Destination : Land of Nod, by Jill Vance

Destination: Land of Nod

High-pitched hum of mosquito,
chant of ten green beer bottles,
bizarrely clucking chickens,
yet no sign of winged Hypnos
with his magic dust to sink me into sleep.

Lagoons, balloons, candles on cake,
endless counting of fence-dodging sheep,
tipping towards anger as I’m more awake.

Breezes, sunsets, turtles in the surf,
the whoosh-whoosh of waves,
feet downing into the plashy sand,
torso heavier, scent of lavender,
but no blasted sleep.



Jill Vance is a poet and interdisciplinary artist. Her poems have appeared in Truth Serum Press, Pure Slush, Dirigible Balloon and Green Ink Poetry. She hopes one day to have a pamphlet published of poetry and artwork.
 

Treadmill, by Karen Jones

Treadmill

The eve of Christmas Eve
Tills in overdrive, the carol
Of sale items no one wants
To give or receive

Cars snake into the underground
Of an out-of-town supermarket
Bulge in restrictive spaces
Swollen with purchases

Nearby at the chemist
Scripts arrive faster than FedEx
Inside a white-coated woman
Bags pills against the threat
Of rising inflammation, anything
To ease the innards of millions
Inhaling mince pies and Baileys

All to discard again
Dump from car to cistern
Via the slow mulch of bellies
Pressed against festooned tables

And now it is you bulging at the wheel
Rounding the corner on new year
Smelling of gift-boxed eau du parfum
That isn’t as nice as you had thought

But wager if nothing else
Masks the sulphur of January diets
En route to the gym again
Of retail conveyor belts

Karen Jones began writing poetry in 2019, and was privileged to be a student of the late Kevin Higgins. Born in Northern Ireland, she lives in Dublin and works in public relations.

 

The mighty, by Ruth Aylett

The mighty
--
He arrived in the sixth form
from a poxy private school
that thought itself posh,
and though he was local,
they’d rubbed his voice down
until our local accent came off
and he spoke like an Etonian.

He had that up-your-own-arse
confidence of the rich,
but wasn’t all that clever
when it came to school stuff,
almost like he felt above it.
And his grades weren’t much.

So the summer we left
I bumped into him in the street,
and just could not resist
telling him I was going to Uni.
I’m not bothering with that he said
(Daddy’s business I thought)
Because, he said, I’m in meat.

I didn’t know Daddy had gone bust
until I caught sight of him next:
the boy on the local butcher’s van.
In meat.

Ruth Aylett teaches and researches robotics in Edinburgh and has been known to read poems with a robot. Her pamphlets Pretty in Pink (4Word) and Queen of Infinite Space (Maytree) were published in 2021. For more see http://www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~ruth/writing.html

 

A Dish Made by Myself, by Kate Ennals

A Dish Made by Myself 
(after Neruda)

I’m sick of tray bakes, pies in the sky
banquets, vol au vents, pastrami on rye
I want delectable. I want something else
So, here’s a dish I created myself

I am at the table surrounded by cooks
in tall white hats, holding meat hooks
They are going to make merry with my insides
and prepare an andouillette stuffed with spice

They cut a deep incision above my bottom
Turn my intestine into one big sausage
The sous chefs add garlic, salt, wine and onion
They truss me up to give me a final pummel

I choose my head to be served as a main
So out of my orifices, they squeeze my brain
it spills from my ears, a grey mucous sauce
crammed with crunchy bits, thick and coarse

They whisk it with vigour and drizzle on my tongue
itself yanked out of my jaw, and secured open
by tiny cheese cocktail sticks staked into the gum
My eyeballs are glazed and marinated in urine

Thus, I am dished, an andouillette and a head
wordless, stylish with a French vinaigrette
they say I am served best with a little green gem
and to toast my health, raise a glass of phlegm.

Afters will be sweetbreads scored from my heart
a selection of my stomach, chest and throat
This is my offering, basic fare, honest food
I’m happy to be sacrificed for the greater good.


Andouillette is a French coarse-grained sausage made from the intestine of pork, pepper, wine, onions, and seasonings. Andouillettes are generally made from the large intestine and are 7–10 cm in diameter. True andouillettes are rarely seen outside France and have a strong, distinctive odour coming from the colon.
 

Double-speak, by Margaret Kiernan

Double-speak

-after Pablo Neruda, Walking- around.



I am sick of being the target, a patsy for all those money-making swindlers

out on a spin. Those double truthers lisping tongues on the fame game.

The fiddlers on how to write their family history, their gutter minds dawdling.

I am sick of neon-lit evening scenes on a boulevard somewhere, the rich and restless gossipers
sniffle, refuse to be the first to leave, polish off their double-speak.
I am sick of it all, the single supplement, the Friday take-out meal, unclaimed lotteries, and deals.

I’m the one to do tasks in full, only find them send back, again I am too swift.

I give the street beggar my last coins and laugh uproariously when a driver in a Mercedes arrives to fetch him and bring him home.

Today, I read that somewhere, far away, a scutching fire cleansed. End.

Margaret Kiernan

Margaret Kiernan s an Irish author, and a Best of The Net Nominee, for 2021 and 2022. She writes poetry and prose and is widely published. She writes with Over-the-edge, Galway. Her background is in social justice and Diversity.

 

On My Death Bed, by Kevin Higgins

On My Death Bed

I will not be calling out to any gods
though I'll probably drop Satan a text to thank him
and his daughters
for some of my more lively afternoons.

I will not be signing forgiveness treaties with the Frauds
but do tell them to stick their heads in the door
when it's least convenient
so I can stare at them and say nothing
and listen to their sphincters creak.

The rest of you who were just being
your honest arsehole selves
I forgive, absolutely
and hope you forgive me
my arseholeness.
There were days
it was all I had to offer.

KEVIN HIGGINS is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway. He has published six full collections of poems: The Boy With No Face (2005), Time Gentlemen, Please (2008), Frightening NewFurniture (2010), The Ghost In The Lobby (2014), Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital (2019), & Ecstatic (2022). His poems also feature in Identity Parade – New Britishand 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 ofSongs 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, TheTimes (London), Hot Press magazine, Phoenix 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”. Kevin’s poetry has been translated into Greek, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Albanian, French, Russian, & Portuguese. 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 was published in late 2020 by Nuascealta. His extended essay Thrills & Difficulties: Being A Marxist Poet In 21st Century Ireland was published in pamphlet form by Beir Bua Press last year. In December 2021 Kevin was both expelled from the British Labour Party, of which he was an overseas member, for publishing his poem ‘Tribute Acts’ in Socialist Appeal magazine and, on the very same day, awarded ‘Poet of The Year’ at the Labour Heroes Awards event at Conway Hall, London. Kevin now writers a regular book review page for Village Magazine, mostly focussing on poetry. This year Kevin received a dozen nominations for the position of Ireland Chair of Poetry – Ireland’s Professor of Poetry. Ecstatic, Kevin’s sixth full poetry collection was published in June 2022 by Salmon Poetry. For the past month Kevin has been in University Hospital Galway, where he is receiving chemotherapy for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.

 

A Girl from Yorkshire, by Neil Windsor

A Girl From Yorkshire

Oh how the parents sigh, not inclined to rejoice
Dismayed from the outset at their offspring's romantic choice
They disapprove so blatantly as they take her presence in
Looks of curiosity, at a loss for words, of this potential next of kin
Then the floodgates open, there's no holding back
Lacking even the basics of civility and tact

Oh no, but the girl's from Yorkshire can't you see, she's just not our expected southern type
She's all flat vowels and sarcasm, excuse us while we snipe
She talks of strong tea and rugby league, she's left her whippet on the lawn
She's not a patch on a fragrant english rose, all sweet and Henley born
They're still living in the days of pit ponies, cobbles slick with icy rain, and beef dripping chip shop grease
Striking miners around braziers on the village green, we far prefer maypole country dancing, and afternoon cream teas

She's from Yorkshire they say, all Sean Bean, Hockney and Selwyn Foggit, working mens clubs and spam
She's not up to our southern ways, she's never been on the tube, paid the congestion charge, she's never watched The Arsenal or West Ham
The bustling size of London must be so hard for her comprehend, from The Docklands and Bermondsey to King's Cross and Harringay
She'd be out of her depth in Fortum's food hall or the opening night of a west end play
She's not our sort of girl, nice enough in her own way, but an uncultured square northern peg in a roughly hewn round hole
We can't bring ourselves to sanction your relationship dear. Good grief the girl's from Yorkshire after all

Pick a southern girl why don't you? Choosing to shower this one with your affections makes absolutely no practical sense
We need to protect our breeding stock, maintain a northern romance resisting defence
We're not prejudiced you understand we're just southernly civilised with a touch of self righteous attitude
It's the thin edge of the wedge to let her into our flock, we really don't mean to be rude
But the girl's from Yorkshire for goodness sake, all mills, chimneys, rhubarb and tripe. A trip around the charity shops is their idea of a day out
Her dysfunctional family probably lives in on of those terrible two up two down overcrowded terrace houses, replete with outside toilet no doubt

The girl's from Yorkshire my precious, we're tolerant and polite to a fault, but let's be realistic for a moment, she hasn't the refined attributes we seek and require
Heaven's above, the girl's from Yorkshire, She thinks Bremner, Giles and Boycott are gods, she's not the sort of potential daughter in law we desire
We all love to visit their quaint Dales and picturesque coastal and market towns now and again, but we wouldn't want to live there, all Chuckle Brothers and dregs of summer wine
They have scraps with their fish and chips, listen to brass and silver bands and treat Headingley like a shrine
Saints preserve us, the girl's from Yorkshire. She drinks pints as she quotes Bennet, knows Sutcliffe and Hutton's batting averages by heart, eats pork pies and parkin, and spreads mucky dripping on bread!
Oh but the girl's from Yorkshire darling, all rough edges and uncultured ways. For the sake of our sanity and social standing trust us, drop her like a hot potato, find a southern girl instead.

Neil Windsor is a Writer of children’s short stories, Artist and Poet from Leeds who produces and performs all his work with an absolute passion and a slightly slanted off – kilter view of life.
He also plays extremely bad left handed blues guitar.#neilwindsorart

 

The Day I Cooked my Son’s Speech Therapist, by Beth McDonough

The Day I Cooked my Son's Speech Therapist

she arrived all kindly shiny in thunder, ahead
of his school bus return. Full of plans,
ASD-specific wisdom. He crashed in, appalled.
I no wanted to see her.
She flashed three PECS cards
at his face, intoned, in triple slow time
H e l l o K eir
I have come to visit you and your Mum.
Put her whole fisog in his.
I no wanted to see her,
He dashed off his jacket. Ran out the back door.
She nodded towards my space.
I can help you understand how he communicates,
what he needs to let you know.
We followed him into the garden. He whizzed
for the trampoline. She chanted
from the circumference upwards. More cards.
My son turned to the fence,
bounded furiously, bounce, bounce, bounce
I no wanted to see her. Away now. Away!
Solicitously, she advised me
Sometimes he speaks very fast, and runs words
into one another, so we don't know what he says.
He turned quickly, saw her still standing, transplanted
from class to his own garden,
then he spun away in disgust.
No wanted to see her.
Jumped on and on. Small splats of rain
did not dissuade him. I took her inside,
made coffee. Offered scones.
If we sat inside the conservatory we could
observe, as he leapt up by the lupins.
She enjoyed everything, I think. Seemed pleased to eat
that scone, as she helped me along.
My temperature rose.
So I brought extra coffee, closed a window.
She took one more scone. I shut the door.
My son trampolined on.
Yes, she'd love another scone.
Steam rose from plants.
He pogoed on.
I'll come out whenever you want,
I'd love to help. I sealed
the last window. She lifted
her third scone as I watched
sweat drizzle on her lips.
At last I persuaded her that we must not
take more of her weighted time.
Slowly, I sluiced her to the front door,
thanked her hugely, assured her
if we needed, we'd certainly phone.
She stilted formulaic farewells.
Away! Away! he replied.
Don't worry. We'll soon learn what he's saying.
As her car departed, my son
came in for our usual time
of juice, maybe cake, and told me
I no wanted to see her.
We hugged. Don't worry. We won't.
Soon after, the Therapist married
and moved to a faraway post.
I gave her a pretty coffee pot.
Considered very hot scones.

Beth McDonough’s poetry appears in many places; she reviews in DURA. Her pamphlet Lamping for pickled fish was published by 4Word. Recently, her site-specific poem was installed on the Corbenic Poetry Path. Currently Makar of the FWS, she’s found year-round in the Firth of Tay.

 

Celebrity Stoning on Thin Ice, by Terri Metcalfe

Celebrity Stoning on Thin Ice

It’s very easy to shout insults
to people that I can’t look in the eye,
to an online presence who might as well be a ghost
haunting the blue walls of a white bird

They call it cancelling
but it used to be called public shaming,
boycotting
bullying

It’s a commodity –
you give me one opinion,
I give you two fingers
and three minutes to take it back

or you’re retweeted as threadworms
spreading from the anus to the mouth of the internet
but who wins in the end?
Gameshows, that’s who.

Cumbria native Terri Metcalfe has been published in Abridged, A New Ulster, Green Ink Poetry, Spilling Cocoa and Skylight 47 amongst others. Shortlisted for the Open Window 2023 mentorship programme, she will be a featured reader at the 20th anniversary of Over The Edge Literary Events held in Galway this January.

 

When I Die, by Tonnie Richmond

When I die

please don’t say I’ve passed away
or gone to heaven. Instead,
I’ll hope that you will simply say
I’m dead.

You might say that I lived life well,
there were some ups and downs. I tried
to do my best, had fun with family and friends
but in the end, I died.

Please don’t suggest I’m somewhere in the sky
looking down on kith and kin. I’m sure
you wouldn’t really like that! Just accept
that I am here no more.

I hope that you remember me sometimes,
think of me kindly, memories don’t spoil.
But please don’t use some flowery euphemistic words —
I really have not stepped off this mortal coil.

Tonnie Richmond is retired and is interested in archaeology and poetry. These days she finds writing poetry easier than digging. She has had several poems published by Dreich, Yaffle and others.