Treadmill, by Karen Jones

Treadmill

The eve of Christmas Eve
Tills in overdrive, the carol
Of sale items no one wants
To give or receive

Cars snake into the underground
Of an out-of-town supermarket
Bulge in restrictive spaces
Swollen with purchases

Nearby at the chemist
Scripts arrive faster than FedEx
Inside a white-coated woman
Bags pills against the threat
Of rising inflammation, anything
To ease the innards of millions
Inhaling mince pies and Baileys

All to discard again
Dump from car to cistern
Via the slow mulch of bellies
Pressed against festooned tables

And now it is you bulging at the wheel
Rounding the corner on new year
Smelling of gift-boxed eau du parfum
That isn’t as nice as you had thought

But wager if nothing else
Masks the sulphur of January diets
En route to the gym again
Of retail conveyor belts

Karen Jones began writing poetry in 2019, and was privileged to be a student of the late Kevin Higgins. Born in Northern Ireland, she lives in Dublin and works in public relations.

 

The new Celtic Ode to the dreamed mother Nature, by Pawel Markiewicz

The new Celtic Ode to the dreamed mother Nature

Paweł Markiewicz

ABABACACA

You are an enjoyable juniper!
You are a pleasurable bush!
You are an agreeable poplar!
You are a delightful spruce!
You are a gratifying cedar!
You are an amusing birch!
You are a diverting corn!
You are a bonny pine!
You are a lovely palm!


Your sepal be alluring!
Your petals be delightful!
Your stamens be appealing!
Your carpel be graceful!
Your corolla be good-looking!
Your filament be pretty!
Your ovary be stunning!
Your ovule be foxy!
Your anther be ravishing!

You honor starlet-like dreamland.
You admire moonlet-like mirror.
You exalt moony fairyland.
You deify moonlit enchanted rose.
You praise starry gingerbread house.
You glorify starlit forest.
You apotheosize comet-like spell book.
You magnify spherical tower.
You gratify sunny Ovidian sword.

Paweł and the Neoceltism

This poem is a dreamy manifesto of the Neoceltism, the spirit, in which Paweł has created his English poesy.

 

Carluccio’s, Ealing, Before Christmas, by John Lanyon

CARLUCCIO’S, EALING, BEFORE CHRISTMAS

Antonio,
big smiling man with the puffball hair
it’s almost like we’re on first name terms
you rich old mushroom hunter
how I might adoro your pomodoro
you master of corporate rusticity.

Your customers worked all week for this
if they want to sit down
they’re going to have to stand up
eat in
eat out
it’s all been worked out
black shirts
white shirts
it’s so cold tonight
your red and gold wrappings and trappings
your vibrantly green beans
your snowy mozzarella
your tanned, smiling staff melt my cynicism
100g at a time.

You dug up a good one.

Sooner or later
we’ll bore of your flavours
all the window dressing
your one-stop Italy-to-go
but somewhere
as long as there are forests
there will be mushrooms.

John Lanyon lives in the Cotswolds. He works as an organic gardener, linguist, musician, and writer. Having failed his English Literature O Level, he came to love literature through reading it in French and German. He writes about art, the body, childhood, society, nature, the spirit of places, the secret lives of words.

 

The Thief of Rhyme, by Sandra Bond

THE THIEF OF RHYME


One morning in the summertime
I ran into the Thief of Rhyme.
I said “Good day” and “how’d’ye’do?
I’m Sandra Bond, and who are you?”

He grinned at me, and showed his teeth,
And said “Of rhyme I am the thief;
I steal from poets every day,
And then their rhymes all go to hell.”

I found, alas, that it was so;
My rhymes were gone, I had no more,
I couldn’t make them work a damn,
And was nonplussed what to do next.

I hoped good luck might come my way;
Instead I met the Scansion Thief,
Who took away my ability to make poems scan,
And now they’re as blank as a very blank thing indeed.
They don’t even all have the same number of lines per stanza any more.
Oh bloody hell.

Sandra Bond is a Staffordshire novelist, poet and tragedian who
considers it most unfair that writing one piece of verse every month
or so does not attract a living wage. Her first novel, THE PSYCHOPATH
CLUB, was published in 2021.
https://www.sandra-bond.com/

 

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.

 

Camp Shangri-La by Arran Potts

Camp Shangri-La

He stopped for a quickie one night in her tent,
Made love to an egg-timer till he was spent,
The sand had run out, he came and then went;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

She lowered his zip and was so full of hope,
But all he could manage were fumbles and gropes,
So Val took the lead and showed Guy the ropes;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

They’ve put up two tents but they’re on the same pitch,
Four of them starkers, not wearing a stitch,
They’d do half an hour then partners would switch;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

Tommy was fuming and she was to blame,
Cos everyone here in the camp knew his name,
Last night Sue had screamed it out loud when she came;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

At sixty she knows how to tease and to coax,
She pulled off his trousers with two short, sweet strokes,
Just as she’d done, with dozens of blokes;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

Ronnie and Eileen at home in a yurt,
Strong green oak decking to cover the dirt,
But plenty of cushions in case they get hurt;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

Sally McNally the Shangri-La vamp,
Looking for strapping young men round the camp,
She only needs someone to sleep in the damp;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

Just rooves of soft fabric as somewhere to sleep,
The campsite is hidden, the price not to steep,
Those zips, flaps and awnings have secrets to keep;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

Arran Potts is from Wolverhampton, UK. He has recently taken up poetry as a hobby to rekindle a love for writing; and is finding Jo Bell’s ‘52 Poems’ book really useful. He is supported by family and friends. He is hindered by his job.

 

Epic Puma Fresh for Alpha Men not Boys, by Mandy Beattie

All new Puma Fresh is 100% epic
skin-silky anti-sweat pore blocking
pick-me-up roll up roll up spray under

those hairy oxters have the time
of your life sniffing our solvents can’t kill
but spurt away 15 inches in staccato

bursts in breezy rooms shut
your eyes in open doors outdoors
windows spray pecs cracks cheeks

for we don’t cause rashes itches so
it won’t matter if skin is broken
but our butane propane won’t

blow up your chances
because we odour bust for 72 hours
but even in heat waves cool

your Puma jets in fridge-freezers
no need to strike a match
when kissing companions will be

swooning with naked
flames before you combust
in grapefruit tropical pineapple twist

in cool fresh air that stuns senses
with our pro scent technology your future
smells amazing and we give fashion

tips dating advice so our men don’t do
dorky, geeky we’re more Mr Muscle and you’ll be
smelling bomb.com because your future smells

amazing with our high definition odour
busting technology Puma will help you
with your Tinder

and Bumble bios but because you wear
our 48 hours high-definition
fragrance you’ll be confident iconic Puma

gives you all the tools
when opportunity knocks and women
will swoon girls will want a sniff

sniff sniff pick me up
from your local shop we’ve cornered
the market we’ll keep you going all night

all day long our fragrance is 100% epic
protection at your fingertips Puma doesn’t do
greenwashing because

our cans are infinitely
recyclable we can go again and again Puma’s
raising our A game because

there is no Planet B and our bottles
are 100% recyclable plastic in 3 years
we’re aiming to include more recycled

stuff we’re well on our way we contain
ground-breaking detectable black technology
to help with recyclability

boom
our proud parents Unilever supports
some UN goals tackles
global climate protects trees sustainable

agriculture focused food security because we use
tobacco amber oud wood vanilla
and our latest Puma is Dark Temptation

aftershave smooth on after switch
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a stink to tackle climate change
we talk to politicians


Biography:

Mandy Beattie frequently loses herself in poetry & imaginings. Pen, paper & words without borders are some of her favourite things. She has been published in Journals such as: Poets Republic, Dreich, Wordpeace, Spilling Cocoa, Last Stanza, Lothlorien Poetry. Poets Choice in Marble Broadsheet. Shortlisted, Black Box Poetry Competition.
 

Instructions for a Scouse Night Out, by Jenny Robb

Instructions for a Scouse night out
With thanks to the Urban Dictionary

Go into town to buy some new clobber,
have a few scoops in the spoons.

Go home and have a good scran.
You need to line your stomach before pre’s.

Make sure all your drinking mates are sound;
those who buy a round and have your back.

Listen to your best friend. If she says
the lad you’re necking is meff, trust her.

At throwing out and up time, have more scran.
You’re not bevvied enough if you go home

without a Vindaloo, or chips, or a sway
in the Hot Dog queue. Neck it!

Jenny Robb has been writing poetry since retiring. She’s been published widely in online and print magazines and in anthologies. Her debut collection, The Doll’s House, Yaffle Press, has recently been published. She lives in Liverpool with her partner and the family cat and has one grown-up daughter.

 

Sorry, by Emma Purshouse

Sorry 

this poem is pretty shit
I must apologise for it.

It has rhyme in its defence
though its rhyme, is not immense

It has no similes, nor metaphor.
I’ve no idea what it’s for.

It doesn’t seem to say a lot
but one thing it hasn’t got

(which is a plus I have to say)
is a shard, or soul, or heart cliché...

...and now it has. In that last verse.
I fear I’ve gone and made things worse.

At least I’ve got the deadline nailed.
Yesterday? Oh fuck, I’ve failed.

Yes, this poem is pretty shit
and I apologise for it.

Emma Purshouse is a writer and performance poet from the English Black Country. Her poetry is published by ‘Offa’s Press’. Her debut novel ‘Dogged’ came out with ‘Ignite Books’ in 2021.

 

English Spelling, by Sarah Lawson

ENGLISH SPELLING

Practically since the dawn of history
English spelling has been a mystery.
And everything you ever learn’ll
Not prepare you for the r in colonel.
Do not expect a tidy law
To explain the end of Arkansas.
Spelling is just a rough mnemonic
And not reliably always phonic.

Sarah Lawson lives in London, originally from Indiana, educated in the US and Scotland; has published poetry pamphlets and two collections; translates from French, Spanish, and Dutch; has also written one play, one novel, and two memoirs.