I’m tired of being Surrey
with vowels of pure cut glass
surface good intentions
and Pilates perfect arse
I’m tired of being Surrey
with legs like licorice sticks
tipped into boots, DuBarry
where obese is still size six
I’m tired of being Surrey
with hair five shades of fair
driving blind to others
volunteering just to care
I’m tired of being Surrey
sunglasses half my face
Botox, fillers, collagen
and running out of space
but being here in Surrey
it’s full of all things green
Pesto sauce and olives
and kale to keep me lean
I think I’ll stay in Surrey
though not so near a beach
I’ll take up Bikram yoga
and do my roots, so pass the bleach.
It Always Starts with Jumpers for Penguins
Stitch small. You’re covering
apology, not sin. Light fabric’s best,
to match their bones.
Flash colours. British birds
are little brown jobbies. They yearn
to steal the jazz of peacocks, lay down
a riff of hypersonic tremolos. Cardinals
want dominos, to pass unnoticed.
Mind the seams are on the outside.
You don’t want to ruffle feathers.
Confessions Of A Teenage Cigarette Smoker
Woodbines were my first: the cheapest, the commonest. Whose Dad hadn’t angled one in his mouth, picked flecks of tobacco off his tongue as he stooped on the front path, mended the puncture on his pushbike? Angela, my classmate, nicked some from her brother, invited me to her house in the school holidays. My throat raged. I dripped ash, burned a hole in my favourite dress. Never again, I vowed. Mum and Dad hadn’t suspected, knew I always rode home on the top deck of the bus where passengers flipped open packets of Players, Senior Service, Park Drive, swathed everyone in smoke. Four years later, in the Kardomah, New Street, I took drags of Silk Cut between sips of percolated coffee, shared steamy Sixth Form chat about D.H.Lawrence and The Rainbow. I made new friends at college. We pooled our Embassy Regal coupons, saved up for a hair dryer. I sampled Disque Bleu with my French pal Cathie, pretended I enjoyed the acrid taste, the dizzying after-kick. If I closed my eyes, I drifted on a pungent haze to Paris, the Metro, the pages of a Francoise Sagan novel. In my final year, I met a boy who loved me, bought me Lindt chocolate bars and shots of vodka and lime. My heart thumped when he placed two Dunhills between his lips, lit both cigarettes and handed one to me.
Sheila Jacob lives in N. E. Wales with her husband. Born and raised in Birmingham. she finds her Brummie ancestry a source of inspiration. She’s had poems published in many U.K magazines and webzines, is working on her first pamphlet and hoping life begins at seventy-one.
THEY HIRE A BADMINTON CHAMP TO COMMENT ON WIMBLEDON
First I must explain some crucial things:
Yes, there are racquets strung with strings,
But what you are about to see
Would shock you without some notes from me.
The racquets are clunky in the extreme—
They must handle like a wooden beam.
The shuttlecock becomes a ball, completely round,
And the heavy nets reach to the ground!
This ball can bounce before you hit it
Or not, if you’re fast enough to get it.
The game goes on for hours outside in the sun
And you will probably fall asleep before it’s done.
If you think the game sounds arcane and boring,
Just wait until you hear about the scoring!
Sarah Lawson, Anglo-American, lives in London and has always delighted in stringing words together. Educated at Indiana University and the University of Glasgow, among a few other places. Besides poetry, she has written a play, a novel, and two memoirs plus some translations, mostly from French.
More like a farmer’s wife
than a ballet dancer.
I know a farmer’s wife,
delicate as a fawn,
voice soft as moss,
face a sun-tipped flower.
I know a ballet dancer
who could squeeze the life
from the strongest man
using only her thighs.
Lesley Quayle is a prize-winning poet, an editor, folk/blues singer and co-founder of 4Word Poetry Press. (https://www.4word.org/about/) Her next collection, Invisible Woman, is due out later this year from Yaffle. She is also a retired sheep farmer.
An Archaeology Student Thinks about Sex in Maes Howe Chambered Tomb
She’s aware that Gavin’s staring at her bum
as she bends double, clambers along
the long dark passageway into the tomb.
The others follow, cluster round, eager to learn.
Her lecturer begins his talk; all about midwinter
when this tomb aligns with the setting sun.
He offers theories -
about it being a humongous womb,
the sun-god penetrating the long stone vagina,
rays striking the back wall, impregnating Mother Earth,
ensuring fertility and good harvests in the year to come.
As theories go, it’s pretty good.
Gavin’s standing close, she feels his body heat
in this claustrophobic chamber.
All this talk of penetration, sexual congress overwhelms;
her nipples tingle. She moves, imperceptibly,
leans in towards him. Feels his breath upon her neck.
Tonnie Richmond has, since she retired from working in Local Government, spent her time either doing archeology in Orkney or writing poems. As the digging gets harder, she finds writing a slightly easier choice. She has had several poems published and is currently working on a collection of poems about Orkney.
Bryan Franco is from Brunswick, Maine, USA. He is published in the US, Australia, England, Ireland, and Scotland, has featured for poetry events in the US, Canada, England, Ireland, and Scotland; hosts Café Generalissimo Open Mic; his book Everything I Think Is All In My Mindwas published in 2021.
Alternative Weather Fronts
(most not mentioned in the shipping forecast)
Erotic fronts are twerking
round both poles
whipping their hailstoned g-strings
into every nook and cranny
of the coast.
Erratic fronts have forgotten
to take their medication,
consequently it’s raining gin
and the snow is lemon sorbet
with water biscuits.
Exotic fronts are offering
a massage service
to ship wrecked mariners
who it’s likely will decide to stay
Esoteric fronts have discovered
surprising facts that are now written
for everyone to read
in towering cumuli
Ecstatic fronts are dizzy
with delight, causing spontaneous
dancing in the streets
spreading blissful havoc
Emetic fronts vomit –
they’re best avoided
by staying indoors.
Some people claim the Lion as their Spirit animal,
because of its bravery.
Some people choose a cheetah,
for its speed.
Others choose a Llama,
because of its habit of spitting.
Politicians choose Ostriches
because they bury their heads in the sand.
I would choose the Blob-Fish.
Patron saint of grumbling.
The living embodiment of the phrase,
‘Cheer up, it may never happen’
because people assume that IT is always a bad thing.
Supposing though, just for a moment, that IT
is a good thing, and being told it may never happen
only re-enforces the negativity.
The Blob-Fish was never once imbued with looks or charisma,
designer fashions, or even a useful role to play in the ocean,
knowing that it will be the punch line of a joke,
happier fish will tell him to cheer up,
when it is just his resting face,
and maybe if it had a better name,
it would feel better about itself.
By 2122, Facebook VR had, grown to involve—
500 million, accounts. Of dead people—
Meta, exclusively levelled,
On figural profits. zero-sum outcomes,
Heaping currency on your posthumous avatar.
By 2122, immersive dynamics, Rylan robotics and Kuramoto model,
Brought eternal equipoise of the cell—
Digital reanimation, made possible, through VR multi-verse —
Technological singularity, deterministic ontology—
Wonderous miracle of virtual afterlife.
By 2122, Moore’s law and Deus ex Machina,
Proven right—should have heeded Engels and Marx,
Even Televangelists were correct,
Money can buy a ticket to heaven.
Logical binary control structure: defunded species designed for hell.
By 2122, loop algorithms, going berserk —
Hobbesian leviathan, Homo Futuris—death destroyer of worlds—
the novel ape’s, dystopian trick, brassbound mastery—
Mystical Markov chain, myopic, ceteris paribus, homogeneity.
By 2122, sociobiological evolution—Darwin’s curse,
Unfashions the homo sapient.
Today —commercialisation, utilitarianism, gentrification—
Tomorrow—outmoded human chondriosomes.
Money buys both respect and right—
But money means a losing side, which side are you on?
Is there a choice? —start piling cash— monetary conduit—become Homo Futuris.
Alan is a Master of Arts graduate (set to feature in the upcoming LGBTQIA+ Anthology Peace in the Valley, 2022. He has also had poems featured in Hullwrites magazine (University of Hull), Poetry during lockdown (UCD) and Washington Square Review (upcoming). He has also featured poems in Consilience and BASCE journals. Alan is also a dog person.