King Roger, by Melanie Branton

King Roger

Roger de Mortimer, 4th Earl of March and 6th Earl of Ulster, was heir presumptive to Richard II between 1382 and 1398

King Roger! We nearly had a King Roger!
So, did we dodge a
bullet or should we, in fact, bemoan
the fact that Roger never, ever
made it to the throne?

When Richard needed spies,
then he applied for the position.
So, Roger went to Ireland
on a very secret mission.

He skulked about and got himself
in thrilling scrapes galore.
Was he James Bond?
No, he was Roger, more.

To blend in with the Irishmen,
he found it a no-brainer
to paint his face a lurid blue
and wear the brat and léine.

So maybe he went AWOL,
but I can still relate if
he got a little overkeen
and went a little native.

Some said he took it way too far,
some said, “He’s off his trolley!”
but I say, like the pirate flag,
Roger was jolly.

Roger’s story reached its end
in 1398.
He walked into a brigands’ trap:
they fell upon him, straight.

They knocked him off his horse
and then they pummelled him about.
Alas, that was the end of him:

Roger was over and out.

Melanie Branton is a spoken word artist from the Bristol area. Her published collections are Can You See Where I’m Coming From? (Burning Eye, 2018) and My Cloth-Eared Heart (Oversteps, 2017). She is inordinately fond of hats, historical linguistics, and porridge.

 

Padraig – Who Drove the Snakes Out of Ireland, by Pratibha Castle

Padraig – Who Drove the Snakes Out of Ireland

At the allotment, daddy
forked the crumbly black earth
till the air quaked
with anticipation
of excess, me
sifting stones
in search of treasure;
the robin sat, pert, on the lip
of the bucket meant to carry
spuds or cabbages, the occasional
giggle-tickle carrot
back to placate the mammy.

The bird’s eye bright
with a lust for worms, his song
a crystal cataract of merry;
though none of the seeds we sowed
ever showed head out of the sly earth
and we saw nothing of the slow worm
daddy promised so that, his name being Padraig too,
I guessed he must be a saint, especially
when he himself vanished.

Though he turned up
months later
at the end of school
again and again and again till
I had to tell the mammy
where the books and toys came from
and that got me sent off
to board at St. Bridget’s convent
where the head nun was nice to you
if your mammy gave her fruit cake in a tin,
bottles of orange linctus sherry, a crocheted shawl
like frothy cobwebs, none of which

my mammy could afford, Padraig
having banished more than snakes.

Pratibha Castle’s award-winning debut pamphlet A Triptych of Birds and A Few Loose Feathers (Hedgehog Poetry Press) publishes 2021. An Irish poet living in England, her work appears in literary magazines including Agenda, Dreich, HU, Blue Nib. Highly Commended in various poetry competitions, she reads regularly on West Wilts Radio.

 

First Mayor of Richmond, by Peter Kay

FIRST MAYOR OF RICHMOND

T’was sixteen hundred and six,
for legend has it so,
when, whilst out hunting all alone,
Robert Willance, future mayor
of Richmond, shattered his femur bone.

His horse, a noble steed of some renown
had always borne him well,
but as November’s dense mists thronged,
the bewildered beast bolted,
racing headlong into nothingness.

With Willance clinging on for life,
his horse plunged to its death,
two hundred feet o’er Whitcliffe Scar.
Robert lay prostrate, right leg broken,
twisted, breached, death’s door ajar.

With no prospect of immediate respite,
he slit soft belly of his beloved horse,
using a trusted hunting knife. No malice.
Plunged his leg in up to groin and hilt,
to try and keep it for his balance.

For two days he held on to life and limb,
before rescue came at last.
Alas whilst Robert survived,
his poor leg could not be saved, t’was buried
with due ceremony, in his chosen grave.

T’was sixteen hundred and eight
when brave Willance and his stump,
became first mayor of Richmond.
Eight long years, without a single blunder,
Before dying, reight well, in his slumber.

And so it came to pass that in his death requited,
Robert Willance and his leg were gladly reunited.

Peter has had two books published: A Pennine Way Odyssey, 2012. Show Me The Way To Santiago, 2020. A third book is with his publisher. He writes travel memoirs, fiction, short stories, monologues, children’s books and poetry. Three poems have been published in anthologies. His website is peterkaywordspace.co.uk

 

King Edward VII, by Steve Harrison

King Edward vii {1901-1910}

had to hang around a lot
as his mam was Queen Victoria who lived for ages.
I never met him but I knew his face
portrayed sideways on stamps and on old penny coins until 1971.

He went all over the world, not just on stamps
and being very rich, with loads of relatives in Europe ,
he could stay in his cousin’s palaces.
Running errands for Queen Victoria
some say he invented royal tours ,
the meet the people greet
and even Sunday Dinner.

Google his images and blimey that’s not fancy dress
but what he could wear with all his titles.
His Facebook friends page
a right royal impress.

If you live in an old house it could be Edwardian
built between 1901 to 1910 like lots of houses in cities.
The style in houses and trousers remained until later.

The present queen’s great grandad
though rumours abound who his other great grand kids may be;
and though it may sound like treason
the rumours have their reasons.
In his own day, as famous as jedward.
The seventh King Edward

Steve Harrison from Yorkshire now lives in Shropshire. His work has been published in The Emergency Poet collections, The Physic Garden, Pop Shot, Wetherspoons News, HCE, Strix, several on-line sites and appears on YouTube as steveharrisonpoet. He performs across the Midlands and The Marches and won the Ledbury Poetry Festival Slam in 2014.