Disappearing Act, by Lucy Tertia George

Alright, alright, quiet down. I have an announcement and I hope you understand
that due to circumstances beyond the control of The Ritzy Music Hall and Working Man’s Club, tonight’s performance of Magnifico
will not go ahead as planned.

When we booked Magnifico, straight from Blackpool’s Magic-o-rama,
we had every intention of bringing you the Winner of the Most Promising Comeback Award, with all the trimmings
but without all this drama.

The last communiqué we had from the artiste said he was on the A324. But somewhere between Little Billingsdene and Crug we lost all contact. To the management this qualifies
as ‘force majeur’.

His assistant Delores is backstage, crying her eyes out, confidence cracked. She’s done up like a Christmas Tree, but her nerves are shot
and your hollering has upset the doves
they use in the act.

We regret there’s no refund but you’re not paying for nowt, you enjoyed the free buffet and the singalong with Marjorie and that, we feel, should constitute
a good night out.

No, this is not like the time we promised Night of 100 Stars,
when, in a misunderstanding that some of you felt should come to the attention of the Advertising Standards Authority,
we only had 12 people on stage
and three of them didn’t have their Equity Cards.

Of course, I’ve called his mobile phone, I’ve dialled his agent twice.
I even rang the Magic Circle, but have you tried getting information from a secret society? No dice.

Throwing anything at the stage will result in a lifetime ban.
You’ll not see the panto or get a seat for the Tom Jones tribute act where he wows the crowd with Sex Bomb like the very man himself— and I know you’re a fan.

You’re only hurting yourself if this place is trashed.
I’ll cancel Weekly Bingo and the darts team will be forced to practice in the boys changing room at the Youth Club
and that place stinks of Flash.

If you won’t listen to reason, I’m off, do your worst.
I’m taking Delores to the All-U-Can Eat at the Golden Horseshoe and if I see Magnifico I’ll have his guts for garters.
That’s if you don’t get him first.

Lucy Tertia George is an author, publisher and satirist, sometimes known as Lucy Lyrical. Her novel, Three Women, was published by Starhaven Press in 2018.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lucytertiageorge
Twitter: @Wordville

 

For the Breakdown Men of the Leamington Spa Vehicle Recovery Office, by Kerry Priest

For the Breakdown Men of the Leamington Spa Vehicle Recovery Office

O breakdown men, O Bob, O Mick, O Roger, when fourth gear
failed to engage on the A46 just south of Coventry,
we were right there, Eileen and I, between those twin keeps,
the castles of Warwick and Kenilworth, and it transpired that chivalrous
men worthy of Elizabeth I still walk, or rather drive,
the asphalt and tar of the low-slung heart of England.

When we attended the conference, Hello Kitty from a Feminist Perspective
at the department of Sociology of a nearby university,
it was suggested in some quarters that academic standards must be slipping.
But standards in vehicle recovery in the South Midlands are, if anything,
clearly rising, O Mick, O Roger, O Bob!

With an exhaustive collection of alphabetized Haynes manuals,
you await the phone in the back office
like three Tibetan Bodhisattvas with a library of ancient scrolls.
And there’s something about your matching waffle-weave polo shirts,
call it a casual formality, but it took only one glance
to know you’d never presume to assume that it was friction disc wear
that left Eileen and me stranded on the dual carriageway,
but would allow for the possibility that the clutch pressure plate
was prevented from sliding on the transmission input splines,
or that you might need to refit the clutch release bearing and lever,

for you combine a sharp sense of the way things should be,
of a job done right, with the purest instinct of those who have laboured
a lifetime in a vehicular environment.

Breakdown men, you know your camshaft from your crankshaft
as easily as I know any two Sanrio characters from one another.

I’d wager your MOT checks are thorough without being overly stringent.

And is it The Specials or Madness or some more obscure Two Tone release
that you play, Mick, on your retro record player with inbuilt speaker
when you go back to your virgin Queen, your Anne Hathaway,
who you keep in Yorkshire terriers and cream leather sofas?
And is it a Ruby Porter or an IPA you gulp of an evening, Bob?
as you share a table in a 1930s brown brick tavern?

O breakdown men, we were brought together by hapless luck,
but our entire lives were one long collision course
to this enormous corrugated box, a testament to metal
where Eileen and I bask momentarily in your benevolence.
Such benign technocracy O Bob, O Mick, O Roger!
What rottweilers, what girders, what stanchions of steel!

 

I want to be . . . By Geraldine Ward

I Want to Be…

like Pam Ayres
and Victoria Wood.
Not care what others think,
and are highly talented.
I want to be a cross between Julie Walters and Buddy Holly.
Get your head around that!
I do not have the sideburns
or matching quiff
of dark suits and shades and sixties glitz.
I would have loved to have been Debbie Harry.
Blondie was just the biz.
Eighties punk rock glamour puss.
Name a celebrity you admire?
Chances are they are either still here,
or harps and lyres.
Shaken not stirred.
Bond had his last dance.
Sean Connery really was a class act.
The problem I am left with, is who I could choose to be?
Well, everyone else is taken, all that’s left is me.

Geraldine Ward is an author and poet from Kent. She has had work in ‘The Sunday Tribune,’ and ‘International Times’ among other publications. She enjoys playing the piano, cello and ukulele. Her twitter handle is @GWardAuthor

 

To my first boyfriend, by Carla Scarano

To my first boyfriend

You liked my loose denim dungarees
and the XL second hand chequered man’s shirts
I bought at Porta Portese Sunday market.
My girlhood knee-length skirts and matching tops didn’t fit.
I felt fat, my body rounding
shaping itself beyond my teenager’s imagination, dangerous.

But you liked my new look
you thought I was cool.
I could sit on your knees during the break,
the trousers brimming under my shoes
dragging when I walked.
The hem became ragged so mum sewed it up.

The head teacher called me one day
and asked why I was dressing in such a way
despite my good marks.
I said I felt fat, I needed loose clothes
I needed space to fit my body,
a better chance.

Carla Scarano D’Antonio lives in Surrey with her family. She obtained her Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and has published her creative work in various magazines and reviews. Her short collection Negotiating Caponata was published in July 2020. She worked on a PhD on Margaret Atwood’s work at the University of Reading and graduated in April 2021.
http://carlascarano.blogspot.com/
http://www.carlascaranod.co.uk/

 

What’s that?, by Judy Darley

What’s that?

I glimpsed a water vole.
You declared it a rat.
I wasn’t sure why it mattered.
One flourishes alongside
our slack species, the other
struggles amid choked rivers
in shrinking habitat.
Either way, I admire
the opportunists battling
to eke a life from scraps:
snub-nosed voles nibbling
their burrows neat door mats,
and rats thriving from dropped
chips and suspect kebabs.
Discarded snacks clog canals
and blood vessels alike.
I tell you, we’re all a little vole
and a bit rat, even if
we’d rather not admit that.

Judy Darley writes prose and poetry in Bristol, UK. She is the author of short fiction collections Sky Light Rain and Remember Me to the Bees. Her third collection, The Stairs are a Snowcapped Mountain, will be published by Reflex Press in 2022. You can find Judy at http://www.skylightrain.com; https://twitter.com/JudyDarley

 

To Whom It Concerns A Late Late After Word, by Susan Lindsay

To Whom It Concerns A Late Late After Word

Have you noticed the dead don’t pronounce their ‘ts’?
Indistinct they offend my ears. I ran a campaign, you know, down there,
the tongue to tip the roof of the mouth behind teeth.
Tutt, tutt. It’s not quite like that here. Marian dear

I didn’t expect to see you so soon.
That Brendan lad took over your gaff, I hear
not doing too bad, I believe, but hasn’t your style I think.
he has a thing or two to learn I expect. He will.

But I’m out of touch. Touch doesn’t quite cut it here.
Was it all as we were taught; Peter, the pearly gates, all that?
Yes, I asked myriad persons, while alive, on air
they were often vague in response. Of course

vagueness was the scourge besetting you and me.
Broadcasting vagueness is like inviting grey sky
it is neither limpid like mist, nor sharp as frost
but we needn’t concern ourselves with that any more.

Tell me, how are they treating you? Have you
acclimatized to your new regime? We can’t open doors
for each other here. Doors, a bygone thing.
What say us to Joe, Liveline, Ryan and the crew?

The last deadline past. From beyond,
I wish you and our listeners well, my dear.
It’s good not to talk. To no longer have need. From the later
Late, Late – cross your ‘T’s, thanks for listening, that’s it.

Note. R.I.P. Long-term Irish Radio and Television stars Gay Byrne (4.11.2019) and Marian Finucane (2.1.2020).

Susan Lindsay has had three books of her poetry published by Irish publisher Doire Press: Milling the Air (2018), Fear Knot (2013) and Whispering the Secrets (2011). Her work has appeared in national and international journals. She blogs at susanlindsayauthor.blogspot.com

 

Doing It, by Heather Moulson

Doing It

Sexual intercourse did not begin for me.
In 1973.
That science lesson when we were told
we will all Have Sex in adulthood.
What?! Every night?! Doesn’t it hurt?!
I look down at my grey school skirt.
Girl’s faces screwed up in distaste.
Sir! Julie piped up, would we get paid?!

The lesson was a disaster,
Julie was sent to the headmaster

Against a tree during the miner’s strike,
Julie was known as the local bike.
But it wasn’t true, she was taking the piss,
it never went further than a kiss.
A french one with tongues, I believe,
although maybe I’m being naïve.
But she was intact like the rest of the class.
To be honest, it just sounded a pain in the arse.

 

Recently Reactivated Twitter Account, by Stephen McNulty

Recently Reactivated Twitter Account

My name is @barryotoole12345
but you can call me BOT
if you wish.

Though we have been
seen in the same chatroom
I am no relation of
@barryotoole54321.

I will respond to your
each and every tweet
regardless of insult.

Trust me, I have the time.
I speak fluent algorithm
do ratios in my
faceless oval head.

I am a shuttlecock
of political opinion
flying from one
Twitter racket to the next.

Or at least I would be
if I was capable of metaphor.
I detest the left as they cannot afford me.

My parents were opinion polls
before I strangled them to death
with a hashtag.
Between elections, I sleep.

Bio:
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, Strukturriss and Vox Galvia.

 

Forever and an Hour, by Patricia Walsh

Forever and an Hour

Recommending some films on back of experience,
watching same under pain of repetition,
burning poetry in a ghost of an existence
nothing comes close to having the rights.

Handling pressure, the better through the fakes,
die-hard cartoons bounce back on themselves
the smell of chocolate wafts through the confines
reading into a cough turgid with indifference.

Death, dropping slow, reads all with due care.
The academic disposal weeds out the hour
poetic gems tweaked out of other existence
some rarity of form calls for recognition.

Government fakes weigh down the reserved,
raw literature in its thousands decreed,
taking pictures of monuments capturing souls,
jealously committing to a lover in-box.

Incidental hatred, poured in the kitchen,
an omnibus realised, taken seriously, never.
Fed on this horror of worthy exclusion,
sleeping for preferment is a righteous burn.

Reading into another book like there was no choice,
cursed from adolescence to live like a freak,
falling from love and its lowly citizens
hoarding the experiential until further notice.

Patricia Walsh was born in the parish of Mourneabbey, in north Co Cork,and educated at University College Cork, graduating with an MA in Archaeology. Her poetry has been published in Stony Thursday; Southword; Narrator International; Trouvaille Review; Strukturrus; Seventh Quarry; Vox Galvia; The Quarryman; Brickplight, The Literatus, and Otherwise Engaged. She has already published a chapbook, titled Continuity Errors in 2010, and a novel, The Quest for Lost Éire, in 2014. A second collection of poetry, titled Citizens Arrest, was published online by Libretto in 2020. A further collection of poetry, titled Outstanding Balance, is scheduled for publication in late 2021. She was the featured poet in the inaugural edition of Fishbowl Magazine, and a further novel, In The Days of Ford Cortina will be published in late 2021.