Elephant face on the outside of his arm.
They tried to discourage him. Think of your kids,
they said. He laughed. Think of aging,
they said. I’ll get old and wrinkly, he smiled.
Like an elephant.
Jennifer A. McGowan is a disabled poet and re-enactor who generally prefers the fifteenth century but is addicted to indoor plumbing. Awkward. She has five collections out, and a sixth is currently under scrutiny by editors.
Your mind makes out the orange by seeing it, hearing it, touching it, smelling it, tasting it
and thinking about it … depending on your mind to exist! By itself it’s a no-thing …
it’s seen only of your mind
– Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
Like Jack Kerouac’s Orange
I am awake for you baby
baby taste this flesh, smell
smell the myth of limonene
this orange wants to be seen
see me, hear me, touch me
make me become.
Make me a some-thing baby
baby don’t you feel the want
want to feel how it is
how it is to be empty
empty & awake & a no-thing
nothing unless of your mind?
Spilled out like squeezed sea
sea squeezed from an orange
a sodden orange from a Spanish ship
shipwrecked & empty & a no-thing
nothing except for the mind of a poet
‘thinking about it it’s really mental
things only seen of your own mind’.
But Jack got it wrong baby
I am not your orange
you may have me
in your mind’s eye
thinking about it & me
& all that existential baby
& you may say you saw me
saw me only & only me
& only of your mind
but it was me who was looking
baby I was looking at the apple
& it was me who was awake
awake & looking at the apple
it was always me baby
baby it was always me
who took the first bite.
Cáit is a straying archaeologist. At home in the Scottish Highlands, she makes films and writing with folk hoping to assemble good ways of living in this queasy world. Poems have been peeling from her since January 2021. This is one of her first. You can find her tweeting @kittyjmac.
Would be great to cut a fine figure.
I do, says your belly,
Swaying on my two pins.
Uh huh? I’m listening, I say.
Yeah, I cut a fine figure of a Henderson belly
asking John for a hug.
You’ve got persistence going for ya,
I give you that. Yeah I have,
my/your belly drawls,
taking a long drag of a cigarette,
I’ll ask him till the day I die. I placate curve
with smoothing palm.
Are you thinking about John now?
John Henderson belly closes her eyes.
Yeah. All his vocatives rolled
into one tumbling waterfall of cadences.
What about his ablatives, his hyperbatons?
All cases. All cadences. One long
Belly schmoosh. His semantic analytics?
His patterns? His parsings? His epics?
His topsy turvey word order?
My belly is opening her lips, lost
for words. His exploratory thematics?
She’s gone, lost in loin-louche.
Maria Andrews is a short film maker and photographer who occasionally gets published in poetry mags (Polka Dot Ceiling, Still Life) and was once published in a collection (Bloody Amazing). Her current alias is a puppet called Leopold, who is a London correspondent for Helmiflix.com She likes belly laughs. firstname.lastname@example.org.
If I come back
I’ll be a flea,
A sexy flea
Throw wild flea orgies
in your bed,
and bite you
’til you’re itchy
Winner of no Poetry Ireland Competition, or any other competition, no published debut collection, nothing printed anywhere else yet except here.
Her poems have been nominated for nothing so she’s nominating this poem to go on this page – a great place to start nominating.
She is the curator of nothing. Her anthology doesn’t exist, yet she keeps going.
Hey, remember me?
I am the leafy vegetable at the side of your plate that never got eaten
The one your mother insists is good for you
I lay there getting cold and soggy until the meal was over
You waited — until she wasn’t looking
Then receded on tippy toes and tossed me in the step-bin
These days, you speak of being organic and eating brown bread,
brown rice, brownies made of all-natural black beans,
fairtrade cocoa and grass-fed butter
You carry a metal straw and forsake plastic
You are an environmental warrior
A climate change defender
You do yoga and meditate and stand on your head
You attend retreats on mindfulness — to empty your mind
You go to the gym to stretch your body to its limit and call it de-stress time
You eschew coffee and prefer green tea
You drink cold-pressed juices made of avocado, cucumber, carrots, celery and pumpkin
You speak of their antioxidant properties and gloat about the anti-aging glow of your skin
I was the leafy green you threw in the bin
I still remember mum insisting that wasting me was such a sin
You are vegan now —
Julian Matthews is a former journalist and trainer finding new ways to express himself during the pandemic through poetry and fiction. The Malaysian-based poet is published in “Unmasked: Reflections on Virus-time” (Heliconia Press), an anthology curated by author Shamini Flint, Poetry and Covid (poetryandcovid.com), a project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, the WordsFest Zine (Insomniac Press), Borderless Journal, Nine Cloud Journal, Second Chance Lit, Poor Yorick Literary Journal and Wingless Dreamer
Cars washed. A million cars washed
Baby Shark sung without enthusiasm
In a million supermarket aisles
To juvenile audiences
Already considering it passé
We are all passé
A nation of proud plastic polluters
Big-mouthed bottom feeders
Believing we’re on top, what we’re used to
What we’re told is true
By Jeff Stelling on Soccer Saturday
And other pundits
We should do something
About that overhanging tree
We should pull up grass
And lay down the latest AstroTurf
We cannot enjoy what we have left
In fact, we flatly refuse
When it all falls
We will treat it as the longest weekend ever
Buy in crates upon crates of Corona beer
In deepest irony
Until we run out of that
And all the other stuff
Then what? Put baseball bats through flatscreens
Blame it on them next door
Congregate in imaginary corridors as if in queues
We’re fine, they’re fine, we all say it
And to be fair
To be honest
To never be anything other than honest
That will just have to do.
I hope there’s golfing heaven.
I’m sure there’s golfing hell.
I visit it most weekends –
I know it really well.
The devils haunt me from the tee
They mock my grip, my stance.
“Should you be doing this at your age?”
They think I’ve got no chance.
I shan’t give in. Some practice swings,
I‘m made of sterner stuff.
They smile and clap sarcastically
As I blaze into the rough.
The bunkers seem to chuckle
They’re driving me insane;
The way my chip shot hits the edge
Then bounces back again.
There’s the giggling of banshees
Who devour my inner soul
As once again a two-foot putt
Goes bobbling round the hole.
So as my scores get higher
Par threes take six or seven
I like to dream of changing course –
A move to golfing heaven.
Where drives zip down the fairway
Chips always reach the green
And wedge shots from the bunker
Are the finest ever seen.
It’s hard to pick a highlight
When everything is fine;
Was it the eagle at the fifth?
The albatross on nine?
The clubhouse beer is nectar
All members are my friends.
The round is only eighteen holes
But the feeling never ends.
For there’ll be no more sorrow
In the solace I have found.
They’ll smile and say “Tomorrow
We’ll play another round.”
Paul Francis lives in Shropshire, and is active in the West Midlands poetry scene. He has won three national competitions, and in 2020 came second in the Beyond the Storm poetry competition (2,381 entries). His most recent collection is Rescue from the Dark (Fair Acre Press, 2021).
Roger de Mortimer, 4th Earl of March and 6th Earl of Ulster, was heir presumptive to Richard II between 1382 and 1398
King Roger! We nearly had a King Roger!
So, did we dodge a
bullet or should we, in fact, bemoan
the fact that Roger never, ever
made it to the throne?
When Richard needed spies,
then he applied for the position.
So, Roger went to Ireland
on a very secret mission.
He skulked about and got himself
in thrilling scrapes galore.
Was he James Bond?
No, he was Roger, more.
To blend in with the Irishmen,
he found it a no-brainer
to paint his face a lurid blue
and wear the brat and léine.
So maybe he went AWOL,
but I can still relate if
he got a little overkeen
and went a little native.
Some said he took it way too far,
some said, “He’s off his trolley!”
but I say, like the pirate flag,
Roger was jolly.
Roger’s story reached its end
He walked into a brigands’ trap:
they fell upon him, straight.
They knocked him off his horse
and then they pummelled him about.
Alas, that was the end of him:
Roger was over and out.
Melanie Branton is a spoken word artist from the Bristol area. Her published collections are Can You See Where I’m Coming From? (Burning Eye, 2018) and My Cloth-Eared Heart (Oversteps, 2017). She is inordinately fond of hats, historical linguistics, and porridge.
The neighbours had asked her to feed their fish.
They were going on a short holiday.
It sounded straightforward,
should have been straightforward.
“But I overfed it,” she said,
“and it burst open,
all over the place.”
She looked glum.
“But that wasn’t the worst of it.
Next thing is
the dog’s eaten it.
And that wasn’t the end of it,
next thing is
he started to be sick,
just puked it up all over their carpet.”
She looked glum.
“The carpet’s wrecked,” she said.
First published in Scrittura, Summer 2020
Bio: Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. https://lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com and https://www.facebook.com/Lynn-White-Poetry-1603675983213077/