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

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

 

The Black Nightshade, by Patricia Phillips-Batoma

The Black Nightshade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, on a Sardinian Beach

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

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

scribbling her thoughts
opinions and observations
into a hardback notebook

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

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

 

How Spaffer Johnson got his name, by Colin Day

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

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

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

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

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

Looming Days of Covid, by Tim Dwyer

LOOMING DAYS OF COVID

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Submit (to poetry magazines) by Brian Kelly

Submit (to poetry magazines)

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

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

 

Forever Changed, by Susan Coyle

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

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

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

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

 

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,

 

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.