I’ve found your secret Daddy.
What have you found son?
There is a room beneath the shed. It’s full of little wooden boxes of different sizes.
You won’t tell anyone will you son. I’ve only told the butcher and undertaker.
Why only them Daddy?
The butcher has promised to cut up my body and put away what should be in boxes. While the undertaker has promised to collect everything else, bones, flesh, skin and so on and have them put in a box labelled “Miscellaneous”.
I’ve lived my life being put in boxes, working in a box, living in a box, travelling in a box, dreaming of boxes. When I die I want to be buried in lots of little wooden boxes and not just the one to show that I’m an individual.
How long have you spent making little wooden boxes Daddy?
My life son, has been spent making little wooden boxes. I’ve made boxes for my toes, my false teeth, my heart, my ears, my eyes and well, you get the idea son.
When will you be finished Daddy?
Next Tuesday. After that I don’t know what I’ll do son.
Daddy, what if you're cremated?
Platform 7 – with Apologies to William Wordsworth, by Ben Macnair
Platform 7 - With Apologies to William Wordsworth
I wandered, lonely as a train spotter,
that floats on high over platforms and rolling stock,
when all at once I saw a crowd,
a host of train drivers,
beside the cafe, beneath the eaves,
and thought what a strange sight were these.
They spoke of the time it took to get from
London to Carlisle,
in their eyes a look of romance,
on their lips the hint of a smile.
Continuous as the track
that took them away,
and bought them back
They reminded me of Ivor The Engine,
and Jones the Steam,
as vivid in life as in any dream.
The platforms filled with a giddy dance,
of people with journeys, to jobs, families,
and maybe to some romance.
A train spotter could not join in the revelry,
for unlike everyone else, he could never be free.
The weak lemon drink, the out-of-focus photos of trains,
discussing the findings with strangers on the internet
and for some, that is enough.
Who Needs?, by Neil Windsor
Not me for sure
Not inclined at all
Never in a million years
Christ , just give us a break!
Are you having a laugh?
Who needs another?
Yeah like there aren't enough already
Get a grip, life's too short
I've only just got rid of the last one
No one ,not now, not ever
If you do then let me know, 'cos I've got three under the bed.
Neil Windsor is a Writer of children’s short stories, Artist and Poet from Leeds who produces and performs all his work with an absolute passion and a slightly slanted off – kilter view of life.He also plays extremely bad left handed blues guitar.#neilwindsorart
Collage Machine, by Carla Scarano D’Antonio
Before the sun is the sun
Stay play say
Name hard sharp
Today is your day
Make it happen
Join the human
Be wild be wild
Wonder the universe
The desolate melody of the spoons
The skylark voices
Of the rock and roll
Carla Scarano D’Antonio obtained her MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and has published her creative work in magazines and reviews. She published two poetry collections, Negotiating Caponata(2020) and Workwear (2022). She was awarded a PhD on Margaret Atwood’s work at the University of Reading in April 2021.
Frailty, Thy Name is Gertrude, by Jean Taylor
Frailty Thy Name is Gertrude
I always had the hots for Claudius
that man could turn a woman inside out
seduce her with a glance
blind her – just by placing
his bejewelled hand across her cheek.
But here’s the thing:
second sons do not deliver kingdoms.
I wedded Hamlet.
After our boy was born, that sour old git
chucked me like a worn-out jerkin.
‘Your place is with the ladies.’
‘Look to your son.’
Hamlet got what was coming to him –
splayed out below the apple trees
shrivelled like toad skin.
Can’t pretend I was heart-broken.
If I hadn’t gone along with Claudius,
Christ knows where I’d be now.
This way I’ve got my throne
and a king keeping me warm.
Young Hamlet’s time will come.
Right now he needs to man up,
get real, sort himself out,
stop mincing round Elsinore
like a dying corbie.
Jean Taylor from Edinburgh loves poetry and paper and folding poems into paper aeroplanes. Her poems have been published in a wide range of publications, anthologies and poetry websites.
Her pamphlet Deliberate Sunlight was published by Black Agnes Press in 2019.
Frustrations in the Office, by Sarah James
Frustrations in the Office
i) Behind the blinds
The office chair has an angle
on everything. Going nowhere itself,
it still feels it’s earned a higher position,
would floor all competition.
Despite purpose-moulded plastic
and a firm spine, it has learned
to turn its back on others’ pressure,
cushions itself against stress.
It refuses to carry excess weight,
won’t budge when asked to do more
than simple tasks, barely conceals
its steel tones and hard edges.
But, once the blinds are closed
and the night watchman passed,
it spins round and round on the spot,
imagines taking charge, and stock.
Instead of stationery, new wheels.
Oil, polish and, with the whole office
waiting on its orders, hope even
of finding a desk that’s a perfect match.
ii) Non-PC Ideas
This desk is tired of feeling used,
fed up of ending up pushed
into a corner or back against the wall.
It’s had enough of being treated
as part of the furniture, overlooked
by all or constantly dumped on:
PCs, screens and mice; piles
of paper and files; coffee mugs,
dirty stains and laptops; boxes,
and more boxes. Five years too
working with the same chair,
and, when their legs brush, no sign
that it could share the desk’s rush
of anticipation, that hint of a shiver of
a tingle of electricity, static or not,
which lets ungrounded hopes thrive.
One day the chair will notice it –
the battered desk wishes silently…
but remains stuck there ignored.
Sarah James is a poet, fiction writer and photographer. Her latest collection, Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic (Verve Poetry Press), is partially inspired by having type one diabetes since she was six. For her, good laughter is a medicine, sometimes even a path towards positive change. Her website is at www.sarah-james.co.uk.
Holiday Memory, by Pat Jourdan
From the coast road, springily square,
car-crammed, the family, bull-bumptious,
descends to the shore.
Aunt Maud mumbles a knuckle-Kyrie Eleison
of never-ending keeper-key prayers against rain.
Uncle Owen, bottle-party-bovate,
sets out drinks four-square
while Baby Ann, duck dummy
spinach-spitting, sobs on the sand.
Cousin Willy two-times-tables the sandwiches
next to Father’s drum-duchy with his
spouse-special tobacco treasury
and orange-peel organisation.
Wearing her haberdashery-handy straw hat,
Mother, nightdress-nifty, certificate chatty,
sits Empress enigma on her silver strand,
the fidgety pastry-peckish children
as they bucket-bustle, sandcastle-building.
At Bank Holiday’s end
traipsing back to trunk-road Tuesdays,
the car’s hostage-houseful returns
to minute-book miseries and ashpan aspidistras
to wait, promising-proper, for the next
Jam-Jehovah all-allowed holiday
with a sand-scattered holdall-homecoming,
leaving the darkening beach
nightwatch-noble to the bow-legged breeze.
Pat Jourdan was writing poems even while at Liverpool College of Art. She has published five collections of poetry, the latest : Citizeness. Broadcast on BBC poetry Please, Radio Eireann, Radio Norfolk, Radio Suffolk. Latest poems in Orbis, Tears in the Fence and poetrycooperative.org.
Wolf, by Rob Walton
To keep the wolf
from the door
I caught a wolf
trained it up
made a killing
Two months later
with some mates
who’d heard about the training
and the upskilling
and the attendant lupine employment opportunities
They ate me out of house and home
I tried to coral them
and sell them as a pack
but lost a fortune:
it wasn’t a bear
or a wolf
Scunthorpe-born Rob Walton lives in Whitley Bay. His poems and flash fictions are widely published, and his debut poetry collection, This Poem Here, was published by Arachne Press in 2021. He also writes for children. Twitter and Instagram: @robwaltonwriter
Destination : Land of Nod, by Jill Vance
Destination: Land of Nod
High-pitched hum of mosquito,
chant of ten green beer bottles,
bizarrely clucking chickens,
yet no sign of winged Hypnos
with his magic dust to sink me into sleep.
Lagoons, balloons, candles on cake,
endless counting of fence-dodging sheep,
tipping towards anger as I’m more awake.
Breezes, sunsets, turtles in the surf,
the whoosh-whoosh of waves,
feet downing into the plashy sand,
torso heavier, scent of lavender,
but no blasted sleep.
Jill Vance is a poet and interdisciplinary artist. Her poems have appeared in Truth Serum Press, Pure Slush, Dirigible Balloon and Green Ink Poetry. She hopes one day to have a pamphlet published of poetry and artwork.
Treadmill, by Karen Jones
The eve of Christmas Eve
Tills in overdrive, the carol
Of sale items no one wants
To give or receive
Cars snake into the underground
Of an out-of-town supermarket
Bulge in restrictive spaces
Swollen with purchases
Nearby at the chemist
Scripts arrive faster than FedEx
Inside a white-coated woman
Bags pills against the threat
Of rising inflammation, anything
To ease the innards of millions
Inhaling mince pies and Baileys
All to discard again
Dump from car to cistern
Via the slow mulch of bellies
Pressed against festooned tables
And now it is you bulging at the wheel
Rounding the corner on new year
Smelling of gift-boxed eau du parfum
That isn’t as nice as you had thought
But wager if nothing else
Masks the sulphur of January diets
En route to the gym again
Of retail conveyor belts
Karen Jones began writing poetry in 2019, and was privileged to be a student of the late Kevin Higgins. Born in Northern Ireland, she lives in Dublin and works in public relations.