Because it’s total crap, by Karen Jones

Because it’s total crap

Ratner lifted the lid on a sherry decanter
At £4.95 a pop too good to countenance
When asked about his high-street gems
Little tacky rings for working class girls
Risking bedtime dealings with blue collar boys

It was Gerald who had himself by the balls
All for earrings costing less than a quid
He’d choke on an M&S sandwich now
Fish the prawns himself if he could
Than grapple with the loss of a
$10 billion business, 10 seconds to nought

Now 30 years after the biggest PR gaffe
The Sultan of Bling can only think back
To Mrs Ratner and her word of advice
The only pearl he declined to string
Ego really is a terrible thing

Karen Jones is new to writing poetry, a student of Kevin Higgins, born in Northern Ireland, living in Dublin and working in public relations.

 

My Mother Doesn’t Know that I’m a Poet, by Rodney Wood

MY MOTHER DOESN’T KNOW THAT I’M A POET
after Billy Bennett

I’m cherishing a secret about this poets-life I lead
as according to the papers that she reads all poets
are lazy bastards, cads and cowards who live in ivory towers.
They’re scum of the earth, much worse than bureaucrats
and really don’t give a toss for anyone but numereo uno
but I know is that really us poets are decent folk.
All the people I hang out with think I’m quite OK
and say I’m a poet of the much more pleasant sort
but I never breathe a word of this at home.

You see my mother doesn’t know that I’m a poet
sometimes she sees the inky stains upon my clothes,
the trembling of my voice and that haunted look in my eyes
I tell her is from the solvent I’ve been using for cocaine.
When I spend hours in my room alone and writing poems
I tell her not to worry as I’m only watching porn.
and when I go to London for a Forward or TS Eliot Prize
I tell mother I’m off to meet and reminisce with fascists
because you see, I’ll never tell my mother I’m a poet.

And those parcels that drop through my letter box
I say are guns, knives, explosives, lubricants and sex
toys. If she knew I was a poet she’d shoot me like a dog
and all those books came, I say, by mistake from catalogues
and I keep them, just in case. She can think I’m a murderer
before she’ll know the truth. I have to respect her old age but
she knows that I’m a liar, a crook and arsonist
but it would break her poor old heart if she found out
that I write odes, epics, ballads and get my kicks from sonnets
so thank heavens Mother doesn’t know that I’m a poet.

 

Or your scants will come back to haunt you, by Beth McDonough

Or your scants will come back to haunt you

Here’s to the thrill of ethical knickers

delivered by post through your own front door.
Each pair of pants comes carefully wrapped
in tactile fantastic brown papery packets,
patterned with turtles, octopuses and whales,
skilfully block-printed in India.

All of these garments are guaranteed free
of nasties like plastics, except just perhaps
those barcoded stickers proclaiming these knickers
one hundred per cent organic cotton, designed
entirely to delight on the very fine Isle of Wight,
dyed in colours as smashing as eggshell.

Already, I’m advised on my pants’ end of life,
little symbols explain how these ethical undies
can be sent back, then recycled safely. I must
express just a little alarm about future
manufacturing tactics of endless elastic, but
why not have big hopes for the morals of smalls?

Beth McDonough’s poetry is widely anthologised and published in Magma, Gutter, and elsewhere. Her first solo pamphlet Lamping for pickled fish is published by 4Word.Fairly soon, her site-specific poem will be installed on the Corbenic Poetry Path. She swims year round in the Tay, foraging close by.

 

On Flatulence, by Simon Williams

On Flatulence

It’s commonly held that farts are methane.
While this is true for cows, sheep, goats
and other herbivores, it’s not for humans.
Our flatus (that’s the word, I looked it up)
is largely hydrogen, lighter than air.

So the story of the Persian Prince
with noteworthy and continuous flatulence,
who is supposed to have suffocated himself
while asleep on a low bed-pallet on a trip abroad,
could not have happened.

However, should an equerry have brought a lamp,
a naked flame into the chamber,
his highness, without rising from his sleep,
could have raised the roof.
I think that trumps the suffocation story.

 

One of my Finest, by Clive Oseman

ONE OF MY FINEST

I’ve written a poem that I think is good.
Probably the third best I have written
if I’m honest,
and the fourth best is awesome!
It was published in a journal
edited by my mate.
But I’m not one to blow my own trumpet.
I’ve tried. God knows I’ve tried,
but I’m not flexible enough.

I shouldn’t be reading it tonight really
because I’ve submitted it to Poetry North…. Swindon.
Yeah, Poetry North Swindon.
But I don’t think they’ll be listening.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t perfect.
The rhyme scheme is as obvious as a
Tory at an empathy farm,
and it doesn’t always flow perfectly
which is a shame I suppose, probably.

And there are bits where
I lost concentration because
the ferret was up my trouser leg.
I keep telling it, not when I’m writing,
but it never listens.

The strength of the poem is its depth.
It’s deeper than the Atlantic Ocean
if all the whales took a piss at the same time
on a particularly rainy day,
So you’ll have to listen at least twice
before you get it.

The poem deals with
the issues of the day
in a very novel way,
like why Margaret Thatcher is
the human equivalent of Smallpox
and why Man at C&A is the
only way to shop for clothes.

Ok, it seems a bit behind the times
but you know history has a way
of repeating itself like a
particularly vengeful gherkin
on a wet Sunday evening,
so really it’s ahead of its time
in a Swindon kind of way.

What? Why a wet Sunday?
When else would you eat gherkins, stupid?
Jeez some people ask
the most ridiculous questions.

Anyway, the poem is so good
I’ve decided not to read it tonight.
If you want to hear it send
£20 via bank transfer.

I’m sorry to inflict
this rubbish on you instead

Just class it as a metaphor
for disappointment.
Crushing, soul destroying
disappointment,
and a valuable lesson learned.

Clive Oseman is a a Brummie spoken word artist, comedian, satirist and promoter based in Swindon. His third poetry collection was published by Black Eyes Publishing UK in 2020.

 

Ketchup : An Obituary, by Kevin Higgins

Ketchup: An Obituary

It all started that Friday he came home brandishing
another bottle of it, when there was already one
gleaming unopened in the fridge. A mistake,
the whole house told itself.

Next week he turned up dragging
six bags of almost nothing else.
From then on, had it with everything:
on his bread instead of butter; with
his cornflakes instead of his usual
low-fat milk.

Eventually, dispensing with all else,
as his main course,
tomato ketchup with a side of
another shining blob of itself.

After which, he hardly opened the front door,
except to sign for deliveries, the vast jars of it
that arrived twice weekly in a van
marked Ketchup.

When he wasn’t golloping it by the basin load,
he used it instead of shaving foam,
toothpaste, and as an ointment
to balm embarrassing rashes.
Spent most of the day bathing in it.

By the time he made it safely to his coffin
he was the colour of it,
looked as if all you need do was squeeze him
and the perfect dip for a plate of hand-cut fries
would spurt gloriously from between
those tomato coloured lips.

Kevin Higgins was born in London. He mostly grew up in and lives in Galway City. In 2016 The Stinging Fly magazine described Kevin as “likely the most read living poet in Ireland. His poems have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times (London), Hot Press, The Daily Mirror and on The Vincent Browne Show, and read aloud by film director Ken Loach at a political meeting in London. His sixth full collection of poems ‘Ecstatic’ will be published by Salmon in March 2022.

 

Fairy-tale Romances, by Ama Bolton

Fairy-tale Romances

“Happily ever after”
(forgive my hollow laughter)
it’s fantasy, a figment of folklore.
Your knight in shining armour
could turn out to be no charmer
but a bully or a silly pompous bore.
Even sweet Maid Marian
may turn out to be a harridan,
and Sleeping Beauty! You should hear her snore!

Though the Prince may seem adorable
his manners are deplorable.
Cinderella’s pretty, but quite dim.
Snow White is vain and shallow
And Jack’s a tedious fellow;
he’s always at the golf-course or the gym.
Unless you’re into farming
don’t tie the knot with Charming
you’d soon run out of things to say to him.

Beauty’s a part-time Beast,
the prince, half frog, at least.
Beware Bluebeard! Beware of Reynardine!
The end of the love story
is far too often gory.
Living on your own can be just fine
with a dog or a cat
to sleep on your lap.
You can make up your own storyline.

Ama Bolton, former member of The Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream and Pun, convenes a Stanza group in Somerset. Her poems have featured at festivals, on Radio 3’s The Verb, and in magazines and anthologies including Bridport Prize 2008. She blogs at http://barleybooks.wordpress.com/

 

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!