Iona walk of shame, by Jay Whittaker

Iona walk of shame

No minister
I did not leave
my sodden knickers
on the rocks
after semi-skinny dipping
on the Sabbath

that must have been some other pilgrim.
But there is learning here –
wet black pants
look just like kelp
strewn across a rock.

Jay Whittaker lives and works in Edinburgh. Her debut poetry collection Wristwatch (Cinnamon Press) was the Scottish Poetry Book of the Year (Saltire Society Literary Awards) 2018. Her second collection, Sweet Anaesthetist, (also Cinnamon Press) was published in 2020. Jay is widely published, including two poems in the recent Bloodaxe anthology, Staying Human. www.jaywhittaker.uk / @jaywhittapoet

 

Surf School, by Robert Garnham

Thou has the charms of a warthog.
Vile, doth your snout snuffle
Amongst the remnants of last night’s moussaka.
Has thou perchance upon my corduroy trouser leg
Upchucked?
Be gone!
Quoth my
Surfing instructor.

Upon my word did the very same surfing instructor
Not two hours previous
Raise an eyebrow or two as, with help,
I oozed into the requisite wetsuit,
Like a slug into a Smarties tube,
Thus requiring considerable tugging,
Talcum powder, axle grease, Vaseline,
Gravity and sheer luck,
And yea, for it was the closest I had come
In many months
To sex.

Unleashed on the sea thus be-rubbered,
I had all the equilibrium of a sparrow
In a cement mixer,
All the agility of a lopsided basset hound
With an inner ear infection,
All the balance of Fox News
And all the rhythm of a drummer divorced from his drum
And also, coincidentally,
Three months in the grave.
You might say that
I wasn’t really cut out for it.

Thy surfing instructor, Troy, were a frown
With a man attached.
Sayeth he,
I’ve never seen a surfboard just sink like that.
It just went down like a stone, didn’t it?
You’re rewriting all the laws of physics,
And upon my word,
Did’st thou notice the countenance of that
Dolphin?
Such a worried demeanour.
And you’ve put the fear of god
Into a porpoise.
And also,
Thou art emitting
A vast and toxic slick.

Thy wetsuit were as shapely as a
Delaminated lorry tyre,
Such that a passing walrus should deliver
A cocky wink,
And surely I would have excelled
In all my brine-soaked majesty
Were it not for a chafing in the gusset
Which brought tears to mine eyes and
Conjured
That night I spent in Nuneaton with an
Abraham Lincoln impersonator
Whose frisky appetites
Could ne’er be sated
Yet ate my buffet breakfast and scarpered
Without so much as a how do you do?

The sea were as rough as mine uncle
And it pounded on the beach like
An angry old man on the doors of the closed cafe
In which he has left his baccy tin,
And no matter how I progressed
I could stand not on that blessed board.
For when it cometh to surfing I am nought
But a charlatan, a poseur,
A ne’erdowell enmeshed in misery,
No more qualified to join the surfing greats
Than a giraffe join a coven of mallards,
That I might hang my head in shame,
And mutter, oh, when do I get to say cowabunga?
And hand in my ankle bracelet
And my coral necklace
And my flip flops
And submit to the life of a land based mammal
Such as a badger or a dental hygienist.

How vast the expression of shock on the face
Of my damp-headed instructor
When I leaned on the flanks of his
Cobbled rickety surf shack
And the whole place concertinered
Into a jumble of wooden planks.
He hardly laughed at all.

And thus began a tirade the general gist of which
Implored me to explore
Other avenues of past-time
In which my ham-fisted bungling efforts might
Not cause quite so much pain, anguish, damage
And general gnashing of teeth.
And that, dear listener,
Is how I became a poet.

Robert Garnham has been performing LGBT comedy poetry around the UK for ten years at various fringes and festivals, and has had three collections published by Burning Eye. He has won slams in places such as London, Edinburgh and Swindon and headlined or featured at events such as Bang Said the Gun, Raise the Bar, and Milk and in 2019 was the Hammer and Tongue featured artist for a tour of the UK. Je has supported artists such as John Hegley, Arthur Smith and Paul Sinha. He has made a few short TV adverts for a certain bank, and a joke from one of his shows was listed as one of the funniest of the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe. Lately he has been writing short stories published in magazines such as Stand, Defenestration and Riggwelter, and a humorous column in the Herald Express newspaper. In 2021 he was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and shortlisted as Spoken Word Artist of the Year by the Saboteur Awards. His influences are diverse and include Ivor Cutler, Salena Godden, Bob Newhart and Laurie Anderson.

Robert is the editor of Spilling Cocoa. His website can be found at https://professorofwhimsy.com

 

GDPR, by Marie Studer

GDPR

He stretched his legs under the hospitality
Of her kitchen table, listed the locals lately deceased,
Those who reached old age, those taken young.
She offered currant cake.
Reaching for a slice he asked in a flash,
What age would you be now, Nonie?
She returned the plate to ellipsis equalised
On oilcloth. Smiling benignly, she enquired
What age would you think I am?
He subtracted generously from the score,
Near enough, she said.
No hacker would ever crack
My mother’s personal information or ransom her ware.

Marie Studer has written poetry since her teens in the1970s and started to submit in 2018. She won the Trocáire Poetry Ireland Competition 2020 and the Halloween Ekphrastic Poetry Challenge, Bangor Literary Journal 2019. Her poetry has been published in the Stony Thursday Book, The Waxed Lemon, Wee Book of Wee Poems, Fire & Water, Drawn To The Light, online and local anthologies.

Twitter handle: @StudiMarie

 

The Free Spirit Ward of Court, by Aoife Cunningham

The Free Spirit Ward of Court.

My Heart yearns while my mind dwells,
For liberation.
Liberation from the restraints,
Imposed by the state.

I am energy, so free and abundant,
I crave distance from the piercing eyes of my Nurse.

Give me the sky and I will soar,
Bring me a melody and I will sing.
A free spirit forced to fit into a square box.
A hammered, bent misfit yet vivid and vibrant.

My bodyguards are deaf to this
Boho’s screams.
I cant abscond in present,
But in spirit I am free.

You can cage my body but not my mind,
You can dictate my actions.
But you can’t compose my soul.

You can’t tame me!
I will break free.
And fly as high as my dreams go.

But first,
I must hug recovery.

 

Slipping back into the creation of me, by I Am Cereal Killer

Slipping back into the creation of me

Slipping back into the creation of me,
I find myself hollow and nobody can help,
My thoughts are mine and nobody can change them,
Someone might want to,
Lisa said “One way to float is if you die”
But I am not of that,
There is too much life there to live,
To hold,
To love,

I am rising again like a flock that floats,
Up to the cloud for no one to find,
Hide again to shock me out of this world,
The tapping of the plastic that annoys me,
Rubbing and then buff for the showing of the world,

I’m done – complete,
The finishing of this story is never near,
But to the end we mustn’t advance,
The wow in my life has been rocked back and forth, forth and back,
Rocking until we feel sick with emotion, I can’t find the right metaphor but it will come,
On air I am hungry but that era is done,
I’ve begun but I do not know how to stop,

I slipped away and nobody noticed.

I AM CEREAL KILLER was born in 1995 out of grief and anger. After 19 friends and acquaintances died from complications from AIDS over a three year period, I was advised to “get it all out, write it all down.” And once I had it on paper, what would I do with it but put on a show? Inspired by the Divine David, I discovered I AM CEREAL KILLER’s extraordinary look, a kaleidoscope of colors constantly shifting with his mood of the moment.

I AM CEREAL KILLER is also the proud author of two books, This Isn’t a Gift, It’s Just the Way I Feel (yes, never fear to reutilize a title that worked the first time) and A Collection of Dildos on My Shelf. These can be found on the shelves of The British Library and are sold on Amazon (not by him) for exorbitant amounts. There is also a spoken word CD with tracks produced by Richard Torry of Minty, and a guest appearance on the Fuzzbox video, WGAF-AWFUI!

Now, I AM CEREAL KILLER talks about a much wider range of topics in regards to LGBT rights and acceptance. A new show is coming to New York City with fresh material and the fresh title of The Aerodynamics of Giraffes and How to Slice Them Properly (see show to understand title).

 

What’s that?, by Judy Darley

What’s that?

I glimpsed a water vole.
You declared it a rat.
I wasn’t sure why it mattered.
One flourishes alongside
our slack species, the other
struggles amid choked rivers
in shrinking habitat.
Either way, I admire
the opportunists battling
to eke a life from scraps:
snub-nosed voles nibbling
their burrows neat door mats,
and rats thriving from dropped
chips and suspect kebabs.
Discarded snacks clog canals
and blood vessels alike.
I tell you, we’re all a little vole
and a bit rat, even if
we’d rather not admit that.

Judy Darley writes prose and poetry in Bristol, UK. She is the author of short fiction collections Sky Light Rain and Remember Me to the Bees. Her third collection, The Stairs are a Snowcapped Mountain, will be published by Reflex Press in 2022. You can find Judy at http://www.skylightrain.com; https://twitter.com/JudyDarley

 

Alive in the Age of Stupidity, by Chad Norman

ALIVE IN THE AGE OF STUPIDITY

Here in
Nova Scotia
the party in power
overlooks
the importance of
protecting and
allowing to stand
the structures
and buildings
from the Past
(somehow still with us).
Mostly men
unfortunately
who
without knowing
each day include
their names
by believing
there is no profit
in being wise enough
to be part of History
through its preservation
and making sure
as politicians they avoid
a category of fools.

Chad Norman lives and writes beside the high-tides of the Bay Of Fundy, Nova Scotia, Canada. His poems continue to appear in various literary publications and anthologies around the world. His latest book, Simona: A Celebration Of The S.P.C.A., is out now with Cyberwit.Net (India).

 

Trial by Poetry, by Oscar Windsor-Smith

Trial By Poetry

My first time at a formal workshop:
Comes the question of poetic voice and
I’m soon stumped.
Worrying.
It seems I’m not one person
for long enough to tie-down
a single stable output;
flibbertigibbet:
north/south, east/west
mongrel that I am;
a middler;
a literal mediocrity…

But then again,
the middle may provide
firm footing
for a bridge
between divergent minds.

And what’s so wrong with that?

Oscar Windsor-Smith lives in Hertfordshire, UK. He has fooled enough editors to get fiction, creative non-fiction and non-fiction published in diverse places, in print and online, and has occasionally been falsely accused of poetry. By jammy luck he has been a finalist/shortlistee in various international competitions. He graduated from the Birkbeck, University of London BA in creative writing in 2018.

Oscar Windsor-Smith – Writer

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oscar.windsorsmith

LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/in/oscarwindsorsmith/

Blog: http://oscarwindsor-smith.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @OscarWindsor

 

Truth, by Maurice Devitt

Truth

In my early years,
The Zebra Book of Facts for Boys
was my go-to reference;
rarely stuck for a capital city, flag
or element on the Periodic Table.
It was only when, at fourteen,
I brought it as a comfort blanket on my first date,
that I realised its shortcomings:
the conversation flowed
as I sought to impress my consort
with the range of my general knowledge,
but when I left her to her door
and she asked me
if I’d ever kissed a girl before
I didn’t know the right answer.

A past winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland and Poems for Patience competitions, he published his debut collection, ‘Growing Up in Colour’, with Doire Press in 2018.

His poems have been nominated for Pushcart, Forward and Best of the Net prizes and his Pushcart-nominated poem, ‘The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work’, was the title poem of an anthology published by Hibernian Writers in 2015. He is curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site.

 

Never eat shellfish, by Janet Sillett

Never eat shellfish

My aunt, nothing like my mother,
used me as a sounding board, captured,
ten years old, in her stifling kitchen,
smelling of chicken soup
and terror

I was licking the cake bowl dry,
she proclaiming
that the Russians sent bad weather,
on purpose
tell your father that, the commie,
insisting I pray for Israel,
and that I must never eat shellfish
on pain of death from God

My aunt, never one for irony, was firm
that I should trust my instincts
and be myself,
but even then, I thought being myself
might mean downing small pink shrimps
from seaside stalls,
striped in pink sweet rock colours

I should shun men with slinky hips, especially
those with guitars
I had never met one of these wonders
but from then on, I would look for them on every street corner

Be careful what you wish for
I wished for Cadbury’s dairy milk,
and that her daughter,
younger than me, whose life’s work was snitching,
would be kidnapped to a desert island,
clutching her Hebrew scriptures
as her book of choice

Things happen for a reason,
I knew she meant
bad things,
as I mixed chopped fish in her yellow cracked dish

My father died later that year

My aunt was a lodestar
a beacon to what not to do,
an upside down road map
from childhood to flimsy maturity

In middle age, diagnosed depressive,
I missed her declarations
In old age, visiting my dying mother,
she picked wild flowers for her bedside

Janet Sillett recently took up writing poetry and short fiction again after decades of absence. She has had a poem published in the Galway Advertiser and is about to have her first flash fiction piece published in Litro. She works for a think tank.