I Thought I Would Be Invisible, by Karol Nielsen

I Thought I Would Be Invisible

I was at the pharmacy and I buzzed the clerk to unlock the vitamins case. I asked him for the Centrum Silver. “But that’s for women over 50!” I said, “I’m old enough.” “You don’t look it,” he said. The extra padding in my cheeks from Covid weight probably makes me look younger. I still get hit on even with my extra pounds. A cool dude downtown kept repeating, “I’m trying to get your attention!” A man in my uptown neighborhood stopped me to ask for directions and then he said, “Can I ask you out for a drink?” My downstairs neighbor who is subletting from coop owners stopped me on the street and asked me to have coffee with him. The next day when I came back with coffee after six am he opened his door without a shirt on. He was so disappointed I already had coffee. I thought that I would be invisible by now. It would be nice sometimes.

Karol Nielsen is the author of two memoirs and two poetry chapbooks. Her full-length collection was a finalist for the Colorado Prize for Poetry. Her poem, “This New Manhattan,” was a finalist for the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize.

 

Worms, by Sarah Dale

Worms
…are hermaphrodites, and much addicted
to venery, and consequently very prolific.

History of Selborne Gilbert White

Be as jealous as you like,
worms have it both ways
without shame, or guilt –
check them out,
any warm damp night
going at it hammer and tongs
all over your garden.

Do old worms complain
about the morals of the young?
You bet they don’t –
there’s no age of consent
if you’re a worm,
no tabloid worms digging dirt,
bugging other worms’ phones.

Every single worm is busy
having as much sex
with as many other worms
as he/she/they can possibly reach
and making as many new worms
as he/she/they can manage –
good news for gardeners.

After a misspent youth in libraries and museums, and some time in between, Sarah has finally achieved her dream job in Lichfield working for the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum (and book shop). She writes for fun and enjoys swimming.

 

The I.T. Guy, by Sarah James

The I.T. Guy

Wired, he talks high speed
in a language beyond us,
our faces blank screens.

He e-valuates our systems
with zip and drive,
recommends new leads.

He keeps our firm’s site
secure; but can’t help close
frozen windows.

His fast processing
mega memory leaves us lost
for Word’s.

His virus checks clear,
we return to work
with our hacking coughs.

And yes, when we call
to request more back-up,
sometimes he bytes.

Sarah James is a poet, fiction writer, journalist and photographer. Her latest collection, Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic (Verve Poetry Press), is partially inspired by having type one diabetes since she was six. Good laughter is a medicine she’s not always found easy to come by. Her website is at www.sarah-james.co.uk.

 

It Always Starts with Jumpers for Penguins, by Jennifer A. McGowan

It Always Starts with Jumpers for Penguins

Stitch small. You’re covering
apology, not sin. Light fabric’s best,
to match their bones.

Flash colours. British birds
are little brown jobbies. They yearn
to steal the jazz of peacocks, lay down
a riff of hypersonic tremolos. Cardinals
want dominos, to pass unnoticed.

Mind the seams are on the outside.
You don’t want to ruffle feathers.

 

Confessions of a Teenage Cigarette Smoker, by Sheila Jacob

Confessions Of A Teenage Cigarette Smoker

Woodbines were my first: the cheapest, the commonest. Whose Dad hadn’t angled one in his mouth, picked flecks of tobacco off his tongue as he stooped on the front path, mended the puncture on his pushbike? Angela, my classmate, nicked some from her brother, invited me to her house in the school holidays. My throat raged. I dripped ash, burned a hole in my favourite dress. Never again, I vowed. Mum and Dad hadn’t suspected, knew I always rode home on the top deck of the bus where passengers flipped open packets of Players, Senior Service, Park Drive, swathed everyone in smoke. Four years later, in the Kardomah, New Street, I took drags of Silk Cut between sips of percolated coffee, shared steamy Sixth Form chat about D.H.Lawrence and The Rainbow. I made new friends at college. We pooled our Embassy Regal coupons, saved up for a hair dryer. I sampled Disque Bleu with my French pal Cathie, pretended I enjoyed the acrid taste, the dizzying after-kick. If I closed my eyes, I drifted on a pungent haze to Paris, the Metro, the pages of a Francoise Sagan novel. In my final year, I met a boy who loved me, bought me Lindt chocolate bars and shots of vodka and lime. My heart thumped when he placed two Dunhills between his lips, lit both cigarettes and handed one to me.

Sheila Jacob lives in N. E. Wales with her husband. Born and raised in Birmingham. she finds her Brummie ancestry a source of inspiration. She’s had poems published in many U.K magazines and webzines, is working on her first pamphlet and hoping life begins at seventy-one.

 

Alternative Weather Fronts, by Sarah Dale

Alternative Weather Fronts
(most not mentioned in the shipping forecast)

Erotic fronts are twerking
round both poles
whipping their hailstoned g-strings
into every nook and cranny
of the coast.

Erratic fronts have forgotten
to take their medication,
consequently it’s raining gin
and the snow is lemon sorbet
with water biscuits.

Exotic fronts are offering
a massage service
to ship wrecked mariners
who it’s likely will decide to stay
at sea.

Esoteric fronts have discovered
surprising facts that are now written
for everyone to read
in towering cumuli
of clouds.

Ecstatic fronts are dizzy
with delight, causing spontaneous
dancing in the streets
spreading blissful havoc
world wide.

Emetic fronts vomit –
they’re best avoided
by staying indoors.
 

Virtual Afterlife, by Alan Garrigan

Virtual Afterlife

By 2122, Facebook VR had, grown to involve—
500 million, accounts. Of dead people—
Meta, exclusively levelled,
On figural profits. zero-sum outcomes,
Heaping currency on your posthumous avatar.

By 2122, immersive dynamics, Rylan robotics and Kuramoto model,
Brought eternal equipoise of the cell—
Digital reanimation, made possible, through VR multi-verse —
Technological singularity, deterministic ontology—
Wonderous miracle of virtual afterlife.

By 2122, Moore’s law and Deus ex Machina,
Proven right—should have heeded Engels and Marx,
Even Televangelists were correct,
Money can buy a ticket to heaven.
Logical binary control structure: defunded species designed for hell.

By 2122, loop algorithms, going berserk —
Hobbesian leviathan, Homo Futuris—death destroyer of worlds—
the novel ape’s, dystopian trick, brassbound mastery—
Mystical Markov chain, myopic, ceteris paribus, homogeneity.

By 2122, sociobiological evolution—Darwin’s curse,
Unfashions the homo sapient.
Today —commercialisation, utilitarianism, gentrification—
Tomorrow—outmoded human chondriosomes.

Money buys both respect and right—
But money means a losing side, which side are you on?
Is there a choice? —start piling cash— monetary conduit—become Homo Futuris.

Alan is a Master of Arts graduate (set to feature in the upcoming LGBTQIA+ Anthology Peace in the Valley, 2022. He has also had poems featured in Hullwrites magazine (University of Hull), Poetry during lockdown (UCD) and Washington Square Review (upcoming). He has also featured poems in Consilience and BASCE journals. Alan is also a dog person.

 

Jacqueline Wilson Lives Under my Bed, by Paula Gilfillan

Jacqueline Wilson Lives Under My Bed

Jacqueline Wilson lives under my bed,
eating cherries and berries as she
reads my stories scribbled on crumpled
paper. At a book signing, I
lured her into my wheely bag
with a tin of stuffed olives,
for I’m a fan as great
as any hurricane. Then, secreted her
beneath the squeaky springs and beside
the dusty socks. But every so
often, she grabs my ankle with
her ring laden fingers and pleads
to let her go. I reply,
‘One more story. Just one more.’

Bio:

Paula lives near Lockerbie with her family and an overly chatty cat. She likes scientific stuff, zombie films and books, and is partial to a slice of cake. She blogs on Twitter @paula_nicolson and Facebook as DeckyWriting.

 

Lent in a Time of Coronavirus, by Sharon Larkin

Lent in a Time of Coronovirus
‘The Wet Market Sources of Covid-19: Bats and Pangolins have an Alibi’

A forty day diet can focus the mind
flatten the curves and trim the behind.
So, in choosing food for a modest dinner
to boost the spirit and make tums thinner,
why not just opt for tomato soup
and leave the bats to dive and swoop?

It would be best to eliminate snacks
to fit back into our jeans and slacks
but if the munchies come upon us
and we’re sick of all that hummus,
for our elevensies or for our tiffin,
let's not p-p-pick up a pangolin.

Do you want to stay asymptomatic
of a nasty virus and global pandemic?
Well, here’s some advice, long overdue,
when making casserole, hotpot or stew,
a couple of hints and easy quick wins –
just leave out the bats and the pangolins.

Taming the flesh refines the spirit,
in time for lots of Easter Eggs, innit?
So as we discipline mind and body,
to purge the flesh of all our gluttóny
and deliver ourselves from beastly sins,
let’s set free the bats and the pangolins.


With thanks to Professor David Macdonald, University of Oxford Science Blog, Jun 2021
https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/science-blog/wet-market-sources-covid-19-bats-and-pangolins-have-alibi

Sharon Larkin’s poems often begin with a visual stimulus but soon become ‘infected’ with psychosocial concerns, evident in ‘Interned at the Food Factory’ (Indigo Dreams, 2019) and ‘Dualities’ (Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2020). She runs Eithon Bridge Publications https://eithonbridge.com, edits ‘Good Dadhood’ ezine https://gooddadhood.com and blogs at ‘Coming up with the Words’ https://sharonlarkinjones.com

 

Redefining Ireland, by Kevin Higgins

Redefining Ireland
“Ireland must reassess military power” Simon Coveney

In the absence of Seamus Heaney,
if Ireland is to be renowned for anything other
than bog water, cabbage and
our negligible corporate tax rate,
we must invest in at least one
intercontinental ballistic missile
which until the necessary
Plutonium – 239 gets here
we’ll fill with hydrogen sulphide
reinforced regularly
courtesy of our world famous piggeries
and drag it to every St. Patrick’s Day parade
from Castlerea to Bantry
because people need something to celebrate.

Instead of the perfect simile
we’ll offer annihilation
for somewhere roughly the size of Iceland.
Instead of metaphors we’ll give you death
immediate or lingering
(terms and conditions will be applied
no liability admitted).
Instead of the occasional Haiku
we’ll build a leprechaun Hiroshima
put it in a box
then skulk the Earth
looking for someone to drop it on.

KEVIN HIGGINS