How to Read at an Open Mic, by Susan Jordan

How to read at an open mic

When it’s your turn to read
make quite sure you’re still muted.
People like to watch you mouthing.

Spend most of your time
shuffling through your papers, saying,
‘I’m sure I’ve got it somewhere.’

Give a long, rambling introduction
about how your father used to go fishing
only this poem isn’t about that.

Keep your head down over your copy
or hunch up, squinting at your phone.
At all costs avoid facing the camera.

Ideally, print your poems
on the back of private documents
and hold them up in front of your face –

bills and bank statements are ideal.
That way you’ll keep the audience’s interest
and get lots of comments in the chat.

Read in a poetry voice that goes up
wherever you’d expect it to go down.
Draw out the last syllable of each line.

If you read a second poem,
say, ‘I’ve only just written this
and haven’t managed to revise it yet.’

Before you finish, do apologise –
if you haven’t done so already –
for not having written your poems better.

Sit staring vacantly afterwards
so people don’t know if you’re done
then forget to mute your coughs and slurps of tea.


4 By Bloody 4’s, by Lisa Lopresti

4 By Bloody 4’s

Huge SUV, 4 by bloody 4,
Parked right outside my front door.

In narrow Edwardian city streets,
Those 4 X 4’s like to retreat.

I can admire the metallic paint,
That the late evening sun warmly glints.

But there is no light streaming through,
My tall beckoning windows as it ought to do!

The pollution that these vehicles exhale,
Dust’s lungs and glass in dirty veils.

My city is not 4 X 4’s natural habitat,
Country lanes and tracks is where that’s at.

But what about the snow!
4 by four drivers want to know.

Well in our cities, those 2 days a year,
Mean you should stay at home and drink beer.

Lisa Lopresti (she/her)is a poet from the statue toppling City of Bristol. She has been broadcast on BBC Radio Bristol and published in magazines and anthologies. Lisa performs in spoken word events and has found this both terrifying and exhilarating. She likes to convey poems to portray, this life.


Cocks, by Mohammad Zahid


Things were never easy
nor were they hard
The conflict was an unending one
with seven blind men groping the elephant
rightly at all wrong places.
For the onlookers it was a comic show
For the blind men a harsh reality.

The hens kept clucking
Perhaps giggling at the eternal dilemma
Humans faced while deducing
the evolutionary equations
about who came first,
the clucking hens
or their encapsulated embryos.

The poor cocks were left unattended
Till they ran unbridled
like their human homonyms.
They too sometimes became easy
and sometimes hard.

Mohammad Zahid is a poet and translator from Kashmir, India. His maiden poetry collection The Pheromone Trailbagged the Best Book Award from the Academy of Art Culture and Languages, Jammu &Kashmir in 2015.

His poetry has appeared in many Indian and international journals. He is a translation editor for Kashmiri Language at Muse India and Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts.


Double Negative Party, by Melanie Branton

Double Negative Party

There ain’t no party like a double negative party,
ain’t nothing better you can get.
You think that sounds exciting?
Well, you ain’t heard nothing yet!

There ain’t no party like a double negative party.
Nothing never felt so great!
Don’t never start till midnight
and don’t never end till really late.

You’ve heard that they’re “bad grammar”?
You’ve heard they “don’t make sense”?
You’ve heard they are “confusing”,
sound “uncouth” or “cause offence”?

The French use double negatives!
The Polish use them, too!
There ain’t no foreign language
that supports that snobbish view!

They were used by William Shakespeare
and Chaucer! Goodness sakes!
Ain’t no-one gonna tell me
Will and Geoffrey made mistakes!

There ain’t no party like a double negative party –
the guest list’s full of stars!
Ain’t no-one who is no-one
would give that bash a pass.

There ain’t no party like a double negative party –
Not nowhere in no nation.
No-one don’t want nothing else –
just an invitation.

Melanie Branton is a spoken word artist from North Somerset who is totally obsessed with cats, linguistics, Vikings and vegetables. Her published collections are Can You See Where I’m Coming From? (Burning Eye, 2018) and My Cloth-Eared Heart (Oversteps, 2017)


Marc Maron, by Tina Sederholm

Marc Maron

They say never meet your heroes,
but after a gig that
I had just commented
was breathtakingly crafted
and delivered with an ease I long for,
we passed the stage door
as Marc Maron walked out.

Thank goodness I needed to use
the ladies’ after the show
and that the queue
had been the exact length required
to facilitate this moment
is not what I said
as I shook Marc Maron’s hand.

But what I enjoyed most
was the way Marc Maron didn’t wait
for Neil to approach
but stepped towards him,
hand outstretched,

thus ending a seventeen-year loop
of disappointment, caused
by an underwhelming chance
encounter with Philip Glass.

Tina Sederholm is a performance poet and theatre-maker. Described as ‘Completely spellbinding’ ***** (Edfringe Review), she has created and extensively toured four solo shows, including six runs at the Edinburgh Fringe. This poem comes from her latest collection, This Is Not Therapy, published July 2021 by Burning Eye.


Mourning what he lost, by Rodney Wood


Steve found it boring caressing his hair each morning
because his hair was arrogant, luxuriant and elegant.
He never thought one day he’d need a transplant
for the 2 foot Mohican attached to his cranium.

Hair dyed pink geranium and not bright cerulean, maroon,
bubble gum, cinnamon, electric crimson or even violet-red (medium).

He poured cereal into a bowl then found he had no milk.
His blessed day had shattered, gone belly up, shattered
and his hair had fallen out. He could no longer caress,
flout, shout or watch sprout from his cranium

hair dyed pink geranium and not bright cerulean, maroon,
bubble gum, cinnamon, electric crimson or even violet-red (medium).

All his hair had vanished but one remained and thrived
and each morning he combed, shampooed and conditioned,
trimmed, pinned and gelled that strand so it lay flat on his head.
Then he lost that single hair as it departed his cranium.

A single hair dyed pink geranium and not bright cerulean, maroon,
bubble gum, cinnamon, electric crimson or even violet-red (medium).

What should Steve do with it? Have it displayed or framed,
dipped in formaldehyde, electroplated or suffer immersion
in alcohol? Steve must let everyone know a 2 foot Mohican
once flourished on his now empty cranium.

That hair dyed pink geranium and not bright cerulean, maroon,
bubble gum, cinnamon, electric crimson or even violet-red (medium).

Rodney Wood lives in Farnborough, co-host the monthly Write Out Loud (Woking) and is widely published.


Lockdown Haircut, by Mogs

Lockdown Haircut
(Printed in Write Out Loud charity anthology ‘Beyond The Storm’ – Poems From The Covid 19 Era.)

She says I need my haircut,
I look like a mad professor,
She’s gonna drag me into town
Leave me there with her hairdresser.
I remind her there’s a ‘Lockdown’,
Every hair salon is closed.
And while she ponders what to do
My hair just quietly grows.

Yes, she says I need my haircut,
Every minute, it gets longer,
Well, perhaps i’m like that Samson bloke,
While it grows, I’m getting stronger.
I know it’s not been touched for months,
But I just could not care less,
I can’t go out, so no one can see
That my Barnet is a mess.

Still, she says I need my haircut,
As she ties me to a chair,
Grabs the wallpaper scissors
and starts hacking at my hair.
She ignores my screams when snipping blades
Give my ear a painful prod,
It seems she honed her hair cutting skills
From watching Sweeney Todd.

So, I no longer need my hair cut,
At my feet, in clumps, it’s scattered,
She’s hacked and slashed, I’ve lost an ear
And my poor nerves are bloody shattered.
This Lockdown just brings misery
And it seems there’s no relief,
Because now she’s found some pliers
And is eyeing up my teeth!

Mogs (aka John Morris) has written poetry since the late 1970’s. He retired from an IT career in 2003 because of failing eyesight. He regularly performs at open mic events.

Books published 

‘Poems Your Parents Won’t Like’ – for ‘children’ aged upto 100.

‘Griff’ – children’s novel.


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.  


Long Johns, by Jamie H. Scrutton

Long Johns

He has such a sensuous appearance,
Still, after 20 years of being wed,
But when he wears his long johns,
I ban him from the bed!

They are such a repulsive garment,
They are such a ghastly sight,
They don’t particularly arouse me,
They give me such a fright!

Oh, fancy seeing your husband,
With his wobbly, knobbly knees,
His thighs and shins the size of twigs,
Oh no thank you please!

He has his champion features,
It’s his legs that I cannot bear,
I would rather see him in his tighty-whities,
And thermal underwear!

My personal inner thoughts of him in them,
Are completely obtruse,
With him lying next to me in bed wearing the long johns,
I strictly refuse!

It prevents him from the bitter winter, I shall give him that,
But the material is frantically coarse,
He needs to burn the long johns,
Otherwise I am filing for a divorce!

Jamie H Scrutton is a Yorkshire based Artist specializing in Performance Poetry and Animation. His material is often witty with a spec of seriousness. He performs and showcases his work widely around the UK. 
Youtube – Jamie Harry Scrutton