Playing Space Invaders, by Ann Gibson

Playing Space Invaders

He ignored empty places down the carriage, sidled
into the seat beside her, wafted sour beer, stale smoke.

‘Cheer up love,’ he leered, ‘it might never happen’.
It just had, she wanted to tell him.

‘What’s it about?’ he nudged her, nodded to her book.
‘Cartesian Dualism,’ she lied, almost spat.

He nodded again, as though he understood.
For a split second she thought she’d been sussed,

was relieved to see his sneer
dismissing her as a smart-ass.

Off the hook, (she wouldn’t know where to start
with Descartes) she resumed reading.

Ann Gibson spent her childhood in Dublin and now lives in North Yorkshire. She has published poetry in Acumen, Prole, Dream Catcher, Obsessed with Pipework, Orbis, and The Poets’ Republic, as well as online in Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis, The High Window, Lighten Up Online, Snakeskin, Ofi Press Magazine and The Ekphrasis Review.

 

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.

 

Ageing Process, by Jane Shaer

AGEING PROCESS
Have you ever looked in the mirror
To reflect your age
And noticed cellulite and wrinkles
Have taken centre stage?
It’s then you wonder to yourself
How old must I be?
What sort of a body is this
To be given me?

Have you noticed the hair upon your head
Is starting to thin out
When the roots underneath are turning
White
And suddenly beginning to sprout?
It’s then you wonder to yourself
Am I really okay?
Why not have a wig aswell
Let alone going prematurely grey?

Have you ever been to the dentist
And while lying in the chair
He’s fitting you with a crown
As you gaze up his nose in despair?
It’s then you wonder to yourself
This guy’s a nice enough chap.
But I only wish he’d finish off
Bridging that gap.

Have you ever been to the doctor
To get a jab for the flu
And asked him time and time again
Can I make love to you?
It’s then you wonder to yourself
If my senility’s on par.
Why not have a man aswell
When I’ve a crush on my car.

Have you ever had a Garam or Tikka Massala
From an Indian takeaway
Not realising the effect it has on you
For many a day?
It’s then you wonder to yourself
If this stuff is going to keep on
Passing through.
How much longer must I spend VINDALOO?

My name is Jane Shaer & live in North London.
I was inspired by Pam Ayres to write poetry
when she won Opportunity Knocks back in
the 1970’s.
I have epilepsy & learning difficulties & putting pen to paper can be quite a challenge.

 

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

 

Plums, by Lee Campbell

Plums

I walked into the kitchen and there was Mum
Sitting at the table with a truck load of plum
As Mum de-stoned the fruit to make it into a pud
She wrote a short verse which I thought was quite good

She has this skill of writing as if she is somebody else
Looks like the voice of this poem is that of myself

And so, she wrote:

‘My mum’s been busy cutting up plums
Her son, her chum thinks they all look like bums
Now she is glum as she is getting numb thumbs’

A few hours later she had no reason to grumble
Those numb thumbs had made way for the perfect crumble

Lee Campbell is a performance poet and regularly performs at Paper Tiger Poetry in London His poem ‘Clever at without being Seen’ was recently included in Sometimes, The Revolution is Small, Disarm Hate x Poetry’ project by Nymphs & Thugs Recording Co. UK and published in Queerlings online magazine. His poem Juniper Park was recently published on this website.

 

My Mother Said, by Sharon Phillips

My Mother Said

Always take care of your man
and try not to seem too clever.
The home is a woman’s domain;
this floor could do with a hoover.

Men like to think they’re clever
so buck your ideas up, my girl:
this floor could do with a hoover
and you’re wearing a dirty skirt.

Buck your ideas up, my girl,
make him feel proud of your looks:
you’re wearing a dirty skirt
and wasting your time on books.

Make him feel proud of your looks
and give that bathroom a clean;
there’s no time to waste on books;
cook something nice for his tea.

Go on, give that bathroom a clean;
the home is a woman’s domain,
so cook something nice for his tea
and try to hang on to your man.

(Previously published in Snakeskin, May 2018)

Sharon stopped writing poetry in 1976 and started again forty years later, after retiring from her career in education. Her poems have been published online and in print and she is currently studying for an MFA at York St. John University. Originally from Bristol, Sharon now lives in Otley, West Yorkshire.

 

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.

 

The Neighbour’s Fish, by Lynn White

The Neighbours Fish

The neighbours had asked her to feed their fish.
They were going on a short holiday.
It sounded straightforward,
should have been straightforward.
“But I overfed it,” she said,
“and it burst open,
exploded
all over the place.”

She looked glum.

“But that wasn’t the worst of it.
Next thing is
the dog’s eaten it.
And that wasn’t the end of it,
next thing is
he started to be sick,
just puked it up all over their carpet.”

She looked glum.

“The carpet’s wrecked,” she said.

First published in Scrittura, Summer 2020

Bio: Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. https://lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com and https://www.facebook.com/Lynn-White-Poetry-1603675983213077/

 

Mnemonic: or, When Dr Asperger met Dr Alzheimer, by Mandy Macdonald

Mnemonic: or, When Dr Asperger met Dr Alzheimer

For example:
you are about to leave the house.
You have a letter to post.
You forgot it yesterday. It must be done
today.

You put it on the hall table, where you can see it.
But you know you have to check
one more time
that the back door is locked
and that all the burners on the stove are turned off.
(15 February 2010 has never quite gone away.)

But you know, too,
that after doing these tasks you might well leave
without picking up the letter.
So you set the letter slant
on the hall table. For as soon as you see it
slant on the hall table
you will have to straighten it so that its edges are parallel
to the edges of the table.
And as soon as you touch it to set it straight
you will remember
that you have to post it.
And then you will pick it up and put it in your bag, hoping
that you will remember to post it.

NB: You do NOT go back and check
the back door and the burners again.
Things have not got that bad
yet.

Australian writer and musician Mandy Macdonald lives in Aberdeen. Her poems appear widely in anthologies and magazines; her pamphlet The temperature of blue was published just before lockdown by Blue Salt Collective (http://bluesalt.co.uk/the-temperature-of-blue/index.aspx). Mandy writes in the hope that poetry can change the world, or at least make it laugh.

 

Record Players are just trendy, phonographs are the real thing, by Jorge Leiva Ardana

Record Players are just trend, Phonographs are the real thing.

I have come to know people that love the old so much
they wish they could die from dysentery.
These are people who feel they don’t belong
to this world or at least to this century.

They like to handwrite letters with a fountain pen
or even worse a feather quill,
to listen to broken vinyl records every now and then,
and if they’re women they prefer to drink mercury than having to use the pill.

They miss so much the days when drinking gin didn’t involve having to study a masters degree in botany,
and even tragedies had so much flair back then
such as it was the notorious case of the huge titanic.

If they drink coffee the beans must be freshly manually ground
otherwise they moan and say the taste is not the same,
and those are the type of things they complain about
because everything now is made by mechanical means
and that’s a real shame.

They love the liturgy of going to the post office or down to their local bank, because there is no queue in this or other worlds that can’t beat the joy of getting stamps. They’re more than happy by owning a typewriter and a landline phone, and they prefer sending documents by fax than flying drones.

When justice wasn’t the annoying slow bureaucracy
we know today but something less human and more divine,
and all the problems if you ask them started with democracy because before if you acted wrongly you would end up like Lot’s wife.
There was a time when crime was smoothly dealt by a hanging
according to the quickly and efficient eye for eye law
and there would be people standing, their hands clapping
because it also was a great show and the only think to worry it was the size of the rope.

If you had a bit of dough you didn’t have much to worry about,
for a small fee you could lift your sins and redeem your soul,
because there has always been classes, there is no doubt,
and that my friend, I’m afraid hasn’t changed at all.

Jorge Leiva is from South Spain and he lived in Ireland for over eight years. Some of his work has appeared in Skylight 47 Magazine, The Galway Advertiser, Drawn to the light press, Headstuff.org, Dodging the Rain and 2 Meter Review. In 2019 he was long listed in the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year competition.
He has been on the waiting list for a tonsillectomy since he was a child.