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.

 

Vege, by Julian Matthews

VEGE

Hey, remember me?
I am the leafy vegetable at the side of your plate that never got eaten
The one your mother insists is good for you
I lay there getting cold and soggy until the meal was over
You waited — until she wasn’t looking
Then receded on tippy toes and tossed me in the step-bin

These days, you speak of being organic and eating brown bread,
brown rice, brownies made of all-natural black beans,
fairtrade cocoa and grass-fed butter
You carry a metal straw and forsake plastic
You are an environmental warrior
A climate change defender

You do yoga and meditate and stand on your head
You attend retreats on mindfulness — to empty your mind
You go to the gym to stretch your body to its limit and call it de-stress time
You eschew coffee and prefer green tea
You drink cold-pressed juices made of avocado, cucumber, carrots, celery and pumpkin
You speak of their antioxidant properties and gloat about the anti-aging glow of your skin

I was the leafy green you threw in the bin
I still remember mum insisting that wasting me was such a sin
You are vegan now —

I win

Julian Matthews is a former journalist and trainer finding new ways to express himself during the pandemic through poetry and fiction. The Malaysian-based poet is published in “Unmasked: Reflections on Virus-time” (Heliconia Press), an anthology curated by author Shamini Flint, Poetry and Covid (poetryandcovid.com), a project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, the WordsFest Zine (Insomniac Press), Borderless Journal, Nine Cloud Journal, Second Chance Lit, Poor Yorick Literary Journal and Wingless Dreamer

 

When Brian Became Broccoli, by Ben Macnair

When Brian Became Broccoli

When asked what he wanted to be,
three-year-old Brian thought about it,
for a while, and with a smile,
said that he would like to be Broccoli.

A strange choice for a career,
you might have thought,
but Brian was only three,
the age where you could be what you wanted to be.

When a kindly local Wizard was told of this tale,
he visited Brian and asked: ‘And who might you be?’
Are you the little boy who wanted to become Broccoli?
Brian nodded his head.

Brian went to bed that night,
but he woke up with a bit of a fright.
His hair was green, stiff, and standing on end.
The following night, he went to bed,
and woke up completely Green.
His Mum and Dad had never seen anything
quite so obscene.

The next day, they found Brian in bed.
He had become Broccoli.
The kindly Wizard broke the spell,
and for 14 years, all was well.

Until the Wizard turned up one day,
and was quite drunk.
‘I am afraid that the spell didn’t quite wear off.’
he said because Brian was becoming a Punk.

Ben Macnair is an award-winning poet and playwright from Staffordshire, in the United Kingdom. Follow him on Twitter @benmacnair

 

Ketchup : An Obituary, by Kevin Higgins

Ketchup: An Obituary

It all started that Friday he came home brandishing
another bottle of it, when there was already one
gleaming unopened in the fridge. A mistake,
the whole house told itself.

Next week he turned up dragging
six bags of almost nothing else.
From then on, had it with everything:
on his bread instead of butter; with
his cornflakes instead of his usual
low-fat milk.

Eventually, dispensing with all else,
as his main course,
tomato ketchup with a side of
another shining blob of itself.

After which, he hardly opened the front door,
except to sign for deliveries, the vast jars of it
that arrived twice weekly in a van
marked Ketchup.

When he wasn’t golloping it by the basin load,
he used it instead of shaving foam,
toothpaste, and as an ointment
to balm embarrassing rashes.
Spent most of the day bathing in it.

By the time he made it safely to his coffin
he was the colour of it,
looked as if all you need do was squeeze him
and the perfect dip for a plate of hand-cut fries
would spurt gloriously from between
those tomato coloured lips.

Kevin Higgins was born in London. He mostly grew up in and lives in Galway City. In 2016 The Stinging Fly magazine described Kevin as “likely the most read living poet in Ireland. His poems have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times (London), Hot Press, The Daily Mirror and on The Vincent Browne Show, and read aloud by film director Ken Loach at a political meeting in London. His sixth full collection of poems ‘Ecstatic’ will be published by Salmon in March 2022.

 

Chicken Mystery, by Catherine Doherty Nicholls

Chicken Mystery

I found a frozen chicken in a hedge.
Fully wrapped, not a bit defrosted,
Maybe I could roast it with potatoes.
Who threw it there?
Some litterbug had tossed it.

I put it in my bag
and kept on walking,
White winter sunlight,
blinding as it set,
Then more things rolled towards me on the tarmac,
A tin of beans,
and lemons in a net.

If I took them would that count as stealing?
I pondered
as I wandered back to mine,
Was I being followed by the owner,
of a chicken that cost two pounds ninety nine?

Something told me someone was behind me,
It was creepy, l felt right on edge,
Panicking, I ran till I was gasping,
and threw the chicken, beans and lemons in a hedge.

Winner of no Poetry Ireland Competition, or any other competition, no published debut collection, nothing printed anywhere yet.
Her poems have been nominated for nothing so she’s nominating this poem to go on this page – a great place to start.

She is the curator of nothing. Her anthology doesn’t exist, yet she keeps going.

A student of Kevin Higgins.

 

Broccoli, by Melanie Branton

Broccoli

If you have to eat broccoli,
gobble it cockily.
Flaunt it with pride,
don’t gulp it with guilt!
You’ve done nothing wrong –
it will make you grow strong,
for broccoli-eaters
are stockily built.

If you have to eat broccoli,
stick to it doggedly:
pick up your fork
and submit to your fate.
Don’t let it go cold
and disintegrate soggily.
Eat all that broccoli
up off your plate!

Melanie Branton is a spoken word artist from North Somerset who is totally obsessed with cats, linguistics, Vikings and vegetables. Her published collections are Can You See Where I’m Coming From? (Burning Eye, 2018) and My Cloth-Eared Heart (Oversteps, 2017) melaniebranton.wordpress.com

 

Not every mushroom is safe to eat, by Jorge Leiva Ardana

Not every mushroom is safe to eat

Whenever you switch on the telly
there are always people cooking.
You come home with an empty belly,
in a blink they have finished a pudding.

They cook from home, Mexico or Brittany,
their food doesn’t burn or get soggy.
Like Beethoven composing a symphony,
while yours is rejected by the doggy.

With sharper knives than a two edge sword,
plenty of gadgets you can’t afford.
All you have is a ruined frying pan
that sticks when heating up a can.

Using fancy ingredients like tamarind or tahini,
but in the store they’ve run out of tapioca.
What’s the difference between courgette and zucchini?
why do some call it yuca and others mandioca?

Why your stew doesn’t look like theirs?
Why in yours there is always hair?
What are the benefits of Himalayan salt?
Is that flavoursome for what it cost?

Without the necessary piece of advice,
no cooking lesson is ever complete,
so you won’t end up paying the price.
Mind you, not every mushroom is safe to eat.

Jorge Leiva is from South Spain and has been on the waiting list for a tonsillectomy since he was a child. 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.

 

Never eat shellfish, by Janet Sillett

Never eat shellfish

My aunt, nothing like my mother,
used me as a sounding board, captured,
ten years old, in her stifling kitchen,
smelling of chicken soup
and terror

I was licking the cake bowl dry,
she proclaiming
that the Russians sent bad weather,
on purpose
tell your father that, the commie,
insisting I pray for Israel,
and that I must never eat shellfish
on pain of death from God

My aunt, never one for irony, was firm
that I should trust my instincts
and be myself,
but even then, I thought being myself
might mean downing small pink shrimps
from seaside stalls,
striped in pink sweet rock colours

I should shun men with slinky hips, especially
those with guitars
I had never met one of these wonders
but from then on, I would look for them on every street corner

Be careful what you wish for
I wished for Cadbury’s dairy milk,
and that her daughter,
younger than me, whose life’s work was snitching,
would be kidnapped to a desert island,
clutching her Hebrew scriptures
as her book of choice

Things happen for a reason,
I knew she meant
bad things,
as I mixed chopped fish in her yellow cracked dish

My father died later that year

My aunt was a lodestar
a beacon to what not to do,
an upside down road map
from childhood to flimsy maturity

In middle age, diagnosed depressive,
I missed her declarations
In old age, visiting my dying mother,
she picked wild flowers for her bedside

Janet Sillett recently took up writing poetry and short fiction again after decades of absence. She has had a poem published in the Galway Advertiser and is about to have her first flash fiction piece published in Litro. She works for a think tank.