Advice for undergraduates re-submitting work for this semester’s poetry module, by Emma Purshouse

Advice for undergraduates re-submitting work for this semester’s poetry module

If you see a cliché kill it dead.
Don’t use rhyme for rhyme’s sake, red.

Steer clear of obscure abstraction,
it will drive your lecturer to distraction.

Want to piss of him or her?
Then use a t’will, a t’was, a t’were.

All good things in moderation
applies in particular to alliteration

which when wildly wielded will
wind one up and make one ill.

At this point I’ll interject,
that it should only be used for deliberate effect.

As for rhythm don’t get me started
Please, avoid extra long lines which jut out miles further than the rest of the poem, these lines probably should be split and parted.

Oh and never say the same thing twice.
Don’t be an oxymoron all your life.

No tormented soul or bleeding heart,
this makes my nervous twitching start.

Show me, show me, please don’t tell.
Follow this advice and all will be well.

Emma’s first novel Dogged is now available to buy from Ignite Books.                                              https://ignitebooks.co.uk/products-page/emma-purshouses-books/

 

Ultimate Bathroom Experience, by Kevin Higgins

Ultimate Bathroom Experience

The bathrooms of Late Capitalism differ
from the bathrooms of feudalism
and the bathrooms of the industrial revolution
in that they exist.
No more throwing it
out into the street
in the hope of hitting the neighbour
you argued with yesterday.

As you depart
the bathrooms of Late Capitalism
the attendant tries to sell you
bottles of your own widdle, jars
of what you worked so hard
to make, labelled Organic.
When they succeed
you feel like you came away
with a great bargain.

The perfect skin cream
for the Father’s Day market
to help them stop withering
in the face of Late Capitalism;
a dressing to drizzle
on your favourite salad
to stop it wilting
in the light of
Late Capitalism; the perfect
pep me up

days you’ve visited the doctor
and been told: Madam,
it’s Late Capitalism.
But, tragically,
not terminal.
On your way out
kindly swipe your card
on the relevant part
of the receptionist
and continue to the exit.

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 just published by Nuascealta. Kevin’s sixth full poetry collection, Ecstatic, will be published by Salmon.

 

Dear Sir/Madam – by Karen Jones

Dear Sir/Madam – by Karen Jones

We hope this finds you well
No need to respond
Our letters always start this way

Thank you for your recent correspondence
It languished in our inbox
Growing mouldier by the day

We refer to the issues raised
Certain you will feel heard
By their very mention on this page

And sorry you feel that way
(Add allegation here) without prejudice
The lawyers got their hands on this

Out of an abundance of caution
Very pedestrian steps have been taken
And nothing will change

We can assure you of that
It sounds solid when you read it back
We liked that last line a lot

There are no plans at present
We’ll bend like palm trees in the morning
It’s a fluid situation at the end of the day

As a gesture of goodwill
We hope the enclosed brings no luck
But needs must, court and whatnot

The matter has been referred
Somewhere, someone, head office
That dark hole of corporate resolve

Don’t hesitate to call
If we can be of any assistance
Now piss off pal, jog on

Committed to the highest standards
Is this statement of vague ambition
We like to shoehorn in at the end

Kind regards
Customer Services
(No, you can’t have the manager instead)

Karen Jones is new to writing poetry, a student of Kevin Higgins, and putting her head above the parapet with this first submission. Born in Northern Ireland, she lives in Dublin and works in public relations.

 

After the . ., by Siobhan Potter

After the

…Suffering divine Jesus Christ almighty
Grant me the serenity to be an utter fucker
Grant me paucity of desire
Render that further into scarcity
Grant me the courage to change all I
Hold in contempt and still hold them
Grant me a dictatorship of vegans and
Wisdom whilst wielding a
Hand held tongue remover
Let me crow lyrical
Give me sleight of hand. No more
Sitting at home writing poetry
Let me fly- fleet of foot in
Boots of zoom leagues from
Open mic to open mic, garnering
Lines and concepts from the
Unpublished work of newcomers to
Plaster online and call my own. Take
Your only begotten son from his cross
Nail me on. Re-crucify him, because
I am worth it. Take everything so
I can write. Leave nothing but
Poetry. No lover nor kin, nor dog, be
Damned. Take my bitterness, leave me
Nothing to warm me but
Occasional spite. Then take that
Leave me reasonably content. Then
Come down, from on high on the
Backs of all four horsemen, so fast
That you trample the reaper
Leave me here in the woods, training for
Life. When I am proficient, have me
Eat fruit from the lonely tree and
Be driven back to the village I
Burned to the ground, with an
Olive branch, its adjoining tree and a spade
Make me fit in. Do—or
Let me never forget why I don’t
Take away access to the cupboard under
The stairs. Leave the stairs, so I
Neither remember nor forget
Make me love again
Fiercely
Wholly and holy
Have me swoon and gush and
Let it end there, on a corner
Let that light shine on me
Have me die in no doubt, my
Work here remains undone, that
My next job is lined up, and
That Mother is there

Waiting…

Siobhan Potter Bio
Siobhan Potter is a verbal artist.Her practice centred in relationship explores the capacity of oral epic poetic form to midwife experience. She has poetry published in oral and print form, curates ‘not the time to be silent’ and is a recipient of an Arts Council of Ireland Literature Project Award 2021

Twitter @soma_psyche

 

Invisibility Rant, by Abigail Ottley

The young think they invented cool but they know diddly squat.
Those ankle-snappers shut their eyes to what we wise ones got.
So this old bird is set to strut and fan her tail and crow.
She’s primed to blow her cover. Here’s a thing or two the yoof should know.
This woman’s old but she ain’t dumb. She ain’t pretending she ain’t grey.
Don’t matter if she’s billiard-bald, she still deserves to have her say.
And what she says is simply this. She’s deep-down tired of being dissed.
At worst reviled, at best dismissed, if there’s a mill, then she’s the grist.
Now guys that used to flirt and stare will mostly fail to see she’s there.
One day, she’s classy, gorgeous, hot. Next morning, passé, clean forgot.
How plaintive sounds her shrill lament as she asks where her ‘sexy’ went.
Now just existing leaves her fazed. A life outside her master’s gaze.
That gaze which won’t admit she’s there and for the most part doesn’t care
but turns its back and sends no flowers. In bars, sometimes she waits for hours
before the barman can’t ignore the fact that what she’s waiting for
is to be served like all the rest. Great hulking guys with beards and chests
that press against the bar where she can’t get, can’t hear, can’t even see.
And girls with boobs and killer shoes marked out like maps with blue tattoos
and all the heartless, hip-less yoof who cruelly mock those long of tooth.
In restaurants waiters turn their heads to tiptoe round the dining dead.
In any queue how cursed is she by this in-vis-i-bil-i-ty.
I’m here to say that such as we reject this anonymity.
We won’t sit down, we won’t shut up calm down, make tea. We’ve had enough.
We’re women. We have earned our stripes our stretch marks and our right to gripe.
We’ve paid our dues, we’ve lived this shit. And now we’ve had enough of it.
It isn’t fair, it isn’t just.Where is it writ we woman must
accept our lot and know our place in short, that we must self-efface?
Back in the day when I was young my grandma said a woman’s tongue
dripped wisdom, sweet and strong as wine that, aged in oak, improves with time.
And she was right to teach me how a woman grows into her power.
A witch is but a woman who won’t still her tongue as others do.

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley writes poetry and short fiction from her home in Penzance. A former English teacher with a lifelong interest in history, she has been Pushcart nominated, translated into Romanian, and is carer to her very elderly mother. Find her on Facebook or @AbigailLaLoca on Twitter

 

The best superhero we can conjur, by Rob Schofield

The best superhero we can conjure

sits in splendid self-isolation. He
does not fret about provisions, other
than how best to keep the plebs supplied with
bread and circuses. And toilet roll. His
tenebrous consigliere, last seen
scuttling away from the black door sans
smug grin, is at home now, mired in his blog,
scribbling his fiendish marginalia
and plotting how and where to push the blame.
How will he muddy waters already
soiled by years of verbal diarrhoea?
Where were his not-so-super forecasters
when the rest of us were glued to the news
from Wuhan? And the second string, these Lords
of Misrule, whose misplaced confidence rides
shotgun with incompetence, snatch at the
coat tails of the experts they scorned, alive
to the scapegoat’s scent. Eton College closed
its doors before our children were sent home.
What of the rich, no longer able to
stake sole claim to being idle? Boltholes
undetected, they feed foie gras and fox
cubs to the hounds, riding out the storm while
trusting their Joker to keep their backsides clean.

Rob Schofield writes fiction and poetry from a temporary bunker in the Yorkshire Dales. Rob is a member of the 2021 Northern Short Story Festival Academy and has been published in The Blue Nib and Prole. He has been long and short listed for several short story prizes. Rob publishes work in progress at robschofield.uk.  

 

 

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.

 

Lockdown Haircut, by Mogs

Lockdown Haircut
(Printed in Write Out Loud charity anthology ‘Beyond The Storm’ – Poems From The Covid 19 Era.)

She says I need my haircut,
I look like a mad professor,
She’s gonna drag me into town
Leave me there with her hairdresser.
I remind her there’s a ‘Lockdown’,
Every hair salon is closed.
And while she ponders what to do
My hair just quietly grows.

Yes, she says I need my haircut,
Every minute, it gets longer,
Well, perhaps i’m like that Samson bloke,
While it grows, I’m getting stronger.
I know it’s not been touched for months,
But I just could not care less,
I can’t go out, so no one can see
That my Barnet is a mess.

Still, she says I need my haircut,
As she ties me to a chair,
Grabs the wallpaper scissors
and starts hacking at my hair.
She ignores my screams when snipping blades
Give my ear a painful prod,
It seems she honed her hair cutting skills
From watching Sweeney Todd.

So, I no longer need my hair cut,
At my feet, in clumps, it’s scattered,
She’s hacked and slashed, I’ve lost an ear
And my poor nerves are bloody shattered.
This Lockdown just brings misery
And it seems there’s no relief,
Because now she’s found some pliers
And is eyeing up my teeth!

Mogs (aka John Morris) has written poetry since the late 1970’s. He retired from an IT career in 2003 because of failing eyesight. He regularly performs at open mic events.

Books published 

‘Poems Your Parents Won’t Like’ – for ‘children’ aged upto 100.

‘Griff’ – children’s novel.

 

Letter from the (Ex) Editor

The crocuses are in bloom, the lambing season is here and Spilling Cocoa is at last emerging from its unintended hibernation. Back at the start of the year, I posted about this site’s imminent closure and asked if there was anyone out there who would consider taking over the editorship. I wasn’t particularly hopeful, but to my surprise and delight, such a person did come forward and I am very pleased to announce that the excellent Robert Garnham will be taking over with immediate effect (pause for round of applause).

So that’s it, basically. Thank you all for your submissions over the last not-quite-a-year. I think we’re building up quite an archive of good stuff here and long may it continue under Robert’s editorship. He’ll be opening up submissions again soon, but I’ll leave it up to him to decide when, and also what his editorial policy is going to look like. Exciting times.

Bye all,

Jonathan (ex-editor)