Combat Cheese, by Sally McHugh

Combat Cheese

On the shores of Lough Ree
(although not known for its Fromageries),
solidified cheese surfed through the airwaves-
a lightning strike to the head of Queen Maeve.
As she stretched and bathed in full display,
she was crushed by the cunning of curds and whey;
aged-fresh Maeve, wrinkled white to grey rind,
was struck via sling (it’s prehistoric times).
Was the chalky meteorite of creamy Camembert
or of an ancient Brie - with a buttery flair?
Perhaps it was a local fromage blanc
or a full-bodied shaving of Parmesan?
How about a goatmilk flat white from Port du Salut
or a Provolone vegan with a vodka hue
or a chewy Caerphilly à la castle cellar store
or a blue ram’s rocket filled with Roquefort?
Whatever churned concoctions prevailed
and imbued this calcium-infused cocktail,
Maeve’s aged, matured, rapturous reign
crumbled - by combat cheese to the brain.

Sally McHugh lives in Co. Galway. Her poetry has appeared in ROPES2018, The Blue Nib Literary Magazine (2019), Pendemic (2020) and Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis (2021). She also likes to dabble in art and calligraphy. Twitter:@fordofthekings


Elon’s Folly, by Sue Spiers

Elon’s Folly

It’s tall as four whales or Victorian folly.
A knob at the top like the bud of a lily.
The rocket, some tell us, resembles a willy.
We snigger and wink at the billionaire wally.

It’s thrust into space with no weight in its belly,
the glamorous passengers wobble like jelly,
all posed for their show on terrestrial telly.

He’s looking for Martians, like Mulder and Scully,
to work in his factories and make him more lolly.
He’s touting the rides to rich guys on a jolly,
returns on investment, exploiting space fully.

His moon shots drop junk in its silvery valleys
and boosters’ debris falls dark-side without tally
His ship spills its drool in a rocket-fuel chalice.

Sue Spiers lives in Hampshire. Her poems have appeared on Spilling Cocoa, Ink, Sweat & Tears and Atrium and in print with Acumen, Dream Catcher, The North and Obsessed with Pipework. Sue tweets @spiropoetry. Don’t follow me, I’m lost too.


Circular, by Sharon Phillips


when the exit road was blocked
and a sign said men at work
although no men were working
and I couldn’t find the diversion
and the ring road kept on turning

when my satnav turned itself off
and the map from the passenger seat
was flapping in the footwell
and my armpits pricked with sweat
and the ring road kept on turning

when I’d forgotten the address
and I couldn’t find my phone
which had vanished from my bag
and I wanted to go home
but the ring road still kept turning

Sharon stopped writing poetry in 1976 and started again forty years later, after retiring from her career in education. Her poems have been published online and in print. Originally from Bristol, Sharon now lives in Otley, West Yorkshire.


I Wore a Red Hat, by Trisha Broomfield

I Wore a Red Hat

I wore a red hat
odd looks from the cat
you said I looked fat
your boots on my mat
on my bed you sat

our futures were set
I wish we’d not met
I’ll try not to fret
I’d love to forget
I won’t though, I’ll bet

my life you once lit
we were a good fit
my right cheek you hit
my sharp words I bit
and now here I sit

we started off hot
and did such a lot
you don’t care one jot
our time spent will rot
just part of your plot

there’s no point in, ‘but…’
my heart has been cut
I’m out of my rut
you called me a slut,
I wore a red hat.


Tripping with TJ, by Steve Bailey

Tripping with TJ

by Steve Bailey

Tom Jefferson, while working on something profound,
Was surprised and distracted, buy a soft knocking sound.
"Do come in," he called out, "My daughter so sweet."
And tell me, dear Patsy, do you have my treat?"

"A traveler," she said," from far New Spain,
Journeyed through the cold and rain
He brought you these buttons and said with a grin
You should chew on them all for the mescaline."

He took all the buttons; she gave him a kiss.
For the next several hours, his mind she would miss.
"A truly new world now I shall see,
So, thank you, now leave my darling Patsy."

Strange images jumped in and out of his mind.
Tom found himself flying through centuries of time.
No longer was he in old Monticello
Not frightened was Tom. Instead, he felt mellow.

He was still in his country, but it was all rather odd.
The twenty-first century made him rather slack-jawed.
In each of the houses, colors made a box glow.
And from this same box, endless chatter did flow.

Close to one house, Tom moved in for a look,
Then a dog began barking, thinking he was a crook.
When its owner arrived, he called it Big Burr
It was snarling and snapping, this ugly old cur."

"This is my guard dog, and friendly he's not.
If he had a gun, he would so take his shot.
Come now, Big Burr, you're annoying us so.
Harassing a POTUS! To the doghouse, you go!"

Delighted, TJ responded with glee
"The doghouse is where A. Burr should be."
"A leader bad Burr would never make."
"A. Burr is a scoundrel. A. Burr is a fake."

"Whatever you're on, I certainly am not.
Can I offer instead a few bowls of pot?
The election returns are now on TV.
Come in the house and watch them with me."

On a couch, they then sat and toked on a pipe.
Watched talking heads talk and heard all their hype.
"So, this box called TV decides how it goes?"
And the candidates come from one of its shows?"

"The box, it must like you. It's as simple as that.
Did you notice we talk like The Cat in The Hat?"
"A cat in a hat? This is something new.
I tell you I'm learning, one thing or two."

"I want to say more, but now I forgot.
I say it's delightful, this stuff you call pot."
"This has truly been fun; I want you to know.
But the magic is leaving, and so, I must go."

"The questions I have for you come in a bunch.
Can you come back tomorrow and join me for lunch?"
But the room it was empty, it was easy to see,
No answer was coming. He was gone, POTUS3.

Back in his room, in dear Monticello,
For a time, TJ just sat, a reflective old fellow.
"How was your trip?" young Patsy inquired.
"You were gone a long time. Are you newly inspired?"

"I thought that my buttons would take me to God
To see if he's real or show faith is a fraud.
But that did not happen. No secrets unlocked.
Unless what we call God is this strange-looking box."

"I'm done with the buttons, though I liked them a lot,
I think I'll be better, just toking on pot.
The fate of the nation, it's easy to see,
Rests not with the people, but with a box called TV."

Steve Bailey is a freelance writer living in Richmond, Virginia. There he writes fiction, creative nonfiction, long and short stories. He has two novel-long manuscripts in search of a publisher. His writings are at

The Storage Unit, by Jeremy Szuder

The Storage Unit

I was in a band with a kid
named Johnny Angel.
One day Johnny’s mom,
a patron saint for fostered animals,
told us we couldn’t rehearse
in her living room anymore.

It was fine by me,
the smell of cat urine was
too much to bear and
I no longer wanted to clean
animal hair from my drums.

Someone had the bright idea
that we should rent out
a storage unit and just practice
there instead, whenever we wanted.

The process was simple enough,
it was the sheer amount of volume
however that no one could
have warned us about;

corrugated metal walls and roof,
with cold concrete floors-
the sound was torturous.

So we rolled down the front gate
and played inside under a single
green light bulb for hours at a time,
almost until we couldn’t breathe
any longer.

And we would come out of that
tin green dungeon with multiple rows
of teeth in our mouths like sharks,
and the perspiration garnered from
within that stomach of storage madness
streaked into our eyes until we
saw multiple green light bulbs
melt and dance across our irises.

That volume was beginning to
puncture the inner hollow ways
of our bones and after two or
three months of that, we crumbled
under the weight of Inland Empire
industrial wasteland, and quickly found
somewhere else to rock.

I learned, after we split from the scene,
that there were a few storage units
very near the one we practiced in
that were being used for meth labs.

And though, with our clamorous
residency, our surf/monster/sci-fi/guitar hell,
we might have earned a few new
jittery, nervous, paranoid and highly
strung out new fans,

still, they were glad to see us go.

Jeremy Szuder (he/him) lives in a tiny apartment with his wife, two children and two cats. He works in the evenings in a very busy restaurant, standing behind a stove, a grill, fryers and heating lamps, happily listening to hours of hand selected music and conjuring ideas for new art and poetry in his head. When his working day ends and he enters his home in the wee hours, he likes to sit down with a glass of wine and record all the various words and images that bear fruit within his mind. Jeremy Szuder only sets the cage doors free when the work begins to pile up too high. In this life, Szuder makes no illusions of being a professional artist in any way, shape, or form.


Recycling is good for the planet, by Finola Scott

Recycling is good for the planet

Seeing my ironed socks, polished glass
friends declare he’s servicable, a keeper.

But they don’t know, can’t imagine
his moonlit yearnings, his penchant

for rubber – not lingerie but stationary.
The flip side of those origami scribbles

fluttering from pockets, the notes stuck
on the fridge urging me to eat his plums.

Let’s not speak of housework. l say
live and let live, but dusting in a wet suit?

Vacuuming in lederhosen? Buffing
me in the buff? Even Alexa has given up.

I tried – took him to my book group
to the Ukulele girls, to Capoeira. No takers.

So next week he’s going on Freecycle –
Banker, slightly worn, one careless owner.

William Carlos Willams was not harmed 
in the writing of this poem. 

Is Poetry Pointless?, by Alanna Hammel

Is Poetry Pointless?

I don’t write poetry
I don’t think I ever will
It’s a rotary system
It’s one aim to kill.

I admit I did once overdose
On Lowell’s polyphonic prose.
You don’t see that lot nowadays,
With your Robert Frost
Or your Terrance Hayes.

They have all moved on to screenplays
If they do write it is melodic phrase.
What does pointless even mean?
Without purpose or meaning?

Purpose in poetry is fairly drastic
Some just want a book to read quick.
I doubt most poetry would please the reader
Unless you care for iambic pentameter.
I can see the poet waving its beater
Easy to confuse with the grim reaper.

Poets are killers
I’ll say it again
From your Rupi Kaur to your Dickinson
On rhythm the poet stabs to death
That’s about as good as poets get
While the poet goes through the alphabet
And thinks for a minute about their next sonnet.
Being struck by lightning odds at 500,000 to one
But Increased massively by reading John Donne.
They say you are what you eat
You also are what you read I learnt that from a man with a degree in ‘filíocht’
Little did he know his future would have sucked.
Writing poetry is pointless
I’m telling you now
That’s coming from someone who doesn’t know how.


Mr. Electable and Family, by Mark Jones

Here comes Mr Electable
He’s ravishing and delectable
His policies are selectable
It’s good old Mr Electable.

His sister Miss Debateable
Is seldom seen as dateable
She’ll kick you right underthetable
That is Miss Debateable.

Their mother Mrs Tiresome
Worked flat out to hiresome
Earplugs she requiredthem
Poor old Mrs Tiresome.

And father Mr Paradox
A man who thinks outsidethebox
Posts leaflets outside the letterbox
Yes/No that’s Mr Paradox.

Tiresome & Paradox

Think I’ll read a book instead.

Mark Jones, performance poet, has been plying his craft over much of the South West for many years, from open mic nights to theatres and even the odd tea room and cafe. In 2014 he won the Spokes Amaze poetry slam in Exeter and has had published two collections of poetry, Humps For Fifty Yards & Beans.


Something Fishy . . . By Carole Donaldson

This is what culminated from a brief encounter at Sainsbury’s. It took five minutes to make up a rhyme about the extremely brief dalliance, but I think I had a close shave and dodged a bullet, yet unfortunately if the guy hadn’t been in such a hurry to ‘get his leg over’ we could have made fine music together, but I’m pleased that I usually always go with my gut feeling about things, and this guy was far too forward for comfort. Shame, really, he wasn’t bad looking but he let his mouth run away with him.


I met a man, while out shopping, at the salmon counter,
he came over quite suave and quite slick,
a few weeks on from that chance encounter,
he turned out to be naught but a fanciful dick

He kissed me and hugged me the minute we met
So charming – he addressed me “Dear Madam”
But how familiar is it right for a stranger to get
When I didn’t even know him from Adam

We exchanged our phone numbers and as days went by
I waited to hear from this Casanova
But I’d text and then wait but get no reply
So before it begun, it was practically over

He finally rang and arranged that we meet
His excuse for no contact? He preferred not to text
We went for a coffee on a posh market street
Where he wasted no time saying how much he loved sex

Well, I was appalled and quite taken aback
It was far too soon to be talking that way
But he took me to lunch, at Kings Road Seafood Shack
And when the huge bill came, he was happy to pay

(80 quid’s-worth of food was devoured that day)

Though we chatted at lunch and duly both laughed
With the same sense of humour we shared
I got a bad vibe and I thought myself daft
I could’ve been an old boot and I don’t think he’d’ve cared.

He mentioned the sex thing again I had noted
He clearly had his own agenda
He was quite up front, not a thing sugar-coated
And showed himself up to be a pretender

This encounter has taught me to be somewhat wary
This chap had manners like a pen full of swine
His ulterior motives can seem somewhat scary
But in truth that’s his problem, and certainly not mine

It’s been over a week now and he’s disappeared
At his hinted intentions, I told him where to go
Asking if I was adventurous – far too forward I feared
And on that score the arse’ole will now never know