What’s that?, by Judy Darley

What’s that?

I glimpsed a water vole.
You declared it a rat.
I wasn’t sure why it mattered.
One flourishes alongside
our slack species, the other
struggles amid choked rivers
in shrinking habitat.
Either way, I admire
the opportunists battling
to eke a life from scraps:
snub-nosed voles nibbling
their burrows neat door mats,
and rats thriving from dropped
chips and suspect kebabs.
Discarded snacks clog canals
and blood vessels alike.
I tell you, we’re all a little vole
and a bit rat, even if
we’d rather not admit that.

Judy Darley writes prose and poetry in Bristol, UK. She is the author of short fiction collections Sky Light Rain and Remember Me to the Bees. Her third collection, The Stairs are a Snowcapped Mountain, will be published by Reflex Press in 2022. You can find Judy at http://www.skylightrain.com; https://twitter.com/JudyDarley

 

Paddy Andy, by Joe Naughton

Joe Naughton has been writing poetry since 2017 which
derives mainly from memoir and topical issues.
He attends “Over the Edge” writing workshops with Kevin Higgins in Galway.
He has had poems published in Vox Galvia section of “Galway Advertiser”
and is a regular reader on online open mic platforms.

 

Doing It, by Heather Moulson

Doing It

Sexual intercourse did not begin for me.
In 1973.
That science lesson when we were told
we will all Have Sex in adulthood.
What?! Every night?! Doesn’t it hurt?!
I look down at my grey school skirt.
Girl’s faces screwed up in distaste.
Sir! Julie piped up, would we get paid?!

The lesson was a disaster,
Julie was sent to the headmaster

Against a tree during the miner’s strike,
Julie was known as the local bike.
But it wasn’t true, she was taking the piss,
it never went further than a kiss.
A french one with tongues, I believe,
although maybe I’m being naïve.
But she was intact like the rest of the class.
To be honest, it just sounded a pain in the arse.

 

Evolution of a Complaint, by Roisin Bugler

Evolution of a Complaint

Neanderthal man enters the cave
throws another carcass of deer
at Neanderthal woman’s feet.
Grunts and gesticulates towards fire.
Woman sighs loudly
throws arms up in exasperation
sets about preparation.

Always the same old meat.
He never cleans up the bones.
Not once has he covered the piss corner with dirt.
Same old charcoal for decorating the wall.
A bit of help with the babies would be nice.
He’s always out hunting with the guys.

I’d kill for a bit of mammoth
or red ochre
or a sleep on
Why can’t he just evolve and become a man?

Róisín Bugler is working on her TBW (to be written) pile.  She was the winner of Strokestown Percy French prize for Witty Verse and runner up in the Padraig Colum International Gathering competition both 2019.

 

Truth, by Maurice Devitt

Truth

In my early years,
The Zebra Book of Facts for Boys
was my go-to reference;
rarely stuck for a capital city, flag
or element on the Periodic Table.
It was only when, at fourteen,
I brought it as a comfort blanket on my first date,
that I realised its shortcomings:
the conversation flowed
as I sought to impress my consort
with the range of my general knowledge,
but when I left her to her door
and she asked me
if I’d ever kissed a girl before
I didn’t know the right answer.

A past winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland and Poems for Patience competitions, he published his debut collection, ‘Growing Up in Colour’, with Doire Press in 2018.

His poems have been nominated for Pushcart, Forward and Best of the Net prizes and his Pushcart-nominated poem, ‘The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work’, was the title poem of an anthology published by Hibernian Writers in 2015. He is curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site.

 

The Half-Starved Virgin, by Bobbie Sparrow

The half starved virgin

Mother told me not to be greedy,
to sit on my hands and wait.
‘Hold in your stomach and tighten,
you never know who’s at the gate.’

Mother always looked good in an A-line,
kept her fingers off the cream buns.
Smoked cigarettes at breakfast,
tried filling her hunger with puns.

‘Keep smiling at those dancing boys
be cheerful and do not pout.
Go walking, cycling, play games of cards
and never ever give out.’

Mother frowned at my father’s kiss,
sat straight on her stool thinking thoughts.
Did the crossword and drank fizzy water
for the little pleasure it brought.

I wore white on the night that he took it –
a boy with clean nails and a purse.
He spent longer than I thought
but during it I caught

desire is a belly full of want. Now

give me some sweet with my sugar,
give me chocolate with my wine,
give me tongues in my kisses,
give me rapture in my crying.

Give me saunas in the sunshine,
give me plunge pools in the rain,
give me sand in the desert,
give me ecstasy in pain.

‘Leave the table wanting more’ said mother,
To hell with that, I state.
Give her food when she’s hungry ,
unlatch the half-starved virgin’s gate.

Bobbie Sparrow‘s poems have been published in many journals including Orbis, Crannog, Skylight 47, The Honest Ulsterman, Cordite, and Southword. Bobbie won 3rd prize for her Chapbook in the Blue Nib competition 2018 and came second in the Saolta Arts Trust Poems for Patience competition 2020. Her Chapbook Milk and Blood was commended in the Fools for Poetry competition 2020 and she was nominated as one of Dodging the Rain’s best published poets 2018/19. She loves lake swimming and cycling downhill.

 

Jan, Jen or Jean, by Thomas McColl

JAN, JEN OR JEAN

I hadn’t seen her in years.
Her name was Jan, Jen or Jean,
I couldn’t remember which.

My face lit up like a fruit machine
when she caught my glance
as we passed each other on Southwark Bridge.

“Hi, Tom,” she said,
and as if she’d pressed PLAY,
I felt compelled to take the chance.

The names began to spin inside my head –
Jan, Jen, Jean.
I pressed STOP too quickly –
I had little choice –
and settled on Jean.
“Hi, Jean,” I said.

We passed.
I pressed COLLECT,
and got a sick feeling in my gut,
as the name Jan,
for first prize,
flashed before my eyes.

Thomas McColl lives in London. He’s had poems published in magazines such as Envoi, Iota, Prole and Ink, Sweat and Tears, and has had two collections of poetry published: ‘Being With Me Will Help You Learn’ (Listen Softly London Press, 2016) and ‘Grenade Genie’ (Fly on the Wall Press, 2020). 

 

Neighbourhood Watch, by Maurice Devitt

Neighbourhood Watch

When she woke he was gone,
the scent of him still dawdling
on the stairs, phone
and wedding-ring abandoned
on the console table in the hall.

After three weeks, she packed
his clothes into a suitcase
and left it in the porch.
In the morning it had vanished
except for the shoes he never liked,
perched squarely on the step.

A woman down the road,
dowdy and disinterested
since her last romance,
has been spotted wearing lipstick
to the bin and the milkman
has remarked, in the form
of an open question,
how she’d increased her order
from one bottle to two.

Winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition in 2015, he published his debut collection, ‘Growing Up in Colour’, with Doire Press in 2018.

His poems have been nominated for Pushcart, Forward and Best of the Net prizes and his Pushcart-nominated poem, ‘The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work’, was the title poem of an anthology published by Hibernian Writers in 2015. He is curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site.

 

Dating Profile Identification by Josa Young

All of
Sapiosexual
Queer
Questioning
Demisexual
Cis Man
Androgynous
Genderfluid
Non binary
Other
Single
6ft
Still just wants to climb in my pants
Nothing really changes
Sigh

Josa Young is a novelist and copywriter. Her two novels One Apple Tasted and Sail Upon the Land are out there somewhere being read. She was a decent poet up until puberty, and has taken to verse again as all the creative frenzy of childbearing has faded.

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