The Cat Lives Rent Free, by Bill Richardson

The Cat Lives Rent Free

This black and white cat arrived in the garden one day
and I made the mistake of feeding them.
I say them because I don’t know the cat’s gender
– or is that sex? –
and who’s to say they’re not sensitive about these matters.
You have to be careful these days.
I mean: not to offend…
Careful too about feeding a feral cat.
I didn’t go looking for a cat.
I don’t love them.
But they’ve got the idea now, of course.
The habit. Calling by each day -
sits patiently at the back door
licking paws in anticipation.
I open the door, and the cat seamlessly,
at the last second, shifts to one side.
Examines the food with multiple sniffs.
There are days when only the sauce will do
and the sardines get left behind.
Especially if they’re not John West.
What is it about John West?
Is it that they get John West at the house of the other neighbour,
the other one they’ve trained…
Or maybe more than one?

Bill Richardson’s poems have been published in a number of magazines. He is Emeritus Professor of Spanish at the University of Galway and has re-engaged in recent years with his passion for creative writing. He enjoys swimming in the Atlantic and practising tai chi to the music of Arvo Pärt.

 

I Wish I Were a Vicar, by Trisha Broomfield

I wish I were a vicar

I wish I were a vicar
penned by Agatha Christie,
I’d visit many well-known faces
who ‘d kindly ask, ‘More tea?’

I wish I were a vicar
in one of Christie’s books,
I’d wander round the place bemused
I’d wear befuddled looks.

And if I were a vicar,
one that Agatha had penned,
I’d find bodies in my library,
exclaim, ‘Good Grief! Heaven forfend!’

As a black and white penned vicar
I’d live on countless pages,
in many different languages,
and truly live for ages.

 

There Used to be Nazis in Haworth, by Tonnie Richmond

There Used to be Nazis in Haworth

strutting up the hill towards the Parsonage
where the Brontë family lived,
incongruous in wartime uniforms
amongst the tourist shops
and nineteenth century ginnels.

They would Sieg Heil! past the church
where Charlotte was married,
show no interest in the old schoolrooms
where her wedding breakfast
had been laid out long ago.

They would goose-step to the Old White Lion Inn,
drink beer with a bunch of British Tommies,
accompanied by their wives,
all dolled up in vintage clothes
and unflattering wartime hairdos.

They have banned the Nazis now.
These creepy annual nineteen-forties
re-enactment gatherings,
with their unpalatable nostalgia for the war,
have become a strangely one-sided affair.

Tonnie Richmond is retired and is interested in archaeology and poetry. These days she finds writing poetry easier than digging. She has had several poems published. Y Dreich, Yaffle and others.

 

What we don’t know the cows know about us, by Bryan Franco

Bryan Franco is a gay, Jewish poet from Brunswick, Maine. He competed with the Portland, Maine Rhythmic Cypher slam team in the 2014 National Poetry Slam in Oakland, California. He has been published in the US, Australia, England, India, Ireland, and Scotland and has featured for poetry events in the US, England, Ireland, and Scotland. He was a finalist in the 2022 NAMI NJ Dara Axelrod Expressive Arts Poetry Contest. He hosts Café Generalissimo Open Mic, is a member of the Beardo Bards of the Bardo poetry troupe, painter, sculptor, gardener, and culinary genius. His book Everything I Think Is All in My Mind was published in 2021 by Read Or Green Books.

 

Six Cornish Limericks, by Mark Totterdell

SIX CORNISH LIMERICKS 

There was a young man from Penzance
Whose chances of finding romance
Would have risen to ‘small’
Up from ‘no chance at all’
Had he thought about changing his pants.

There was an old biker from Newquay
Whose ways grew increasingly kooky.
He would ride up and down
All the streets in the town
In the nude, on his vintage Suzuki.

A grizzled old fisher from Newlyn
Wore a hat that he thought he looked cool in,
But which all of his crew
And the townspeople too
Thought he looked like a silly old fool in.

A foolish young man from Porthcurno
Thought drinking a bottle of Pernod
With a lamb vindaloo
Was a cool thing to do.
Now his guts are a raging inferno.

When a Methodist girl from Penryn
Heard that alcohol use was a sin,
She decided she oughta
Drink nothing but water;
The tonic sort, topped up with gin.

When a careless old man from Lamorna
Came out fully unclothed from the sauna,
Then the sight of his bits
Had his neighbours in fits
And upset all the neighbourhood fauna.


Mark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines. His collections are This Patter of Traces (Oversteps Books, 2014), Mapping (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018) and Mollusc (The High Window Press, 2021).

 

Fostering an Elephant, by Matthew Sissons

Fostering an Elephant

So far, no one has complained
about the late-night tanker truck
deliveries. She’s only a baby.
Drinks gallons of milk. We go
directly to a dairy. It’s expensive,
but who cares? I think the neighbors
are jealous.

A golden retriever or a Siamese
cat would have been ideal- we
live in a small house, with a
smaller backyard- but for the
elephant, it was us or the poachers-
so we took her in.

The kids are wild about her.
Walk her without complaint.
They promised to keep the yard
clean- My wife and I do most
of the pooper scoopering. We
spoil them.

When the constant trumpeting
began, we piled into the mini-van,
rushed her to the vet. She said
there was nothing wrong with
the elephant physically. Turns out
elephants are matriarchal- I think
she missed her family. She seems
to be settling in with mine.

I’m crazy about her too- built her
a house outback. When it’s warm,
she sleeps there. She’s smart. Easy
to train. Remembers everything-
Never has to be told things twice.

Matthew Sisson’s poetry has appeared in journals ranging from the “Harvard Review Online,” to “JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association.” He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and read his work on NPR’s “On Point.” His First book, “Please, Call Me Moby,” was published by the Pecan Grove Press, St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas.

 

The Black Nightshade, by Patricia Phillips-Batoma

The Black Nightshade

The butterflies return
to find me stooped
among the landscape stones,
tugging out Fleabane,
unearthing thick stems of sharp Thistle.

This time of year
my neighbors side eye
each other’s yards,
fear that my weeds
might invade their lawns.

Am I at war with a side yard
I’ll never control? It’s tempting
to use Borax, sprinkle wide-spectrum
pre-emergence broadleaf weed block.

Some life forms need little tending.
I pull Oxalis, Ragweed, and Wild Violets
wearing suede gloves
decorated with flowers.

For something so aggravating,
we have the most evocative names.
Doors to little worlds begging.

Down some pricy meat at the Lamb’s Quarter bistro.
Then jingle the brass bell at the Purslane book shop.
Gobble a sundae at Nutsedge, leave with a box of fudge.
And finger the hand-knit cardigans at Velvet Leaf Yarn Barn.

But in all seriousness,
if I owned a watering hole in this town,
I’d call it The Black Nightshade.
Because that’s a place I know you’d go
to find out what’s on tap.
 

Meanwhile, on a Sardinian Beach, by Maeve O’Sullivan

Meanwhile, on a Sardinian Beach

She could be a young writer
this tattooed woman
in a yellow bikini

with laser-like attention
she watches for activity
along the shore

scribbling her thoughts
opinions and observations
into a hardback notebook

her work comes to fruition
much faster than that
of an author however

accosting the offender
in the act of stealing precious sand
she issues the on-the-spot fine.

 

Looming Days of Covid, by Tim Dwyer

LOOMING DAYS OF COVID

Not another nature poem!
So the world shuts down
and suddenly journal after journal
features a 21st century Wordsworth
and a Mary Oliver back from the grave
with a strong dose of mindfulness
and ecopoetry thrown in.

Goodbye gritty streets and dive bars
and meeting on the stoop in Alphabet City
for an after-dinner smoke.
Hello moon and stars, flowers, and birds.

But here in Belfast after my second jab
Titanic Station with trashed streets, cranes
and construction sites on one side,
political murals and churches on the other,
a bell chiming for a lonesome funeral,

here on the tracks,
weedy yellow flowers
push through gravel and railway ties.

I couldn’t tell you their name
as they bend below the trains
passing over.

Dear Mary and Will,
that is the beauty of nature.

(Luke Nilan is a fictional, 75-year-old poet who moved from the East Village, NY to Belfast 10 years ago.)

Tim Dwyer’s poems appear regularly in Irish and UK journals, forthcoming in Allegro, London Grip, and The Stony Thursday Book. His chapbook is Smithy Of Our Longings (Lapwing). Raised in Brooklyn, NY, he now lives in Bangor, NI. These poems are from the unpublished manuscript, Luke Nilan Writes Again.

 

Biotechnology, by Patricia Walsh

Biotechnology

You use your paralysed hand in misdemeanour
Stating ‘all is well’ before the time does clock
Not repeating miracles for all, how liked
Cutting swathes through green grass and despair.

She’s the image of you, in the limited vision
I have already seen, resting on your shoulder
Studying for your sins, a generic degree
Writing scribble from your fingers, down to earth.

The battery is merciless.
Wishing to ring you
And offer my heart in condolence,
Something tarnishes in soul for centuries
But gold comes clear, seldom does it ever.

Begging at traffic lights, seeing the day,
When the caustic reminders take the bait
As I am, so you will be, a Catholic marker
Humbles himself for exaltion on the last day.

Warmth spills out of windows and doors
Guarded by housemates jealousy corralling
Artefacts from the stoic, gleaming on their own
Arresting the comfort of the welcoming soil.

Death can be sweet, for want of a better life,
In the next life, divested of sin
Enough to drink body and blood

Patricia Walsh was born and raised in the parish of Mourneabbey, Co Cork, Ireland. To date, she has published one novel, titled The Quest for Lost Eire, in 2014, and has published one collection of poetry, titled Continuity Errors, with Lapwing Publications in 2010. She has since been published in a variety of print and online journals. She has also published another novel, In The Days of Ford Cortina, in August 2021.