The Ongoing Saga of Why I Haven’t Finished my Novel, by Nikki Fine

The Ongoing Saga of Why I haven’t Finished My Novel

Reason number four hundred and three.
No, don’t go. It’s a good one. You’ll like it.
Well, maybe ‘like’ is the wrong word. Perhaps
‘appreciate’, or even ‘recognise’.

I woke up
with the final paragraph in my head,
all ready to write in, spelling, punctuation,
everything needed to complete my opus.

I was so excited, I fumbled for my
lucky pen – the one I was using when
I won a story competition at primary school,
though I’ve had no luck since –
and knocked over my glass of water.

Obviously, I needed to dry the pen before use,
but as I entered the bathroom, in search of
a towel, the cat dashed beneath my feet,
and I tripped, dropping my poor pen
into the bowels of the unit which remained
unflushed after some midnight micturitions.

By the time I had failed to retrieve the pen
hygienically, and then called a plumber
to go beyond the u-bend, the paragraph
was gone. All that was left was this.

Nikki Fine is struggling to finish a novel and has resorted to poetry in the meantime. Some of her work has been published, in such places as Spilling Cocoa and The Interpreter’s House. She has also been experimenting with selfies in windy locations.

 

Zenith, by Kevin Higgins

Zenith

Zenith Kane is the type of guy
who, home from a challenging afternoon
in the rat eat rat milieu that is the trade
in self-rotating slurry tanks,
lowers himself into his marble bathtub
with his pet electric eel;
makes up plans

to go, first, into politics
then the global arms trade as a lobbyist,
to familiarise himself with the menus of
the better hotels in Brussels,
Beirut, the District of Columbia;

then retire to a purpose built shed
the far end of the garden to drink
Ginseng tea through a handmade straw
and draft the twenty seventh best novel
in the history of front cover blurbs written
by critics with specialist haircuts
and names translated into Gaelic;

bathe in the sunlight of the quality press
declaring it brilliant
before it’s even written.

But last things first: those business cards,
and the professionally done head shot
all the websites say a novelist of his standing
must these days have.

For now, though, the struggle to rise
pinkly out of the bathtub while feeding
an eel buzzing its discontent
frogs and crabs by the bag load,

so tomorrow he can again be Zenith
and talk a man from Anbally or Gortlusky
into a tank with a rotating paddle
guaranteed to maintain the quality of his slurry.

KEVIN HIGGINS

KEVIN HIGGINS is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway. He has published five previous full collections of poems: The Boy With No Face (2005), Time Gentlemen, Please (2008), Frightening New Furniture (2010), The Ghost In The Lobby (2014), & Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital (2019). 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 of Songs 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, The Times (London), Hot Press 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”. 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 by Nuascealta. His extended essay Thrills & Difficulties: Being A Marxist Poet In 21st Century Ireland was published in pamphlet form by Beir Bua Press this year. Ecstatic, Kevin’s sixth full poetry collection, will be published by Salmon next March.

 

Fags villanelle, by Heather Moulson

Fags villanelle

Please give me back my fags
You’re a scrubber and a thief
Rifling through our handbags

You really should be wearing tags
Or turning over a new leaf
And please give me back my fags

From the sweet shop you nick mags
From Tesco, joints of beef
You’re just like the other slags

So please go and nick more swag
To be honest, it will be a relief
When you give me back my fags

Remember it was Rothmans fags
Don’t hide behind that sheath
And get some more carrier bags

You didn’t do it? Good grief!
It was your boyfriend Keith
But you were still behind the blags
So please give me back my fags

 

The love song of Sergeant Wilson, by Ben Macnair

The love song of Sergeant Wilson

I say would you mind awfully
if we went to the cinema to see one of those
new fangled films the kids are talking about?
Sir are you absolutely sure that’s a good idea?

And I say would you mind awfully if I were
to walk you home afterwards to your humble abode?
Sir are you absolutely sure that’s a good idea?

I say would you mind awfully if I told you about my sergeant’s exam?
Shall I tell you about my manager at the bank?
Or about Jones the greengrocer?
How about Fraser?
He says we’re all doomed.
At times I think I agree with him.

I say would you mind awfully if we went to one of those new nightclubs?.
I think I may be too old for them these days.
I like a good club with a bit of dancing.
Maybe they’ll have a bit of jazz with trombones and trumpets.
Or maybe I will just bring my ear trumpet.

I say would you mind awfully if we just went to a tea dance.
Or maybe we could play bingo
Maybe we should just not bother.
I see the kids are watching that new Mrs Brown’s boys comedy.
Have you watched it?
I haven’t, I am not absolutely sure it is a good idea.

 

Rubbish Love Poem, by Martin Grey

Rubbish Love Poem

Love is like a kung fu fighter.
It conducts itself with grace,
but if you let it draw you in,
it might kick you in the face.

Love is like a chainsaw.
Proper use is not a laugh,
‘cos if you treat it irresponsibly,
you might cut yourself in half.

Love is like a cup of tea
that someone else has made.
Sometimes it tastes so wonderful.
Sometimes they put the milk in first.

Love’s a bit like shopping,
full of newness to be handled,
but sometimes you’ll end up in Ikea
with a trolley full of candles.

But love ain’t unconditional,
no matter what you’ve heard,
‘cos if I see you put the milk in first
then I’ll need to have a word.

Martin is a Nottingham based poet. His first collection, The Prettyboys of Gangster Town, was published in 2020. He’s co-director of World Jam, co-host of Lenguas Open Mic and co-presents Poetry Global Network’s The Poetry News. He often wonders if people keep mistaking him for the poet they actually wanted.

 

What is a marriage?, by Bridget Hynes Murphy

What is a marriage?
A marriage is the strangest thing
It’s really not that clever
To squeeze two folks together
And tell them it’s forever
The first few months of wedded bliss Are really like a dream
You walk together hand in hand
A handsome, youthful team
But then reality comes to stay
And he never plans to go
Just like the one you married
The one you really didn’t know
You fight over the dishes
Or who got two hours sleep
You wasted all your wishes
On this Prince Charming what a creep But then he does the kindest thing
He let’s you sleep in late
He changes baby’s nappy
And tells you, you look great!
He stands beside you in your darkest hour He’ll gently squeeze your hand
As you say goodbye to one you love
And softly you will land
The years go by as they always do
Time, it never stops
Your lovers hair gets greyer
But you think he still looks hot

Now you’re hot too
But its not the same
Your flushes are mean and sweaty
Hes aging like some fine wine
But you’re feeling like a yeti
Then he takes you home and sits you down
Hands you a glass of wine
I don’t care how hot you get
I’m just glad you’re mine!
If time rewound this minute Would you still pick me?
I would indeed my darling For your love has set me free.

 

Bed of Nails – Nail Beds, by Mandy Beattie

BED OF NAILS — NAIL BEDS

​​ Before chemical spills and pandemics
​my finger nails used to be
​quarter moon Botticelli’s. Half
​ moons when I had bones of double
​ cream and vegan-inked in strawberry
moon and peridot. Once in a super blue blood moon
a French manicure with white wavelets: without
fish scales, guano, crushed beetles
and deadly nightshades they put in nail polish as protein –
Pointing the index finger a tattie bed
after tugging nettles. Middle nail has hang-nails
Ring finger a rock-stack. Peedie nail bit
between aikle’s into a sixteenth moon; an own goal
in the raffia-hoop – Thumb nail’s thumbs-up
inside the Arc de Triomphe
On the other hand
a peeling shallot. Pinkie stubbed its toe; a pitted moon
Third nail’s a salt cave
with stalactite-striations — A sign
on my nail-palm I could read in tea-leaves
when I wore a fur muff and long cloak. Toe nails
an obsessive compulsive
buzz cut. My skin used to be
slathered and seduced with calendula balm. Each hand
Rapunzel in circlets of gold, silver and semi-precious pebbles
​Now my nails are geek-nails
​in the buff
​with an edge

 

She was no James Herriott . . . By Aine Kelly

She was no James Herriott……. by Aine Kelly

Síle’s favourite was the Alpaca, with its traits of the Gobán Saor,
Hygienically meticulous and much valued for their hair.
The story started in Brown Thomas, when Síle’s jaw dropped
On hearing the inflated price for a small Alpaca top.
When she finally composed herself and her heart was beating calmer,
She decided there and then to become an Alpaca farmer.

So she searched the Farmer’s Journal, found an auction in Athy
Put a loan from her Credit Union, with savings she’d put by.
In the excitement of investment, common sense failed her –
In Athy with six Alpacas – but no access to a trailer.
So she phoned up Farmer Kelly who was glued to the election.
‘Give me two hours and I’ll be there, are their cards ready for collection?

Síle waited in the carpark under Level 5 restrictions
Sipping takeout Americano , while reading a work of fiction.
Farmer Kelly drove behind her, the six Alpacas going Ga Ga
Named them Angie, Tom and Tracy, Theo, Biden and Kamala.
Well they settled in Claregalway , ate their way through all her money.
Now a six foot fence surrounds her house and the big dream’s not so funny.
So one day she packed her trailer – Tuam Mart said they’d take five.
She held on to sweet Kamala to keep her Alpaca dream alive.
But alone, she whined and whimpered now the neighbours were going Ga Ga
So she formed a small support group called the ‘Friends of the Alpaca..’
(some years later)
Pondering her investment
Years after Kamala got the chop,
Síle felt life might have been easier
If she’d just bought that bloody top!

My name is Áine Kelly and I fancy myself as having an eye for the funnier side of life! I have attended some poetry workshops and completed a creative writing module, and love the idea of getting a serious idea across either in a poem or a short story. I have had a book of short stories. called ‘Has Anyone A Set of Jumpleads?’ published in 2018, with accompanying artwork by Christopher Banahan.

 

Iron Hat, by Ed Poetastic

Iron Hat,

Come on, where the facts?
Its not under your aluminum hat?
I dont hear anything from that cat?
Wait, whats with the chaotic format?
Okay!Okay!okay, i wont do that!
There nothing wrong with the thermostat,
No No No the earth isnt fake or flat,
No im not a CIA agent, snick or a rat,
I thought we could hang and chat,
Yes, ill watch out for your mystical mate,
Ow Alright! Alright! please dont snap!
No im not doing some MKultra Crap,
You hear sounds? Tap, Tap, Tap,
Its the Tv. Have you lost it or snap?
I keep telling you, No your not on the map!!
Yes, this isnt paint, im actually black,
Yes, check my id. Careful with that strap,
Its seem common sense you lack,
Hey!Hey!Hey! Dont you smash my Mac,
Man, you only have paste but no snacks?
Yes, my electronics and shoes are on the rack,
No, Im dont have a wire or being tracked,
No, No, No this isnt a sting or a Trap,
No!! Time moves foward, there is no gaps,
I think you need a rest or a quick nap,
Prepare for combat? Are you smoking crack?
No! Your cellphone and computer arent hacked,
Im going, i hope your humanity is intact,
For real, you dont need to worry, your a huge paranoid brat,
By Ed Poetastic

 

Attitude to Life, by Nancy Tully

When I was young and told to mend my ways
Because I was turning my mother’s hair grey

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

Just take a look around today
It happens in a similar way

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

As we progress through life
We are always giving someone strife

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

See that queue, well I’ll push to the front
If anyone complains, I’ll be blunt

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

If someone is helpful and kind to me
Do I feel I have to return that kindness? NOT ME!

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

I’ll drive my car so close behind yours
Do I really care about an accident and the laws?

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

I don’t need to drive with my seatbelt on
I don’t care if it’s right or wrong

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

If you drive through town at night
I’ll just walk right out and give you a fright

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

My children are so precious to me
When they are in the car they stand so they can see

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

And so we go on through our lives
Without a care and full of jibes

WHO ME? I DON’T HAVE AN ATTUTUDE PROBLEM

So when are we going to show people we care
I would like to think we could all be a little more fair

WHO ME? I DO HAVE AN ATTITUDE PROBLEM