President Marcus Choy, by Art Ó Súilleabháin

President Marcus Choy

Marcus Choy was an awkward boy
all homework had a tale
teachers, it appears, he set out to annoy
with excuses, no matter how stale.

The pup ate the page, he was at that stage
he couldn’t find a pen
a budgie escaped and left its cage
the lights went out again.

He was so sick, he developed a ‘tic’
re-repeated his words
a doctor was called, he was anemic
the house was invaded by birds.

An alien landed, he was stranded
a tiger escaped from the zoo
little sister the book demanded
what was he to do?

Teachers, all fed up with his tricks
digging under their skin
a job that expected excuses – politics!
some seat he would have to win.

So, he bought a suit to appear resolute
as sharp as any pin
promises, promises, all the truth
the better to help him get in.

With so much wealth, he’d solve the health
thousands of houses he’d build
he’d change the system by acts or stealth
every promise fulfilled.

No one would be poor, he’d be a real doer
things would simply get done
Dublin homeless would be fewer and fewer
living would be fun.

But he made up his mind to be one of a kind
he’d be a poet or die
his wardrobe had to be redesigned
for ‘the job’ he would apply.

He’d develop a blog and get a dog
the voters he would dupe
decrees he’d write, laws he could cog
a saying he could loop.

Oh, what a lark, a house in the park
just like Uachtarán Higgins
in seven years, he would leave a mark
another story begins …

Art Ó Súilleabháin was born in Corr na Móna, Co. Galway and spent some years in Boston USA. He worked in Dublin, Castlebar and Washington DC before returning to Corr na Móna. His first collection of poetry for adults (Mayflies in the Heather) was published by Revival Press in April 2021.

 

The Tale of Little Red Riding Hood, by Trisha Broomfield

The Tale of Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf in Night Attire ( with apologies to Charles Perrault who probably wrote the original story in 1697)

‘Ah but just feel that cloth, the quality, the cut.’
Red Riding Hood noticed the glint in his eye
as the wolf’s hot, bad breath crept round her pale neck,
‘That’s one piece of clothing I simply must buy.’

‘It’s an heirloom,’ she said, with a vital step back,
‘belonged to my grandma who, if it wasn’t for you
would be waiting for me in this very bed.’
The wolf grinned, ‘but sweetie, it’s just me instead.’

‘I’m not at all sure’, Red Riding Hood said,
‘I should be sharing this feast with somone like you,
there’s a quiche in this basket and I know for a fact
that the canis lupis (and I suspect that you are), doesn’t eat that

‘Oh silly Red Hood, don’t be so unsure, we have changed
over years of the telling of tales, we eat quinoa, and eggs
you can trust me to share your fine basket of wares,
we even’, he murmured, ‘eat most things with legs.’

‘Take your hand of my quiche you ravenous beast,
and look what you’ve done to my cloak
where is my grandma? You must think I’m dim.’
‘There’s room for one more in this bed, do come in.’

‘You’re joking,’ she said, I’m just not that sort
and you’ve not had a haircut or shave
I’m taking my wares and my very fine cloak
I’ll leave you the food; perhaps with some luck you will choke.

‘But sweetie you must see that all through my life
and the length of this very fine tale
I’ve been waiting for you, it’s predestined, it’s fate!’
And the poor girl became the last thing that he ate.

 

Poem by Julia Whatley

Been feeling quite nostalgic
About that council estate
I was dragged up on
Where my mates and I ran amok
After school I frequent the youth club
Jimmy Cliff and Marvin Gaye
Song in the Key of life
Dancing every night away

At home we had a radiogram
I put the Beatles, White Album on
Dad said that their hairs too bleedin long
And that Jimmy Hendrix’s guitar
Sounds like a strangled cat
I’m off out dad
If you’re going to be like that

My dad smoked park drive
And I helped myself
He used to leave his fags on the shelf
I smoked one in the outside loo
Blamed my little brother
Seemed the only thing to do

Down the youth Club
I met my boyfriend, Vernon
He had a vesper scooter
He ‘d often take me home

This night we skidded and off we fell
My dad was driving in his Zepher Zodiac
My hair blowing in the breeze
He must have noticed me on the back
As we overtook at high speed
My fishnet tights all ripped
And blood pouring from my knees
No helmet and my dad flipped
Grounded, but well worth it!

 

First Mayor of Richmond, by Peter Kay

FIRST MAYOR OF RICHMOND

T’was sixteen hundred and six,
for legend has it so,
when, whilst out hunting all alone,
Robert Willance, future mayor
of Richmond, shattered his femur bone.

His horse, a noble steed of some renown
had always borne him well,
but as November’s dense mists thronged,
the bewildered beast bolted,
racing headlong into nothingness.

With Willance clinging on for life,
his horse plunged to its death,
two hundred feet o’er Whitcliffe Scar.
Robert lay prostrate, right leg broken,
twisted, breached, death’s door ajar.

With no prospect of immediate respite,
he slit soft belly of his beloved horse,
using a trusted hunting knife. No malice.
Plunged his leg in up to groin and hilt,
to try and keep it for his balance.

For two days he held on to life and limb,
before rescue came at last.
Alas whilst Robert survived,
his poor leg could not be saved, t’was buried
with due ceremony, in his chosen grave.

T’was sixteen hundred and eight
when brave Willance and his stump,
became first mayor of Richmond.
Eight long years, without a single blunder,
Before dying, reight well, in his slumber.

And so it came to pass that in his death requited,
Robert Willance and his leg were gladly reunited.

Peter has had two books published: A Pennine Way Odyssey, 2012. Show Me The Way To Santiago, 2020. A third book is with his publisher. He writes travel memoirs, fiction, short stories, monologues, children’s books and poetry. Three poems have been published in anthologies. His website is peterkaywordspace.co.uk

 

Spring in Castletroy, by D’or Seifer

Spring in Castletroy

The daffodils came up in time to call the receiving line of spring
begonias, pansies, allium have risen, heads abuzz,
guarded by sentries of Siberian Bugloss.

My droning throne circles,
delineating traces of shadowed green,
bladed bounds,
decapitated daisies and other weeds in its wake.

I perfume the public pathways
beyond my fence (across town lines)
with discarded cuttings.
Sure, they’re organic. They fall like rain
over the wall on the heads of the unsuspecting,
joining the emptied cans from men in trainers
re-filled with golden liquid, circumscribed with butts.

Maybe we’ll finally win Tidy Towns this year, if
Tommy Collins’ kids don’t express their creativity
in chalk on the pavement.

*Tidy Towns is an annual competition, in order to honour the tidiest and most attractive cities, towns and villages in the Republic of Ireland.

D’or Seifer contributes to poetry gatherings such as Filí an Tí Bháin and Over the Edge. She co-runs the online series Lime Square Poets. Her work has recently appeared in Skylight 47, The Galway Advertiser , and Lothlorien Poetry Journal.

 

Speed Dating, by Enna Michaels

Speed Dating

So here I am, A newly single mum of two.
Not exactly all that defines me – But it’ll do.
Some friends suggested I go on a date,
Find ‘someone special’ before it’s too late.

Thanks ‘friends’ if that is what you are.
I thought I was doing well thought I was shining like a star.
But my ‘friends’ are quite persuasive so here I am in a shabby hotel.
Surrounded by the desperation brigade and things are not going well.

First, we’re told to mingle, we have been given a free drink.
But frankly it’s not that appealing and the majority of them stink.
The ‘ladies’ are sat at tables, the ‘fair blooms’ should be approached.
With caution in my opinion – the men circle ready to be reproached.

The first one is called Gary and he really likes his car.
He promises to drive me wherever I want to go – so long as it has a bar.
The second one is ‘Mikey’ – he went to university you know.
Although he didn’t quite manage to finish – but is quite happy on the dole.

The next one is quite exotic – Julio is his name.
He looks around with boredom in his eyes, so in some ways we are the same.
But the charms of dashing Julio are limited, he sweats more than a bull.
And as he talks about his successes it’s the clear the comparison is full….

Then I’m introduced to Arthur, he calls himself ‘a proper gent’.
He shows off a fake Rolex, and that’s not all that’s bent.
Sebastian seems quite nice; he admits he doesn’t have a lot to say.
His beloved wife brought him along – apparently, they like ‘role play’.

Oliver seems very shy – he admits it’s not his scene,
I wonder if his mother knows he is out – far too young and green.
Milo is a chef you know, cooking is his passion,
And lots of pretty young girls too, especially those into fashion.

There are more men than women here, we’re expected to be polite.
I secretly wish I were elsewhere, being more productive with my night.
I finally think of something to speed things up and end this silly game.
I look deeply into the eyes and say, “Are you Brexit or Remain?”

 

Health Check, by Mary Dickins

HEALTH CHECK

Your veins are full of butter.
Your body mostly lard.
Teeth like wire cutters.
Arteries rock hard.

Your body mostly lard.
You’ve never heard of kale.
Arteries rock hard.
You’ve broken all the scales.

You’ve never heard of kale.
Your breath is rank with smoke.
You’ve broken all the scales.
Your diet is a joke.

Your breath is rank with smoke.
You love a Milky Way.
Your diet is a joke.
Ever heard of five a day?

You love a Milky Way.
You say Quinoa makes you gag.
Ever heard of five a Day?
You won’t give up the fags.

You say Quinoa makes you gag.
You claim whisky keeps you sane.
You won’t give up the fags
And the Friday night cocaine.

You claim whisky keeps you sane.
It’s not pleasant down below
And the Friday night cocaine
Keeps you going with the flow

It appears that what you fancy has set your spirit free.
So have another pasty. After all you’re ninety-three.

Mary wrote her first poem when she was four and poetry has been her passion and life support system ever since. However it took her another 56 years to begin sharing her work at poetry events, street parties and slams. She has been on television and radio as part of the Nationwide Building Society poetry ad campaign and continues to dish up poems all over the country as part of the Poetry Takeaway team. In 2017 she set up the “Poems not Pills” project to promote the therapeutic value of poetry for health professionals and their patients. Her debut pamphlet “Happiness FM” published by Burning Eye Books has just been selected as one of 10 uplifting books by the NHS for the NHS (see link below).
https://readingagency.org.uk/news/media/the-reading-agency-and-health-education-england-announce-a-new-book-collection—uplifting-resources.html

 

Penny Dreadful, by Phil Binding

Penny Dreadful – or The Terrible Tale of the Drive-By Poetry Murders of Old London Town

A cold wet dawn in the London fog,
an old man shuffled along with his dog
didn’t clock the limo with dark glass
whispering up from behind his arse.

The unseen driver yelled aloud
“I wandered lonely as a cloud,”
lobbed out a quill and sped away.
The shock of Wordsworth on a Walthamstow day

gave the old sod a seizure on the spot.
The only witness, a drunken old sot
bathed in vomit simply cried
“the daffodils, the daffodils!”, and died.

Officers exchanged significant looks.
“It’s another one”, they noted in their books
“Yus, he’s bin Wordswuffed alright.”
CID rocked up and security was tight.

A few days earlier, a little old bird
towing her shopping to the kerb
got buzzed by a flash motor, and heard
“…..let us go then you and I when the evening….”

In Doppler and missed the Routemaster Flyer
that crushed her beneath its Boris-funded tyres.
As she slipped into her own wasteland
she croaked to paramedics “It didn’t scan.”

The Daily Express pounced on the spate
of sonnet-soaked crimes, trumpeting hate,
“Catch the villanelle villains!!!” in red.
The Old Bill were baffled. “We’re baffled,” they said.

A senior Inspector gathered his cops
walls all plastered in digital shots
of grisly blood-spattered drive-by recitations
from Brixton High Street to Euston Station.

“You’ve had the briefing, now you know it
We’ve got a serial drive-by poet,
and he’s got to be vigorously sought.
We mustn’t rest til he’s eventually caught.”

“It’s the worst case I’ve ever met.
Oi is my cup of tea ready yet?
Gordon Bennett it’s a right old mess”
He adjusted his syrup to talk to the press.

“Just had reports of another one, guvnor.”
Some poor Nine Elms coster-monger
got Coleridged this morning, bad luck,
sadder and wiser, crushed by his sack-truck.

They raided the local poetry sessions,
poncey bards got nicked for possession
of venal volumes of popular verse,
others for criminal doggerel and worse.

Bethnal library had its shelves blocked
and records combed for lent-out stock
of Motion, Thomas, Plath and McGowan.
Open Mic evenings were brutally shut dowan.

Rumours abounded of writers rejected
underappreciated and dejected
who might consider revenge through crime
to be a creative use of their time.

Anyone caught with cravat or sandals
were stopped on the street like common vandals
entries to local competitions
were viewed with increasing and dire suspicion.

Then a breakthrough. After a hip-hop
attack of Keats in Kingston chip-shop
CCTV picked up the reg number in the night
“We’ve got im, guvnor. E’s bang to rights”.

The motor was registered miles from here
to a W Shakespeare in Warwickshire.
“Warwickshire?” What’s he doing here?”
And he hadn’t paid road tax for 400 years.

But hang about, result – it all stopped.
That couplet killer never got copped.
He faded into memory like William McGonagall.
No surprise – the enquiry turned up bugger-all.

In a quiet lane all covered in trees,
a burnt-out motor cooled in the breeze.
Nearby a discarded doublet and hose,
but who they belong to, nobody knows.

BIOG – Phil Binding
A poet and writer gently sliding into decrepitude in Burton and a member of The Lichfield Poets. I am all over Staffordshire like a rash at open-mikes and events despite friends begging me to stop. It’s already too late.

 

Nursery Rhyme to a President, by Joan Hardiman

Nursery Rhyme for a President
There was a crooked man who had a crooked smile
He found himself in Washington, helped out by Russian guile
Beat Hillary Clinton with Comey and spies
Moved to the White House, with jobs for his boys
“The working guy would elect me, he likes me”

Putin had a little scam to infiltrate the orange man
And everything the Kremlin said Donald had to do
Who dares impeach the commander in chief, credentials as white as snow
Nancy Pelosi, outed Zelensky for vilifying family of Joe
Blackmailed Ukraine, to Republicans shame,
played out In The Room Where It Happened
“What you’re seeing, is what you’re reading, is not what’s happening”

Immigrants and Mexicans climb the border wall
Along came the militia who tried to make them fall
Separated, incarcerated, the children put in pens
The world looks on in anger and doesn’t do a thing
“We are rounding ‘em up in a very humane way”

Climate change scientific hoax Greenhouse gases and factory smoke
Thunbergs glare, he said who cares
for plastic oceans or polar bears
NATO alone, world is prone, no yankee dollar
China and Jung had such fun, laughing at his pallor
“Man we could do with a big fat dose of Global Warming “

Two little Dickie Birds sitting on the fence
one named Donald the other named Pence
Tweet away Donald though you make no sense,
shame on you Pence for your deference
Come back Barack, come back Michelle
the country really needs you it’s all gone to hell
“Show me someone with no ego and I’ll show you a big loser”

Sing a song for Floyd, I can’t breathe they heard him cry
While three other coppers stood idly by
When Donald’s mouth was open the Klan began to sing
Wasn’t that an insult to the followers of King
“African Americans, I like them and they like me”

Melania in her tower house laying out her clothes
Trump was in the tanning room whipping of his robes
Epstein in the basement with the Duke of York
When along comes Virginia to do you know what
“I will be phenomenal to women”
“Frankly I don’t have time for political correctness”

There is an old fella called Biden,
who surely will give trump a hiding
The Jackasses will laugh,
when the NRA pass wagging their toy guns behind them
The Unite the White rally, full of hatred and spite
While cold blooded Covid destroys everyday life
“Guns, no guns it does’nt really matter
“I will make America great again”

CNN in The Rose Garden trying to get a clue
Fauci in the background face all askew
Trump is in the front row insisting it’s a flu
While fox news are airing fake Covid news
“USA will be stronger than ever before and soon”

Humpy Trumpy sat on The Hill
Humpy trumpy took a big spill
All his cohorts and red neck friends
couldn’t get him elected again
Good job, Good job.
“We used to have victories but we don’t have them anymore”

Joan Hardiman

 

Fairy-tale Romances, by Ama Bolton

Fairy-tale Romances

“Happily ever after”
(forgive my hollow laughter)
it’s fantasy, a figment of folklore.
Your knight in shining armour
could turn out to be no charmer
but a bully or a silly pompous bore.
Even sweet Maid Marian
may turn out to be a harridan,
and Sleeping Beauty! You should hear her snore!

Though the Prince may seem adorable
his manners are deplorable.
Cinderella’s pretty, but quite dim.
Snow White is vain and shallow
And Jack’s a tedious fellow;
he’s always at the golf-course or the gym.
Unless you’re into farming
don’t tie the knot with Charming
you’d soon run out of things to say to him.

Beauty’s a part-time Beast,
the prince, half frog, at least.
Beware Bluebeard! Beware of Reynardine!
The end of the love story
is far too often gory.
Living on your own can be just fine
with a dog or a cat
to sleep on your lap.
You can make up your own storyline.

Ama Bolton, former member of The Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream and Pun, convenes a Stanza group in Somerset. Her poems have featured at festivals, on Radio 3’s The Verb, and in magazines and anthologies including Bridport Prize 2008. She blogs at http://barleybooks.wordpress.com/