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. 
 

Jax, By Anne McDonald

Jax

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Chicken Mystery, by Catherine Doherty Nicholls

Chicken Mystery

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

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

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

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

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

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

A student of Kevin Higgins.

 

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

Yes, But He Lives in the Philippines

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

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

“Yes, but he lives in the Philippines.”

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

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

he adds,
“Though he is dead now.”

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

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

Come Sail Away by Styx plays on loop.

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

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

gave him directions

“Take a left.”

“Mind the ending.”

“And, Bob’s your uncle!” They said.

“Yes,” he began, “But…”

“Not anymore.” They said.

 

What Can You Do?, by John Murphy

What Can You Do?

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

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

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

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

 

What Can You Do?, by John Murphy

What Can You Do?

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

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

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

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