Heathcliffe Enters Love Island, by Mark Connors

The new islander is something to behold
with his thick black hair and heavy black clothes
dressed for a winter on the wild, wild moors
but today it’s in the late 30s.
With all of the contestants already paired up,
he broods by the pool, under a parasol,
emitting nothing but the odd mirthless chuckle.
The buff boys with scar-less skin and insane white teeth
don’t see him as a threat, until the girls
huddle up, whisper, giggle a little too often,
now immune to cheap cheeky chap smiles
and made for ITV2 chat up lines.
Oh yes, some women love a bastard.

One by one, the islanders visit
The Beach Hut, but not to reveal
their coupling agendas but to talk about him.
the boys deride his inability to fit in,
be one of the lads, have a bit of a laugh.
But the girls are genuinely intrigued,
and not just by superficialities,
transfixed by his stares, smirks and sneers,
drawn to his darkness and elemental moods
like silicone and hyaluronic moths.
“A just haven’t got a clue what he’s thinkin,”
says Miranda from Birkenhead.
“Every time he looks at us, me heart falls out me arse,”
says Felicity-Jane from Wallsend.

Then come the challenges. First, arm wrestling.
Heathcliff finally strips off to a black loin cloth
and the girls get to see his old latticed wounds,
festooned behind considerable body hair.
He goes through the boys one-by-one, without
so much as a bead of sweat on his brow.
Then it’s problem solving, a general knowledge quiz
and not one of the lads can compete with Heathcliff.
So ,he wins, gets to stay in The Hideaway
and one lucky woman will join him.
He chooses a brunette called Cathy, from Hull.
“I wanted him the first tarme a saw him,” she says.
“I’ll give him the tarme of his larfe.”
But when she enters The Hideaway that night,
Heathcliff opens a window to let another Cathy in.

Mark Connors is a writer from Leeds. He has been widely published in magazines, webzines and anthologies in the UK and overseas. His debut poetry collection, Nothing is Meant to be Broken, was published by Stairwell Books in 2017.

For more info visit www.markconnors.co.uk
Twitter: @markeconnors2
Publisher: www.stairwellbooks.co.uk


Extra-Extra Terrestrials, by Colin Heaney

I met an extra-terrestrial,
Black orbs on cue.
It told me its favourite movie,
It called it Slacker too.
I eyed it with suspicion,
For the fellow was rather odd.
I asked if it paid taxes,
It said taxes were the devil’s lodge.
We laughed and I brought it to the Monty,
Seedy, beer stained seats.
It settled with a whiskey, and asked to have it neat.
It spoke of the universe, but mostly of the death of its future and creatures with many boobs.
This caused a guilty giggle, for I said, ‘I am useless too!”
Then a fight erupted, rather out of fashion.
I had asked if it liked music,
It called its favourite artist Rasmus.
I blinked, and thought that was very strange,
I expected something better and altogether more exotic.
It chuckled and said sophistication was left to Cher and Rick Astley.
I don’t remember the first punch, but it hurt nonetheless,
Then it pinned me to the table, oh how horrid was its breath.
I asked if it liked Lemsip, if only to break the ice.
For a split second it stared, slimy and incandescent, then it stirred,
And wiped away the alcoholic remnants.
I watched it leave, and yelled, ‘what are you doing?’
The alien responded, ‘I have work in the morning, and I am sick of my boss and his booing.’
I noted the similarity and nodded ascent, and went back to my brew,
Dreading the following day’s work dues, for my own boss was a right ole fool.

Colin is a twenty-one year old aspiring writer (never heard that before). He may or may not be an extra-terrestrial. He has an unhealthy obsession with coffee. If anyone should want to find his other work, they won’t. It’s scattered around the globe, and can only be found by Nicholas Cage and a rucksack.


Observations on the Seventh Day: A mature female in a domestic setting – Autumn by Sarah J Bryson

One member of the clan, in this case the female, labours
for several hours in the preparation of sustenance
required by the family unit on the symbolic seventh day.

A heated box lights a section of animal corpse –
the release of vapours leads to verbal expressions
of a positive olfactory response from younger members

[immature adults] who then migrate, having only just woken,
back to the upper layers of the territory to occupy themselves
with small lit boxes activated by quick moving digits.

As the meal’s protein component transforms
into a brown leaking-piece the individual,
[in this observation a female called Hazel]

removes the outer skins of roots pulled from their outdoor habitat,
and trims green growths (rejecting those with small life forms)
in readiness for a timed scalding in metal pots of hydration fluid.

As she prepares she listens, via a small electrical appliance,
to a fictional community performing a worship
in their settlement’s religious structure, not so very far away.

She peels a thin layer off the secondary nourishment,
and puts small uniform pieces of the white flesh into a ceramic dish
with a sprinkle of a white granular substance –

and this in turn is covered with a crumb of fat and gluten powder
[the assembly of which requires skill and dexterity]
before it is sacrificed to the hot box, without ceremony.

The final fluster of activity, to bring all elements together,
is accomplished with the urgent summonsing of off-spring
achieved by a series of bangs on a copper disc.

The appearance of the spouse [Joe]
is met with an aggressive glance
but he deflects a verbal onslaught

by the production of a slim glass container
from which he pulls a wooden plug
and pours a portion of red fluid into a large drinking vessel

which he presents to his mate, brushing her hot cheek
with the external margins of his eating orifice, before striking
an exaggerated pose with a carving implement

and slicing the animal corpse with a smile.

Sarah J Bryson is a poet and hospice nurse. She runs occasional poetry workshops, and more regularly she works in care homes as part of a project taking poetry into residential care. Her poetry has been placed in competitions and published in anthologies, in journals and on line.


Postcard from the Cat by Sarah Watkinson

(after Craig Raine)

Of their many prostheses the saddest of all are forks
to correct clawlessness. So many,
and so many different. Detachable, ranked by size,
the smallest for pinning down food −
detestable, pre-killed pap. I pity

their soft bodies propped at tables, in their paws
unresponsive metal that will never retract,
never clutch and tear with the whole arm’s force,
but instead turns weakly over into a mere scoop
to push mush between their hairless lips and pointless teeth.

And these little ‘dinner forks’ are no use
to prepare a latrine. For that
they use a ‘garden fork’ in a fastidious hand.
They turn and pat the earth, toss plants aside,
but then, forgetting their purpose, fail to perform.

Sarah Watkinson is a lifelong scientist and new poet. Her work has recently been published in magazines including Antiphon, Clear Poetry, Ink Sweat and Tears, Pennine Platform, The Rialto, The Stare’s Nest and Well Versed, and has won several prizes in open competitions.