The Birds and Bees at Aldi’s Checkout, by Lorraine Carey

The Birds and Bees at Aldi’s Checkout

Showering my five year old
one evening in the run up
to Christmas, he casually
enquired whether Santa Claus
could see his privates,
and hear him fart in bed.

Stifling a laugh I realised days before,
I’d declared Santa could
see and hear everything
At the supermarket checkout,
he asked do I have to be a Granddad
when I grow up ?

Bagging groceries as fast as I could,
I replied, well, that depends
and you would need to be a Dad first.
I knew what was coming
and so did the shoppers in the queue.
He appeared a bit flummoxed

and asked how do I be a Dad then ?
Using age appropriate language,
I attempted an answer while loading
the boot, hoped it would suffice,
explaining it would be a really, really
long time before he was a man and had

to worry about a girlfriend or things like that.
Driving home, he hummed Jingle Bells
behind me, elevated in a booster seat,
with his chocolate crusted cupid’s bow,
firing off questions to his teddy
like sparks from a Catherine Wheel,

saving this one just for me.
Mum, what if I’m all growed up
in love like a man with my lady
and forget what I have to do ?

Lorraine Carey’s a poet from Greencastle, Donegal. Her poems are widely anthologised and have appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, The Waxed Lemon, One, Abridged, Poetry Birmingham, The High Window, Ink Sweat &Tears, Orbis, Eunoia Review and The Honest Ulsterman. Her art and photography have also featured online and in print.

 

There Was Once A Girl with Red Glasses, by Pip McDonald

There Was Once a Girl with Red Glasses

There was once a girl with red glasses
She wasn’t the same as other lasses
Her specs became
Her eternal flame
It was she was different from the masses

The glasses were clearly special
They were made of magic metal
When she took them off
The magic was lost
Like a flower who lost a petal

She tried to wear different colours
But alas life became duller
She became depressed
Lust for life was less
She just couldn’t cope with another

The answer was simply red
Or she would be found dead
She would fall down
To the ground
To red she would be wed

There will simply never be another frame
And life will never be the same
They looked after her face
Like a warm embrace
It makes her want to dance in the rain

She couldn’t live without her specs
Without them she would become a wreck
Her red is on
She’s got it going on
Red is really better than sex

Some people say she should change
But she thinks that this would be strange
Why fix it if it works?
Because red rules the world
Her glasses make her sane

There was once girl with red glasses
Who rose like a phoenix from the ashes
She never looked back
Red is the new black
Eyes flickering with red flashes

Red was in her DNA
A revolution, the one, the way
Red was the light
It shines so bright
Red glass are here to stay

Pip McDonald writes and performs her own poetry and is a DJ for The Thursday Night Show. Pip has written and performed original poetry both in an online capacity and at live open mic events including Conversations make Connections event, part of London Festival of Ideas organised by Open Ealing Art Centre, the Oxford University English Society Poetry Night, Write Out Loud and Gobjaw in London. You can follow Pip on Twitter: @PipMac6
Photograph

 

AlApHaBeTi-KiNtSuGi, by Mandy Beattie

AlApHaBeTi-KiNtSuGi

a poem or three or seven
on the march
should be the easel on which it squats thrusting
its chin out & leaving

beetroot stains & cyan

on finger prints hectares after it’s been written
and read it should
dive into a murmuration of starlings & larks not treading
water as jellyfish do but leave us
rubber-necking miles after it’s been seeded into

a stanza-pancake dripping

butter & gooseberry jam with dollops

of double cream melting

in the mouth with or without capitals
commas & fullstops for Pollock’s art
of oxygen in a tempest of ukulele
& didgeridoo or the unexpected hiccough
of spilt manuka ginger & star-anise

scratching a dictionary & search engines in caps
& gowns or street-smarts clamping the thesaurus
for a lethologica word lethonomia word

or a tsunami-tumbrel of words
that leave me

trapezing back to fidget it
leaving it
to brew
for weeks coddled & culled until it has no more
hem for honing as it shoogle’s its grommet
into the groove
of the world where it thumbs mulched wood
a gold Cup Bearer in the winning
of 5 stars from Cassiopeia maybe
or maybe knot?

 

Life Isn’t All Baubles, by Janet Sillett

Life isn’t all baubles

Who wants to win the bloody Booker anyway,
invaded by Yanks
Who wants to be longlisted with the cranks
the false prophets, the portentous
the simply crap
a novel in one sentence
what the fuck is that?

I could change my name to Hilary Mantel
or write a plotless endless novel in unreadable dialect, a hook
for the organic middle class and middle brow
riding on the zeitgeist of identity,
with requisite socio-political angst

Surely enough for the long list?

The taxi to the Guildhall, plague permitting,
smiling grimly at a table weighed down by hubris,
and quinoa burgers and beetroot three ways,
the BBC’s reverential tones on the big screen
selfies on iphones, rehearsing the perfect modest phrase

The Guardian interview in a Shoreditch bar
in battered leather jacket and trainers
keeping back the tears, haltingly, I expose
my childhood in a Coventry cult
and how, kept awake by culture wars, each night
I go through darkness to achieve light

all lies of course

A pay out for those dreary days, the barren room,
chain smoking in the dark, as the words die in mid air
the spent matrimony
the acrimony of failure

But do I really want to win the Booker
to choke on its self-congratulation high art pretention
the cattiness, the condescension,
when I can be signing paperbacks in a Luton basement
with the idlers and the curious,
dozing between the dysfunctional and exiles from the drizzle.

And later sprawled out drunk in the town fountain, trousers half mast
a dystopian baptism snapped for the local rag,
a late dog walker in her Barbour jacket turned away aghast,
whilst my face stares out from the sole shabby bookstore,
displaying my first, my best, my only hit novel?

Janet Sillett recently took up writing poetry and short fiction again after decades of absence. She has had poems published in the Galway Advertiser, Poetry Plus magazine, Green Ink Poetry and Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis, Paws for Pause and flash fiction in Litro. She works for a think tank.

 

Dressing up in Lockdown, by Shanta Acharya

DRESSING UP IN LOCKDOWN

A pristine summer’s day, sparkling like champagne,
perfect for giving my garments an airing.
At home in a bubble of my own, lounging
in pyjama and dressing gown, numbering
my days’ illusions, comfort reigns over style.
My wardrobe reprimands me, cries in chorus
– saris complaining the loudest of not being
touched, embraced, admired – their silks, chiffons,
satins, crepes, georgettes, chanderis mothballed
in tissue, chide me for starving myself
in the midst of plenty. Unable to ignore their
pleas, I wear a sari with matching jewellery,
spray myself with Immortal and Eternity,
with a glass of bubbly watch Downton Abbey.

In the words of Mimi Khalvati, Shanta Acharya’s ‘poetry shows a rare combination of lyricism, intelligence, sagacity and a wicked sense of humour.’ The author of twelve books, her most recent collections are What Survives Is The Singing (Indigo Dreams, 2020) and Imagine: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, 2017). www.shanta- acharya.com

 

I Have Something to Say About Crochet, by Carla Scarano D’Antonio

I have something to say about crochet

I was trained by my mother
when I was only 5 or 6
and could make granny squares and doilies
with tiny hooks and bright cotton.

She taught me how to chain first,
I made long ones coiling around my feet.
Then double crochet, treble, half treble, double treble.
They developed in patterns,
in things to use and wear.
Can you believe there are people who don’t value such a work?

The long solitary confinement of lockdown
required emergency.
I intensified my crochet work,
survival was suffused with the rituals of choosing the thread,
matching the colours, developing patterns
and creating something I felt.

How to break the sadness of isolation?
How to heal the unhappiness of lost social cohesion?
The thrill of creation, the minutiae of the stitches
were extra revelations.
I shivered with recovery.

Carla Scarano D’Antonio obtained her MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and has published her creative work in magazines and reviews. Her short collection Negotiating Caponata was published in July 2020. She was awarded a PhD on Margaret Atwood’s work at the University of Reading in April 2021.
http://www.carlascaranod.co.uk/

 

Something Fishy . . . By Carole Donaldson

This is what culminated from a brief encounter at Sainsbury’s. It took five minutes to make up a rhyme about the extremely brief dalliance, but I think I had a close shave and dodged a bullet, yet unfortunately if the guy hadn’t been in such a hurry to ‘get his leg over’ we could have made fine music together, but I’m pleased that I usually always go with my gut feeling about things, and this guy was far too forward for comfort. Shame, really, he wasn’t bad looking but he let his mouth run away with him.

SOMETHING FISHY …

I met a man, while out shopping, at the salmon counter,
he came over quite suave and quite slick,
a few weeks on from that chance encounter,
he turned out to be naught but a fanciful dick

He kissed me and hugged me the minute we met
So charming – he addressed me “Dear Madam”
But how familiar is it right for a stranger to get
When I didn’t even know him from Adam

We exchanged our phone numbers and as days went by
I waited to hear from this Casanova
But I’d text and then wait but get no reply
So before it begun, it was practically over

He finally rang and arranged that we meet
His excuse for no contact? He preferred not to text
We went for a coffee on a posh market street
Where he wasted no time saying how much he loved sex

Well, I was appalled and quite taken aback
It was far too soon to be talking that way
But he took me to lunch, at Kings Road Seafood Shack
And when the huge bill came, he was happy to pay

(80 quid’s-worth of food was devoured that day)

Though we chatted at lunch and duly both laughed
With the same sense of humour we shared
I got a bad vibe and I thought myself daft
I could’ve been an old boot and I don’t think he’d’ve cared.

He mentioned the sex thing again I had noted
He clearly had his own agenda
He was quite up front, not a thing sugar-coated
And showed himself up to be a pretender

This encounter has taught me to be somewhat wary
This chap had manners like a pen full of swine
His ulterior motives can seem somewhat scary
But in truth that’s his problem, and certainly not mine

It’s been over a week now and he’s disappeared
At his hinted intentions, I told him where to go
Asking if I was adventurous – far too forward I feared
And on that score the arse’ole will now never know

 

Too Many Straights, by Claire Duthie

There are too many straights on telly
The situation has really got very silly
And out of hand
Wny don’t you understand?

There’s far too much prancing
On strictly come dancing

Wny wallow in the mire
And watch ” married at first sight?”
It really, really is dire.

Lionel Blair
Is no longer there

Mayday, maidez
Paul O Grady

Heaven help us
Russell T Davies

 

Frames, by Eddie Gibbons

FRAMES

He met her at the Art Gallery.

Made eyes at her
across a Caravaggio.

Saw her framed against a Miro.

Watched her glide along
an avenue of Monets.

She saw him standing
like a prick
between two Pollocks.

Published in ‘The Republic of Ted’, Thirsty Books, Edinburgh, 2003.

Eddie Gibbons has six published poetry collections. ‘What They Say About You’ was shortlisted for the ‘Scottish Poetry Book of the Year’, 2011. He was a prizewinner in the inaugural ‘Edwin Morgan Poetry Competition’, 2008. He has a poem in the Bloodaxe anthology ‘Land of Three Rivers’. Twitter- @1Eddie_Gibbons

 

Oh Me!, by beam

Oh Me!
I am a soggy biscuit
I am murking
at the bottom
of your
mug

I am a sang-widge
you thought you threw away…
a Summer ago

I am a surprise from a stranger
who’s known to the Gardaí
you didn’t wear your glasses
you thought I was waving
but I was wanking

beam is a 26 year old poet from Ireland. She has participated in workshops led by Kevin Higgins, read at Galway City’s Literary Organisation event ”Over The Edge” and has been published in Cabinet Of Heed, Broadsheet.ie, Impspired, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Spilling Hot Cocoa Over Martin Amos, WordCityLit, Ink Sweat and Tears & Open Skies. Recent work includes; surviving the pandemic and several disappointing sourdough loaves. She is becoming the kind of person who says the things you ”aren’t supposed to say”. You can find more of her poetry @personalbeam on instagram.