in the drawer and not a spoon to be seen?
Work out the timings

Daughter appears just before noon
Have an argument with daughter about cracker placement
Bend wire to make table centrepiece, resurrecting last year’s oasis from the garage,
Feeling slightly sorry for the mouse that had made it home
No doubt Mary or Delia would have cut fresh winter roses of damask red from their frosted gardens
I make do with three silk rose things with plastic berries and ribbon, no one will notice anyway
Work out the timings again

Realise that the candlesticks are covered in tarnish and go on mission to find the silver polish
Take off posh Christmas apron with snowman body and put on battered DIY apron
with multiple indeterminate stains, splashes of gloss paint and suspicious marks
Spread newspaper on the side and clean said candlesticks
Dig out the Swarfega from the cupboard under the sink to clean hands after cleaning candlesticks
Drink a glass of bucksfizz that someone made at 9.00 and I never quite got round to

Soon I’ll go and get changed, tidy my hair, spray on perfume,
might even put on a catlick of makeup, add some sparkly earrings but no time yet
Feel a failure for not making real gravy, rely on Mr Bisto instead
Work out the timings again

Chop carrots and beans
Chop finger
Drink cold mulled wine
Check timings

Turn out cupboards
to find the one uncracked Portmeirion Christmas Holly serving dish
Shove the white wine in the freezer as forgot to chill it
And all this while, Son is making his sprouts

Finally all is ready
And the sparkly earrings and outfit are still upstairs
and I in my saggy jeans
and faded shirt and no make up and I don’t care any more
They assemble at table
Daughter wearing size 10 slinky dress and sparkly earrings and more than a catlick of makeup
Son puts sprouts centre stage

And everyone oohs and ahhs
At the sprouts
Son looks at me
Why you wearing your DIY apron, Mumma? I look at him
Best not to answer
Discretion being the better part of valour.

I am a Headteacher in a primary school, and have written poetry since being a small child. I also try to share my love of writing with my school children.

I started going to an online novel class, and a poetry class in February, (run by Gill Lambert and Mark Connors) and feel these have made a tremendous difference to my wellbeing in stressful times.

What do you think of, by Sarah J Bryson

 

What do you think of

when you imagine Christmas?
Is it the fancy eats and sweetie treats
in mouth watering an-ti-ci-pa-tion?
Or is it the gluttony of Christmas
that overloads your mind
with thoughts of our out-sized,
slouch-on-the-couch nation,
engorging in the felicitations?

And when you think of Christmas sounds
do you think of the beauty of a choir,
singing mass at the mid-night hour?
Or the distorted speakers of the ‘Rotary’ sleigh
going round, with collectors shaking tins
on damp December afternoons,
and a skinny man shouting a thin “ho-ho-ho,”
lost inside the outsized Santa suit?

What do you see in your minds eye
when you think of Christmas?
Do you see the delicate twinkling tree,
put up lovingly by the whole family
or the glittery, over-dressed shop windows
and the grotesque street decorations
put up in October half-term, taken down,
perhaps, in time for Easter celebrations?

Maybe you think of the thrill of giving?
Bringing joy with your gift of a toy,
carefully chosen, wrapped and sent,
all savings spent? Or is this sentiment
lost in greedy commercialism?
When every child is asked to produce a list
and every shop sells gifts of badly-made-tat
to fill the stockings of each ungrateful brat.

What about the scent of Christmas?
Do you imagine oranges-stuck-with-cloves,
and hot mulled-wine which wafts to your nose,
mixed with pine needles, and warm mince pies?
But no, with Christmas trees made from plastic and wire,
and radiators, not a real log fire, and no time for making –
instead there’s the faking of the Christmas smell
sprayed from a can, which M & S sell.

But think of the excitement of Christmas…..
the thought of finding, with wriggling toes
a stuffed Christmas stocking… and thoughts of,
the possibility of, “What if it snows?”
And the thrill of seeing all those relations,
not seen since last year, (at Auntie Flo’s)
not since the last blazing row about….
ah well – who remembers what?

Another year flown, another marker for how we age,
see how the children have grown, since last time.

Sarah J Bryson has poems published in print journals, anthologies and on line. During the Covid pandemic, she took part in a weekly event, combining photographs with haiku style poetry. She has several poems on the Poetry and Covid site. She has been recently commended in the YorkMix poetry competition

The Urban Cowboy, by Ben Macnair

 

The Urban Cowboy

The Urban Cowboy,
thinks he is at the Rodeo.
In his white Tuxedo,
dancing as if he was
John Travolta.

The Urban Cowboy,
with his wide-brimmed Stetson,
a man with no name,
useless in the Cheers Bar,
never being served by Ted Danson.

The Urban Cowboy,
with his leather trousers,
the sheen and the crackle,
the static electricity,
is not who he says he is.
His Saturn Return turned to Jupiter,
his midlife crises a cliche
for a man born at the wrong time
in the wrong place,
to the wrong parents,
with the wrong face.

The Urban Cowboy,
rides the train, not horses,
his steed is late and expensive.
The Urban Cowboy could always
be anyone wishing they were someone else.

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

Apartment 5E, by Kevin Higgins

 

Apartment 5E
after Rod McKuen

The old woman upstairs is again engaging
in multi-partner Sadomasochism.
I set my watch
by the yelps and screams wafting
through my ceiling.

I see her often abseiling
down the side of the building
in her bloodstained overcoat,
or shuffling off at night
to the used leather goods shop.

Every Hanukah early morning
I hear her playing heavy metal
music at top volume,
or stomping overhead
in her replica World War Two German Army boots.

For Christmas,
she brings me letters she says
the postman misdelivered –
hospital appointments,
final reminders, and, once, a death threat –
all of them addressed to The Occupier.

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

Stopping by stairs on a frosty morning, by Fianna

 

Stopping by stairs on a frosty morning

after ( and with no disrespect to) Robert Frost

Whose sock is this? I think I know!
Its twin is in the laundry though
Oh why has Robert left one here
while all the rest grow white as snow?

Ach! Should I wash by hand? No fear!
I wouldn’t want that stink so near
my face, though if I hesitate
it might stay dirty till new year

It seems the only choice is scrape
the horse-poo off with soapy flake
I do not want the smell to creep
or mingle with my Christmas cake.

I spray the air with Forest Deep
and poke the sock down-in to steep
It takes an age to stop that reek
It takes an age to stop that reek.

Fianna (Fiona Russell Dodwell)

Fianna ( Fiona Russell Dodwell ) is from the Fife and Antrim coasts, and now lives in the Cambridgeshire Fens. Her first poems were published in Ink Sweat and Tears, and she has since had about 70 poems published, both online and on paper.

A Last Will for your Detriment, by Cáit O’Neill McCullagh

 

A Last Will For Your Detriment

after ‘Bequests’ by Kevin Higgins

I, Kitty of the Firths
unsounded in this queasy world
invoke these many bold bequests
upon the heads of the priapic primi
pomposities of party patriarchs & aparatchiks
furnish your wine fountainheads & cheese centrespreads
ye deadheaded dulleries, these items to fulsomely enjoy

[may they visit you in your blue sky thinkeries
haunt the despicability of your venal drinkeries
reduce you to the scuff on the scuffed shoes that squirm
about the fleet feet of the cleaner-uppers that scrub stains
from the sticky floors of your reputations]

Item I

the ire of a dram-drunk Highland midge, more
the whole disgruntled genealogy of midges
may they berserk every kagouled dippy picnic
of your sandwich-strewn hay-baled hippy chic

Item II

may the marriage of a rusted key & unyielding tin
splice you from the pads of your pinkie promises
& may you chomp that sweaty slab of corny beef forever
millennia of hard to swallow BS wrapped in lethal armour

Item III

the gape-mouthed masked-shut silent tears
of a pandemic peoples’ damp-sheet sweated fears
& if you crossed the line that you asked them to keep
endless pundits razored tongues to grip you from your sleep

Item IV

forever may you step the spiral stairs to the teetered tower
where you held humanity dangled, rampart tipped its toes
neck wringed it in your greedy grasp! O contemptuous
face now the howling wind of your very own disgrace

About me:

Cáit O’Neill McCullagh is a straying ethnologist in the Scottish Highlands. She started writing poetry in December 2020. Since then her poems have appeared in Northwords Now, Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis, Drawn to the Light, Bella Caledonia, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, and The Banyan Review. Cáit tweets at @kittyjmac .

The Birds and Bees at Aldi’s Checkout, by Lorraine Carey

 

The Birds and Bees at Aldi’s Checkout

Showering my five year old
one evening in the run up
to Christmas, he casually
enquired whether Santa Claus
could see his privates,
and hear him fart in bed.

Stifling a laugh I realised days before,
I’d declared Santa could
see and hear everything
At the supermarket checkout,
he asked do I have to be a Granddad
when I grow up ?

Bagging groceries as fast as I could,
I replied, well, that depends
and you would need to be a Dad first.
I knew what was coming
and so did the shoppers in the queue.
He appeared a bit flummoxed

and asked how do I be a Dad then ?
Using age appropriate language,
I attempted an answer while loading
the boot, hoped it would suffice,
explaining it would be a really, really
long time before he was a man and had

to worry about a girlfriend or things like that.
Driving home, he hummed Jingle Bells
behind me, elevated in a booster seat,
with his chocolate crusted cupid’s bow,
firing off questions to his teddy
like sparks from a Catherine Wheel,

saving this one just for me.
Mum, what if I’m all growed up
in love like a man with my lady
and forget what I have to do ?

Lorraine Carey’s a poet from Greencastle, Donegal. Her poems are widely anthologised and have appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, The Waxed Lemon, One, Abridged, Poetry Birmingham, The High Window, Ink Sweat &Tears, Orbis, Eunoia Review and The Honest Ulsterman. Her art and photography have also featured online and in print.

There Was Once A Girl with Red Glasses, by Pip McDonald

 

There Was Once a Girl with Red Glasses

There was once a girl with red glasses
She wasn’t the same as other lasses
Her specs became
Her eternal flame
It was she was different from the masses

The glasses were clearly special
They were made of magic metal
When she took them off
The magic was lost
Like a flower who lost a petal

She tried to wear different colours
But alas life became duller
She became depressed
Lust for life was less
She just couldn’t cope with another

The answer was simply red
Or she would be found dead
She would fall down
To the ground
To red she would be wed

There will simply never be another frame
And life will never be the same
They looked after her face
Like a warm embrace
It makes her want to dance in the rain

She couldn’t live without her specs
Without them she would become a wreck
Her red is on
She’s got it going on
Red is really better than sex

Some people say she should change
But she thinks that this would be strange
Why fix it if it works?
Because red rules the world
Her glasses make her sane

There was once girl with red glasses
Who rose like a phoenix from the ashes
She never looked back
Red is the new black
Eyes flickering with red flashes

Red was in her DNA
A revolution, the one, the way
Red was the light
It shines so bright
Red glass are here to stay

Pip McDonald writes and performs her own poetry and is a DJ for The Thursday Night Show. Pip has written and performed original poetry both in an online capacity and at live open mic events including Conversations make Connections event, part of London Festival of Ideas organised by Open Ealing Art Centre, the Oxford University English Society Poetry Night, Write Out Loud and Gobjaw in London. You can follow Pip on Twitter: @PipMac6
Photograph

Five More Limericks, by Mark Totterdell

 

FIVE MORE LIMERICKS

He was not one of life’s born attackers,
Just the gentlest and best of alpacas,
But he spat and he bit
And behaved like a shit
When the vet came to snip off his knackers.

The whale that is known as the Minke
Is ever so streamlined and slinke.
Though it isn’t to blame,
It’s a terrible shame
That its breath is so horribly stinke.

There was an old hippy from Warwick
Who dropped acid to feel all euphoric,
But he should have been stopped
As the acid he dropped
Was one hundred per cent hydrochloric.

‘So is this how I meet the Grim Reaper?’
Cried the junior elephant keeper,
As he fell in the pit
Full of elephant shit
And sank deeper and deeper and deeper.

There was an old fellow from Shoreham,
Whose trousers slipped down as he wore ‘em,
First revealing his crack,
Then his dick, then his sack,
Till quite frankly you couldn’t ignore ‘em.

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

AlApHaBeTi-KiNtSuGi, by Mandy Beattie

 

AlApHaBeTi-KiNtSuGi

a poem or three or seven
on the march
should be the easel on which it squats thrusting
its chin out & leaving

beetroot stains & cyan

on finger prints hectares after it’s been written
and read it should
dive into a murmuration of starlings & larks not treading
water as jellyfish do but leave us
rubber-necking miles after it’s been seeded into

a stanza-pancake dripping

butter & gooseberry jam with dollops

of double cream melting

in the mouth with or without capitals
commas & fullstops for Pollock’s art
of oxygen in a tempest of ukulele
& didgeridoo or the unexpected hiccough
of spilt manuka ginger & star-anise

scratching a dictionary & search engines in caps
& gowns or street-smarts clamping the thesaurus
for a lethologica word lethonomia word

or a tsunami-tumbrel of words
that leave me

trapezing back to fidget it
leaving it
to brew
for weeks coddled & culled until it has no more
hem for honing as it shoogle’s its grommet
into the groove
of the world where it thumbs mulched wood
a gold Cup Bearer in the winning
of 5 stars from Cassiopeia maybe
or maybe knot?

Life Isn’t All Baubles, by Janet Sillett

 

Life isn’t all baubles

Who wants to win the bloody Booker anyway,
invaded by Yanks
Who wants to be longlisted with the cranks
the false prophets, the portentous
the simply crap
a novel in one sentence
what the fuck is that?

I could change my name to Hilary Mantel
or write a plotless endless novel in unreadable dialect, a hook
for the organic middle class and middle brow
riding on the zeitgeist of identity,
with requisite socio-political angst

Surely enough for the long list?

The taxi to the Guildhall, plague permitting,
smiling grimly at a table weighed down by hubris,
and quinoa burgers and beetroot three ways,
the BBC’s reverential tones on the big screen
selfies on iphones, rehearsing the perfect modest phrase

The Guardian interview in a Shoreditch bar
in battered leather jacket and trainers
keeping back the tears, haltingly, I expose
my childhood in a Coventry cult
and how, kept awake by culture wars, each night
I go through darkness to achieve light

all lies of course

A pay out for those dreary days, the barren room,
chain smoking in the dark, as the words die in mid air
the spent matrimony
the acrimony of failure

But do I really want to win the Booker
to choke on its self-congratulation high art pretention
the cattiness, the condescension,
when I can be signing paperbacks in a Luton basement
with the idlers and the curious,
dozing between the dysfunctional and exiles from the drizzle.

And later sprawled out drunk in the town fountain, trousers half mast
a dystopian baptism snapped for the local rag,
a late dog walker in her Barbour jacket turned away aghast,
whilst my face stares out from the sole shabby bookstore,
displaying my first, my best, my only hit novel?

Janet Sillett recently took up writing poetry and short fiction again after decades of absence. She has had poems published in the Galway Advertiser, Poetry Plus magazine, Green Ink Poetry and Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis, Paws for Pause and flash fiction in Litro. She works for a think tank.

Dressing up in Lockdown, by Shanta Acharya

 

DRESSING UP IN LOCKDOWN

A pristine summer’s day, sparkling like champagne,
perfect for giving my garments an airing.
At home in a bubble of my own, lounging
in pyjama and dressing gown, numbering
my days’ illusions, comfort reigns over style.
My wardrobe reprimands me, cries in chorus
– saris complaining the loudest of not being
touched, embraced, admired – their silks, chiffons,
satins, crepes, georgettes, chanderis mothballed
in tissue, chide me for starving myself
in the midst of plenty. Unable to ignore their
pleas, I wear a sari with matching jewellery,
spray myself with Immortal and Eternity,
with a glass of bubbly watch Downton Abbey.

In the words of Mimi Khalvati, Shanta Acharya’s ‘poetry shows a rare combination of lyricism, intelligence, sagacity and a wicked sense of humour.’ The author of twelve books, her most recent collections are What Survives Is The Singing (Indigo Dreams, 2020) and Imagine: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, 2017). www.shanta- acharya.com

Human Nature, by Eric Burgoyne

 

Human Nature

Nearly halfway through a trans-Pacific flight, a passenger went into a seizure. It was significant and his thrashing motions alarming. A surprised traveler seated nearby leaped for his seat ready to fight off a highjacker. Steam-like condensation wafting from an air-conditioning vent took the shape of an Angel of Life fighting the Grim Reaper. A doctor and nurse rushed down the aisle to assist. The situation was tense and people wondered if the man would survive. Seatback entertainment monitors began turning blue as anxious passengers paused their movies and switched to the cobalt-colored flight tracker map to see if the aircraft had passed its point of no return. The lips of a few could be seen doing the mental math of connecting flights. A psychic in Business Class intercepted private thoughts and fervent prayers of those onboard: “Father, please save this poor man” . . . “Let him survive and live a long, healthy life” . . . “I beg of Thee, let us not be late for the wedding, P.S. Please bless whoever is sick back there in Economy” . . . “I wonder how much time it takes for rigor to set in?” . . . “What’ll they do with the body? They can’t just leave it there, seat-belted in, can they?”. . .“Hey! Where’s the pretzels and drinks?”

Eric Burgoyne writes and surfs on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. He has an MA in Creative Writing – Poetry, from Teesside University, Middlesbrough England. His poems have appeared in Brickplight, Spillwords, Skink Beat Review, Rat’s Ass Review, and elsewhere.

Schoolyard Memory, by Maurice Devitt

 

Schoolyard Memory

When I refused to share my Latin homework,
you challenged me to a fight
outside the tuckshop, first thing after school.
With little choice, I accepted,
my strategy hopelessly unclear. You had form
and news of the mismatch sparked from class to class.

The lane was choked with the cough
of cigarette smoke and the acrid smell of BO
funnelling from the knots of baying boys
heralding my entrance. You strutted around
the makeshift ring, joking and laughing
with your cabal. I was tempted to admit defeat,

but conscious that attack is often
the best form of defence, I walked towards you,
shucking school bag and gaberdine,
baited you with words of bluff bravado,
silencing the crowd and tempting you
to hit me for the first time. I flinched

but didn’t react, tried to distract you
with the recitation of random tracts of Latin
unseen and the declension of obscure French verbs.
You continued your attack, my rubbery mouth
spitting out the syllables of broken words,
until I could take no more, legs buckling under me.

Curled on the ground, I sensed the mood
of the crowd shift to hushed concern,
and unfolding myself like a deckchair into standing,
rushed to concede. You win, I mumbled,
sweeping up my school bag and disappearing
into the maw of the crowd, tears starting to fall.

Perhaps chastened by the incipient shock
that rippled through the school, you never asked
for my homework again and, when we left school,
our paths diverged, until today – I saw you in town
stepping out of a brand-new Tesla,
pristine paintwork too tempting to ignore.

Maurice Devitt

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

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

I Have Something to Say About Crochet, by Carla Scarano D’Antonio

 

I have something to say about crochet

I was trained by my mother
when I was only 5 or 6
and could make granny squares and doilies
with tiny hooks and bright cotton.

She taught me how to chain first,
I made long ones coiling around my feet.
Then double crochet, treble, half treble, double treble.
They developed in patterns,
in things to use and wear.
Can you believe there are people who don’t value such a work?

The long solitary confinement of lockdown
required emergency.
I intensified my crochet work,
survival was suffused with the rituals of choosing the thread,
matching the colours, developing patterns
and creating something I felt.

How to break the sadness of isolation?
How to heal the unhappiness of lost social cohesion?
The thrill of creation, the minutiae of the stitches
were extra revelations.
I shivered with recovery.

Carla Scarano D’Antonio obtained her MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and has published her creative work in magazines and reviews. Her short collection Negotiating Caponata was published in July 2020. She was awarded a PhD on Margaret Atwood’s work at the University of Reading in April 2021.
http://www.carlascaranod.co.uk/

The Poem that Got Me Cancelled, by Daragh Byrne

 


Daragh Byrne is an Irish poet writing in Sydney, Australia. He has had work published in various journals and newspapers, and his poems have been commended or placed in numerous competitions in Ireland and Australia. He runs The Sydney Poetry Lounge, a long-running open mic night.

Go on, make mine that boil-in-the-bag by the stove, by Beth McDonough

 

Go on, make mine that boil-in-the-bag by the stove.

God forbid, you’d think I’d want to eat it, mind!
Not that darling little clear plastic sachet,
excitingly bright with uncrystallised liquid,
which reveals a magic snap coin inside.

Oh, let me plop you in my pocket, wee friend,
as I swimsuit up, heap on so many layers.
All but forgotten as I pedal to the beach, strip,
and throughout my wintery swim, but then
I rigid-finger find you in my after-gear,
crack you into dynamic action. Fast warmth,
stuffed in my mitts, curled round my handlebars, go!
I’m always touched by your presence, dear.

Mr. Electable and Family, by Mark Jones

 

Here comes Mr Electable
He’s ravishing and delectable
His policies are selectable
It’s good old Mr Electable.

His sister Miss Debateable
Is seldom seen as dateable
She’ll kick you right underthetable
That is Miss Debateable.

Their mother Mrs Tiresome
Worked flat out to hiresome
Earplugs she requiredthem
Poor old Mrs Tiresome.

And father Mr Paradox
A man who thinks outsidethebox
Posts leaflets outside the letterbox
Yes/No that’s Mr Paradox.

Electable
Debateable
Tiresome & Paradox

Think I’ll read a book instead.

Mark Jones, performance poet, has been plying his craft over much of the South West for many years, from open mic nights to theatres and even the odd tea room and cafe. In 2014 he won the Spokes Amaze poetry slam in Exeter and has had published two collections of poetry, Humps For Fifty Yards & Beans.

Something Fishy . . . By Carole Donaldson

 

This is what culminated from a brief encounter at Sainsbury’s. It took five minutes to make up a rhyme about the extremely brief dalliance, but I think I had a close shave and dodged a bullet, yet unfortunately if the guy hadn’t been in such a hurry to ‘get his leg over’ we could have made fine music together, but I’m pleased that I usually always go with my gut feeling about things, and this guy was far too forward for comfort. Shame, really, he wasn’t bad looking but he let his mouth run away with him.

SOMETHING FISHY …

I met a man, while out shopping, at the salmon counter,
he came over quite suave and quite slick,
a few weeks on from that chance encounter,
he turned out to be naught but a fanciful dick

He kissed me and hugged me the minute we met
So charming – he addressed me “Dear Madam”
But how familiar is it right for a stranger to get
When I didn’t even know him from Adam

We exchanged our phone numbers and as days went by
I waited to hear from this Casanova
But I’d text and then wait but get no reply
So before it begun, it was practically over

He finally rang and arranged that we meet
His excuse for no contact? He preferred not to text
We went for a coffee on a posh market street
Where he wasted no time saying how much he loved sex

Well, I was appalled and quite taken aback
It was far too soon to be talking that way
But he took me to lunch, at Kings Road Seafood Shack
And when the huge bill came, he was happy to pay

(80 quid’s-worth of food was devoured that day)

Though we chatted at lunch and duly both laughed
With the same sense of humour we shared
I got a bad vibe and I thought myself daft
I could’ve been an old boot and I don’t think he’d’ve cared.

He mentioned the sex thing again I had noted
He clearly had his own agenda
He was quite up front, not a thing sugar-coated
And showed himself up to be a pretender

This encounter has taught me to be somewhat wary
This chap had manners like a pen full of swine
His ulterior motives can seem somewhat scary
But in truth that’s his problem, and certainly not mine

It’s been over a week now and he’s disappeared
At his hinted intentions, I told him where to go
Asking if I was adventurous – far too forward I feared
And on that score the arse’ole will now never know

Too Many Straights, by Claire Duthie

 

There are too many straights on telly
The situation has really got very silly
And out of hand
Wny don’t you understand?

There’s far too much prancing
On strictly come dancing

Wny wallow in the mire
And watch ” married at first sight?”
It really, really is dire.

Lionel Blair
Is no longer there

Mayday, maidez
Paul O Grady

Heaven help us
Russell T Davies

Bruce Wayne : Space Pioneer, by Ross Crawford

 

Bruce Wayne: Space Pioneer

Whit if Bruce Wayne wis a real guy?
Whit wid he actually be like?
Wid he still run aboot each nicht
Getting intae a ficht
Wae every petty criminal in the city?
Wid he?
Say ye pit him oan a fixed-term contract:
How wid he react?
Wid he sit through an annual review
Tae discuss aw the jaws he’s cracked?
Punchin fuck oot the symptom
Never curin the cause
Is much mair fun
Than trying tae change the laws
“Least ah dinnae kill,” he’d cry
“An ah’m no gonnae justify
Masel tae the likes ae you.”
But it starts tae make ye hink:
If he’s a billionaire who’s only kink
Is dressing up in aw that bat gear
And makin wee guys pish in fear
Is he helpin or hinderin?
Is he actually a guid yin?
Ah bet ye if Bruce Wayne wis a real guy
He’d prolly jist try tae get tae the moon
Like aw the ither silver-spoon
Billionaires blastin aff intae space
Auld Brucey boy racin big bald Bezos
Tae build the first galactic base
Nae cosmic threats tae fight
Fur this Dark Knight
But he still cannae forget
That his parents are deid
Instillin him wae this insatiable need
Tae dae them baith proud
And so he has vowed
That in the name ae the slain
Thomas an Martha Wayne
He’ll lead an interstellar trip
Perform a low-gravity flip
Inside a bat-shaped spaceship.

Ross Crawford is a writer/scriever based in Stirling, Scotland. He mostly takes his inspiration from the history and nature of Scotland, but his head can be turned by sci-fi and superheroes. He writes in Scots, English, and Gàidhlig. You can find him on Twitter at @RRMCrawford

Frames, by Eddie Gibbons

 

FRAMES

He met her at the Art Gallery.

Made eyes at her
across a Caravaggio.

Saw her framed against a Miro.

Watched her glide along
an avenue of Monets.

She saw him standing
like a prick
between two Pollocks.

Published in ‘The Republic of Ted’, Thirsty Books, Edinburgh, 2003.

Eddie Gibbons has six published poetry collections. ‘What They Say About You’ was shortlisted for the ‘Scottish Poetry Book of the Year’, 2011. He was a prizewinner in the inaugural ‘Edwin Morgan Poetry Competition’, 2008. He has a poem in the Bloodaxe anthology ‘Land of Three Rivers’. Twitter- @1Eddie_Gibbons

Oh Me!, by beam

 

Oh Me!
I am a soggy biscuit
I am murking
at the bottom
of your
mug

I am a sang-widge
you thought you threw away…
a Summer ago

I am a surprise from a stranger
who’s known to the Gardaí
you didn’t wear your glasses
you thought I was waving
but I was wanking

beam is a 26 year old poet from Ireland. She has participated in workshops led by Kevin Higgins, read at Galway City’s Literary Organisation event ”Over The Edge” and has been published in Cabinet Of Heed, Broadsheet.ie, Impspired, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Spilling Hot Cocoa Over Martin Amos, WordCityLit, Ink Sweat and Tears & Open Skies. Recent work includes; surviving the pandemic and several disappointing sourdough loaves. She is becoming the kind of person who says the things you ”aren’t supposed to say”. You can find more of her poetry @personalbeam on instagram.

Cop O The North, by Cáit O’Neill McCullagh

 

Cop O The North

After Nicanor Parra’s ‘The Poems of the Pope’

Insta this! I’ve been crowned!
I’m the COP o the north
King of the Anthropocene
every ‘ancestor’s wildest dream’

Oh, I’ve suffered decades of your resolutions
deny me no more, Anthro’s here darlings!
and petro-chemical green’s my scene
my cloak is all COP-washed glory

the forests burn, the earth expires
the sea’s an acid-gasp! It’s oil thanks to me!
I’ve anointed this planet in fire and flood
and folks while I rule it, you’ll consume it

We’ve peaked post-truth, BTW
my people write the scripts now
this one’s called ‘Beyond Petroleum
from filthy lucre to carbon-blue’

flush with the glow of burning ozone
I’m the green god now
I grace every couch on your blessed telly
but never admit, it’s fossil fuel that keeps me lit!

I can get you what you want today, no probs.
But tomorrow, things go nuclear
and I know where the button is
and I know the folk who want to press it.

Ever since our story started
when you pushed that first hungry plough
and took your axe to the lungs of the forest
Gaia has groaned to birth me.

So, bless her do your mother earth
perhaps one less flight will heal her extinction
but remember, while the crude keeps bubbling
it’ll be me who’ll be your final benediction

Cáit O’Neill McCullagh is a straying ethnologist writing at home in the Highlands of Scotland. She started to write poetry in December 2020, and since then her poems have appeared in Northwords Now, Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis, Drawn to the Light, and The Banyan Review. Cáit tweets at @kittyjmac .

Tu-tu in Training, by Trisha Broomfield

 

Tu-Tu in Training

Steph was wider than me, and shorter,
it was a gift, a hand-me-down
from her parents in their high house
to me and mum in our basement flat,
‘Come on try it on,’ Mum urged,
‘you’ll feel the part.’
I slid it up my non-existent hips
the shine of the satin, soft
as my hands smoothed over its bodice,
‘The skirt’s a bit torn at the hem,’
Mum said, ‘But I’ll fix that in no time.’
I looped straps over my shoulders,
they fell off, my pointy bones
unable to cling to pink ribbon,
‘Safety pins,’ Mum said, ‘hoik it up a bit.’
Hoiking and pinning, Mum, sideways pull to her lips
determined to make it fit.
‘You’ve got the book,’ Mum flicked to the page,
‘come on, position one.’
I tried, one then two, easy peasy this ballet,
then, knees like my dad’s, I stuck in position four.
‘Back straight, neck long like a swan.’
Mum had seen The Nutcracker on telly.
Shoulders cramped by a bodice pinned to fit
I sank a hopeful plié.
‘That’s it, you’ll make a ballerina yet!’
Mum clapped her hands in delight,
‘though, you will have to keep your vest on.’

From the Rag, by Christian Scully

 

From the Rag

Time drags as the barmans rags wipes another stain away from the bar top Feelingas though the clocks have all but stopped and the hourglass sand or the biggest hand are heading backward
Its funny how stood here in this palace of beer church to excess as tobacco laden breath requests another and sings a sad lament Cursing them who lurk on borders them past into obscurity and them who are royally fucking up the country whilst doing their best as you see… its complicated

Bleary eyed hobbling from pint to pint to bookies and back handing over scrunched up notes pulled from grubby back pockets as there lips smack down the sweet nectar.
Straightening ties telling the same lies how its just a quick one on the way to the office when we both know they will be back tomorrow.
Hearing grumbles and strife about distant kids and ex wives after pint after pint after pint
Some starting early
or some continuing
a perpetual night out that
they can never bare to end

Best mates at breakfast become bastards by lunch
as they are too drunk to stand let alone throw a punch
but then its all just a part of the carbon copied institution once known as a pub
Where now they serve kiddies and professionals grub
whist in the corner they lurk
all crude gestures and smirks
till its time to wobble back to bed
rest their red faced weary heads
grab a sarnie
grab a kip
buy the paper
and repeat

When I Come to Power, by Kevin Higgins

 

When I Come To Power

Spiking women’s drinks
or bums with a syringe
will be an offence punishable
by having one’s body placed
in an industrial crusher
and turned into an easily
spreadable paste.

But it will be perfectly legal –
compulsory, even –
to, at least once in your life,
drug a daytime TV presenter of the male variety,
preferably Richard Madeley,
and deposit his twitching body
on the town rubbish dump
for the gulls to peck.

KEVIN HIGGINS

KEVIN HIGGINS is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway. He has published five previous full collections of poems: The Boy With No Face (2005), Time Gentlemen, Please (2008), Frightening New Furniture (2010), The Ghost In The Lobby (2014), & Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital (2019). His poems also feature in Identity Parade – New Britishand Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010) and in The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed Neil Astley, Bloodaxe May 2014). Kevin was satirist-in-residence with the alternative literature website The Bogman’s Cannon 2015-16. 2016 – The Selected Satires of Kevin Higgins was published by NuaScéalta in 2016. The Minister For Poetry Has Decreed was published by Culture Matters (UK) also in 2016. Song of Songs 2:0 – New & Selected Poems was published by Salmon in Spring 2017. Kevin is a highly experienced workshop facilitator and several of his students have gone on to achieve publication success. He has facilitated poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre and taught Creative Writing at Galway Technical Institute for the past fifteen years. Kevin is the Creative Writing Director for the NUI Galway International Summer School and also teaches on the NUIG BA Creative Writing Connect programme. His poems have been praised by, among others, Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul, Observer columnist Nick Cohen, writer and activist Eamonn McCann, historian Ruth Dudley Edwards, and Sunday Independent columnist Gene Kerrigan; and have been quoted in The Daily 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 was published in late by Nuascealta. His extended essay Thrills & Difficulties: Being A Marxist Poet In 21st Century Ireland was published in pamphlet form by Beir Bua Press this year. Ecstatic, Kevin’s sixth full poetry collection, will be published by Salmon next March.

Iona walk of shame, by Jay Whittaker

 

Iona walk of shame

No minister
I did not leave
my sodden knickers
on the rocks
after semi-skinny dipping
on the Sabbath

that must have been some other pilgrim.
But there is learning here –
wet black pants
look just like kelp
strewn across a rock.

Jay Whittaker lives and works in Edinburgh. Her debut poetry collection Wristwatch (Cinnamon Press) was the Scottish Poetry Book of the Year (Saltire Society Literary Awards) 2018. Her second collection, Sweet Anaesthetist, (also Cinnamon Press) was published in 2020. Jay is widely published, including two poems in the recent Bloodaxe anthology, Staying Human. www.jaywhittaker.uk / @jaywhittapoet

Half an hour’s work, by Sarah J. Bryson

 

Half an hour’s work

The secateurs fit her hand
perfectly, as she works
to shape the form
until a thicker branch
does not yield to the blade
and they are exchanged
for the long handled lopper
which uses the physics
of leverage to exert
their power.
Four more chops
then she drops
this tool for the rake
to gather up the trimmings
then stands back
to admire the shape,
notices a stray weed
she’s missed, under the bush
grabs the hand fork
to extract the dandelion’s
long tap root, but
this one needs
the little spade
to loosen the soil
to ease out the beast,
all but the tip surrendering
to the teasing.
She stands back again,
thinking how much
can be achieved in a short time –
then sees one more stem
to trim, to finish the job.
She looks around
for the secateurs
which have disappeared-
searches for nearly
another half an hour.

Sarah J Bryson

Bio
Sarah has poems published in print journals, anthologies and on line. She has been a regular participant, during the Covid pandemic, in a weekly on-line arts event, combining photographs with haiku style poetry and has recently had several poems on the Poetry and Covid site.

Surf School, by Robert Garnham

 

Thou has the charms of a warthog.
Vile, doth your snout snuffle
Amongst the remnants of last night’s moussaka.
Has thou perchance upon my corduroy trouser leg
Upchucked?
Be gone!
Quoth my
Surfing instructor.

Upon my word did the very same surfing instructor
Not two hours previous
Raise an eyebrow or two as, with help,
I oozed into the requisite wetsuit,
Like a slug into a Smarties tube,
Thus requiring considerable tugging,
Talcum powder, axle grease, Vaseline,
Gravity and sheer luck,
And yea, for it was the closest I had come
In many months
To sex.

Unleashed on the sea thus be-rubbered,
I had all the equilibrium of a sparrow
In a cement mixer,
All the agility of a lopsided basset hound
With an inner ear infection,
All the balance of Fox News
And all the rhythm of a drummer divorced from his drum
And also, coincidentally,
Three months in the grave.
You might say that
I wasn’t really cut out for it.

Thy surfing instructor, Troy, were a frown
With a man attached.
Sayeth he,
I’ve never seen a surfboard just sink like that.
It just went down like a stone, didn’t it?
You’re rewriting all the laws of physics,
And upon my word,
Did’st thou notice the countenance of that
Dolphin?
Such a worried demeanour.
And you’ve put the fear of god
Into a porpoise.
And also,
Thou art emitting
A vast and toxic slick.

Thy wetsuit were as shapely as a
Delaminated lorry tyre,
Such that a passing walrus should deliver
A cocky wink,
And surely I would have excelled
In all my brine-soaked majesty
Were it not for a chafing in the gusset
Which brought tears to mine eyes and
Conjured
That night I spent in Nuneaton with an
Abraham Lincoln impersonator
Whose frisky appetites
Could ne’er be sated
Yet ate my buffet breakfast and scarpered
Without so much as a how do you do?

The sea were as rough as mine uncle
And it pounded on the beach like
An angry old man on the doors of the closed cafe
In which he has left his baccy tin,
And no matter how I progressed
I could stand not on that blessed board.
For when it cometh to surfing I am nought
But a charlatan, a poseur,
A ne’erdowell enmeshed in misery,
No more qualified to join the surfing greats
Than a giraffe join a coven of mallards,
That I might hang my head in shame,
And mutter, oh, when do I get to say cowabunga?
And hand in my ankle bracelet
And my coral necklace
And my flip flops
And submit to the life of a land based mammal
Such as a badger or a dental hygienist.

How vast the expression of shock on the face
Of my damp-headed instructor
When I leaned on the flanks of his
Cobbled rickety surf shack
And the whole place concertinered
Into a jumble of wooden planks.
He hardly laughed at all.

And thus began a tirade the general gist of which
Implored me to explore
Other avenues of past-time
In which my ham-fisted bungling efforts might
Not cause quite so much pain, anguish, damage
And general gnashing of teeth.
And that, dear listener,
Is how I became a poet.

Robert Garnham has been performing LGBT comedy poetry around the UK for ten years at various fringes and festivals, and has had three collections published by Burning Eye. He has won slams in places such as London, Edinburgh and Swindon and headlined or featured at events such as Bang Said the Gun, Raise the Bar, and Milk and in 2019 was the Hammer and Tongue featured artist for a tour of the UK. Je has supported artists such as John Hegley, Arthur Smith and Paul Sinha. 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 2017 Edinburgh Fringe. Lately he has been writing short stories published in magazines such as Stand, Defenestration and Riggwelter, and a humorous column in the Herald Express newspaper. In 2021 he was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and shortlisted as Spoken Word Artist of the Year by the Saboteur Awards. His influences are diverse and include Ivor Cutler, Salena Godden, Bob Newhart and Laurie Anderson.

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

There’s a Fucking Fly in my Fridge, by Paula Nicholson

 

There’s a Fucking Fly in my Fridge.

There’s a fucking fly in my fridge.
Fellating a fish finger,
fondling the fruit and
feeling up the frangipane.
Your fun is finito
and in my fury,
fffffwack!
Flattened.
There’s now no fucking fly in my fridge.

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

Just Desserts, by Greg Freeman

 

JUST DESSERTS

Even after all this time
I’m not ashamed of what I did.
Tipping a mixture of party food
through an elderly former
neighbour’s letterbox.
He’d complained to our landlord
that our girlfriends stayed overnight.
It was the Seventies. Yorkshire
was and is a backward place.

I’d moved out as quick as I could,
got a place with my girl, soon
to be wife. Was invited back
for a party by the one nice flatmate
that we bumped into in town.
I hatched the plan in advance.
Halfway through the evening
I went out with my offering
and delivered it. Rat-tat-splat.

They say revenge is sweet.
Black forest gateau, trifle,
a soupcon of tiramisu.
And a dish best served cold.
Those puddings came
straight from the fridge.
I suppose my ex-flatmates
received some feedback.
Still gives me pleasure, writing this.

Greg Freeman is news and reviews editor for the poetry website Write Out Loud. He co-comperes a regular poetry night in Woking. His new collection is called Marples Must Go! One of its themes mourns the comic heroes of yesteryear, with this cri de coeur: ‘Why can’t life still be hilarious?’ https://www.dempseyandwindle.com/gregfreeman.html

Errands, by Sarah J. Bryson

 

Errands

As novices on the ward
we students were sent to collect,
to beg to borrow –

‘nip to 15 see if they have any spare
draw sheets, and ask Sister Pink
if you can borrow a sphyg,’

‘go down to the porter’s lodge
and tell them we need someone urgently:
bring one of them back with you,’

‘take this list to CSSD
with the trolley, and bring back
as much as you can to stock up’

One day I was asked to go to
the orthopaedic ward
for left handed syringes

and a long stand.

Sarah J Bryson

Bio
Sarah has poems published in print journals, anthologies and on line. She has been a regular participant, during the Covid pandemic, in a weekly on-line arts event, combining photographs with haiku style poetry and has recently had several poems on the Poetry and Covid site.

Grumpy Bumpy Poem, by Ed Poetastic

 

The sun too bright,
Toss away the clock,
These sheet are so tight,
My body feel like a rock,
EVERYTHING NOT ALRIGHT!!
A sound? Knock, knock, knock
Someone looking for a fight!!
The door!! Why is there so many locks!!
Mail, give me that! Forget being polite,
No Sir you can kiss my buttocks!
You enjoy that? Get out of my sight!!
Dumb stupid clock going tick tock,
I’m trying to eat with all my might,
What!! No tea or Coffee in stock,
This day is so crazy and not right,
Even my stove is refusing to ignite,
Puuufff, time to see boring sites,
It’s meh so what alright okay despite,
Why is the sky so bright, blue, and white?
Why is my jacket so little, stuffy, and tight?
Why are kids flying stupid droids and kites?
No more happy sappy activities in my hindsight
Being grumpy is my passion and birthright
I drink the bitter bad and toss away the delights
Seeing a peaceful moment spoils my appetite
I wish I can raindown thunderstorms with spite,
This sunshine, flowers, and butterflies really bites
I Love pure darkness then boring pale white
I love taking out the bulbs in everyone’s lights
I Love seeing fights, firefights, and bullfights
I love setting fireworks at the dead of midnight
Why am I so crabby, grouchy, and uptight?
why should I tell you? Have a grumpy night
By Ed Poetastic

Strictly Speaking, by MT Taylor

 

Strictly speaking…

…her shoes let them down
five inch heels and that soft kid leather
in come-fuck-me red.
Were they ever
really a pair?

He with his polished Latino click
hers a scarlet asymmetric slit
with a temper to match
his a spandex sparkle
and the macassared slick
of his Lugosi thatch

She didn’t fall, merely tripped
on his slippery charm
and her own indecision
lost her footing
gripped his arm as they took to the floor
in their downward collision.
She felt a smack from the back
of his left Cuban stack.

She’s had enough.
Through the crack of his dislocation
she remembered old scores
lost marks
humiliation

The last he knew was her impatient sigh
and the crushing sight
of her restless stiletto above his eye
the mocking cry
the samba siren and the boys in blue
(what-the-foxtrot-tango?)
lights on full
Paso doble
torero mujer
and one dead bull

MT Taylor was a librarian before retiring to Glasgow. Her work has appeared in The Glasgow Review of Books, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House, Northwords Now, The Lake, Under the Radar, and Poems for Grenfell. She has four children who still talk to her, and she still interrupts.

The Ongoing Saga of Why I Haven’t Finished my Novel, by Nikki Fine

 

The Ongoing Saga of Why I haven’t Finished My Novel

Reason number four hundred and three.
No, don’t go. It’s a good one. You’ll like it.
Well, maybe ‘like’ is the wrong word. Perhaps
‘appreciate’, or even ‘recognise’.

I woke up
with the final paragraph in my head,
all ready to write in, spelling, punctuation,
everything needed to complete my opus.

I was so excited, I fumbled for my
lucky pen – the one I was using when
I won a story competition at primary school,
though I’ve had no luck since –
and knocked over my glass of water.

Obviously, I needed to dry the pen before use,
but as I entered the bathroom, in search of
a towel, the cat dashed beneath my feet,
and I tripped, dropping my poor pen
into the bowels of the unit which remained
unflushed after some midnight micturitions.

By the time I had failed to retrieve the pen
hygienically, and then called a plumber
to go beyond the u-bend, the paragraph
was gone. All that was left was this.

Nikki Fine is struggling to finish a novel and has resorted to poetry in the meantime. Some of her work has been published, in such places as Spilling Cocoa and The Interpreter’s House. She has also been experimenting with selfies in windy locations.

Zenith, by Kevin Higgins

 

Zenith

Zenith Kane is the type of guy
who, home from a challenging afternoon
in the rat eat rat milieu that is the trade
in self-rotating slurry tanks,
lowers himself into his marble bathtub
with his pet electric eel;
makes up plans

to go, first, into politics
then the global arms trade as a lobbyist,
to familiarise himself with the menus of
the better hotels in Brussels,
Beirut, the District of Columbia;

then retire to a purpose built shed
the far end of the garden to drink
Ginseng tea through a handmade straw
and draft the twenty seventh best novel
in the history of front cover blurbs written
by critics with specialist haircuts
and names translated into Gaelic;

bathe in the sunlight of the quality press
declaring it brilliant
before it’s even written.

But last things first: those business cards,
and the professionally done head shot
all the websites say a novelist of his standing
must these days have.

For now, though, the struggle to rise
pinkly out of the bathtub while feeding
an eel buzzing its discontent
frogs and crabs by the bag load,

so tomorrow he can again be Zenith
and talk a man from Anbally or Gortlusky
into a tank with a rotating paddle
guaranteed to maintain the quality of his slurry.

KEVIN HIGGINS

KEVIN HIGGINS is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway. He has published five previous full collections of poems: The Boy With No Face (2005), Time Gentlemen, Please (2008), Frightening New Furniture (2010), The Ghost In The Lobby (2014), & Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital (2019). His poems also feature in Identity Parade – New Britishand Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010) and in The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed Neil Astley, Bloodaxe May 2014). Kevin was satirist-in-residence with the alternative literature website The Bogman’s Cannon 2015-16. 2016 – The Selected Satires of Kevin Higgins was published by NuaScéalta in 2016. The Minister For Poetry Has Decreed was published by Culture Matters (UK) also in 2016. Song of Songs 2:0 – New & Selected Poems was published by Salmon in Spring 2017. Kevin is a highly experienced workshop facilitator and several of his students have gone on to achieve publication success. He has facilitated poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre and taught Creative Writing at Galway Technical Institute for the past fifteen years. Kevin is the Creative Writing Director for the NUI Galway International Summer School and also teaches on the NUIG BA Creative Writing Connect programme. His poems have been praised by, among others, Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul, Observer columnist Nick Cohen, writer and activist Eamonn McCann, historian Ruth Dudley Edwards, and Sunday Independent columnist Gene Kerrigan; and have been quoted in The Daily 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 was published in late by Nuascealta. His extended essay Thrills & Difficulties: Being A Marxist Poet In 21st Century Ireland was published in pamphlet form by Beir Bua Press this year. Ecstatic, Kevin’s sixth full poetry collection, will be published by Salmon next March.

Fags villanelle, by Heather Moulson

 

Fags villanelle

Please give me back my fags
You’re a scrubber and a thief
Rifling through our handbags

You really should be wearing tags
Or turning over a new leaf
And please give me back my fags

From the sweet shop you nick mags
From Tesco, joints of beef
You’re just like the other slags

So please go and nick more swag
To be honest, it will be a relief
When you give me back my fags

Remember it was Rothmans fags
Don’t hide behind that sheath
And get some more carrier bags

You didn’t do it? Good grief!
It was your boyfriend Keith
But you were still behind the blags
So please give me back my fags

The love song of Sergeant Wilson, by Ben Macnair

 

The love song of Sergeant Wilson

I say would you mind awfully
if we went to the cinema to see one of those
new fangled films the kids are talking about?
Sir are you absolutely sure that’s a good idea?

And I say would you mind awfully if I were
to walk you home afterwards to your humble abode?
Sir are you absolutely sure that’s a good idea?

I say would you mind awfully if I told you about my sergeant’s exam?
Shall I tell you about my manager at the bank?
Or about Jones the greengrocer?
How about Fraser?
He says we’re all doomed.
At times I think I agree with him.

I say would you mind awfully if we went to one of those new nightclubs?.
I think I may be too old for them these days.
I like a good club with a bit of dancing.
Maybe they’ll have a bit of jazz with trombones and trumpets.
Or maybe I will just bring my ear trumpet.

I say would you mind awfully if we just went to a tea dance.
Or maybe we could play bingo
Maybe we should just not bother.
I see the kids are watching that new Mrs Brown’s boys comedy.
Have you watched it?
I haven’t, I am not absolutely sure it is a good idea.

Rubbish Love Poem, by Martin Grey

 

Rubbish Love Poem

Love is like a kung fu fighter.
It conducts itself with grace,
but if you let it draw you in,
it might kick you in the face.

Love is like a chainsaw.
Proper use is not a laugh,
‘cos if you treat it irresponsibly,
you might cut yourself in half.

Love is like a cup of tea
that someone else has made.
Sometimes it tastes so wonderful.
Sometimes they put the milk in first.

Love’s a bit like shopping,
full of newness to be handled,
but sometimes you’ll end up in Ikea
with a trolley full of candles.

But love ain’t unconditional,
no matter what you’ve heard,
‘cos if I see you put the milk in first
then I’ll need to have a word.

Martin is a Nottingham based poet. His first collection, The Prettyboys of Gangster Town, was published in 2020. He’s co-director of World Jam, co-host of Lenguas Open Mic and co-presents Poetry Global Network’s The Poetry News. He often wonders if people keep mistaking him for the poet they actually wanted.

What is a marriage?, by Bridget Hynes Murphy

 

What is a marriage?
A marriage is the strangest thing
It’s really not that clever
To squeeze two folks together
And tell them it’s forever
The first few months of wedded bliss Are really like a dream
You walk together hand in hand
A handsome, youthful team
But then reality comes to stay
And he never plans to go
Just like the one you married
The one you really didn’t know
You fight over the dishes
Or who got two hours sleep
You wasted all your wishes
On this Prince Charming what a creep But then he does the kindest thing
He let’s you sleep in late
He changes baby’s nappy
And tells you, you look great!
He stands beside you in your darkest hour He’ll gently squeeze your hand
As you say goodbye to one you love
And softly you will land
The years go by as they always do
Time, it never stops
Your lovers hair gets greyer
But you think he still looks hot

Now you’re hot too
But its not the same
Your flushes are mean and sweaty
Hes aging like some fine wine
But you’re feeling like a yeti
Then he takes you home and sits you down
Hands you a glass of wine
I don’t care how hot you get
I’m just glad you’re mine!
If time rewound this minute Would you still pick me?
I would indeed my darling For your love has set me free.

Bed of Nails – Nail Beds, by Mandy Beattie

 

BED OF NAILS — NAIL BEDS

​​ Before chemical spills and pandemics
​my finger nails used to be
​quarter moon Botticelli’s. Half
​ moons when I had bones of double
​ cream and vegan-inked in strawberry
moon and peridot. Once in a super blue blood moon
a French manicure with white wavelets: without
fish scales, guano, crushed beetles
and deadly nightshades they put in nail polish as protein –
Pointing the index finger a tattie bed
after tugging nettles. Middle nail has hang-nails
Ring finger a rock-stack. Peedie nail bit
between aikle’s into a sixteenth moon; an own goal
in the raffia-hoop – Thumb nail’s thumbs-up
inside the Arc de Triomphe
On the other hand
a peeling shallot. Pinkie stubbed its toe; a pitted moon
Third nail’s a salt cave
with stalactite-striations — A sign
on my nail-palm I could read in tea-leaves
when I wore a fur muff and long cloak. Toe nails
an obsessive compulsive
buzz cut. My skin used to be
slathered and seduced with calendula balm. Each hand
Rapunzel in circlets of gold, silver and semi-precious pebbles
​Now my nails are geek-nails
​in the buff
​with an edge

She was no James Herriott . . . By Aine Kelly

 

She was no James Herriott……. by Aine Kelly

Síle’s favourite was the Alpaca, with its traits of the Gobán Saor,
Hygienically meticulous and much valued for their hair.
The story started in Brown Thomas, when Síle’s jaw dropped
On hearing the inflated price for a small Alpaca top.
When she finally composed herself and her heart was beating calmer,
She decided there and then to become an Alpaca farmer.

So she searched the Farmer’s Journal, found an auction in Athy
Put a loan from her Credit Union, with savings she’d put by.
In the excitement of investment, common sense failed her –
In Athy with six Alpacas – but no access to a trailer.
So she phoned up Farmer Kelly who was glued to the election.
‘Give me two hours and I’ll be there, are their cards ready for collection?

Síle waited in the carpark under Level 5 restrictions
Sipping takeout Americano , while reading a work of fiction.
Farmer Kelly drove behind her, the six Alpacas going Ga Ga
Named them Angie, Tom and Tracy, Theo, Biden and Kamala.
Well they settled in Claregalway , ate their way through all her money.
Now a six foot fence surrounds her house and the big dream’s not so funny.
So one day she packed her trailer – Tuam Mart said they’d take five.
She held on to sweet Kamala to keep her Alpaca dream alive.
But alone, she whined and whimpered now the neighbours were going Ga Ga
So she formed a small support group called the ‘Friends of the Alpaca..’
(some years later)
Pondering her investment
Years after Kamala got the chop,
Síle felt life might have been easier
If she’d just bought that bloody top!

My name is Áine Kelly and I fancy myself as having an eye for the funnier side of life! I have attended some poetry workshops and completed a creative writing module, and love the idea of getting a serious idea across either in a poem or a short story. I have had a book of short stories. called ‘Has Anyone A Set of Jumpleads?’ published in 2018, with accompanying artwork by Christopher Banahan.

Iron Hat, by Ed Poetastic

 

Iron Hat,

Come on, where the facts?
Its not under your aluminum hat?
I dont hear anything from that cat?
Wait, whats with the chaotic format?
Okay!Okay!okay, i wont do that!
There nothing wrong with the thermostat,
No No No the earth isnt fake or flat,
No im not a CIA agent, snick or a rat,
I thought we could hang and chat,
Yes, ill watch out for your mystical mate,
Ow Alright! Alright! please dont snap!
No im not doing some MKultra Crap,
You hear sounds? Tap, Tap, Tap,
Its the Tv. Have you lost it or snap?
I keep telling you, No your not on the map!!
Yes, this isnt paint, im actually black,
Yes, check my id. Careful with that strap,
Its seem common sense you lack,
Hey!Hey!Hey! Dont you smash my Mac,
Man, you only have paste but no snacks?
Yes, my electronics and shoes are on the rack,
No, Im dont have a wire or being tracked,
No, No, No this isnt a sting or a Trap,
No!! Time moves foward, there is no gaps,
I think you need a rest or a quick nap,
Prepare for combat? Are you smoking crack?
No! Your cellphone and computer arent hacked,
Im going, i hope your humanity is intact,
For real, you dont need to worry, your a huge paranoid brat,
By Ed Poetastic

Attitude to Life, by Nancy Tully

 

When I was young and told to mend my ways
Because I was turning my mother’s hair grey

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

Just take a look around today
It happens in a similar way

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

As we progress through life
We are always giving someone strife

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

See that queue, well I’ll push to the front
If anyone complains, I’ll be blunt

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

If someone is helpful and kind to me
Do I feel I have to return that kindness? NOT ME!

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

I’ll drive my car so close behind yours
Do I really care about an accident and the laws?

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

I don’t need to drive with my seatbelt on
I don’t care if it’s right or wrong

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

If you drive through town at night
I’ll just walk right out and give you a fright

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

My children are so precious to me
When they are in the car they stand so they can see

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

And so we go on through our lives
Without a care and full of jibes

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

So when are we going to show people we care
I would like to think we could all be a little more fair

WHO ME? I DO HAVE AN ATTITUDE PROBLEM

The Ballad of Bertie Bassett and the Bisto Kids, by Ray Pool

 

THE BALLAD OF BERTIE BASSETT AND THE BISTO KIDS

This is the ballad of Bertie Bassett
And how he dealt with the Bisto Kids,
He rode into town to settle a score
And to see the woman he did adore.

He felt like settling down at last,
To put away his chequered past,
Mary was in his line of sight,
He hoped to see her this very night.

The Bisto Kids were on his list
riotous gamblers who carried arms,
Bertie now was on the prowl
And soon would face them cheek to jowl.

Meanwhile unbeknownst to them
A US marshall was on the train
Coming to put the kids in gaol,
For shooting and looting in Cripple Dale.

In the diamond X saloon
A poker game was starting up,
the Bisto Kids were always cheating,
The atmosphere was overheating.
Bertie was known for his licquorice log
And had his pick of womenfolk,
Now in the bar, his legs astride,
poor Mary nearly had a stroke.

The players all got up to leave,
as in strode the marshall, the place went quiet
all the drinkers began to burp
They thought it was old Wyatt Earp.

The Bisto Kids had pulled their guns
And theirs were not the only ones
Bertie held his weapons high
But Mary revealed a gartered thigh

Which drew old Bertie’s eyes away
when a bisto bullet hit his leg
but Billy had the quicker draw,
the Bistos fell upon the floor.

“Jack, Jack” a voice was heard,
“Jack, Jack, wake up, wake up !
You fell asleep and the dinner’s ready,
And what have you done to your favourite Teddy?

Little Jack, just shy of ten
His allsorts box quite empty, then
As the smell of gravy came through the door
Said: “Mum, I’m not hungry anymore.”

My flirtation with poetry blossomed whilst working at the BBC. I had a poem published in the Breathru Magazine run by Ken Geering in the late sixties. It is only since semi-retiring from the music business that I ventured into live poetry reading, and am now a prolific writer of poetry. I tend to choose subject matter of a quirky or satirical aspect, often read with mimicked accents and dialects. I have had two pamphlets published by Dempsey and Windle and poems in anthologies by Paradox and Indigo Dreams.

An Ode to Simon Reeve, by Robert Garnham

 

Poem

I stepped into a tropical bar.
Simon Reeve was there in a slow dance,
And I lost myself to his floppy fringe
Whose sweat-soaked flappy fronds would
Tickle my blushing cheeks,
Whose stubble scraped at the twilit skies
Like a cat’s claws on anaglypta,
Whose come-to-bed eyes betrayed none
Of the entitlement of his classical features
But a yearning for a sweetness so virile
That he could have been a treacle tart
And I ached, how I ached,
To be the custard.

Backpack merely decorative,
Naive tone a faux Theroux,
Poor man’s Palin,
Cargo-trousered doyen of sand dunes
And jungle trains,
No armchair droner he,
Riven with Reevisms, river crossings,
Barrier reef rovings,
Now gyrating for my pleasure in the aptly named
Club Flamingo.

Simon Reeve whose dimpled smile
Hauls in the night like a Titicatan net-lobber,
Whose unblemished skin betrays the
Goodness of various restorative unguents,
Whose manly chin is jutted like the
Bulbous bow of a speeding Shinkansen
And probably twice as purposeful,
Whose sensitive eyebrows are seldom parabolic,
Yet neither do they quiver intense for
Reevsie is an empathic soul,
Whose backpack is admittedly superfluous,
Whose torso is Michaelangeloian in its
Sculpted accommodation of his lean yet
Muscular frame on whose bounty I would
Willingly consume a quadruple-decker cheeseburger
Dipping a chip in a reservoir of mayonnaise
Stored for convenience sake in his belly button.

Action man for aunties.
Secret poet banging sand out his boots.
Earnest and eager though neither over with either.
Mortal enemy of Professor Brian Cox.
No world-weary Whicker he, but a clamorous compassion
And the kind of face
That would make even Vladimir Putin
Contemplate a five minute fumble
In the broom cupboard.

Simon Reeve, whose tousled locks hold
Within their definitely un-dyed verdantness
A vitality that would put Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to shame,
Whose rich deep Colombian coffee coloured eyes
Might penetrate x-ray-like beneath layers so effectively
As to pass right through the earth’s core every time
He bends down to pat a puppy.
Whose nostrils hardly flare.
Whose afterthought goatee clings on like
A countryside hilltop copse stunted
By the choking emissions from a nearby pig farm
Yet in whose branches barn owls berate the night
With their haunted warbling,
Whose luscious lips have tempted many a plastic surgeon
To bemoan the artifice of their own creations
And now before is delicate tongue-moistened plumpness,
Whose sturdy shoulders in their perfect powerful paralleogramatic
Precision
Would easily raise a live rhinoceros clear out
Of the Serengeti mud hole
Into which it had stumbled probably distracted
By the beauty of Simon Reeve’s face in the first place.

And I,
Simon Reeve,
I am that rhinoceros
And this ain’t no mud hole,
It’s the Club Flamingo
And our song has now ended
And our dance has now ended
And you’ve picked up your backpack
Which definitely doesn’t contain
Just a couple of pillows to make it look full for the cameras,
And off you go.

Robert Garnham https://professorofwhimsy.com has been performing LGBT comedy poetry around the UK for ten years at various fringes and festivals, and has had three collections published by Burning Eye. He has won slams in places such as London, Edinburgh and Swindon and headlined or featured at events such as Bang Said the Gun, Raise the Bar, and Milk and in 2019 was the Hammer and Tongue featured artist for a tour of the UK. Je has supported artists such as John Hegley, Arthur Smith and Paul Sinha. 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 2017 Edinburgh Fringe. Lately he has been writing short stories published in magazines such as Stand, Defenestration and Riggwelter, and a humorous column in the Herald Express newspaper. In 2021 he was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and shortlisted as Spoken Word Artist of the Year by the Saboteur Awards. His influences are diverse and include Ivor Cutler, Salena Godden, Bob Newhart and Laurie Anderson.

Robert is the editor of Spilling Cocoa.

Playing Space Invaders, by Ann Gibson

 

Playing Space Invaders

He ignored empty places down the carriage, sidled
into the seat beside her, wafted sour beer, stale smoke.

‘Cheer up love,’ he leered, ‘it might never happen’.
It just had, she wanted to tell him.

‘What’s it about?’ he nudged her, nodded to her book.
‘Cartesian Dualism,’ she lied, almost spat.

He nodded again, as though he understood.
For a split second she thought she’d been sussed,

was relieved to see his sneer
dismissing her as a smart-ass.

Off the hook, (she wouldn’t know where to start
with Descartes) she resumed reading.

Ann Gibson spent her childhood in Dublin and now lives in North Yorkshire. She has published poetry in Acumen, Prole, Dream Catcher, Obsessed with Pipework, Orbis, and The Poets’ Republic, as well as online in Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis, The High Window, Lighten Up Online, Snakeskin, Ofi Press Magazine and The Ekphrasis Review.

Body Art, by Jennifer A. McGowan

 

Body Art

Elephant face on the outside of his arm.
They tried to discourage him. Think of your kids,
they said. He laughed. Think of aging,
they said. I’ll get old and wrinkly, he smiled.
Like an elephant.

Jennifer A. McGowan is a disabled poet and re-enactor who generally prefers the fifteenth century but is addicted to indoor plumbing. Awkward. She has five collections out, and a sixth is currently under scrutiny by editors.

Loyalty Penalty, by John Lanyon

 

LOYALTY PENALTY

Dear Sir or Madam,
your Policy of Love is due for Renewal.

Wait!

It pays to shop around.
Switch now!
Whatever your offer we’ll beat it.
Comprehensive Love?
Damage to a Third Party?
We guarantee a minimum Level of Affection.
In the event of a Breakdown
we supply a Courtesy Partner
(for up to 28 days).
Choose your Level of Excess.
Suddenly kicked out by your Lover?
We’ll find you a lonely Bed-Sit.
Add European Cover? No Problem!
Add a Spiritual Dimension? Easy!

Note: we do not replace matching Items.
We do not operate a new-for-old Policy.

Indemnify your Heart!

You’re covered –
should you fall from Grace*.

*Terms and Conditions apply.

John Lanyon

John Lanyon lives in West Oxfordshire where he works as a gardener, linguist, musician and writer. He is approximately 25% of the poetry quartet www.fourwordsmen.com . He is excited by the secret lives of words, the play between the animate and inanimate worlds, the spirit of places.

Ageing Process, by Jane Shaer

 

AGEING PROCESS
Have you ever looked in the mirror
To reflect your age
And noticed cellulite and wrinkles
Have taken centre stage?
It’s then you wonder to yourself
How old must I be?
What sort of a body is this
To be given me?

Have you noticed the hair upon your head
Is starting to thin out
When the roots underneath are turning
White
And suddenly beginning to sprout?
It’s then you wonder to yourself
Am I really okay?
Why not have a wig aswell
Let alone going prematurely grey?

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

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

Have you ever had a Garam or Tikka Massala
From an Indian takeaway
Not realising the effect it has on you
For many a day?
It’s then you wonder to yourself
If this stuff is going to keep on
Passing through.
How much longer must I spend VINDALOO?

My name is Jane Shaer & live in North London.
I was inspired by Pam Ayres to write poetry
when she won Opportunity Knocks back in
the 1970’s.
I have epilepsy & learning difficulties & putting pen to paper can be quite a challenge.

Jack Kerouac’s Orange (An Origin Myth) by Cáit O’Neill McCullagh

 

Jack Kerouac’s Orange (An Origin Myth)

Your mind makes out the orange by seeing it, hearing it, touching it, smelling it, tasting it
and thinking about it … depending on your mind to exist! By itself it’s a no-thing …
it’s seen only of your mind
– Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Like Jack Kerouac’s Orange
I am awake for you baby
baby taste this flesh, smell
smell the myth of limonene
this orange wants to be seen
see me, hear me, touch me
make me become.

Make me a some-thing baby
baby don’t you feel the want
want to feel how it is
how it is to be empty
empty & awake & a no-thing
nothing unless of your mind?

Spilled out like squeezed sea
sea squeezed from an orange
a sodden orange from a Spanish ship
shipwrecked & empty & a no-thing
nothing except for the mind of a poet

‘thinking about it it’s really mental
things only seen of your own mind’.

But Jack got it wrong baby
I am not your orange
you may have me
in your mind’s eye
thinking about it & me
& all that existential baby

& you may say you saw me
saw me only & only me
& only of your mind

but it was me who was looking
baby I was looking at the apple
& it was me who was awake
awake & looking at the apple
it was always me baby
baby it was always me
who took the first bite.

Cáit is a straying archaeologist. At home in the Scottish Highlands, she makes films and writing with folk hoping to assemble good ways of living in this queasy world. Poems have been peeling from her since January 2021. This is one of her first. You can find her tweeting @kittyjmac.

Knock Knock, by Ed Poetastic

 

Knock,Knock
Who’s there?
Knock, Knock
Should I care?
Knock, Knock
Do I dare?
Knock, Knock,
yes I can hear, I’m aware.
Knock, Knock,
I didn’t do it!! I swear!!
Knock, knock,
I don’t need a prayer!
Knock, Knock
My house doesn’t need repair!
Knock, Knock,
I don’t need any cookware!
Knock, Knock
I don’t need any armchairs!
Knock, knock
I’m losing my hair!!!
knock, knock
Don’t have money to spare
Knock,Knock
OMG!! I’m in a nightmare!!!
Knock, Knock
Are you a Grizzly Bear!!
Knock, Knock
I’m only in my underwear!
Knock, Knock
please just be air
Knock, Knock
I have nothing to share
Knock, Knock
This isn’t a freaking daycare!!
Knock, Knock
Sigh Yes, I’m here. Are you still there

By Ed Poetastic

My name is Ed Poetastic and I’m here to make you feel fantastic. I’m regular at open mic such as Nuyorican, Barbwire, Grassroots, Antics Open Mic, Poetry Cafe, The Mitch Salon, Phynnecabulary Open Mic, Time to Arrive, The Word is Write, Unmesh Life Open Mic, Tokyo Kotoba, and many more. I was interviewed by Rick Spisak, Pal Sujata, and Harrison Hickman. My Facebook is Eddy Foreman and My Ig is edforeman92.

Whatever Happened to Fay Wray?, by Dominic Weston

 

Whatever Happened To Fay Wray?

No one wants to fall
from the tallest building
in the world
but the journey down
sure gives you time to think

Broke nearly every bone
in my body – damn near died
took a year just to walk again
still, Time’s a great healer
Ma said, before she passed

Bullet holes closed up
but I got smaller inside
folks think cos you’re big
you’re strong
it ain’t the same thing

Couldn’t hold down
no job for a long time
not till TV came to town
but no way was I goin’
back in front of the cameras

I shoot doc-u-ment-aries now
not the people type –
sad fuckers in a trailer park
but dumb animals –
sad fuckers in a national park

Same story every time
but stressy folks lap it up
I just change the players
change the places
tell it forwards, tell it sideways

It’s all about sleight of hand
what really happens don’t matter
it’s what they want to see
what matters, and one thing
I’ve always been good at

is a side show.

Dominic Weston produces wildlife television programmes, runs over the Mendip hills and writes poetry. His work often relates to family or the natural world, undercut by a healthy slick of darkness. His poems have appeared in Agenda, Black Bough Poetry, Magma, The North, Under the Radar and many other publications.

Homing Pigeon, by Hilary Willmott

 

HOMING PIGEON

You won’t bloody believe this. It’s his best stunt yet.
He’s only going to drive it back to Derbyshire in the car!
We live in Bristol, mind, so it’s a bit of a trek.
I really think he’s lost his mind this time.

It has one of those rings around its foot, apparently
so that’s how he made contact with the owner
and I guess when he offered to drive the thing back.
I wasn’t privy to that conversation, so I’m surmising.

But I’ll tell you this and you can call me cruel if you wish.
I’ve been to the Cat Rescue this morning and come home
with a muscly ginger one, who has an intense stare and licks
his lips alot. I’m not risking all this fucking nonsense again.

HILARY WILLMOTT

Hilary has been writing for many years. Her poetry has been published by Templar Press, Bristol Poetry Can, Obsessed with Pipework, Leaf, Velvet, The Exeter Broadsheet and Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis. She has also been shortlisted nationally.

A man on the 19.34 to Birmingham New Street, having misread the signals, uses his mobile to try to arrange another date with the woman who has hastily waved him off at Liverpool Lime Street , by Emma Purshouse

 

A man on the 19.34 to Birmingham New Street, having misread the signals,
uses his mobile to try to arrange another date with the woman who has
hastily waved him off at Liverpool Lime Street

Whah?
Say again.

I bet yum freezing
ya baps off ay ya,
bab? Say again.
Say again. Whah?

I could come back

like, warm you up.
Whah? Say again.

Say again. Whah?

Errrrr……Runcorn.

Say again? Whah?

Thursday. Thurs…

Say again. I know,

yeah. Say…………

Ok…………..Tarrah.

Tarrahtarrahtarrah.

To Professor John Henderson, by Maria Andrews

 

To Professor John Henderson, about my/his belly.

John,

Would be great to cut a fine figure.
I do, says your belly,
Swaying on my two pins.
Uh huh? I’m listening, I say.
Yeah, I cut a fine figure of a Henderson belly
asking John for a hug.

You’ve got persistence going for ya,
I give you that. Yeah I have,
my/your belly drawls,
taking a long drag of a cigarette,
I’ll ask him till the day I die. I placate curve
with smoothing palm.

Are you thinking about John now?
John Henderson belly closes her eyes.
Yeah. All his vocatives rolled
into one tumbling waterfall of cadences.
What about his ablatives, his hyperbatons?
All cases. All cadences. One long

Belly schmoosh. His semantic analytics?
His patterns? His parsings? His epics?
His topsy turvey word order?
My belly is opening her lips, lost
for words. His exploratory thematics?
She’s gone, lost in loin-louche.

Maria Andrews is a short film maker and photographer who occasionally gets published in poetry mags (Polka Dot Ceiling, Still Life) and was once published in a collection (Bloody Amazing). Her current alias is a puppet called Leopold, who is a London correspondent for Helmiflix.com She likes belly laughs. manifestafilm@weebly.com.

Do Come to my Party, by Ruth Aylett

 

Do come to my party..

This time, just for close friends
so no Facebook public event;
I’m celebrating the spring equinox
but haha – without fertility rites.

I am not inviting anyone’s ex
as far as I know, but nobody said
last time about Liz and Dean
or Janice and Liz, or the tragic death.

This time the veggie option
will not contain chicken stock
and I told everyone no hash brownies,
whether labelled or not.

The party games will all be voluntary;
there will be no charades
acting out cocktail names,
no removal of clothes.

No dog-sitters will bring the pooch,
another time for the twins with AHD
and we already established
next doors cat won’t fit the BB Q

This time no stand-back-fifty-metre
fireworks in the tenement’s back green;
it’s the wrong time of year
and the facing flats weren’t keen.

Though the emergency services
were actually rather pleasant
and the front door
has now been mended.

RSVP. Do come!

Ruth Aylett teaches/researches computing in Edinburgh and her poetry is published widely in magazines/anthologies. Joint author of Handfast (Mother’s Milk, 2016); her pamphlet, Pretty in Pink (4Word) was published Jan2021. More at http://www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~ruth/writing.html

Earthworms are Awesome, by Holly Conant

 

Earthworms Are Awesome

I mean, they literally feed the fucking planet. Take our fermented banana, yellow miasma and crap it out as wise-man’s gold. And I feel impressed with my morning turd! But that needs hours of processing, by loads of people in hazmat suits with fancy gizmos, before it turns into anything useful. I’d rather be a worm: take a shit, and boom, job done; it’s warm and ready to be laid into by a seed-bean or bulb. Maybe I’d be more fulfilled without a human brain to contradict my purpose. I’d find my way into a middle-class compost bin, spend all day eating potpourri detritus, and be a rent-free master architect, redacting common land law. I’d be humbled by my legless body, my simple ways of building, mindful of camber structure instead of grey velvet sofas and Mrs Hinch. I’d be at home in dirt, throw my gender away and bag the kinky night-time rendezvous’ amongst an orgy of grass with wet breath. The human hand would be no more risk to me than it is now, maybe even less, and mother Earth might forgive me for my flesh. I just hope being swallowed by a bird is a quick death.

Holly is a mature student currently studying at the University of Leeds. Her poems have been published since January 2021 by Ink, Sweat & Tears, Anti-Heroin Chic, Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis, Dreich and more, as well as appearing in anthologies. She is currently working on her debut collection.

Twitter: @Holly_C_Writer

Plums, by Lee Campbell

 

Plums

I walked into the kitchen and there was Mum
Sitting at the table with a truck load of plum
As Mum de-stoned the fruit to make it into a pud
She wrote a short verse which I thought was quite good

She has this skill of writing as if she is somebody else
Looks like the voice of this poem is that of myself

And so, she wrote:

‘My mum’s been busy cutting up plums
Her son, her chum thinks they all look like bums
Now she is glum as she is getting numb thumbs’

A few hours later she had no reason to grumble
Those numb thumbs had made way for the perfect crumble

Lee Campbell is a performance poet and regularly performs at Paper Tiger Poetry in London His 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. His poem Juniper Park was recently published on this website.

My Mother Said, by Sharon Phillips

 

My Mother Said

Always take care of your man
and try not to seem too clever.
The home is a woman’s domain;
this floor could do with a hoover.

Men like to think they’re clever
so buck your ideas up, my girl:
this floor could do with a hoover
and you’re wearing a dirty skirt.

Buck your ideas up, my girl,
make him feel proud of your looks:
you’re wearing a dirty skirt
and wasting your time on books.

Make him feel proud of your looks
and give that bathroom a clean;
there’s no time to waste on books;
cook something nice for his tea.

Go on, give that bathroom a clean;
the home is a woman’s domain,
so cook something nice for his tea
and try to hang on to your man.

(Previously published in Snakeskin, May 2018)

Sharon stopped writing poetry in 1976 and started again forty years later, after retiring from her career in education. Her poems have been published online and in print and she is currently studying for an MFA at York St. John University. Originally from Bristol, Sharon now lives in Otley, West Yorkshire.

Reincarnation Revenge, by Catherine Doherty Nicholls

 

Reincarnation Revenge

If I come back
I’ll be a flea,
A sexy flea
who’s bitchy

Throw wild flea orgies
in your bed,
and bite you
’til you’re itchy

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

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

One to Tenant, by Peter O’Toole

 

One To Tenant

One house to rent
Done deal over the phone
Finally we have a place
on loan not quite our own

Two months saving up
we needed to hurry up
Got the first months rent
and the deposit
We got lucky,
There is a lot of competition out there
we nearly lost it

Three people start a new chapter
two adults one child
Days of struggling
but days that contain laughter
our first journey to happy ever after

Four in the morning
and the little one wakes up
Still half asleep as i hurry
to reach for a bottle or cup
A distant memory is 8 hours sleep
but its four hours only
Before i hear the sound
of the alarm clock beep, beep, beep

Five days a week
on a basic wage
After the rent is paid
be lucky to get a mcdonalds
eurosaver burger at this stage

Six months go by
starting to borrow money
on the sly
Even though i work
It’s hard to save
How can you save for a mortgage?
when money is tight
like chains on a slave

Seven loans to my name
cant say im the only one to blame
But living in Dublin
feels like your paying double
But down in the country
you pay less so no trouble

Eight hours overtime on
next week’s payslip
But i’ll only see a tenner
of that so i will head to
The bookies with a hot tip
Football or horses
Il do what it takes
to save for a mortgage again
And if i win
Just maybe, my saving can begin

9 attempts at a loan
from the bank to the shark
Still the chances of balance
are looking a bit stark
Chances look dark
but there is light
at the end of the tunnel
Maybe a dream of a decent life
is not so impossible

10 years of struggling
10 years of juggling
All the the times the bank
told us not a chance
during the boom and
after the economy collapsed
But after ten months
Ten days and lot of years
Something came out of
the blood, sweat and tears
We may have our keys
And can look back at the rent
and be proud to say
I served living a life on borrow
a life as a tenant.

Vege, by Julian Matthews

 

VEGE

Hey, remember me?
I am the leafy vegetable at the side of your plate that never got eaten
The one your mother insists is good for you
I lay there getting cold and soggy until the meal was over
You waited — until she wasn’t looking
Then receded on tippy toes and tossed me in the step-bin

These days, you speak of being organic and eating brown bread,
brown rice, brownies made of all-natural black beans,
fairtrade cocoa and grass-fed butter
You carry a metal straw and forsake plastic
You are an environmental warrior
A climate change defender

You do yoga and meditate and stand on your head
You attend retreats on mindfulness — to empty your mind
You go to the gym to stretch your body to its limit and call it de-stress time
You eschew coffee and prefer green tea
You drink cold-pressed juices made of avocado, cucumber, carrots, celery and pumpkin
You speak of their antioxidant properties and gloat about the anti-aging glow of your skin

I was the leafy green you threw in the bin
I still remember mum insisting that wasting me was such a sin
You are vegan now —

I win

Julian Matthews is a former journalist and trainer finding new ways to express himself during the pandemic through poetry and fiction. The Malaysian-based poet is published in “Unmasked: Reflections on Virus-time” (Heliconia Press), an anthology curated by author Shamini Flint, Poetry and Covid (poetryandcovid.com), a project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, the WordsFest Zine (Insomniac Press), Borderless Journal, Nine Cloud Journal, Second Chance Lit, Poor Yorick Literary Journal and Wingless Dreamer

How Papa Never Got His Guapa, by Julian Isaacs

 

How Papa Never Got His Guapa

As Astrud Gilberto once said to Stan Getz,
The thing about the sun is it also sets.
Then along came Hemingway in a big white Beemer,
Saying: Hello darling — are you the girl from Ipanema?
Maybe I am, she said, but that bell never tolled for me.
You’re just a dirty old man, so please go back to the sea.
I think you’re a bit of a beast,
And you’re not invited to my moveable feast.

Two-day soap sud death dance, by Gary W. Hartley

 

Two-day soap sud death dance

Cars washed. A million cars washed
Baby Shark sung without enthusiasm
In a million supermarket aisles
To juvenile audiences
Already considering it passé
We are all passé
A nation of proud plastic polluters
Big-mouthed bottom feeders
Believing we’re on top, what we’re used to
What we’re told is true
By Jeff Stelling on Soccer Saturday
And other pundits
We should do something
About that overhanging tree
We should pull up grass
And lay down the latest AstroTurf
We cannot enjoy what we have left
In fact, we flatly refuse
When it all falls
We will treat it as the longest weekend ever
WAHEY
Buy in crates upon crates of Corona beer
In deepest irony
Until we run out of that
And all the other stuff
Then what? Put baseball bats through flatscreens
Blame it on them next door
Congregate in imaginary corridors as if in queues
We’re fine, they’re fine, we all say it
And to be fair
To be honest
To never be anything other than honest
That will just have to do.

Golfing Heaven, by Paul Francis

 

GOLFING HEAVEN

I hope there’s golfing heaven.
I’m sure there’s golfing hell.
I visit it most weekends –
I know it really well.

The devils haunt me from the tee
They mock my grip, my stance.
“Should you be doing this at your age?”
They think I’ve got no chance.

I shan’t give in. Some practice swings,
I‘m made of sterner stuff.
They smile and clap sarcastically
As I blaze into the rough.

The bunkers seem to chuckle
They’re driving me insane;
The way my chip shot hits the edge
Then bounces back again.

There’s the giggling of banshees
Who devour my inner soul
As once again a two-foot putt
Goes bobbling round the hole.

So as my scores get higher
Par threes take six or seven
I like to dream of changing course –
A move to golfing heaven.

Where drives zip down the fairway
Chips always reach the green
And wedge shots from the bunker
Are the finest ever seen.

It’s hard to pick a highlight
When everything is fine;
Was it the eagle at the fifth?
The albatross on nine?

The clubhouse beer is nectar
All members are my friends.
The round is only eighteen holes
But the feeling never ends.

For there’ll be no more sorrow
In the solace I have found.
They’ll smile and say “Tomorrow
We’ll play another round.”

Paul Francis lives in Shropshire, and is active in the West Midlands poetry scene. He has won three national competitions, and in 2020 came second in the Beyond the Storm poetry competition (2,381 entries). His most recent collection is Rescue from the Dark (Fair Acre Press, 2021).

Sleep on me, by Enda McGarth

 

Sleep On Me

Sleep on me
so I can hold your exhaustion
and weariness.
Your bleary eyes haunt me.
I dream of the days
they used to hit me like a sunrise.

I made the mistake
broken trust.
In your bleary eyes
so much to regain.
I’ll be the workhorse
this time
to fix it
before I’ll proceed from shame.

Sleep on it
and decide if you’re mine
while I lay beside you
holding cold promises
In the night.

Their Relationship Inventory, by Kevin Higgins

 

Their Relationship Inventory

He’s proof there’s nothing as loud and long
as an idea whose time will hopefully never come.
She’s the type who gets illnesses,
her own, and other people’s.
Shutting him up is like trying to screw down the lid
on a coffin full of alligators,
all in a rush to get to the airport.
His list of those who need to be taken out and garrotted
is thick as Ghislaine Maxwell’s black book,
and always being updated.
Her sulks are more protracted
than a bad summer in Kilkee.
He’s the sort who paints a mayonnaise and chocolate
Jackson Pollock
on the new furniture she spent months choosing
within five minutes;
though, about the household accounts,
he’s uptight as a pro-lifer’s under-elastic.

And when she ran him over
in the small car he bought her
for her birthday
and didn’t visit him in hospital afterwards,
he sat up in bed and announced:
he was choosing not
to take this personally.

That she’ll be back
to run him over again.

KEVIN HIGGINS

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 was published late last year by Nuascealta. His extended essay Thrills & Difficulties: Being A Marxist Poet In 21st Century Ireland is just published in pamphlet form by Beir Bua Press. Kevin’s sixth full poetry collection, Ecstatic, will be published by Salmon in March 2022.

President Marcus Choy, by Art Ó Súilleabháin

 

President Marcus Choy

Marcus Choy was an awkward boy
all homework had a tale
teachers, it appears, he set out to annoy
with excuses, no matter how stale.

The pup ate the page, he was at that stage
he couldn’t find a pen
a budgie escaped and left its cage
the lights went out again.

He was so sick, he developed a ‘tic’
re-repeated his words
a doctor was called, he was anemic
the house was invaded by birds.

An alien landed, he was stranded
a tiger escaped from the zoo
little sister the book demanded
what was he to do?

Teachers, all fed up with his tricks
digging under their skin
a job that expected excuses – politics!
some seat he would have to win.

So, he bought a suit to appear resolute
as sharp as any pin
promises, promises, all the truth
the better to help him get in.

With so much wealth, he’d solve the health
thousands of houses he’d build
he’d change the system by acts or stealth
every promise fulfilled.

No one would be poor, he’d be a real doer
things would simply get done
Dublin homeless would be fewer and fewer
living would be fun.

But he made up his mind to be one of a kind
he’d be a poet or die
his wardrobe had to be redesigned
for ‘the job’ he would apply.

He’d develop a blog and get a dog
the voters he would dupe
decrees he’d write, laws he could cog
a saying he could loop.

Oh, what a lark, a house in the park
just like Uachtarán Higgins
in seven years, he would leave a mark
another story begins …

Art Ó Súilleabháin was born in Corr na Móna, Co. Galway and spent some years in Boston USA. He worked in Dublin, Castlebar and Washington DC before returning to Corr na Móna. His first collection of poetry for adults (Mayflies in the Heather) was published by Revival Press in April 2021.

No Joy, (after Marie Kondo), by Agnes Warren

 

No joy

After Marie Kondo

I drew the line at Marie Kondo
and not a straight, well-behaved line.
More a squiggly, thrice drawn,
twice rubbed out, kind of line,
the likes of which Marie could never approve of.

I attempted to fold my underwear, à la KonMari,
but my rebellious knickers had other ideas.
Protesting at every turn,
like a bunch of radical feminists at Miss World,
defiantly refusing to be folded into submission.

She could never accept
my need for thirty books,
piled precariously on my nightstand,
a leaning tower of delight.
Even when I swore
they all sparked great joy.

Her sanctimonious smile,
her Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up.
It was never going to work.
It was her, not me.

In the end, she just wasn’t
nightstand quality

Agnes Warren lives in the West of Irelans. She is new to poetry writing, having recently participated in a series of workshops with Kevin Higgins, through Galway Arts Centre.

King Roger, by Melanie Branton

 

King Roger

Roger de Mortimer, 4th Earl of March and 6th Earl of Ulster, was heir presumptive to Richard II between 1382 and 1398

King Roger! We nearly had a King Roger!
So, did we dodge a
bullet or should we, in fact, bemoan
the fact that Roger never, ever
made it to the throne?

When Richard needed spies,
then he applied for the position.
So, Roger went to Ireland
on a very secret mission.

He skulked about and got himself
in thrilling scrapes galore.
Was he James Bond?
No, he was Roger, more.

To blend in with the Irishmen,
he found it a no-brainer
to paint his face a lurid blue
and wear the brat and léine.

So maybe he went AWOL,
but I can still relate if
he got a little overkeen
and went a little native.

Some said he took it way too far,
some said, “He’s off his trolley!”
but I say, like the pirate flag,
Roger was jolly.

Roger’s story reached its end
in 1398.
He walked into a brigands’ trap:
they fell upon him, straight.

They knocked him off his horse
and then they pummelled him about.
Alas, that was the end of him:

Roger was over and out.

Melanie Branton is a spoken word artist from the Bristol area. Her published collections are Can You See Where I’m Coming From? (Burning Eye, 2018) and My Cloth-Eared Heart (Oversteps, 2017). She is inordinately fond of hats, historical linguistics, and porridge.

Colonoscopy, by Vern Fenn

 

COLONOSCOPY

This poem is irrelevant for young people
until the doctor says:
“At your age you need one of these
for a lifetime regimen,
every few years until…”

Snow White’s Step-Mother
must have invented
that first evil prep potion
you had to drink for hours,
which almost killed me
and made me swear off
lemonade for six months.

I was so sick I told the doctor
I would gamble against colon cancer
rather than drink that stuff again.

But they changed it to something
drinkable only by comparison,
the rest of the process not the stuff of poems.

I went in for mine this morning,
greeted by the same smiling face of the man
I see once every five years
as we go through this together,
he for the thousandth time,
me, starting at fifty, only for the sixth,
hoping for only polyps,
which are benign–hooray–once again.

When he pulls me out of sleep
to share the good news,
I mumble how many years until the next;
he smiles: Five.

But that will make me 82!
Is there a statute of limitations,
an age where old age and death
wait grinning heartily: “Why bother?”

And each time I say:
”I’m sure glad this is over.
Don’t ever want to do it again!”

But at 77, 82 in five years, I do.
I really do.

A retired special education teacher, Vern Fein has published over one hundred fifty poems on over eighty sites, a few being: *82 Review, Oddball Magazine, Bindweed Magazine, Gyroscope Review, Courtship of Winds, Young Raven’s Review, The Daily Drunk, and The Monterey Poetry Review.

The Neighbour’s Fish, by Lynn White

 

The Neighbours Fish

The neighbours had asked her to feed their fish.
They were going on a short holiday.
It sounded straightforward,
should have been straightforward.
“But I overfed it,” she said,
“and it burst open,
exploded
all over the place.”

She looked glum.

“But that wasn’t the worst of it.
Next thing is
the dog’s eaten it.
And that wasn’t the end of it,
next thing is
he started to be sick,
just puked it up all over their carpet.”

She looked glum.

“The carpet’s wrecked,” she said.

First published in Scrittura, Summer 2020

Bio: Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. https://lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com and https://www.facebook.com/Lynn-White-Poetry-1603675983213077/

Bubble Wrap Blues, by Pete Mullineaux

 

Bubble Wrap Blues

Stack away the coffin boards – pack away the nails,
moor that boat for Avalon, lower down the sails.
Place me on a bed of foam before I take a nap,
swaddle me in comfort,
bury me in bubble wrap.

Take down the big marquee – pay off the cabaret,
cancel the choirboys and girls – come back another day.
Hold back the holy waters, the tree bark with no sap,
let a band of homeless sing –
‘bury me in bubble wrap.’

No bankers to hold the handles, no regulator prayers,
no corporate greed to drive the hearse, no soft landing soothsayers.
No message from our leader, no sentimental crap,
give me a dry-eyed crocodile,
bury me in bubble wrap.

If I rage into the night, can’t take it on the chin,
find it all too much to bear and go without a grin –
let the feelings run and run like a leaking tap,
lend me a suit of armour,
bury me in bubble wrap.

Farewell world it’s been a gas, a never ending joke,
banana skins to beat the band, fun-loving goats to poke.
Laugh me forward to my spot, place me in the trap,
bundle me in comedy,
bury me in bubble wrap.

Life is just a holiday, brief relief from nothing,
huff and puff and other stuff, we get on by bluffing.
But even an off-performance deserves a slow handclap,
minimise the damage,
bury me in bubble wrap.

What’s done is done, no mileage in regret
if it wasn’t exactly all my way, too late to get upset.
The exit doors are beckoning, time to mind the gap,
don’t spare the layers,
bury me in bubble wrap.

Pete Mullineaux has published four poetry collections, most recently How to Bake a Planet (Salmon 2016) – “A gem” – Poetry Ireland Review. A new collection is forthcoming in 2022. He’s been interviewed on RTE’s Arena and also had three plays produced by RTE radio. His work has been described by reviewers as ‘profoundly sensitive’ ‘gorgeous and resonant’ & ‘grimly funny’, and comparisons made with Roger McGough, John Clare, John Cooper-Clarke and Pete Seeger. His debut novel Jules & Rom: Sci-fi meets Shakespeare (Troubador UK) was published in April 2021, (‘Certainly worth a gander’ – Irish Times). following an ebook version in 2020. Website: petemullineauxwriter.com

Mnemonic: or, When Dr Asperger met Dr Alzheimer, by Mandy Macdonald

 

Mnemonic: or, When Dr Asperger met Dr Alzheimer

For example:
you are about to leave the house.
You have a letter to post.
You forgot it yesterday. It must be done
today.

You put it on the hall table, where you can see it.
But you know you have to check
one more time
that the back door is locked
and that all the burners on the stove are turned off.
(15 February 2010 has never quite gone away.)

But you know, too,
that after doing these tasks you might well leave
without picking up the letter.
So you set the letter slant
on the hall table. For as soon as you see it
slant on the hall table
you will have to straighten it so that its edges are parallel
to the edges of the table.
And as soon as you touch it to set it straight
you will remember
that you have to post it.
And then you will pick it up and put it in your bag, hoping
that you will remember to post it.

NB: You do NOT go back and check
the back door and the burners again.
Things have not got that bad
yet.

Australian writer and musician Mandy Macdonald lives in Aberdeen. Her poems appear widely in anthologies and magazines; her pamphlet The temperature of blue was published just before lockdown by Blue Salt Collective (http://bluesalt.co.uk/the-temperature-of-blue/index.aspx). Mandy writes in the hope that poetry can change the world, or at least make it laugh.

The List of Things I Can’t Explain (After John Cooper Clarke) by Nigel Lloyd

 

The List Of Things I Can’t Explain (After John Cooper Clarke)

Solicitors Fees
Signs in Chinese
Why people like the blue mould in cheese
Voice operated TV’s
I can’t explain any of these.

David Icke
A frog on a bike
Why a Lesbian is called a dyke
Touring a rainy country by trike
The value of a Facebook like
Why there’s two Mr Reids called Mike
If you can’t explain then take a hike.

I don’t think I’ll ever explain
Why it’s a dyke and not a drain
How people don’t suspect Batman is Bruce Wayne
Why people are fascinated by David Blaine
They will all incur my distain.

An overnight sensation
Romesh Ranganathen
The demand for a Christmas Playstation
A windfall from an unknown relation
All of the above defy explanation
And therefore will avoid notation.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand
How a watch can cost one hundred grand
How they make glass out of sand
Why prostitutes don’t work a week in hand
Who’s in the Plastic Ono Band
How English food always seems bland
How a car can drive unmanned
How unfriendly becomes offhand
Why you’re never alone with a strand
None of these feature in my future plans.

The Northern Lights, Trilobites
Disco music by Barry White
Why the London Palladium only opens on Sunday Night
Why your breath doesn’t smell when your talking shite
I can’t explain them, but someone might.

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

Driven Bats, by Jim Lawrence

 

Driven Bats

Just 27 nautical miles
Off the eastern coast of Nowhere
Rusts an old abandoned oil rig
Where guano is piled impressively high

The bats that leave this rich deposit
When not hanging upside down
Off the western coast of Somewhere
Fly backwards like black hummingbirds

Other times they love to hover
Helicopter-wise for fun
Above the ageing public buildings
Of Nowhere’s bureaucratic streets

And when they flit through Somewhere’s skies
Bothering tourists for fish and chips
They cackle like demented demons
As they dive bomb with Stuka screams

But there is nothing they love more
Than flying over the oil rig
Cranked up on snatched carbohydrates
Shitting a mountain of minerals

Bio: Jim Lawrence is a poet, freelance editor, writer, translator and bedroom guitarist in Southampton. He likes the blues, cats, Jack Daniels, Gillian Anderson and any food that isn’t an avocado or a sprout.

Instructions for reading a gas meter, by Ama Bolton

 

Instructions for reading a gas meter

1. You’ll need a pen and paper and a torch.
2. Open the door of the cupboard in the corner.
3. Move the vacuum cleaner and the two pairs of boots.
4. Get a brush and remove the cobwebs from the meter.
5. Lie down on the floor so that your face is level with the meter.
6. If there isn’t enough room for you, move the sofa.
7. If you can’t move the sofa, get help.
8. No, not me. You know I’ve got a bad back.
9. Press the button.
10. No, the other button.
11. If you can’t read the numbers, get a magnifying glass.
12. Press the button again.
13. If you still can’t read the numbers, get your camera.
14. Turn off the flash, if you can remember how.
15. If you can’t remember, find the instruction manual.
16. No, I don’t know where it is.
17. Try the top drawer in the kitchen.
18. Under the mousetrap?
19. Press the button again and take a photo.
20. Quick, before the number disappears.
21. Maybe use the zoom?
22. Try again.
23. That’s better.
24. Upload the photo and write down the numbers.
25. Go to the website.
26. The password’s in the blue book under G for Gas.
27. Enter the reading.
28. Yes, I know it’s a smart meter, but the new supplier can’t read it.
29. No, we’re not changing back.
30. Cheer up; you only have to do this once a month.

GDPR, by Marie Studer

 

GDPR

He stretched his legs under the hospitality
Of her kitchen table, listed the locals lately deceased,
Those who reached old age, those taken young.
She offered currant cake.
Reaching for a slice he asked in a flash,
What age would you be now, Nonie?
She returned the plate to ellipsis equalised
On oilcloth. Smiling benignly, she enquired
What age would you think I am?
He subtracted generously from the score,
Near enough, she said.
No hacker would ever crack
My mother’s personal information or ransom her ware.

Marie Studer has written poetry since her teens in the1970s and started to submit in 2018. She won the Trocáire Poetry Ireland Competition 2020 and the Halloween Ekphrastic Poetry Challenge, Bangor Literary Journal 2019. Her poetry has been published in the Stony Thursday Book, The Waxed Lemon, Wee Book of Wee Poems, Fire & Water, Drawn To The Light, online and local anthologies.

Twitter handle: @StudiMarie

This shit?, by Jo Sachs-Eldridge

 

This shit?

Is this it?
This shit?

Are you happy with your lot?
Cos I’m fucking not.
Not with this lot.
This rot.

Not this.
Is this it?

This shit?
If it is
I’ve had enough.
I don’t want this lot.
Not this.

I don’t want the trying
The crying
The sweating
The giving
Of everything
I’ve got.
For what?

Is this it?
This shit?

But don’t you dare ask
What do you want?
Cos who fucking knows.
But it’s not this.
Not this lot.
Not this.

She’s happy with her lot.
But what’s she got
That I’ve not?
What is it?
Maybe she just doesn’t know
What she’s not got.

Or maybe
I don’t.
Maybe whatever I’ve got
Is the lot.
Maybe you just grab that shit
And you say
THIS IS IT!
I’VE GOT IT!
This lot.
My lot.
I’ve got it.
I’VE GOT
THE LOT!

Jo Sachs-Eldridge lives in Leitrim where she mostly dreams up community projects involving bikes and words and other stuff she naively believes will change the world. She has notebooks full of writing that is legible to no-one and a daughter who is a wonderful distraction from everything.

There’s no toilet seats in the psych ward, by Aoife Cunningham

 

There’s no toilet seats in the psych ward.
I nearly fell down the loo,
Like Alice in wonderland.
While im trying to excrete urine.

There’s no toilet seats in the psych ward.

My shoes are dr martens
And I dress like
a bohemian goth,
This I must say,
Gets in the way,
of my OOTD.
Because I don’t have access to my belts or my lace!

There’s no curtains in the psych ward,
So I have to get crafty,
I get a little bit arty
and hang a sheet.
It’s like a sad tapestry
For the room that it is.
I guess that’s true

There’s no toilet seats in the psych ward

Now I’ve learnt all the tricks,
From drifting between institutions.
To wear a scuba mask,
In case I fall down the toilet bowl.

I’ve learnt all the tricks
From years of experience.
To use your wit to find a way
out of this hole.

There’s no toilet in the psych ward

Sleeping Legion, by Jennie E. Owen

 

Sleeping Legion

They’re all here tonight you know,
every face you’ve ever seen
flickering behind your eyes like cherries
spinning like bells
they put on a show
as you push off your blankets
then swaddle them again.

Your old maths teacher chases you
to the edge of the cliff,
a book of equations in one hand
a garden gnome in the other. Whilst
a midwife leads you
down endless
hospital corridors

where at the end
you’ll find nothing but the check-out boy,
the one with whom you locked eyes
over a cucumber
and a packet of hob nobs,
last Tuesday.

Jennie E. Owen’s writing has won competitions and has been widely published online, in literary journals and anthologies. She teaches Creative Writing for The Open University and lives in Lancashire with her husband, three children, and cat.

When Brian Became Broccoli, by Ben Macnair

 

When Brian Became Broccoli

When asked what he wanted to be,
three-year-old Brian thought about it,
for a while, and with a smile,
said that he would like to be Broccoli.

A strange choice for a career,
you might have thought,
but Brian was only three,
the age where you could be what you wanted to be.

When a kindly local Wizard was told of this tale,
he visited Brian and asked: ‘And who might you be?’
Are you the little boy who wanted to become Broccoli?
Brian nodded his head.

Brian went to bed that night,
but he woke up with a bit of a fright.
His hair was green, stiff, and standing on end.
The following night, he went to bed,
and woke up completely Green.
His Mum and Dad had never seen anything
quite so obscene.

The next day, they found Brian in bed.
He had become Broccoli.
The kindly Wizard broke the spell,
and for 14 years, all was well.

Until the Wizard turned up one day,
and was quite drunk.
‘I am afraid that the spell didn’t quite wear off.’
he said because Brian was becoming a Punk.

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

Why I ended up (for a while) in Hull, by Janet Sillett

 

Why I ended up (for a while) in Hull

My group of friends read Larkin aloud
skiving off hockey,
outliers in a school
which dished out piety at 9am

We admired his contrariness,
dirty words,
and suburban weariness,
his constipated ennui

Larkin inspired me to study
in a god forsaken east coast city
a shared terrace with a parrot
a bath in the kitchen
on Anlaby Road

I skulked in vain in the library,
until we parted company abruptly,
Hull, Larkin and me
I moved on, as they say,
to Plath, Stevens, Crane
to a concrete place of learning,
and Larkin expressed his adoration
for Margaret Thatcher

I reread his poems, when living
in bedsits, in semis,
in the disillusionment of marriage

But let’s face it,
Larkin was a bigot, racist, serial snob
I want to see them starving,
the so-called working class
nostalgic for the good old days
when only white men played cricket for England

Consumer of pornography
(but never in the library)
composer of sado­masochistic reveries
shared to fellow man poets
posh adolescents fumbling with themselves
in bedrooms after lights out

I want to cancel Larkin
unknow his life,
his pervasion of archetypal Englishness
I settle for drowning in his poetry
with fingers in my ears

PS Apologies to Hull which I now think is a great place.

Janet Sillett recently took up writing poetry and short fiction again after decades of absence. She has had poems published in the Galway Advertiser, Poetry Plus magazine and Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis, and flash fiction in Litro. She works for a think tank.

Ode to a Pee Funnel, by Christine Fowler

 

Ode to a Pee Funnel

Alan’s caravan was the apple of his eye
It was a 1979 beauty
And only ←———-→ this wide
It had nowt of this modern rubbish
It was retro through and through
But there was one adaptation
He was really proud to use
It was a plastic funnel
Set up at just the right height
And the circumference you know
Was really not to tight
With wiggle room to spare
So when he stood there
And let it all hang out
There was only sound of running ‘water’
And moans of delight
And when the last drops were shaken
And everything tucked back in place
He was often heard to murmur
That’s a cracking thing I’ve made.

Christine Fowler was in her 60’s, when she began focussing on writing and performing poetry in autumn 2019 and published in journals and anthologies since 2020. Her poems are informed from a life time of experience of working with people in challenging situations. https://www.christinefowlerpoetry.com Instagram@christine.fowler.poetry

The camera never lies, by Sarah J Bryson

 

The camera never lies

Take off your rucksack, it’ll spoil the image.
Here I’ll watch over it. Can you pull the scarf straight?
Zip up your jacket. That’s it, turn your face
so that it catches the sun. No – I can’t take it yet.
There’s a whole family in the way having their fun.
Just wait. Stay there. it won’t be long
before they are out of shot.

Damn. Now the sun’s gone. Hang on. It’ll be back soon.
There’s a strand of hair … can you pin it down?
Now. Are you ready? Look this way…without squinting?
Yes, I know it’s straight into the sun. Look away,
then I’ll give you a count…. One, two three, ready:
chin up, that’s it. Now smile.

Sarah J Bryson
Bio: Sarah has poems published in print journals, anthologies and on line. She has been a regular participant, during the Covid pandemic, in a weekly on-line arts event, combining photographs with haiku style poetry and has recently had several poems on the Poetry and Covid site.

Grumbles, by Amanda Baker

 

Grumbles

I don’t want air treacle in my nostrils
a sullen clot of exhaustion in my stomach
sending spider webs of weakness through my veins
as I trudge up the hill.

I don’t want the miniature catgut squeal
of mosquitoes behind my right ear
to brush its crushed body off my upper arm
as I flail at the soft hollow behind my knee
driven in from my twilight garden.

I don’t want to stretch my fingers to relax
after clenching the steering wheel for thirteen hours
trapped between the swaying container walls
yellow blue and white barely visible in the torrential rain
as useless goods get transported across Europe
in response to an impulsive click on the tick box.

I want to be Legolas,
dancing lightly through ancient lichen-hung forests,
intact ecological webs singing their joy,
untouched by wildfires, beetles and drought.

Amanda Baker is based in Berlin. As a scientist, teacher, and animal physiotherapist, she loves exploring new ideas. She has had performances in KlinkerdIn, the Curious Fox and Over the Edge and has poems published in Automatic Pilot, Poethead and Strukturriss. She thoroughly enjoys Kevin Higgins’ Poetry workshops.

The Tale of Little Red Riding Hood, by Trisha Broomfield

 

The Tale of Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf in Night Attire ( with apologies to Charles Perrault who probably wrote the original story in 1697)

‘Ah but just feel that cloth, the quality, the cut.’
Red Riding Hood noticed the glint in his eye
as the wolf’s hot, bad breath crept round her pale neck,
‘That’s one piece of clothing I simply must buy.’

‘It’s an heirloom,’ she said, with a vital step back,
‘belonged to my grandma who, if it wasn’t for you
would be waiting for me in this very bed.’
The wolf grinned, ‘but sweetie, it’s just me instead.’

‘I’m not at all sure’, Red Riding Hood said,
‘I should be sharing this feast with somone like you,
there’s a quiche in this basket and I know for a fact
that the canis lupis (and I suspect that you are), doesn’t eat that

‘Oh silly Red Hood, don’t be so unsure, we have changed
over years of the telling of tales, we eat quinoa, and eggs
you can trust me to share your fine basket of wares,
we even’, he murmured, ‘eat most things with legs.’

‘Take your hand of my quiche you ravenous beast,
and look what you’ve done to my cloak
where is my grandma? You must think I’m dim.’
‘There’s room for one more in this bed, do come in.’

‘You’re joking,’ she said, I’m just not that sort
and you’ve not had a haircut or shave
I’m taking my wares and my very fine cloak
I’ll leave you the food; perhaps with some luck you will choke.

‘But sweetie you must see that all through my life
and the length of this very fine tale
I’ve been waiting for you, it’s predestined, it’s fate!’
And the poor girl became the last thing that he ate.

Poem by Julia Whatley

 

Been feeling quite nostalgic
About that council estate
I was dragged up on
Where my mates and I ran amok
After school I frequent the youth club
Jimmy Cliff and Marvin Gaye
Song in the Key of life
Dancing every night away

At home we had a radiogram
I put the Beatles, White Album on
Dad said that their hairs too bleedin long
And that Jimmy Hendrix’s guitar
Sounds like a strangled cat
I’m off out dad
If you’re going to be like that

My dad smoked park drive
And I helped myself
He used to leave his fags on the shelf
I smoked one in the outside loo
Blamed my little brother
Seemed the only thing to do

Down the youth Club
I met my boyfriend, Vernon
He had a vesper scooter
He ‘d often take me home

This night we skidded and off we fell
My dad was driving in his Zepher Zodiac
My hair blowing in the breeze
He must have noticed me on the back
As we overtook at high speed
My fishnet tights all ripped
And blood pouring from my knees
No helmet and my dad flipped
Grounded, but well worth it!

I am the Genie in the Jar, by Mandy Beattie

 

I AM THE GENIE IN THE JAR

A wee glass jar with a maroon lid
is an insect-tent, it sits
on a shelf watching the sunflower
clock’s second hand scurry
on yard thick walls of stone
the wee glass jar peers down
above, around and spots a ballerina
in a white tutu and pink tap shoes
on a white wall waiting for Genie
to lift the maroon lid
to flit and look for ladybirds, spiders
and moths to scoop them up and squeeze
through yard thick walls of stone
to re-pot the ladybird on a Hyacinth
bush and the scurrying spider
on a newel post by raised beds
of rhubarb and blueberries
but Genie lets slaters bide inside
a yard of stone to scurry
over oak and hide under knots.

Mandy Beattie, is a feminist from Caithness, Scotland with an MA in Social Work Practice & Research. Her poetry is a tapestry of stories and imagery, rooted in people, place and the natural environment, set at home and abroad.

Padraig – Who Drove the Snakes Out of Ireland, by Pratibha Castle

 

Padraig – Who Drove the Snakes Out of Ireland

At the allotment, daddy
forked the crumbly black earth
till the air quaked
with anticipation
of excess, me
sifting stones
in search of treasure;
the robin sat, pert, on the lip
of the bucket meant to carry
spuds or cabbages, the occasional
giggle-tickle carrot
back to placate the mammy.

The bird’s eye bright
with a lust for worms, his song
a crystal cataract of merry;
though none of the seeds we sowed
ever showed head out of the sly earth
and we saw nothing of the slow worm
daddy promised so that, his name being Padraig too,
I guessed he must be a saint, especially
when he himself vanished.

Though he turned up
months later
at the end of school
again and again and again till
I had to tell the mammy
where the books and toys came from
and that got me sent off
to board at St. Bridget’s convent
where the head nun was nice to you
if your mammy gave her fruit cake in a tin,
bottles of orange linctus sherry, a crocheted shawl
like frothy cobwebs, none of which

my mammy could afford, Padraig
having banished more than snakes.

Pratibha Castle’s award-winning debut pamphlet A Triptych of Birds and A Few Loose Feathers (Hedgehog Poetry Press) publishes 2021. An Irish poet living in England, her work appears in literary magazines including Agenda, Dreich, HU, Blue Nib. Highly Commended in various poetry competitions, she reads regularly on West Wilts Radio.

Record Players are just trendy, phonographs are the real thing, by Jorge Leiva Ardana

 

Record Players are just trend, Phonographs are the real thing.

I have come to know people that love the old so much
they wish they could die from dysentery.
These are people who feel they don’t belong
to this world or at least to this century.

They like to handwrite letters with a fountain pen
or even worse a feather quill,
to listen to broken vinyl records every now and then,
and if they’re women they prefer to drink mercury than having to use the pill.

They miss so much the days when drinking gin didn’t involve having to study a masters degree in botany,
and even tragedies had so much flair back then
such as it was the notorious case of the huge titanic.

If they drink coffee the beans must be freshly manually ground
otherwise they moan and say the taste is not the same,
and those are the type of things they complain about
because everything now is made by mechanical means
and that’s a real shame.

They love the liturgy of going to the post office or down to their local bank, because there is no queue in this or other worlds that can’t beat the joy of getting stamps. They’re more than happy by owning a typewriter and a landline phone, and they prefer sending documents by fax than flying drones.

When justice wasn’t the annoying slow bureaucracy
we know today but something less human and more divine,
and all the problems if you ask them started with democracy because before if you acted wrongly you would end up like Lot’s wife.
There was a time when crime was smoothly dealt by a hanging
according to the quickly and efficient eye for eye law
and there would be people standing, their hands clapping
because it also was a great show and the only think to worry it was the size of the rope.

If you had a bit of dough you didn’t have much to worry about,
for a small fee you could lift your sins and redeem your soul,
because there has always been classes, there is no doubt,
and that my friend, I’m afraid hasn’t changed at all.

Jorge Leiva is from South Spain and he lived in Ireland for over eight years. 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.
He has been on the waiting list for a tonsillectomy since he was a child.

First Mayor of Richmond, by Peter Kay

 

FIRST MAYOR OF RICHMOND

T’was sixteen hundred and six,
for legend has it so,
when, whilst out hunting all alone,
Robert Willance, future mayor
of Richmond, shattered his femur bone.

His horse, a noble steed of some renown
had always borne him well,
but as November’s dense mists thronged,
the bewildered beast bolted,
racing headlong into nothingness.

With Willance clinging on for life,
his horse plunged to its death,
two hundred feet o’er Whitcliffe Scar.
Robert lay prostrate, right leg broken,
twisted, breached, death’s door ajar.

With no prospect of immediate respite,
he slit soft belly of his beloved horse,
using a trusted hunting knife. No malice.
Plunged his leg in up to groin and hilt,
to try and keep it for his balance.

For two days he held on to life and limb,
before rescue came at last.
Alas whilst Robert survived,
his poor leg could not be saved, t’was buried
with due ceremony, in his chosen grave.

T’was sixteen hundred and eight
when brave Willance and his stump,
became first mayor of Richmond.
Eight long years, without a single blunder,
Before dying, reight well, in his slumber.

And so it came to pass that in his death requited,
Robert Willance and his leg were gladly reunited.

Peter has had two books published: A Pennine Way Odyssey, 2012. Show Me The Way To Santiago, 2020. A third book is with his publisher. He writes travel memoirs, fiction, short stories, monologues, children’s books and poetry. Three poems have been published in anthologies. His website is peterkaywordspace.co.uk

Because it’s total crap, by Karen Jones

 

Because it’s total crap

Ratner lifted the lid on a sherry decanter
At £4.95 a pop too good to countenance
When asked about his high-street gems
Little tacky rings for working class girls
Risking bedtime dealings with blue collar boys

It was Gerald who had himself by the balls
All for earrings costing less than a quid
He’d choke on an M&S sandwich now
Fish the prawns himself if he could
Than grapple with the loss of a
$10 billion business, 10 seconds to nought

Now 30 years after the biggest PR gaffe
The Sultan of Bling can only think back
To Mrs Ratner and her word of advice
The only pearl he declined to string
Ego really is a terrible thing

Karen Jones is new to writing poetry, a student of Kevin Higgins, born in Northern Ireland, living in Dublin and working in public relations.

My Mother Doesn’t Know that I’m a Poet, by Rodney Wood

 

MY MOTHER DOESN’T KNOW THAT I’M A POET
after Billy Bennett

I’m cherishing a secret about this poets-life I lead
as according to the papers that she reads all poets
are lazy bastards, cads and cowards who live in ivory towers.
They’re scum of the earth, much worse than bureaucrats
and really don’t give a toss for anyone but numereo uno
but I know is that really us poets are decent folk.
All the people I hang out with think I’m quite OK
and say I’m a poet of the much more pleasant sort
but I never breathe a word of this at home.

You see my mother doesn’t know that I’m a poet
sometimes she sees the inky stains upon my clothes,
the trembling of my voice and that haunted look in my eyes
I tell her is from the solvent I’ve been using for cocaine.
When I spend hours in my room alone and writing poems
I tell her not to worry as I’m only watching porn.
and when I go to London for a Forward or TS Eliot Prize
I tell mother I’m off to meet and reminisce with fascists
because you see, I’ll never tell my mother I’m a poet.

And those parcels that drop through my letter box
I say are guns, knives, explosives, lubricants and sex
toys. If she knew I was a poet she’d shoot me like a dog
and all those books came, I say, by mistake from catalogues
and I keep them, just in case. She can think I’m a murderer
before she’ll know the truth. I have to respect her old age but
she knows that I’m a liar, a crook and arsonist
but it would break her poor old heart if she found out
that I write odes, epics, ballads and get my kicks from sonnets
so thank heavens Mother doesn’t know that I’m a poet.

The Free Spirit Ward of Court, by Aoife Cunningham

 

The Free Spirit Ward of Court.

My Heart yearns while my mind dwells,
For liberation.
Liberation from the restraints,
Imposed by the state.

I am energy, so free and abundant,
I crave distance from the piercing eyes of my Nurse.

Give me the sky and I will soar,
Bring me a melody and I will sing.
A free spirit forced to fit into a square box.
A hammered, bent misfit yet vivid and vibrant.

My bodyguards are deaf to this
Boho’s screams.
I cant abscond in present,
But in spirit I am free.

You can cage my body but not my mind,
You can dictate my actions.
But you can’t compose my soul.

You can’t tame me!
I will break free.
And fly as high as my dreams go.

But first,
I must hug recovery.

Or your scants will come back to haunt you, by Beth McDonough

 

Or your scants will come back to haunt you

Here’s to the thrill of ethical knickers

delivered by post through your own front door.
Each pair of pants comes carefully wrapped
in tactile fantastic brown papery packets,
patterned with turtles, octopuses and whales,
skilfully block-printed in India.

All of these garments are guaranteed free
of nasties like plastics, except just perhaps
those barcoded stickers proclaiming these knickers
one hundred per cent organic cotton, designed
entirely to delight on the very fine Isle of Wight,
dyed in colours as smashing as eggshell.

Already, I’m advised on my pants’ end of life,
little symbols explain how these ethical undies
can be sent back, then recycled safely. I must
express just a little alarm about future
manufacturing tactics of endless elastic, but
why not have big hopes for the morals of smalls?

Beth McDonough’s poetry is widely anthologised and published in Magma, Gutter, and elsewhere. Her first solo pamphlet Lamping for pickled fish is published by 4Word.Fairly soon, her site-specific poem will be installed on the Corbenic Poetry Path. She swims year round in the Tay, foraging close by.

Trespasses to be prosecuted, by Rebecca Gethin

 

Trespasses to be prosecuted

We tied string to the door knockers after dark
yanked on one and watched the lit fuse of fury
run down the street. We made all the dogs bark
at one another and then started miaowing
so they wouldn’t stop. We wrote letters to neighbours
for a secret lark in invisible ink
and told them fibs they’d never read
and then asked to search their backyards
for a dog we hadn’t lost. We climbed trees
to drop water bombs on passing cars
and swapped round the smalls
we unpegged from their washing lines.

Rebecca Gethin has written 6 poetry publications (which makes her feel rather over-rated). She was a Hawthornden Fellow and a Poetry School tutor. Vanishings was published by Palewell Press in 2020 and Fathom was published by Marble in 2021. She blogs sporadically at http://www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com

On Flatulence, by Simon Williams

 

On Flatulence

It’s commonly held that farts are methane.
While this is true for cows, sheep, goats
and other herbivores, it’s not for humans.
Our flatus (that’s the word, I looked it up)
is largely hydrogen, lighter than air.

So the story of the Persian Prince
with noteworthy and continuous flatulence,
who is supposed to have suffocated himself
while asleep on a low bed-pallet on a trip abroad,
could not have happened.

However, should an equerry have brought a lamp,
a naked flame into the chamber,
his highness, without rising from his sleep,
could have raised the roof.
I think that trumps the suffocation story.

Spring in Castletroy, by D’or Seifer

 

Spring in Castletroy

The daffodils came up in time to call the receiving line of spring
begonias, pansies, allium have risen, heads abuzz,
guarded by sentries of Siberian Bugloss.

My droning throne circles,
delineating traces of shadowed green,
bladed bounds,
decapitated daisies and other weeds in its wake.

I perfume the public pathways
beyond my fence (across town lines)
with discarded cuttings.
Sure, they’re organic. They fall like rain
over the wall on the heads of the unsuspecting,
joining the emptied cans from men in trainers
re-filled with golden liquid, circumscribed with butts.

Maybe we’ll finally win Tidy Towns this year, if
Tommy Collins’ kids don’t express their creativity
in chalk on the pavement.

*Tidy Towns is an annual competition, in order to honour the tidiest and most attractive cities, towns and villages in the Republic of Ireland.

D’or Seifer contributes to poetry gatherings such as Filí an Tí Bháin and Over the Edge. She co-runs the online series Lime Square Poets. Her work has recently appeared in Skylight 47, The Galway Advertiser , and Lothlorien Poetry Journal.

King Edward VII, by Steve Harrison

 

King Edward vii {1901-1910}

had to hang around a lot
as his mam was Queen Victoria who lived for ages.
I never met him but I knew his face
portrayed sideways on stamps and on old penny coins until 1971.

He went all over the world, not just on stamps
and being very rich, with loads of relatives in Europe ,
he could stay in his cousin’s palaces.
Running errands for Queen Victoria
some say he invented royal tours ,
the meet the people greet
and even Sunday Dinner.

Google his images and blimey that’s not fancy dress
but what he could wear with all his titles.
His Facebook friends page
a right royal impress.

If you live in an old house it could be Edwardian
built between 1901 to 1910 like lots of houses in cities.
The style in houses and trousers remained until later.

The present queen’s great grandad
though rumours abound who his other great grand kids may be;
and though it may sound like treason
the rumours have their reasons.
In his own day, as famous as jedward.
The seventh King Edward

Steve Harrison from Yorkshire now lives in Shropshire. His work has been published in The Emergency Poet collections, The Physic Garden, Pop Shot, Wetherspoons News, HCE, Strix, several on-line sites and appears on YouTube as steveharrisonpoet. He performs across the Midlands and The Marches and won the Ledbury Poetry Festival Slam in 2014.

Speed Dating, by Enna Michaels

 

Speed Dating

So here I am, A newly single mum of two.
Not exactly all that defines me – But it’ll do.
Some friends suggested I go on a date,
Find ‘someone special’ before it’s too late.

Thanks ‘friends’ if that is what you are.
I thought I was doing well thought I was shining like a star.
But my ‘friends’ are quite persuasive so here I am in a shabby hotel.
Surrounded by the desperation brigade and things are not going well.

First, we’re told to mingle, we have been given a free drink.
But frankly it’s not that appealing and the majority of them stink.
The ‘ladies’ are sat at tables, the ‘fair blooms’ should be approached.
With caution in my opinion – the men circle ready to be reproached.

The first one is called Gary and he really likes his car.
He promises to drive me wherever I want to go – so long as it has a bar.
The second one is ‘Mikey’ – he went to university you know.
Although he didn’t quite manage to finish – but is quite happy on the dole.

The next one is quite exotic – Julio is his name.
He looks around with boredom in his eyes, so in some ways we are the same.
But the charms of dashing Julio are limited, he sweats more than a bull.
And as he talks about his successes it’s the clear the comparison is full….

Then I’m introduced to Arthur, he calls himself ‘a proper gent’.
He shows off a fake Rolex, and that’s not all that’s bent.
Sebastian seems quite nice; he admits he doesn’t have a lot to say.
His beloved wife brought him along – apparently, they like ‘role play’.

Oliver seems very shy – he admits it’s not his scene,
I wonder if his mother knows he is out – far too young and green.
Milo is a chef you know, cooking is his passion,
And lots of pretty young girls too, especially those into fashion.

There are more men than women here, we’re expected to be polite.
I secretly wish I were elsewhere, being more productive with my night.
I finally think of something to speed things up and end this silly game.
I look deeply into the eyes and say, “Are you Brexit or Remain?”

Sarah, the Neighbour’s Child, by Lisa Lopresti

 

Sarah, the Neighbour’s Child

She would lean forward and turn to gaze
at me from her pushchair as her
Mum, my neighbour,
would waltz her around the corner.

Always she would stare, with big blue eyes,
the same shade as mine, till the last second
stoic and expressionless
but intensely focused.

She grew and walked and ran and still
craned her neck at me, before corners
but stayed silent when greeted,
a child who was seen but not heard.

One day, when Sarah was 6, her Mum
asked me to watch her child when there
was a family emergency. Things were fine,
she remained silent. Then, when watching Dr Who

in a clear charming voice, she asked ‘Why are you
so ugly? to which, without thinking I replied
‘I am you from the future’. She did not stop
crying for twenty minutes.

A published poet thrilled to be featured regularly on BBC Radio Bristol and spoken word events. Lisa likes to convey poems to portray, this life.
https://lisa-lopresti-poetry.webnode.com/

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.