My Shot, by Nikki Fine

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

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

 

it started with a Body, by Julian Isaacs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Art Students in a City Park, by Patrick Deeley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jan, Jen or Jean, by Thomas McColl

JAN, JEN OR JEAN

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Yes, But He Lives in the Philippines

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

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

“Yes, but he lives in the Philippines.”

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

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

he adds,
“Though he is dead now.”

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

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

Come Sail Away by Styx plays on loop.

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

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

gave him directions

“Take a left.”

“Mind the ending.”

“And, Bob’s your uncle!” They said.

“Yes,” he began, “But…”

“Not anymore.” They said.

 

What Can You Do?, by John Murphy

What Can You Do?

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

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

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

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

 

What Can You Do?, by John Murphy

What Can You Do?

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

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

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

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

 

What Can You Do?, by John Murphy

What Can You Do?

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

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

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

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

 

Neighbourhood Watch, by Maurice Devitt

Neighbourhood Watch

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

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

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

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

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

 

How to Read at an Open Mic, by Susan Jordan

How to read at an open mic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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