Paddy Andy, by Joe Naughton

Joe Naughton has been writing poetry since 2017 which
derives mainly from memoir and topical issues.
He attends “Over the Edge” writing workshops with Kevin Higgins in Galway.
He has had poems published in Vox Galvia section of “Galway Advertiser”
and is a regular reader on online open mic platforms.

 

Evolution of a Complaint, by Roisin Bugler

Evolution of a Complaint

Neanderthal man enters the cave
throws another carcass of deer
at Neanderthal woman’s feet.
Grunts and gesticulates towards fire.
Woman sighs loudly
throws arms up in exasperation
sets about preparation.

Always the same old meat.
He never cleans up the bones.
Not once has he covered the piss corner with dirt.
Same old charcoal for decorating the wall.
A bit of help with the babies would be nice.
He’s always out hunting with the guys.

I’d kill for a bit of mammoth
or red ochre
or a sleep on
Why can’t he just evolve and become a man?

Róisín Bugler is working on her TBW (to be written) pile.  She was the winner of Strokestown Percy French prize for Witty Verse and runner up in the Padraig Colum International Gathering competition both 2019.

 

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.

 

The Half-Starved Virgin, by Bobbie Sparrow

The half starved virgin

Mother told me not to be greedy,
to sit on my hands and wait.
‘Hold in your stomach and tighten,
you never know who’s at the gate.’

Mother always looked good in an A-line,
kept her fingers off the cream buns.
Smoked cigarettes at breakfast,
tried filling her hunger with puns.

‘Keep smiling at those dancing boys
be cheerful and do not pout.
Go walking, cycling, play games of cards
and never ever give out.’

Mother frowned at my father’s kiss,
sat straight on her stool thinking thoughts.
Did the crossword and drank fizzy water
for the little pleasure it brought.

I wore white on the night that he took it –
a boy with clean nails and a purse.
He spent longer than I thought
but during it I caught

desire is a belly full of want. Now

give me some sweet with my sugar,
give me chocolate with my wine,
give me tongues in my kisses,
give me rapture in my crying.

Give me saunas in the sunshine,
give me plunge pools in the rain,
give me sand in the desert,
give me ecstasy in pain.

‘Leave the table wanting more’ said mother,
To hell with that, I state.
Give her food when she’s hungry ,
unlatch the half-starved virgin’s gate.

Bobbie Sparrow‘s poems have been published in many journals including Orbis, Crannog, Skylight 47, The Honest Ulsterman, Cordite, and Southword. Bobbie won 3rd prize for her Chapbook in the Blue Nib competition 2018 and came second in the Saolta Arts Trust Poems for Patience competition 2020. Her Chapbook Milk and Blood was commended in the Fools for Poetry competition 2020 and she was nominated as one of Dodging the Rain’s best published poets 2018/19. She loves lake swimming and cycling downhill.

 

Buffoon in a flowery shirt, by Hannah Kiely

Buffoon in a flowery shirt

Hannah Kiely

Bastard, you took a piece of my life, screwed it
into a younger version, razed, ripped, torn apart

Bastard, you took the piano, the silent hall
echoes torment, tears, spartan space

And bastard, I cursed you harshly at night
closed the outside light, curled like a gnarled arthritic hand

Damn you, big shot, deluded at the apex
of your own illusions, a buffoon; child seats, schools

Who are you now, living under hollow pretence
is it greener on your side?

Your flowery shirts, an over-compensation
the rise and fall of a default man

Ill-fitting skinny jeans, Gen Z or millennial
you are not, they won’t make you younger

Long hair, an ageing rocker, who never made it
your fondness for the old wedding cake, three slices so far

Unbroken, I begin to steal it back,
middle aged fool.

I secretly don’t envy you anymore.

Hannah Kiely is from Galway. Kiely completed an MA in writing at NUIG in 2020. She has been published in Vox Galvia, RTE Sunday Miscellany, Pendemic.ie and has been a featured reader on Over The Edge.

 

Never eat shellfish, by Janet Sillett

Never eat shellfish

My aunt, nothing like my mother,
used me as a sounding board, captured,
ten years old, in her stifling kitchen,
smelling of chicken soup
and terror

I was licking the cake bowl dry,
she proclaiming
that the Russians sent bad weather,
on purpose
tell your father that, the commie,
insisting I pray for Israel,
and that I must never eat shellfish
on pain of death from God

My aunt, never one for irony, was firm
that I should trust my instincts
and be myself,
but even then, I thought being myself
might mean downing small pink shrimps
from seaside stalls,
striped in pink sweet rock colours

I should shun men with slinky hips, especially
those with guitars
I had never met one of these wonders
but from then on, I would look for them on every street corner

Be careful what you wish for
I wished for Cadbury’s dairy milk,
and that her daughter,
younger than me, whose life’s work was snitching,
would be kidnapped to a desert island,
clutching her Hebrew scriptures
as her book of choice

Things happen for a reason,
I knew she meant
bad things,
as I mixed chopped fish in her yellow cracked dish

My father died later that year

My aunt was a lodestar
a beacon to what not to do,
an upside down road map
from childhood to flimsy maturity

In middle age, diagnosed depressive,
I missed her declarations
In old age, visiting my dying mother,
she picked wild flowers for her bedside

Janet Sillett recently took up writing poetry and short fiction again after decades of absence. She has had a poem published in the Galway Advertiser and is about to have her first flash fiction piece published in Litro. She works for a think tank.

 

Coup de Tea, by Bern Butler

Coup de Tea

I can’t remember when lunch muscled in
shunting dinner, in our house, from one to six,
and spiriting tea away altogether, but recall
it was the same time as kiwis, broccoli,
Telecom Eireann, a flat beige phone in the hall.

No-one missed luncheon-sausage that was
Already dead; rancid slices of blood moon,
or tomatoes, quartered like seasons, falling
backward over lettuce, or salad-cream
blobbed across sulphurous eggs, tinned
salmon, Welsh Rarebit, beetroot from a jar.

Baked beans survived but the toasting-fork
fashioned from a coat hanger was banished
to soot-black tiles at the back of the range
where dour chimney brushes hung
like artefacts from a frightening age.

Corned beef took off to America.
Bananas endured with bunches being
purchased as before but not eaten so much
between slices of bread; more relegated
to the fruit bowl from where they were
abducted, stuffed into Tupperware

to be eaten at school (but only with friends
whose mothers acquiesced with reform)
while we looked down our noses at those girls
who still went home at lunchtime for dinner,
and continued to speak of tea as a meal.

Bern Butler writes poetry and prose. Her work has featured in The Ropes Anthology, TheGalway Review, North West Words, The Blue Nib, Abridged 0-60, The Ireland Chair of Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears. She has an MA in Writing from NUI Galway and will be a guest reader at Cuirt Festival Galway New Writing Showcase 2021.

 

Good Morning Mr Magpie, by Teresa O’Connor

Good Morning Mr Magpie

So how is life in your new job?
It couldn’t be simpler
Your brush stroke always black
Not a hint of light
Only your face calico white

Do you still magnify a molehill?
Huff and puff it into a peak
like the Reek and talk is cheap
And have you climbed it yet?
Oh! and don’t forget your umbrella

And whose ear do you burn now?
You’re a gossip blogger, I hear
Always knew you as a luddite
But then you usually found someone
useful just around the corner

By now you must have genius status
It takes a lot of time to be a genius,
you have to sit around so much
doing nothing, really doing nothing

Teresa O’ Connor-Diskin’s poems have been published or forthcoming in The Galway Review, Skylight 47, Dodging the Rain, Vox Galvia, The Irish Farmers Journal and she was shortlisted for Poems for Patiences 2019.
One of her poems has been added to Poetry in Lockdown collection at the James Joyce Library UCD

 

Delta of Venus on the Bus, by Neil Fulwood

DELTA OF VENUS ON THE BUS

Cruelly, I bend the pages back
until the force can be felt in the spine.
The volume opens like a calyx,
freeing its horny pollen of words.

My hand trembles. I lay my palm
against the cool smooth paper,
flex a single quivering finger
and caress the length of a sentence

that ends with the word “vigorous”.
I have hidden cover, title, author’s name –
folded them hard into each other.
But the words writhe shamelessly;

inky exhibitionists. How many times
can one use “penis” in a ten-page story?
How many times before it launches
itself into the aisle, daubs its likeness

on the steamed-up windows, provokes
the driver in an obvious fashion?
How long before all eyes are on me,
everyone knowing what I’m reading

and forming their own conclusions?

Neil Fulwood was lives and works in Nottingham. His new collection, Service Cancelled, is published by Shoestring Press later this year. 

 

Pants, by Sue Cose

PANTS

Your underpants offend me.
I don’t care for the designer label,
I’d be happier if you felt able
To pull your sodding jeans up.
Up round your hips where they should be
Not sagging down towards your knee
So the rest of us are forced to see
Your PANTS!
Which may have a print of smiley faces
But fail to raise a smile on mine
And ‘no’, I’m not a moody swine,
My mood was actually quite fine
Until I saw your arse.
Which really doesn’t pass
For fashion sense or class.
If that is creativity
The art in it is lost on me
For all I see is PANTS.
And ‘yes’, this is a rant,
But one I feel is overdue,
For far too many men like you
Have got their underwear on view
And I don’t think it’s right.
It’s not a pleasant sight.
And even though you might
Claim your look is ‘hip’ or ‘street’
Your jeans are bagging round your feet
And seal the fate you soon will meet.
For suddenly you trip and fall
And face-down on the pavement sprawl.
Your jeans now well below your arse,
There’s nothing you can do to pass
For trendy, hip or cool.
You’re just a flat-out, fashion, fettered, fool.