The Cat Lives Rent Free, by Bill Richardson

The Cat Lives Rent Free

This black and white cat arrived in the garden one day
and I made the mistake of feeding them.
I say them because I don’t know the cat’s gender
– or is that sex? –
and who’s to say they’re not sensitive about these matters.
You have to be careful these days.
I mean: not to offend…
Careful too about feeding a feral cat.
I didn’t go looking for a cat.
I don’t love them.
But they’ve got the idea now, of course.
The habit. Calling by each day -
sits patiently at the back door
licking paws in anticipation.
I open the door, and the cat seamlessly,
at the last second, shifts to one side.
Examines the food with multiple sniffs.
There are days when only the sauce will do
and the sardines get left behind.
Especially if they’re not John West.
What is it about John West?
Is it that they get John West at the house of the other neighbour,
the other one they’ve trained…
Or maybe more than one?

Bill Richardson’s poems have been published in a number of magazines. He is Emeritus Professor of Spanish at the University of Galway and has re-engaged in recent years with his passion for creative writing. He enjoys swimming in the Atlantic and practising tai chi to the music of Arvo Pärt.

 

I Wish I Were a Vicar, by Trisha Broomfield

I wish I were a vicar

I wish I were a vicar
penned by Agatha Christie,
I’d visit many well-known faces
who ‘d kindly ask, ‘More tea?’

I wish I were a vicar
in one of Christie’s books,
I’d wander round the place bemused
I’d wear befuddled looks.

And if I were a vicar,
one that Agatha had penned,
I’d find bodies in my library,
exclaim, ‘Good Grief! Heaven forfend!’

As a black and white penned vicar
I’d live on countless pages,
in many different languages,
and truly live for ages.

 

There Used to be Nazis in Haworth, by Tonnie Richmond

There Used to be Nazis in Haworth

strutting up the hill towards the Parsonage
where the Brontë family lived,
incongruous in wartime uniforms
amongst the tourist shops
and nineteenth century ginnels.

They would Sieg Heil! past the church
where Charlotte was married,
show no interest in the old schoolrooms
where her wedding breakfast
had been laid out long ago.

They would goose-step to the Old White Lion Inn,
drink beer with a bunch of British Tommies,
accompanied by their wives,
all dolled up in vintage clothes
and unflattering wartime hairdos.

They have banned the Nazis now.
These creepy annual nineteen-forties
re-enactment gatherings,
with their unpalatable nostalgia for the war,
have become a strangely one-sided affair.

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. Y Dreich, Yaffle and others.

 

What we don’t know the cows know about us, by Bryan Franco

Bryan Franco is a gay, Jewish poet from Brunswick, Maine. He competed with the Portland, Maine Rhythmic Cypher slam team in the 2014 National Poetry Slam in Oakland, California. He has been published in the US, Australia, England, India, Ireland, and Scotland and has featured for poetry events in the US, England, Ireland, and Scotland. He was a finalist in the 2022 NAMI NJ Dara Axelrod Expressive Arts Poetry Contest. He hosts Café Generalissimo Open Mic, is a member of the Beardo Bards of the Bardo poetry troupe, painter, sculptor, gardener, and culinary genius. His book Everything I Think Is All in My Mind was published in 2021 by Read Or Green Books.

 

Fostering an Elephant, by Matthew Sissons

Fostering an Elephant

So far, no one has complained
about the late-night tanker truck
deliveries. She’s only a baby.
Drinks gallons of milk. We go
directly to a dairy. It’s expensive,
but who cares? I think the neighbors
are jealous.

A golden retriever or a Siamese
cat would have been ideal- we
live in a small house, with a
smaller backyard- but for the
elephant, it was us or the poachers-
so we took her in.

The kids are wild about her.
Walk her without complaint.
They promised to keep the yard
clean- My wife and I do most
of the pooper scoopering. We
spoil them.

When the constant trumpeting
began, we piled into the mini-van,
rushed her to the vet. She said
there was nothing wrong with
the elephant physically. Turns out
elephants are matriarchal- I think
she missed her family. She seems
to be settling in with mine.

I’m crazy about her too- built her
a house outback. When it’s warm,
she sleeps there. She’s smart. Easy
to train. Remembers everything-
Never has to be told things twice.

Matthew Sisson’s poetry has appeared in journals ranging from the “Harvard Review Online,” to “JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association.” He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and read his work on NPR’s “On Point.” His First book, “Please, Call Me Moby,” was published by the Pecan Grove Press, St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas.

 

Meanwhile, on a Sardinian Beach, by Maeve O’Sullivan

Meanwhile, on a Sardinian Beach

She could be a young writer
this tattooed woman
in a yellow bikini

with laser-like attention
she watches for activity
along the shore

scribbling her thoughts
opinions and observations
into a hardback notebook

her work comes to fruition
much faster than that
of an author however

accosting the offender
in the act of stealing precious sand
she issues the on-the-spot fine.

 

How Spaffer Johnson got his name, by Colin Day

How Spaffer Johnson got his name
(or what I learned from John Wilmot , Earl of Rochester & Catullus )

Eton is a fine and competitive place
our betters arranged in a hierarchy of testosterone,
anticipation on each boy’s privileged and gleaming face
as they wait in thrall for the annual drumming of the bone.

It’s called the masturbatorium in extremis,
held in the dark days of December
a call to arms, firm grip on every penis,
the ultimate test of any patrician’s member.

They stand in line by the fives court wall,
up and over, spectacular arc of ejaculate,
tape measure ready to mark the viscous globules’ fall
distance, height, and consistency to debate.

The record stands where, with a resounding splat,
Johnson hit the far wall, proving beyond dispute,
he’s the man to garner all the loot
indeed that self-regarding institution’s greatest twat.
 

Biotechnology, by Patricia Walsh

Biotechnology

You use your paralysed hand in misdemeanour
Stating ‘all is well’ before the time does clock
Not repeating miracles for all, how liked
Cutting swathes through green grass and despair.

She’s the image of you, in the limited vision
I have already seen, resting on your shoulder
Studying for your sins, a generic degree
Writing scribble from your fingers, down to earth.

The battery is merciless.
Wishing to ring you
And offer my heart in condolence,
Something tarnishes in soul for centuries
But gold comes clear, seldom does it ever.

Begging at traffic lights, seeing the day,
When the caustic reminders take the bait
As I am, so you will be, a Catholic marker
Humbles himself for exaltion on the last day.

Warmth spills out of windows and doors
Guarded by housemates jealousy corralling
Artefacts from the stoic, gleaming on their own
Arresting the comfort of the welcoming soil.

Death can be sweet, for want of a better life,
In the next life, divested of sin
Enough to drink body and blood

Patricia Walsh was born and raised in the parish of Mourneabbey, Co Cork, Ireland. To date, she has published one novel, titled The Quest for Lost Eire, in 2014, and has published one collection of poetry, titled Continuity Errors, with Lapwing Publications in 2010. She has since been published in a variety of print and online journals. She has also published another novel, In The Days of Ford Cortina, in August 2021.

 

Camp Shangri-La by Arran Potts

Camp Shangri-La

He stopped for a quickie one night in her tent,
Made love to an egg-timer till he was spent,
The sand had run out, he came and then went;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

She lowered his zip and was so full of hope,
But all he could manage were fumbles and gropes,
So Val took the lead and showed Guy the ropes;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

They’ve put up two tents but they’re on the same pitch,
Four of them starkers, not wearing a stitch,
They’d do half an hour then partners would switch;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

Tommy was fuming and she was to blame,
Cos everyone here in the camp knew his name,
Last night Sue had screamed it out loud when she came;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

At sixty she knows how to tease and to coax,
She pulled off his trousers with two short, sweet strokes,
Just as she’d done, with dozens of blokes;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

Ronnie and Eileen at home in a yurt,
Strong green oak decking to cover the dirt,
But plenty of cushions in case they get hurt;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

Sally McNally the Shangri-La vamp,
Looking for strapping young men round the camp,
She only needs someone to sleep in the damp;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

Just rooves of soft fabric as somewhere to sleep,
The campsite is hidden, the price not to steep,
Those zips, flaps and awnings have secrets to keep;
That’s love here in Camp Shangri-La.

Arran Potts is from Wolverhampton, UK. He has recently taken up poetry as a hobby to rekindle a love for writing; and is finding Jo Bell’s ‘52 Poems’ book really useful. He is supported by family and friends. He is hindered by his job.

 

Oscar and Silicon Valley, by Anne Irwin

Oscar and Silicon Valley

Zen-like on the car roof,
Oscar inhales the autumn air
absorbing the warmth of the metal
into his marmalade body.

Languishing in his sleekness,
pristine as Silicon Valley,
he preens himself, one eye
on the chaffinch in the rowan.

Empathic as the Valley,
with its modern sensibilities,
egg freezers for the nubile,
fuzz-ball, beanbags, mindfulness spaces
for its twelve-hour-day workaholics
with no time for slackers,
he emanates serenity
while his internal algorithms calculate
the trajectory of his leap
from roof to branch.

With a twitch of his tail
a narrowing of eye, he springs
and the chaffinch shrieks its dying call.

Anne Irwin’s poetry is inspired by the glory of the universe seen in the microcosm of everyday life, and her ever-increasing family. She has three sons, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Her poems have been published in many literary journals including Poetry Ireland Review, Irish Left Review, High Window,