Invisibility Rant, by Abigail Ottley


The young think they invented cool but they know diddly squat.
Those ankle-snappers shut their eyes to what we wise ones got.
So this old bird is set to strut and fan her tail and crow.
She’s primed to blow her cover. Here’s a thing or two the yoof should know.
This woman’s old but she ain’t dumb. She ain’t pretending she ain’t grey.
Don’t matter if she’s billiard-bald, she still deserves to have her say.
And what she says is simply this. She’s deep-down tired of being dissed.
At worst reviled, at best dismissed, if there’s a mill, then she’s the grist.
Now guys that used to flirt and stare will mostly fail to see she’s there.
One day, she’s classy, gorgeous, hot. Next morning, passé, clean forgot.
How plaintive sounds her shrill lament as she asks where her ‘sexy’ went.
Now just existing leaves her fazed. A life outside her master’s gaze.
That gaze which won’t admit she’s there and for the most part doesn’t care
but turns its back and sends no flowers. In bars, sometimes she waits for hours
before the barman can’t ignore the fact that what she’s waiting for
is to be served like all the rest. Great hulking guys with beards and chests
that press against the bar where she can’t get, can’t hear, can’t even see.
And girls with boobs and killer shoes marked out like maps with blue tattoos
and all the heartless, hip-less yoof who cruelly mock those long of tooth.
In restaurants waiters turn their heads to tiptoe round the dining dead.
In any queue how cursed is she by this in-vis-i-bil-i-ty.
I’m here to say that such as we reject this anonymity.
We won’t sit down, we won’t shut up calm down, make tea. We’ve had enough.
We’re women. We have earned our stripes our stretch marks and our right to gripe.
We’ve paid our dues, we’ve lived this shit. And now we’ve had enough of it.
It isn’t fair, it isn’t just.Where is it writ we woman must
accept our lot and know our place in short, that we must self-efface?
Back in the day when I was young my grandma said a woman’s tongue
dripped wisdom, sweet and strong as wine that, aged in oak, improves with time.
And she was right to teach me how a woman grows into her power.
A witch is but a woman who won’t still her tongue as others do.

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley writes poetry and short fiction from her home in Penzance. A former English teacher with a lifelong interest in history, she has been Pushcart nominated, translated into Romanian, and is carer to her very elderly mother. Find her on Facebook or @AbigailLaLoca on Twitter

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  


Uncle Peter, by Nigel Lloyd


Uncle Peter

Uncle Peter wasn’t Elvis, but he thought he was.
Admittedly, at family parties even after a skin full
he could hold a tune, but Elvis didn’t need to be
helped into a taxi after a gig, and he didn’t have to retrieve
his false teeth from the garden the following day.

Uncle Peter wasn’t Fred Astaire, but he thought he was.
Admittedly, at his daughter’s wedding, even with indigestion
after a three course meal and several brandies,
he could throw a few shapes.
But Fred Astaire didn’t nearly get arrested
because he was running through the town centre
with a traffic cone on his head.

Uncle Peter wasn’t Casanova, but he thought he was.
Admittedly, he was married three times
and always seemed to find plenty of women
who liked the aroma of Brylcreem and Castella cigars.
But Casanova didn’t put so much Hi Karate on
that you could smell him in the next street.

Uncle Peter wasn’t a young man, but he thought he was.
Admittedly, he had read the NME since the 60’s
but you can’t be cool forever.
He started to look like he had lost it
When he thought Kanye West was a holiday destination.

Uncle Peter wasn’t my favourite uncle, but he thought he was.

Nigel Lloyd lives in rural Donegal and has had poems published in several magazines

From Crannog to Progressive Rock Magazine, he also had a poem featured on 

BBC Radio Ulsters Soundscapes programme and was a finalist in the 

Bring your Limericks to Limerick competition 2018 and a finalist in

The Piano Academy of Ireland Limerick competition 2021.

I’m sorry I’m late, by Susan Jordan


I’m so sorry I’m late
it was the weather the trains the traffic
a deluge of rejection letters I had to open
six weeks’ washing-up that couldn’t wait
a freak rainstorm that only fell on me
a hole in the road that swallowed me up
a crocodile that punctured my back tyre
a bomb somewhere that might have exploded
the clock starting to go backwards
the dog eating my sense of time
me losing the way inside my house
the streets turning back to front.
Actually I’m just late.

What I’m Like, by Kevin Higgins


What I’m Like

Lively as an elderly blue-arsed fly
that’s just been clattered by
the weekend edition of the New York Times.
About as much use in a debate about anything
as a weighing scale floating through outer space.
Reassuring as a naked funeral director
stepping into the same hot tub as you
in search of new customers.
My future smells delicious
as the used odour-eaters
I was going to send you for Christmas
until I saw the price of the postage.
My dream, that little children of every
complexion and gender
will one day gather together
to play Frisbee with stray toilet seat lids
they plucked from the rubble.

Kevin Higgins has been described by The Stinging Fly magazine has described Kevin as “likely the most read living poet in Ireland. His sixth full collection of poems ‘Ecstatic’ will be published by Salmon in June 2021.  

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”.

The Astronomer’s Wife, by Rose Cook


The Astronomer’s Wife

That was the night she told us
her husband is an astronomer,
who drives off every day to his planetarium
with a box of sandwiches and a Mars bar.

He’s always has that faraway look in his eyes,
it’s quite attractive, we all thought so.
He has no idea of time though,
his head so full of space.

He knows all the stars and planets
and is looking into Saturn at the moment,
which has been troublesome.
Last year it was Venus, things got very tense.

He’s lovely though, they have four children.
He calls them satellites.
And a dog.

Rose Cook is a Devon based poet whose work has been published in six collections. Her latest book is Shedding Feathers (published by Hen Run, Grey Hen Press).

My Shot, by Nikki Fine


When offered, I took it like a shot,
a shot in the arm – literally –
to boost the current state of existence.
It’s a shot across the bows of
the viral armada, steaming through
an unnerved population.
It may be a shot in the dark, though
I doubt it, with all the scienceing
put into it. It feels more like
a money shot, profiting everyone.
A twofer, it’s a Parthian shot.
Has the virus shot its bolt?
I’ll be okay, that’s my parting shot.

Nikki Fine is a one-time English teacher, now tutor and writer, with occasional forays, when permitted, into the theatrical world (off-stage). She has had work published in The Interpreter’s House, on Ink Sweat and Tears, and Riggwelter, and self-published a collection of poetry inspired by quantum physics.

Maisie, by Maggie Duffy



Maisie went crazy out in St Tropez
And got sunburned wearing her thong
And when calamine cream caused it to steam
She knew something was terribly wrong

The waiter he brought her 10 pints of cold water
He just thought she was drinking a lot
And despite a quick look in her trusty phrase book
There was no translation for “I’ve toasted my Bot”

When Maisie got home she was right on the phone
A doctor must really be sought
Though the pain had subsided the redness increased
And poor Maisie was quite overwrought

For her bum like a beacon shone through her clothes
Through satin or linen or silk
It was most disconcerting to have a red bum
Which at one time had been whiter than milk

The Dr he uhmed the Dr he aahed
His diagnosis struck poor Maisie dumb
He said that one day the red might fade away
But for now she had St Tropez Roseacea Bum!

There was not much research the Dr had said
The condition was rare in these climes
He asked for a photo to show in the Lancet
But Maisie now fully dressed had declined

Well down in Blackawton where poor Maisie lived
There were equal parts of condolence & teasing
Some said look on the bright side, if you were a baboon
Your bum would be aesthetically pleasing

Well the days they did come & the days they did go
There was wind hail, frost and sunshine
And Maisie’s condition showed no sign of improvement
And she now sat down most of the time

But there was a day I am to tell
When Maisie came into her own
For one night at the WI meeting
It was just time to go home

There was a big bang a clash & a clang
And a terrible darkness descended
A thunderbolt in Dartmouth knocked out the transformer
And electricity supply was suspended

Well what could they do oh what a hullabaloo
As no one could see nothing at all
And the whole of the village for warmth & companionship
Crammed themselves into the hall

Well when Maisie arrived, oh what joy, what a welcome
She lit up the whole of the place
And the heat from her rear gave comfort & cheer
There was a warm glow on everyone’s face

Some toasted crumpets & some lit their pipes
And some just admired the view
And Maisie was happy to help where she could
After all it was the least she could do

Now I’m happy to say Maisie’s bum is OK
It finally regained natural colour
And the St Tropez Roseacea faded away
And the whole of her atmosphere was cooler

But down Blackawton way in Devon today
There’s a statue to Maisie’s good deed
It stands in the square it looks so good there
And everyone stops & takes heed

The surface has smoothed, not with weather & time
But because all the old men as they pass
Just cannot resist touching Maisie’s behind
And they say “That’s a nice piece of SCULPTURE

(Maggie says:

The W.I. at Blackawton had a social fun evening and I was their entertainment. 
All Women’s Institute gatherings have a little themed event whereby the members either bring something homemade, craft work, floral display, painting etc. The guest speaker must judge and give a 1st,2nd,3rd,. 
The theme that night was to write an amusing poem.
The president asked me as I was the speaker if I would also write an amusing poem about Blackawton !!???.
I am sure you will agree that was a fairly testing subject.(probably not for you being a full time pro) but for me it took a bit of thinking about 
I decided to come at it from a different angle and make it about a lady who had gone for the high life holiday in St Tropez and had come home to Blackawton to face the consequences.)