Poem by Jonathan Humphrey

The Puissant Penguin of Portsmouth
Partaking of pork, and port, and peas
Roguishly reclining in his sedan chair
Entirely at his ease

Said unto his bearers:
‘What days, what times are these
When an avuncular avine such as myself
Can be so perfectly pleased?

Here am I in my sedan chair
Borne by such stout young men
And hither and yon you take me
Bound by my every whim

The people of Portsmouth they give me,
Cheered by my sleek black form,
Port and pork and prunes and pies
And all other good things under the sky

For such is the birdish beauty
Of my flippers and claws and beak,
That all those who see me realise
Unknowing, it is I they seek

And knowing they bow down before me
Knowing they bend the knee
My beauty; it overwhelms them
They shall have no God but me

And thus here I am reclining
Borne by such bold lads as these
And thus do I partake of pork and port
Entirely at my ease.’

 

How to have the perfect wardrobe, by Heather Moulson

How to have the perfect Wardrobe

Let the party dress, stiff with deodorant
marks, stay on that wire hanger
to remind you of its glory days,
and that it will never fit you again.

If you must have a cashmere piece – essentially an
overpriced cardi – then avoid hot washes at all costs.
In fact, avoid wearing it altogether.
They only look good on retired movie stars.

A classic trench coat, too warm yet not
warm enough, will look good with anything –
assuming you actually put it on.

Invest in a well-cut pair of trousers –
not those elasticated things you’re wearing now,
so you can look as bland and invisible as possible.

Stick that flowered Laura Ashley dress on eBay,
because those days have truly gone,
and you’ll need more room for that beige collection.

Have a quick guilty look at those patent leather loafers –
bought only because you could.
Followed by a swift glance at your Mother’s old
Jumpers, as you visualise her sitting there knitting.
Then slam the door quickly. And get yourself up Primark!

Heather Moulson has been performing poetry since 2016.  She has featured extensively in London, and Surrey. Heather’s first pamphlet Bunty, I miss you was published in 2019.  Her work is mainly hankering for a certain era, and lifestyle tips.  Heather lives in Twickenham with a stroppy black cat.  

 

Learning a decade later what I stored in my fridge, by Beth McDonough

Learning a decade later what I stored in my fridge

Newly back from Salzburg
Alex the Milliner waltzed
into the staffroom and my new post.
Just three coffee breaks into November,
after I’d left the job from hell.
Pure pantomime, he passed around his swag-
Don’t look! Just take a feel,
and grab the first one that you rub!
Yes you, new woman, you!
Well. I did.

Something like a lightbulb
rolled around my palm.
I hid it in my pocket, but
cupped it in the dark.
Then I laughed. Of course I took it home.
Allegedly, it’s filled with cream liqueur.
The other sort had added chocolate.
Who cared either way? The lid
is still intact. Presumably the contents
have long evaporated or gone off.

But I like it in the top shelf, a sphere
of welcomes, care and craic.
I told him once how much it meant,
after all the dark. He did his most
magnificent only-Alex roll of eyes.
Whit? Ye’ve really still kept wan o Mozart’s balls?

 

Flying Corgette, by Jackie Juno

FLYING COURGETTE

I took a courgette out for a walk
Boris Johnson made me do it
Have you heard that sinister meringue talk?
I slipped on some fresh new bullshit.
I know that he’s lying
the courgette went flying

My baby is a jumbo jet
my supersonic mean courgette
see how high he flies
they’re building castles in the sky

Careful what you agree to
wipe the wool from your eyes
cauliflowers have ears now
there are parsnips in disguise
my potatoes are totally mashed
I think that’s why I crashed

We’re in a stew, me and you
we’re up to our necks in gravy
we’re in a pickle, Dr Jekyll
can you smell burning, baby?

My baby is a jumbo jet
my supersonic mean courgette
see how high he flies
they’re building castles in the sky

Jackie Juno is a performance poet based in Devon. Her website can be found at http://www.jackie-juno.com

 

Model Boat Club Blues by Charlotte Harker

The decline began after a spree of sinkings.
I think it was a submarine.
Someone is disobeying the finely streamlined rules.
I am facing a flotilla of ruse,
I’ve got those model boat club blues.

I am losing the plot and my concentration,
I keep getting the bow and the stern mixed up,
I’m caught in a storm at a lake so artificial,
Infighting and resignation over the sailing schedule,
Should a clipper give way to a frigate?
Yet more dispute,
I’ve got those model boat club blues.

In the clubhouse I’ve lost direction and rudderless
I struggle to make a course correction
to keep this armada in some order,
but there is no denying we are taking on water; oh whatever,
I am always on board,
to hell with the weather,
this is my ship and I’m going down with it,
I’ve got those model boat club blues.

Charlotte Harker is a Writer, Artist and Performance Poet. Her first collection of illustrated poems ‘The Wear and Tear of Conversation’ was published in 2018. Further information can be found at https://www.dempseyandwindle.com/charlotteharker.html

 

Dr Frankenstein’s Beauty Tips for Monsters, by F.R. Kesby

You trawled through Bikini Babes. You searched in Hottest Celebs. You scoured Fitness Goal Bods. You rifled through Silky Skinned Sirens. You poured over Instagram Stars You Wish You Were.

You snipped yourself a pair of perfect legs. You chose a flawless face. You cut out a pair of breath-taking breasts. You tore out luxurious locks. You selected a set of stupendous abs.

You pick out what they tell you is desirable. Is desired. You make yourself a beautiful monster. Each hole you cut in a magazine is a hole you cut in yourself.

F. R. Kesby is a poet and storyteller from Leeds. She has headlined gigs including for Stirred, Word Club and NeurodiVERSE and her work has appeared in magazines and journals such as OFI, Laldy and Strix. She also writes for Spoons and Toons (https://faykesby.wordpress.com/) and Women’s Republic (http://www.womensrepublic.net/author/fay-kesby/).

 

Malacophagy, by Mark Totterdell

In a pub that overlooked saltwater,
I ate a heap of mussels,
so sweet, so soft, I never tasted better,
well worth the mess and hassle.

On the beach at Sidmouth, one damp summer,
I chewed into a whelk,
a plug of solid snot or slimy rubber
not fit for decent folk.

In a big marquee one time, in public,
I went down on an oyster.
The sea was rising, falling in my gullet
for what seemed ever after.

By the Med, with chips, I chomped on suckers
of deep-fried octopus.
I fear my smart and subtle distant cousin
was hardly well-served thus.

‘Mark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines and have occasionally won competitions. His collections are ‘This Patter of Traces’ (Oversteps Books, 2014) and ‘Mapping’ (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018; http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/mark-totterdell/4594336680).’ 

 

Pleasure, by Hilary Willmott

Like finest Belgian truffles she rolls them around her lips,
delicacies to be savoured, rotund parcels of delight.
She lets her tongue caress their secrets, teasing herself,
tracing them with her lips, backwards and forwards.
She knows it’s wrong, there will be reprisals.
But it’s too late to stop – her need is overwhelming
and as she flicks her tongue, one pouch disappears
into her salivating mouth. Oblivious to the pained cries
for her to stop, she swallows. One satisfied canine.
One less piece of horse shit on the towpath.

Hilary has been writing since her schooldays many decades ago. She sees poetry as a companion who is much braver than she, taking her to places she wouldn’t dare venture on her own. She has been published by Templar Press, Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis, Flarestack, Leaf and Velvet. She has also been shortlisted for national competitions. She lives by the river in the south west of England.