Body Art, by Jennifer A. McGowan

Body Art

Elephant face on the outside of his arm.
They tried to discourage him. Think of your kids,
they said. He laughed. Think of aging,
they said. I’ll get old and wrinkly, he smiled.
Like an elephant.

Jennifer A. McGowan is a disabled poet and re-enactor who generally prefers the fifteenth century but is addicted to indoor plumbing. Awkward. She has five collections out, and a sixth is currently under scrutiny by editors.

 

Loyalty Penalty, by John Lanyon

LOYALTY PENALTY

Dear Sir or Madam,
your Policy of Love is due for Renewal.

Wait!

It pays to shop around.
Switch now!
Whatever your offer we’ll beat it.
Comprehensive Love?
Damage to a Third Party?
We guarantee a minimum Level of Affection.
In the event of a Breakdown
we supply a Courtesy Partner
(for up to 28 days).
Choose your Level of Excess.
Suddenly kicked out by your Lover?
We’ll find you a lonely Bed-Sit.
Add European Cover? No Problem!
Add a Spiritual Dimension? Easy!

Note: we do not replace matching Items.
We do not operate a new-for-old Policy.

Indemnify your Heart!

You’re covered –
should you fall from Grace*.

*Terms and Conditions apply.

John Lanyon

John Lanyon lives in West Oxfordshire where he works as a gardener, linguist, musician and writer. He is approximately 25% of the poetry quartet www.fourwordsmen.com . He is excited by the secret lives of words, the play between the animate and inanimate worlds, the spirit of places.

 

Jack Kerouac’s Orange (An Origin Myth) by Cáit O’Neill McCullagh

Jack Kerouac’s Orange (An Origin Myth)

Your mind makes out the orange by seeing it, hearing it, touching it, smelling it, tasting it
and thinking about it … depending on your mind to exist! By itself it’s a no-thing …
it’s seen only of your mind
– Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Like Jack Kerouac’s Orange
I am awake for you baby
baby taste this flesh, smell
smell the myth of limonene
this orange wants to be seen
see me, hear me, touch me
make me become.

Make me a some-thing baby
baby don’t you feel the want
want to feel how it is
how it is to be empty
empty & awake & a no-thing
nothing unless of your mind?

Spilled out like squeezed sea
sea squeezed from an orange
a sodden orange from a Spanish ship
shipwrecked & empty & a no-thing
nothing except for the mind of a poet

‘thinking about it it’s really mental
things only seen of your own mind’.

But Jack got it wrong baby
I am not your orange
you may have me
in your mind’s eye
thinking about it & me
& all that existential baby

& you may say you saw me
saw me only & only me
& only of your mind

but it was me who was looking
baby I was looking at the apple
& it was me who was awake
awake & looking at the apple
it was always me baby
baby it was always me
who took the first bite.

Cáit is a straying archaeologist. At home in the Scottish Highlands, she makes films and writing with folk hoping to assemble good ways of living in this queasy world. Poems have been peeling from her since January 2021. This is one of her first. You can find her tweeting @kittyjmac.

 

Knock Knock, by Ed Poetastic

Knock,Knock
Who’s there?
Knock, Knock
Should I care?
Knock, Knock
Do I dare?
Knock, Knock,
yes I can hear, I’m aware.
Knock, Knock,
I didn’t do it!! I swear!!
Knock, knock,
I don’t need a prayer!
Knock, Knock
My house doesn’t need repair!
Knock, Knock,
I don’t need any cookware!
Knock, Knock
I don’t need any armchairs!
Knock, knock
I’m losing my hair!!!
knock, knock
Don’t have money to spare
Knock,Knock
OMG!! I’m in a nightmare!!!
Knock, Knock
Are you a Grizzly Bear!!
Knock, Knock
I’m only in my underwear!
Knock, Knock
please just be air
Knock, Knock
I have nothing to share
Knock, Knock
This isn’t a freaking daycare!!
Knock, Knock
Sigh Yes, I’m here. Are you still there

By Ed Poetastic

My name is Ed Poetastic and I’m here to make you feel fantastic. I’m regular at open mic such as Nuyorican, Barbwire, Grassroots, Antics Open Mic, Poetry Cafe, The Mitch Salon, Phynnecabulary Open Mic, Time to Arrive, The Word is Write, Unmesh Life Open Mic, Tokyo Kotoba, and many more. I was interviewed by Rick Spisak, Pal Sujata, and Harrison Hickman. My Facebook is Eddy Foreman and My Ig is edforeman92.

 

A man on the 19.34 to Birmingham New Street, having misread the signals, uses his mobile to try to arrange another date with the woman who has hastily waved him off at Liverpool Lime Street , by Emma Purshouse

A man on the 19.34 to Birmingham New Street, having misread the signals,
uses his mobile to try to arrange another date with the woman who has
hastily waved him off at Liverpool Lime Street

Whah?
Say again.

I bet yum freezing
ya baps off ay ya,
bab? Say again.
Say again. Whah?

I could come back

like, warm you up.
Whah? Say again.

Say again. Whah?

Errrrr……Runcorn.

Say again? Whah?

Thursday. Thurs…

Say again. I know,

yeah. Say…………

Ok…………..Tarrah.

Tarrahtarrahtarrah.

 

To Professor John Henderson, by Maria Andrews

To Professor John Henderson, about my/his belly.

John,

Would be great to cut a fine figure.
I do, says your belly,
Swaying on my two pins.
Uh huh? I’m listening, I say.
Yeah, I cut a fine figure of a Henderson belly
asking John for a hug.

You’ve got persistence going for ya,
I give you that. Yeah I have,
my/your belly drawls,
taking a long drag of a cigarette,
I’ll ask him till the day I die. I placate curve
with smoothing palm.

Are you thinking about John now?
John Henderson belly closes her eyes.
Yeah. All his vocatives rolled
into one tumbling waterfall of cadences.
What about his ablatives, his hyperbatons?
All cases. All cadences. One long

Belly schmoosh. His semantic analytics?
His patterns? His parsings? His epics?
His topsy turvey word order?
My belly is opening her lips, lost
for words. His exploratory thematics?
She’s gone, lost in loin-louche.

Maria Andrews is a short film maker and photographer who occasionally gets published in poetry mags (Polka Dot Ceiling, Still Life) and was once published in a collection (Bloody Amazing). Her current alias is a puppet called Leopold, who is a London correspondent for Helmiflix.com She likes belly laughs. manifestafilm@weebly.com.

 

Do Come to my Party, by Ruth Aylett

Do come to my party..

This time, just for close friends
so no Facebook public event;
I’m celebrating the spring equinox
but haha – without fertility rites.

I am not inviting anyone’s ex
as far as I know, but nobody said
last time about Liz and Dean
or Janice and Liz, or the tragic death.

This time the veggie option
will not contain chicken stock
and I told everyone no hash brownies,
whether labelled or not.

The party games will all be voluntary;
there will be no charades
acting out cocktail names,
no removal of clothes.

No dog-sitters will bring the pooch,
another time for the twins with AHD
and we already established
next doors cat won’t fit the BB Q

This time no stand-back-fifty-metre
fireworks in the tenement’s back green;
it’s the wrong time of year
and the facing flats weren’t keen.

Though the emergency services
were actually rather pleasant
and the front door
has now been mended.

RSVP. Do come!

Ruth Aylett teaches/researches computing in Edinburgh and her poetry is published widely in magazines/anthologies. Joint author of Handfast (Mother’s Milk, 2016); her pamphlet, Pretty in Pink (4Word) was published Jan2021. More at http://www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~ruth/writing.html

 

Golfing Heaven, by Paul Francis

GOLFING HEAVEN

I hope there’s golfing heaven.
I’m sure there’s golfing hell.
I visit it most weekends –
I know it really well.

The devils haunt me from the tee
They mock my grip, my stance.
“Should you be doing this at your age?”
They think I’ve got no chance.

I shan’t give in. Some practice swings,
I‘m made of sterner stuff.
They smile and clap sarcastically
As I blaze into the rough.

The bunkers seem to chuckle
They’re driving me insane;
The way my chip shot hits the edge
Then bounces back again.

There’s the giggling of banshees
Who devour my inner soul
As once again a two-foot putt
Goes bobbling round the hole.

So as my scores get higher
Par threes take six or seven
I like to dream of changing course –
A move to golfing heaven.

Where drives zip down the fairway
Chips always reach the green
And wedge shots from the bunker
Are the finest ever seen.

It’s hard to pick a highlight
When everything is fine;
Was it the eagle at the fifth?
The albatross on nine?

The clubhouse beer is nectar
All members are my friends.
The round is only eighteen holes
But the feeling never ends.

For there’ll be no more sorrow
In the solace I have found.
They’ll smile and say “Tomorrow
We’ll play another round.”

Paul Francis lives in Shropshire, and is active in the West Midlands poetry scene. He has won three national competitions, and in 2020 came second in the Beyond the Storm poetry competition (2,381 entries). His most recent collection is Rescue from the Dark (Fair Acre Press, 2021).

 

Their Relationship Inventory, by Kevin Higgins

Their Relationship Inventory

He’s proof there’s nothing as loud and long
as an idea whose time will hopefully never come.
She’s the type who gets illnesses,
her own, and other people’s.
Shutting him up is like trying to screw down the lid
on a coffin full of alligators,
all in a rush to get to the airport.
His list of those who need to be taken out and garrotted
is thick as Ghislaine Maxwell’s black book,
and always being updated.
Her sulks are more protracted
than a bad summer in Kilkee.
He’s the sort who paints a mayonnaise and chocolate
Jackson Pollock
on the new furniture she spent months choosing
within five minutes;
though, about the household accounts,
he’s uptight as a pro-lifer’s under-elastic.

And when she ran him over
in the small car he bought her
for her birthday
and didn’t visit him in hospital afterwards,
he sat up in bed and announced:
he was choosing not
to take this personally.

That she’ll be back
to run him over again.

KEVIN HIGGINS

Kevin Higgins is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway. He has published five full collections of poems: The Boy With No Face (2005), Time Gentlemen, Please (2008), Frightening New Furniture (2010), The Ghost In The Lobby (2014), & Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital (2019). His poems also feature in Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010) and in The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed Neil Astley, Bloodaxe May 2014). Kevin was satirist-in-residence with the alternative literature website The Bogman’s Cannon 2015-16. 2016 – The Selected Satires of Kevin Higgins was published by NuaScéalta in 2016. The Minister For Poetry Has Decreed was published by Culture Matters (UK) also in 2016. Song of Songs 2:0 – New & Selected Poems was published by Salmon in Spring 2017. Kevin is a highly experienced workshop facilitator and several of his students have gone on to achieve publication success. He has facilitated poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre and taught Creative Writing at Galway Technical Institute for the past fifteen years. Kevin is the Creative Writing Director for the NUI Galway International Summer School and also teaches on the NUIG BA Creative Writing Connect programme. His poems have been praised by, among others, Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul, Observer columnist Nick Cohen, writer and activist Eamonn McCann, historian Ruth Dudley Edwards, and Sunday Independent columnist Gene Kerrigan; and have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times (London), Hot Press magazine, The Daily Mirror and on The Vincent Browne Show, and read aloud by Ken Loach at a political meeting in London. He has published topical political poems in publications as various as The New European, The Morning Star, Dissent Magazine (USA), Village Magazine (Ireland), & Harry’s Place. The Stinging Fly magazine has described Kevin as “likely the most widely read living poet in Ireland”. One of Kevin’s poems features in A Galway Epiphany, the final instalment of Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor series of novels which is just published. His work has been broadcast on RTE Radio, Lyric FM, and BBC Radio 4. His book The Colour Yellow & The Number 19: Negative Thoughts That Helped One Man Mostly Retain His Sanity During 2020 is was published late last year by Nuascealta. His extended essay Thrills & Difficulties: Being A Marxist Poet In 21st Century Ireland is just published in pamphlet form by Beir Bua Press. Kevin’s sixth full poetry collection, Ecstatic, will be published by Salmon in March 2022.

 

Bubble Wrap Blues, by Pete Mullineaux

Bubble Wrap Blues

Stack away the coffin boards – pack away the nails,
moor that boat for Avalon, lower down the sails.
Place me on a bed of foam before I take a nap,
swaddle me in comfort,
bury me in bubble wrap.

Take down the big marquee – pay off the cabaret,
cancel the choirboys and girls – come back another day.
Hold back the holy waters, the tree bark with no sap,
let a band of homeless sing –
‘bury me in bubble wrap.’

No bankers to hold the handles, no regulator prayers,
no corporate greed to drive the hearse, no soft landing soothsayers.
No message from our leader, no sentimental crap,
give me a dry-eyed crocodile,
bury me in bubble wrap.

If I rage into the night, can’t take it on the chin,
find it all too much to bear and go without a grin –
let the feelings run and run like a leaking tap,
lend me a suit of armour,
bury me in bubble wrap.

Farewell world it’s been a gas, a never ending joke,
banana skins to beat the band, fun-loving goats to poke.
Laugh me forward to my spot, place me in the trap,
bundle me in comedy,
bury me in bubble wrap.

Life is just a holiday, brief relief from nothing,
huff and puff and other stuff, we get on by bluffing.
But even an off-performance deserves a slow handclap,
minimise the damage,
bury me in bubble wrap.

What’s done is done, no mileage in regret
if it wasn’t exactly all my way, too late to get upset.
The exit doors are beckoning, time to mind the gap,
don’t spare the layers,
bury me in bubble wrap.

Pete Mullineaux has published four poetry collections, most recently How to Bake a Planet (Salmon 2016) – “A gem” – Poetry Ireland Review. A new collection is forthcoming in 2022. He’s been interviewed on RTE’s Arena and also had three plays produced by RTE radio. His work has been described by reviewers as ‘profoundly sensitive’ ‘gorgeous and resonant’ & ‘grimly funny’, and comparisons made with Roger McGough, John Clare, John Cooper-Clarke and Pete Seeger. His debut novel Jules & Rom: Sci-fi meets Shakespeare (Troubador UK) was published in April 2021, (‘Certainly worth a gander’ – Irish Times). following an ebook version in 2020. Website: petemullineauxwriter.com