Mad Old George Haunts a Happy Day, By Jane Burn

 

I swear to you I saw them – saw the streets lined
with chipper ants, cheery-flapping tincey paper flags
in a butterfly blur of flustered Union Jacks.

I couldn’t help but scan the streets, so many folk
as to seem them a sea, lining many deep for a glimpse –
I picked out the stones of Windsor, heavy against the sky,

Round Tower trunked from a crop of trees, the windows
where the phantom of the first Charles peeps. He’s loving
the pomp, cocking his pearly ear, gibbering on about

incorruptible crowns. The sun lights rings on show-sheen flanks –
the Greys trot merry with ribbons red upon their nodding heads,
blinkered against the spectacle, buckles brassed. Footmen,

more than Cinderella ever wished from out of lizard’s skin
going down the Long Walk, hoi polloi cleaned off. Proles
all stiff and sunburned, pride-burst, shiny-cheeked and glad –

no room today for poverty, austerity, or frowns. Homeless
swept up like leaves for today is a day of pretending, of jollity.
There will be no other news – the world is whitewashed of truth.

We’re all agog – Victoria in that lush navy sack. Her fella,
the one we’re all meant to be lusting after, I saw him bend
so his clothes rode up. I saw his arse’s crack – tonight

there’ll be underpants, skidded in the hamper wanting washed.
Someone will have cleaned his clumps of shaved whiskers
from the sink. Collected his socks. Hats, hats, marvellous hats –

Camilla’s feathered Frisbee skimming her coiff, Amal’s tilted UFO,
Queen a lemon drop. Skeins of pink, spiked heels, thoroughbred legs,
a discreetly skirted Pippa – not for today any headline grabbing bums.

I saw the wife-to-be float St George’s steps in a trailing mist, go veiled to her very own Prince. I think those boys would be wishing most for their mother – her absence the most noticeable guest.

Henry took his Jane to the grave – they rot beneath the piebald floor,
spiced and wrapped in lead. Katherine from her oriel eyrie settles
sighs upon the bride, mourns the sharp felt losses of her womb.

The ghost of Anne Boleyn takes flight above the newlyweds,
keening, riven, cradling the scabby blot of her pitied head.
She makes an anomaly, bat-seeming in the bright of day –

nobody sees, fixated as they are on the lucky pair. Anne cries
her murder out – her neck weeps. I fear the woeful blood
might spatter the snow of that perfect Givenchy dress.

Jane Burn’s poems have appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies. She recently won first prize in the PENfro Festival Poetry Competition. Her next collection, One of These Dead Places will shortly be available from Culture Matters.

Dr Frankenstein’s Beauty Tips for Monsters, by F.R. Kesby

 

You trawled through Bikini Babes. You searched in Hottest Celebs. You scoured Fitness Goal Bods. You rifled through Silky Skinned Sirens. You poured over Instagram Stars You Wish You Were.

You snipped yourself a pair of perfect legs. You chose a flawless face. You cut out a pair of breath-taking breasts. You tore out luxurious locks. You selected a set of stupendous abs.

You pick out what they tell you is desirable. Is desired. You make yourself a beautiful monster. Each hole you cut in a magazine is a hole you cut in yourself.

F. R. Kesby is a poet and storyteller from Leeds. She has headlined gigs including for Stirred, Word Club and NeurodiVERSE and her work has appeared in magazines and journals such as OFI, Laldy and Strix. She also writes for Spoons and Toons (https://faykesby.wordpress.com/) and Women’s Republic (http://www.womensrepublic.net/author/fay-kesby/).

The Letter I Dare Not Send To David Walliams, by Geraldine Ward

 

This letter isn’t an epic piece of flattery.
In fact it’s not really
worth the pain
to explain,
I am writing this on
the notes of my phone,
like a typical twenty-first century
media whore or vulture.

I think you know what’s coming next,
one of those pompous requests
for your time and services.
All I can say is I love the look on Simon Cowell’s face,
when you are locked in an embrace.
I have watched ‘Little Britain’ to death,
placed posters of Lou and Andy on my wall,
not a pretty picture in a hostel,
with comments such as ‘I don’t like it’
and ‘I want that one.’

If I were to be a ‘Little Britain’character
I would be Marjorie Dawes
because I really love cake,
but rather more than a bit of dust.

My son loves your books,
I think he has all of them now,
though hoping he won’t become
one of the world’s worst children
after reading their
delightfully naughty
escapades.

I have a signed copy of the book
about you and Matt Lucas.
My sister wangled one
for my birthday some years ago.
Well, that is a lie, her friend did,
because she was working, to do
it for her, then pretended
she bothered and chatted with you.

I would dearly love it
if you could visit
my son’s school.
The children and adults really do
all love your books too.
As a writer and comedian,
you seriously crack me up.

I am sure you are used to getting
a gazillion requests like this.
I just hope this one
is slightly different.

Hope to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Geraldine

Geraldine Ward is a mother, author,  and poet from Kent. She has had work published in ‘The Blue Nib’ edited by Shirley Bell, ‘I am not a silent poet,’ edited by Reuben Woolley and ‘Writers Cafe Magazine’ edited by Marie Lightman, among others. She plays piano and ukulele. Her twitter feed is @GWardAuthor

Denis of Hackney, by John Davison

 

Comic craftsman, Denis Norden, gone at ninety-six
Settling into heaven, to play his verbal tricks.
Catching up with colleague Frank, two miners of great mirth,
You’ve left a joyful legacy of incalculable worth.

He worked behind the curtains, shifting props and scenery,
Ran a cinema in Watford and got a job at BBC.
Writing for Dick Bentley, and later Richard Briers,
Competing against Eric Sykes, and friends of Barry Cryer’s.

They ruled the roost for four decades, Denis Norden and Frank Muir,
You tickled all our funny bones, we couldn’t ask for more.
Enriching our vocabulary, provoking those in power,
Maximising merriment in every wireless hour.

Our descent into vulgarity you generally ignore,
You helped to archive quips and jokes from those who passed before.
It saddened me to read about your unexpected death
Now no new dialogue can flow from Dad, or Ron, or Eth.

You helped expose the fibs behind the adverts on TV,
The way commercial pressures tend to filter what we see.
You wrote some scripts for Hollywood, but never lost your touch
With families who think that West End theatres charge too much.

Alternative comedians now struggle to hold sway,
Not many have the stamina to write a film or play.
Britons watching widened screens will not forget you lightly,
But those traffic lights in Bal-ham no longer shine so brightly.

John Davison is a London-born writer of parodies, poems and lyrics, often on topical issues. He admires unusual puns and wordplay, frequents open mics in outer London, collaborating with musicians whenever opportunities present themselves. He supports a Twitter account https://twitter.com/sidsaucer

On Writing Poetry, by Nikki Fine

 

I have no inkling how to start,
And listen to these words in vain:
“Technique is just the Greek for art.”

The moment when true lovers part,
A wartime death, a drop of rain –
I have no inkling how to start.

I seek the words to set apart
A poem sure to bring me fame,
With no technique to make it art.

An idea’s there within my heart;
Thesauruses must take the strain
For I’ve no inkling how to start

And clogged up rhyme, and counterpart
Strict rhythm, make themselves the bane
Of technique, just the Greek for art!

Heroic couplets won’t impart
Enough to fool my struggling brain.
I have no inkling how to start
And technique’s all just Greek for art.

Nikki Fine is a former teacher who would now rather have some fun in life. She has previously had poems published in The Interpreter’s House, Riggwelter and the Oxford Magazine, and has been long-listed for the Fish International Poetry Prize.

Catcht Oot, by Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon

 

Yis grindle grinder drosses off
hindneath hyst silkun ballons.
Hym telt hystself,
Nay bodies peepwatched mun plezure,
mun rod encumbered by mun tinglers.
Yis grinder trust hyst portal keyed up tootall tite,
Mae, hym discollect hyst damen’s mudder.
Herst haft ansistin unt key, ket por emgenzees.
Wist na bell-warnen ou alarums, herst cum tryst-soft
yis ink-drenched nycht. Hersta optycks largen
mosecs avaunt his staffthix spurtles y floops.
Hersta cheekles flambé, y hersta gottenfort enteer
yis grinder ist hersta suna, bie wedvow ohdidohs.
Hersta limbles lythen, hersta cardo pinds y pomps
ast herst flicks y grinds yis enshamed grindle yute.

Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon
Ceinwen lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been widely published in web magazines and in print anthologies. She graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University in 2017. She believes everyone’s voices counts.

Not Getting Dressed, by Frank Dixon

 

You can’t put your shoes on
because all the left ones
have crabs in.

Your tops all have spiders in them.

There are aliens
in your knickers.

There are beetles
in your skin.

Take your face off.
Then, you will just be blood.

Or, you can go out naked.

Frank Dixon is originally from Chorlton, Manchester. He now lives in a valley just outside Huddersfield. His poem ‘Impatience’ was published in ‘I bet I can make you laugh’ by Bloomsbury in August 2018. He likes computer and board games, and loves precious things.

Malacophagy, by Mark Totterdell

 

In a pub that overlooked saltwater,
I ate a heap of mussels,
so sweet, so soft, I never tasted better,
well worth the mess and hassle.

On the beach at Sidmouth, one damp summer,
I chewed into a whelk,
a plug of solid snot or slimy rubber
not fit for decent folk.

In a big marquee one time, in public,
I went down on an oyster.
The sea was rising, falling in my gullet
for what seemed ever after.

By the Med, with chips, I chomped on suckers
of deep-fried octopus.
I fear my smart and subtle distant cousin
was hardly well-served thus.

‘Mark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines and have occasionally won competitions. His collections are ‘This Patter of Traces’ (Oversteps Books, 2014) and ‘Mapping’ (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018; http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/mark-totterdell/4594336680).’