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.

 

The best superhero we can conjur, by Rob Schofield

The best superhero we can conjure

sits in splendid self-isolation. He
does not fret about provisions, other
than how best to keep the plebs supplied with
bread and circuses. And toilet roll. His
tenebrous consigliere, last seen
scuttling away from the black door sans
smug grin, is at home now, mired in his blog,
scribbling his fiendish marginalia
and plotting how and where to push the blame.
How will he muddy waters already
soiled by years of verbal diarrhoea?
Where were his not-so-super forecasters
when the rest of us were glued to the news
from Wuhan? And the second string, these Lords
of Misrule, whose misplaced confidence rides
shotgun with incompetence, snatch at the
coat tails of the experts they scorned, alive
to the scapegoat’s scent. Eton College closed
its doors before our children were sent home.
What of the rich, no longer able to
stake sole claim to being idle? Boltholes
undetected, they feed foie gras and fox
cubs to the hounds, riding out the storm while
trusting their Joker to keep their backsides clean.

Rob Schofield writes fiction and poetry from a temporary bunker in the Yorkshire Dales. Rob is a member of the 2021 Northern Short Story Festival Academy and has been published in The Blue Nib and Prole. He has been long and short listed for several short story prizes. Rob publishes work in progress at robschofield.uk.  

 

 

The Mermaid and the Onion Seller, by Rosie Barrett

The Mermaid and the Onion Seller

Eckphrastic after The Picnic Basket by Dawn Timmins

I’ve just made a huge mistake
This man’s not mine for goodness sake
He’s bonny, brown and looks the part
but life is more than simply art.
Sat here on his bike I’m cold.
We’ll not be lovers when we’re old.
Mermaids don’t eat cheese, drink wine.
When I’m on land I know I’ll pine
for gentle currents, wafting weeds,
for whale songs drifting through the reeds.
My sisters, combing out their hair,
if they were here would simply stare
and tell me not to be so daft.
But they weren’t here when he laughed
said “Ma choupette, come, marry me
the good Lord will bless you, set you free
to be my wife, bear me a son.
I’ll teach you French, we’ll have some fun”.
He really hasn’t thought this through
but he’ll have a tale to tell his crew.
For the moment I’ll sit here
My nipples hardening in the air.
And later on I’ll tell him “No
We really can’t – I have to go”.