The cow sprained its fetlock jumping over the moon,
Claude Rains went shopping in Monsoon,
The cowboy mauled by the viper fell in the dune;
Good morning midnight — this is death in the afternoon.
However Ernie and Jean were seldom seen
In the same Parisian bar at once;
Though always on the absinthe, shying grenadine,
When drunk they could both be eyes fronts.
In Natalie Barney’s Temple d’Amitié,
They were scoffing a moveable feast;
The phantom of the opera slept all day,
Dining on cake not bread because there was no yeast.
They got drunker and drunker till the hour became late,
And the hunchback of Notre-Dame straightened right out;
At the Porte de Clichy, André Gide had straitened the gate,
And in Benjamin’s arcades all the lights had gone out.
So beware the demon drink, for it may ruin you;
You’ll think the sun is black with melancholy.
As Baudelaire said, opium’s far better, it’s true.
Your dreams may be bad, but you’ll kid yourself they’re jolly.
I want to praise thee, May Tree
For the joy you’ve given me
For those few weeks each year
You set my spirit free
When your gentle flowers bloom
You cover all that open space
that’s twixt my neighbour’s window
and what I call my private place
So for that special time
when you reach up toward the skies
I can run round bollock naked
Without his prying eyes
Hilary has been writing for a very long time. Her poems have been published by Templar Press, Bristol Poetry Can, Obsessed with Pipework, Leaf, Velvet, The Exeter Broadsheet and Mr Garnham himself. She has also been shortlisted nationally.
The young think they invented cool but they know diddly squat.
Those ankle-snappers shut their eyes to what we wise ones got.
So this old bird is set to strut and fan her tail and crow.
She’s primed to blow her cover. Here’s a thing or two the yoof should know.
This woman’s old but she ain’t dumb. She ain’t pretending she ain’t grey.
Don’t matter if she’s billiard-bald, she still deserves to have her say.
And what she says is simply this. She’s deep-down tired of being dissed.
At worst reviled, at best dismissed, if there’s a mill, then she’s the grist.
Now guys that used to flirt and stare will mostly fail to see she’s there.
One day, she’s classy, gorgeous, hot. Next morning, passé, clean forgot.
How plaintive sounds her shrill lament as she asks where her ‘sexy’ went.
Now just existing leaves her fazed. A life outside her master’s gaze.
That gaze which won’t admit she’s there and for the most part doesn’t care
but turns its back and sends no flowers. In bars, sometimes she waits for hours
before the barman can’t ignore the fact that what she’s waiting for
is to be served like all the rest. Great hulking guys with beards and chests
that press against the bar where she can’t get, can’t hear, can’t even see.
And girls with boobs and killer shoes marked out like maps with blue tattoos
and all the heartless, hip-less yoof who cruelly mock those long of tooth.
In restaurants waiters turn their heads to tiptoe round the dining dead.
In any queue how cursed is she by this in-vis-i-bil-i-ty.
I’m here to say that such as we reject this anonymity.
We won’t sit down, we won’t shut up calm down, make tea. We’ve had enough.
We’re women. We have earned our stripes our stretch marks and our right to gripe.
We’ve paid our dues, we’ve lived this shit. And now we’ve had enough of it.
It isn’t fair, it isn’t just.Where is it writ we woman must
accept our lot and know our place in short, that we must self-efface?
Back in the day when I was young my grandma said a woman’s tongue
dripped wisdom, sweet and strong as wine that, aged in oak, improves with time.
And she was right to teach me how a woman grows into her power.
A witch is but a woman who won’t still her tongue as others do.
Abigail Elizabeth Ottley writes poetry and short fiction from her home in Penzance. A former English teacher with a lifelong interest in history, she has been Pushcart nominated, translated into Romanian, and is carer to her very elderly mother. Find her on Facebook or @AbigailLaLoca on Twitter
I once had a pet anaconda,
Of which I could not have been fonder,
Though it caused some alarm
And significant harm
By its strong inclination to wander.
We take care with our pet stegosaurus,
Lest the spikes at its rear end should gore us,
As with one mighty flail
Of its big spiky tail
It could render us horribly porous.
Mark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines and have occasionally won prizes. His collections are This Patter of Traces (Oversteps Books, 2014) and Mapping (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018).
First I was afraid I was petrified
I felt your neck to feel a pulse
I thought you’d died
then I spent so many nights
just sitting by your bed
as I watched you
being intravenously fed
so now come on, open your eyes
when you do you’re going to get
a really big surprise
I’ve got the minister here
to marry us today
I really need to be your wife
before you pass away
so come on open your eyes
just nod your head to say I do
before you die
I want to be your wife
I want your money too
so nod your head to tell
the minister you do
I’ll kiss you on the lips
I’ll whisper I love you
and when I’m standing
by your grave
I’ll shed a tear or two
I will survive
Well I’ll survive you.
And when I’m finished grieving
they’ll be no more making do
I’ll spend your money wisely
I’ll never waste a dime
I intend for it to last me
a very long time.
Dora is a member of several writing groups, has been published in anthologies and newspaper and magazine. Dora lives near Loch Lomond.
Russell Sprout was rather stout
As wide as he was tall,
His appearance was hysterical
Verging on the spherical
Exactly like a ball.
As marmite’s not to everyone’s taste
While others seem to love it,
Russell drew a parallel
With some put off by a rotting smell
While others rose above it.
In one thing he was much admired
And worthy of a mention,
His green credentials were intact
An essential way of life in fact
And worthy of attention.
He never thought to change his name
Thinking that his shape was good,
While some it’s said look like their dog
He was a blend of toad and frog
Trying to be Robin Hood.
Let’s take leave of Russell Sprout
A tale as wide as tall,
It had its moments magical
But also some more tragical
It’s poetry after all.