Fellow of the Royal College of Hornpipes by David O’Neill

A prima lento, accelerando cantabile

When the tune starts slow, promenaders feel the magic
As the fiddler’s bow draws its opening sweep
And the melody is easing into incremental teasing
While the keen anticipation makes the spirit leap.

And with each repeat reinforcing the enchantment,
So the driving beat, in accelerando,
With its haunting incantation, musters gentle titubation
And a tapping of the foot upon the floor below.

As the masical mugicians work their artistry
From the nethermost Arena to the Gallery,
Infectious imitation of the mariner’s saltation
Spreads the tapping of the foot above the restless knee.

With the unrelenting rhythm winding up to speed,
So the gathering momentum serves a primal need;
The racing pulse is throbbing, hands are clapping, heads are bobbing;
And a Wooden bust of bronze beholds this bulldog breed.


David O’Neill is a frustrated mathematician who has journeyed through a predominantly life-science-based medical landscape for most of his mortgage-paying professional life, eventually finding salvation in the Open University, too close to the end for practical application but sufficiently early for peace of mind and poetic inspiration.



The Beautiful Game by Kate Woodward

I don’t count, they think I’m a joke,
the only girl with all these blokes.
But I’m listening and I’m learning,
reading everything concerning
the beautiful game.
I follow 5Live and TalkSport
and I know who’s been sold and bought,
who’s on the bench, who’s injured
and who’s the fastest winger in
the beautiful game.
I want to share my opinions.
Was that striker worth his millions?
Should that goal be disallowed?
Was the trouble from the crowd at
the beautiful game?
I’m never gonna get heard:
a girl and football – how absurd!
To think that I could care who wins
or know the rules that underpin
the beautiful game.
And yes, I know the offside rule,
don’t treat me like a bleedin’ fool
‘cos, these days, hear what I’m saying:
us girls are on the pitch and playing
the beautiful game.

Kate Woodward has been an accountant, a farmer and a market trader. Now she writes. She’s just finished a Creative Writing MA with Manchester Metropolitan University and has published in The Ogham Stone, Brittle Star, online and on her own blog.



Ruined by Sherri Turner

He got me into trouble
before the second date –
a lustful, careless coupling
against the garden gate.

He didn’t hang around, of course,
to see the consequences.
I had a heavy price to pay
for flirting by the fences.

It would have been a good idea
to practise some restraint.
If only I had read the signs –
the ones that said ‘Wet Paint’.

Sherri Turner lives in Surrey. She has had numerous short stories published in women’s magazines and has won prizes for both poetry and short stories. She likes to write silly poems when she feels in danger of forgetting that this is supposed to be fun.



Smug by Fianna

Smug as a slug in a slick London club
somebody else’s grease on his chin
what’s his is his own, and what’s yours is his grub
he’s trawling in corridors under your skin.

Coddled with glee as he taps your last fat
he knows that you’re too cold to scream
he trickles it up to the city slick
where his dripping is always full-cream.

These lard-hearted self-basting bully-boys
are up-themselves ignoring pleas
their dewlaps drip tallow to mini-mes
investing in rendering ghee.

They’re self-slicking swans about geese around hens
around foie gras from force-feeding ducks
and inside them there’s twenty-four million black birds


(previously published in “I am not a silent poet”)

Fianna (Fiona Russell Dodwell) is from Fife and lives in the Fens. She has had about 30 poems published in online poetry magazines.


Mr and Mrs Feather-My-Nest by Derek Sellen

Mr and Mrs Feather-my-nest,
Mr and Mrs Thumb-in-all-pies,
they skim off the cream,
tax-avoiders supreme,
promoting some scheme,
they scam along with the best,
prying and spying like a pair of houseflies.

Mr and Mrs Put-on-the-style,
Mr and Mrs Models-of-culture;
she, charming and wily,
flirts with money-men shyly,
husband watches slyly,
till she closes the deal with a smile
but her eyes have the gleam of a vulture.

Mr and Mrs Tan-from-Bermuda,
Mr and Mrs Nobody’s-fool,
photos of her in a sari
videos of him on safari,
in Italy drinking Campari,
returning at last to their Tudor
cottage in Wiltshire or their villa in Poole.

Mr and Mrs Whiter-than-white,
Mr and Mrs Kiss-my-hem,
too cautious for crime
but if it helps them to climb,
they’ll live with the loss of a principle;
for theirs is the right
to be rich and invincible
while ours is the right to admire them.

Derek Sellen‘s work has appeared in various anthologies and magazines and won awards. His radio play, The Naming of the Animals, a sitcom set in Eden, won at the Wirral Festival.


Magpie by Mark Totterdell

borrow a fagpie
sneak a quick dragpie
off down the pub so there’s no need to nagpie

just an old lagpie
grabbing a bagpie
black and white stripy-topped off with the swagpie

not one to bragpie
second-hand jagpie
see what a beauty he’s managed to blagpie

don’t lose your ragpie
he’s such a wagpie
waving a black and white piraty flagpie

fancy a shagpie
any old slagpie
all on his own with a well dodgy magpie

Mark Totterdell‘s poems have appeared widely in magazines. His collection ‘This Patter of Traces’ was published by Oversteps Books in 2014.



The Waiter by David O’Neill

A long, long, long, long time ago, and then an age before,
A wild and furious ocean beat its waves upon a shore.
Not yet the time for living things, the main and rock were lords and kings
Of all the Earth’s rich store of things from firmament to core.

And flash! and crack! and bang! and boom! great storms raged overhead
And from small atoms, tossed and torn, strange molecules were bred.
In endless cycles, water flowed from sea to cloud to rain then rode
In foaming streams, with solute load, back to its ocean bed.

And round and round the cycle turned while countless years passed by.
And rock, ground into clinging clay, in littoral pools would lie.
And strange new matter, rudely formed, by lightning strike, as heavens stormed
On clay adsorbed, by sunlight warmed, still stranger bonds would tie.

And on through pregnant æons turned the watery cycle round
Till strangely fashioned molecules in helices were wound.
And in the sea, which, year by year, had leached the mineralosphere
Of salt and clay-bound scum veneer, primordial soup was found.

At length within the fœtid broth, a metaform awoke—
Fair Gaia was the fecund maid the life force did betoke.
And, casting wide, she full surveyed what violent storms had crudely made
For light to strike where clay had laid in virgin brine to soak.

And all the while with patient grace a presence watched the scene—
A formless spectral conscient mind who’d marked what there had been.
And, bending low, he strained to see what further changes there might be
As Gaia, in her primal sea, became the planet’s queen.

“Sweet Gaia!” spake the watcher then, “Pray, what will come to pass?
For ages long I’ve waited here and watched your soup amass.
Come, tell me, wondrous parvenue, what can the future promise you—
What marvels lace the vast purview of such a fertile lass?”

“Dear patient friend,” she answered soft, “if low you care to stoop,
With keening eye you may discern one of a larger group:
See, Waiter, of the insects¹, there, you may so mark, if close you stare,
With legs, full six, and wings, a pair², a fly³ is in my soup.”

[1] Subclass Pterygota

[2] See [3]

[3] A Dipteran, eg Musca domestica

David O’Neill is a frustrated mathematician who has journeyed through a predominantly life-science-based medical landscape for most of his mortgage-paying professional life, eventually finding salvation in the Open University, too close to the end for practical application but sufficiently early for peace of mind and poetic inspiration.



Intercity 125 by Joe Williams

I didn’t foresee
That carriage B
Would alter my life
In such curious fashion

And who even knew
That the 10:52
Could ever have been
The scene of such passion?

We entered the station
To great consternation
Our deeds were the subject
Of much speculation

But I don’t regret
And I’ll never forget
The good times we had
Before privatisation

Joe Williams is a writer from Leeds and the creator of Haiku Hole.  In 2015 Joe began performing on the poetry and open mic circuit to inflict his work on a wider audience.  Some of them claimed to enjoy it, so you can blame them for encouraging him to continue.



The Parting of Ed the Sot by Ron Runeborg

There he lay, the gnarly rascal, on his darlin’s kitchen table
Himself had not looked better since the dawning of his years
But we owed him one more gadabout, to liven up his fable
so we begged his little missus, and she smiled behind her tears

It was off to Hooley’s pub we drove, for more’n a pint of Guinness
Himself was just a wee bit meek as toasts were gaily sung
we coaxed a round of fiddle from the local violinists
and we danced with Ed until old Harris nearly lost a lung.

He wasn’t hard to load again, we seemed a nod more sprightly
as we toddled off to Finnigan’s, three drunks, one surely not
‘twas another cheer and three pence for the man who shown so brightly
O’er the Kelly green of county Down, our brother, Ed the Sot

Well we partied through the evenin’ with our Eddie boy beside us
tellin’ tales of Eddie’s prowess, of his loin’s vitality
Yes we found our way to seven pubs, ‘for coppers would deride us
and remind our little party to respect mortality.

After dawn on that drab Thursday, Ed had heard enough of laughter
it was time he and his widow would be sayin’ their goodbyes
We had said as much ourselves the night before the morning after
so we spent that hour gently, while our Eddie closed his eyes.

Ron Runeborg lives with his wife Linda and Montague Pierre the dog in Lakeville Minnesota. He writes poetry and short stories and currently has two books available.


Fruit Fool by Jonathan Humble

The kumquat sobbed upon the shelf,
A fruit somewhat benighted,
Despite the verse he sent his love,
His love was unrequited.
You see the fool was unaware
He’d got much too excited;
His muse turned out to be a plum …
This kumquat was short sighted.

Jonathan Humble is a deputy head teacher. He’s worked as a painter, lettuce picker and engineer in the power industry. Other than writing poetry and short stories, his hobbies include beard growing, pointing at poppies and keeping the international coffee industry afloat with his patronage.