Abominable Manners, by Catherine Doherty Nicholls

Abominable Manners

Looking like a hairy yeti
Sitting sucking his spaghetti,
Bolognesey bits
all splattered on his face
I watched him gulp and slurp,
Sniff and pick and blow and burp,
When his plate was licked
he never left a trace.

She’s a winner of no Poetry Ireland Competition, or any other competition. No published debut collection, nothing printed anywhere else yet except here.
Her poems have been nominated for nothing so she’s nominating this poem to go on this page – a great place to start nominating.
She is the curator of nothing. Her anthology doesn’t exist, yet she keeps going.
She recently read some out in Charlie Byrne’s bookshop, Galway. People clapped.

 

Sprouts, by Claire Hardisty

Sprouts

The son cooks sprouts at Christmas
Virgin olive oil
Garlic
Butter, blocks of it.
Sprouts chopped to fine feathers
There’s a technique you know, Mumma

And during this process, you are wrestling with Delia’s Roasties and
Jamie’s Turkey Crown and Mary’s Homemade Sherry Trifle
Marshalling mint sauce, cranberry sauce, bread sauce.
Running from the hob to the table
Folding napkins into origami something or others
Why do we have 23 knives in the drawer and not a spoon to be seen?
Work out the timings

Daughter appears just before noon
Have an argument with daughter about cracker placement
Bend wire to make table centrepiece, resurrecting last year’s oasis from the garage,
Feeling slightly sorry for the mouse that had made it home
No doubt Mary or Delia would have cut fresh winter roses of damask red from their frosted gardens
I make do with three silk rose things with plastic berries and ribbon, no one will notice anyway
Work out the timings again

Realise that the candlesticks are covered in tarnish and go on mission to find the silver polish
Take off posh Christmas apron with snowman body and put on battered DIY apron
with multiple indeterminate stains, splashes of gloss paint and suspicious marks
Spread newspaper on the side and clean said candlesticks
Dig out the Swarfega from the cupboard under the sink to clean hands after cleaning candlesticks
Drink a glass of bucksfizz that someone made at 9.00 and I never quite got round to

Soon I’ll go and get changed, tidy my hair, spray on perfume,
might even put on a catlick of makeup, add some sparkly earrings but no time yet
Feel a failure for not making real gravy, rely on Mr Bisto instead
Work out the timings again

Chop carrots and beans
Chop finger
Drink cold mulled wine
Check timings

Turn out cupboards
to find the one uncracked Portmeirion Christmas Holly serving dish
Shove the white wine in the freezer as forgot to chill it
And all this while, Son is making his sprouts

Finally all is ready
And the sparkly earrings and outfit are still upstairs
and I in my saggy jeans
and faded shirt and no make up and I don’t care any more
They assemble at table
Daughter wearing size 10 slinky dress and sparkly earrings and more than a catlick of makeup
Son puts sprouts centre stage

And everyone oohs and ahhs
At the sprouts
Son looks at me
Why you wearing your DIY apron, Mumma? I look at him
Best not to answer
Discretion being the better part of valour.

I am a Headteacher in a primary school, and have written poetry since being a small child. I also try to share my love of writing with my school children.

I started going to an online novel class, and a poetry class in February, (run by Gill Lambert and Mark Connors) and feel these have made a tremendous difference to my wellbeing in stressful times.

 

Schoolyard Memory, by Maurice Devitt

Schoolyard Memory

When I refused to share my Latin homework,
you challenged me to a fight
outside the tuckshop, first thing after school.
With little choice, I accepted,
my strategy hopelessly unclear. You had form
and news of the mismatch sparked from class to class.

The lane was choked with the cough
of cigarette smoke and the acrid smell of BO
funnelling from the knots of baying boys
heralding my entrance. You strutted around
the makeshift ring, joking and laughing
with your cabal. I was tempted to admit defeat,

but conscious that attack is often
the best form of defence, I walked towards you,
shucking school bag and gaberdine,
baited you with words of bluff bravado,
silencing the crowd and tempting you
to hit me for the first time. I flinched

but didn’t react, tried to distract you
with the recitation of random tracts of Latin
unseen and the declension of obscure French verbs.
You continued your attack, my rubbery mouth
spitting out the syllables of broken words,
until I could take no more, legs buckling under me.

Curled on the ground, I sensed the mood
of the crowd shift to hushed concern,
and unfolding myself like a deckchair into standing,
rushed to concede. You win, I mumbled,
sweeping up my school bag and disappearing
into the maw of the crowd, tears starting to fall.

Perhaps chastened by the incipient shock
that rippled through the school, you never asked
for my homework again and, when we left school,
our paths diverged, until today – I saw you in town
stepping out of a brand-new Tesla,
pristine paintwork too tempting to ignore.

Maurice Devitt

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.

Curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site, his Pushcart-nominated poem, ‘The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work’, was the title poem of an anthology published by Hibernian Writers in 2015.

 

Go on, make mine that boil-in-the-bag by the stove, by Beth McDonough

Go on, make mine that boil-in-the-bag by the stove.

God forbid, you’d think I’d want to eat it, mind!
Not that darling little clear plastic sachet,
excitingly bright with uncrystallised liquid,
which reveals a magic snap coin inside.

Oh, let me plop you in my pocket, wee friend,
as I swimsuit up, heap on so many layers.
All but forgotten as I pedal to the beach, strip,
and throughout my wintery swim, but then
I rigid-finger find you in my after-gear,
crack you into dynamic action. Fast warmth,
stuffed in my mitts, curled round my handlebars, go!
I’m always touched by your presence, dear.

 

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

 

There’s a Fucking Fly in my Fridge, by Paula Nicholson

There’s a Fucking Fly in my Fridge.

There’s a fucking fly in my fridge.
Fellating a fish finger,
fondling the fruit and
feeling up the frangipane.
Your fun is finito
and in my fury,
fffffwack!
Flattened.
There’s now no fucking fly in my fridge.

Paula lives near Lockerbie with her family and an overly chatty cat. She likes scientific stuff, zombie films and books, and is partial to a slice of cake. She blogs on Twitter @paula_nicolson and Facebook as DeckyWriting.

 

Just Desserts, by Greg Freeman

JUST DESSERTS

Even after all this time
I’m not ashamed of what I did.
Tipping a mixture of party food
through an elderly former
neighbour’s letterbox.
He’d complained to our landlord
that our girlfriends stayed overnight.
It was the Seventies. Yorkshire
was and is a backward place.

I’d moved out as quick as I could,
got a place with my girl, soon
to be wife. Was invited back
for a party by the one nice flatmate
that we bumped into in town.
I hatched the plan in advance.
Halfway through the evening
I went out with my offering
and delivered it. Rat-tat-splat.

They say revenge is sweet.
Black forest gateau, trifle,
a soupcon of tiramisu.
And a dish best served cold.
Those puddings came
straight from the fridge.
I suppose my ex-flatmates
received some feedback.
Still gives me pleasure, writing this.

Greg Freeman is news and reviews editor for the poetry website Write Out Loud. He co-comperes a regular poetry night in Woking. His new collection is called Marples Must Go! One of its themes mourns the comic heroes of yesteryear, with this cri de coeur: ‘Why can’t life still be hilarious?’ https://www.dempseyandwindle.com/gregfreeman.html

 

The Ballad of Bertie Bassett and the Bisto Kids, by Ray Pool

THE BALLAD OF BERTIE BASSETT AND THE BISTO KIDS

This is the ballad of Bertie Bassett
And how he dealt with the Bisto Kids,
He rode into town to settle a score
And to see the woman he did adore.

He felt like settling down at last,
To put away his chequered past,
Mary was in his line of sight,
He hoped to see her this very night.

The Bisto Kids were on his list
riotous gamblers who carried arms,
Bertie now was on the prowl
And soon would face them cheek to jowl.

Meanwhile unbeknownst to them
A US marshall was on the train
Coming to put the kids in gaol,
For shooting and looting in Cripple Dale.

In the diamond X saloon
A poker game was starting up,
the Bisto Kids were always cheating,
The atmosphere was overheating.
Bertie was known for his licquorice log
And had his pick of womenfolk,
Now in the bar, his legs astride,
poor Mary nearly had a stroke.

The players all got up to leave,
as in strode the marshall, the place went quiet
all the drinkers began to burp
They thought it was old Wyatt Earp.

The Bisto Kids had pulled their guns
And theirs were not the only ones
Bertie held his weapons high
But Mary revealed a gartered thigh

Which drew old Bertie’s eyes away
when a bisto bullet hit his leg
but Billy had the quicker draw,
the Bistos fell upon the floor.

“Jack, Jack” a voice was heard,
“Jack, Jack, wake up, wake up !
You fell asleep and the dinner’s ready,
And what have you done to your favourite Teddy?

Little Jack, just shy of ten
His allsorts box quite empty, then
As the smell of gravy came through the door
Said: “Mum, I’m not hungry anymore.”

My flirtation with poetry blossomed whilst working at the BBC. I had a poem published in the Breathru Magazine run by Ken Geering in the late sixties. It is only since semi-retiring from the music business that I ventured into live poetry reading, and am now a prolific writer of poetry. I tend to choose subject matter of a quirky or satirical aspect, often read with mimicked accents and dialects. I have had two pamphlets published by Dempsey and Windle and poems in anthologies by Paradox and Indigo Dreams.

 

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.