The Storage Unit, by Jeremy Szuder

The Storage Unit

I was in a band with a kid
named Johnny Angel.
One day Johnny’s mom,
a patron saint for fostered animals,
told us we couldn’t rehearse
in her living room anymore.

It was fine by me,
the smell of cat urine was
too much to bear and
I no longer wanted to clean
animal hair from my drums.

Someone had the bright idea
that we should rent out
a storage unit and just practice
there instead, whenever we wanted.

The process was simple enough,
it was the sheer amount of volume
however that no one could
have warned us about;

corrugated metal walls and roof,
with cold concrete floors-
the sound was torturous.

So we rolled down the front gate
and played inside under a single
green light bulb for hours at a time,
almost until we couldn’t breathe
any longer.

And we would come out of that
tin green dungeon with multiple rows
of teeth in our mouths like sharks,
and the perspiration garnered from
within that stomach of storage madness
streaked into our eyes until we
saw multiple green light bulbs
melt and dance across our irises.

That volume was beginning to
puncture the inner hollow ways
of our bones and after two or
three months of that, we crumbled
under the weight of Inland Empire
industrial wasteland, and quickly found
somewhere else to rock.

I learned, after we split from the scene,
that there were a few storage units
very near the one we practiced in
that were being used for meth labs.

And though, with our clamorous
residency, our surf/monster/sci-fi/guitar hell,
we might have earned a few new
jittery, nervous, paranoid and highly
strung out new fans,

still, they were glad to see us go.

Jeremy Szuder (he/him) lives in a tiny apartment with his wife, two children and two cats. He works in the evenings in a very busy restaurant, standing behind a stove, a grill, fryers and heating lamps, happily listening to hours of hand selected music and conjuring ideas for new art and poetry in his head. When his working day ends and he enters his home in the wee hours, he likes to sit down with a glass of wine and record all the various words and images that bear fruit within his mind. Jeremy Szuder only sets the cage doors free when the work begins to pile up too high. In this life, Szuder makes no illusions of being a professional artist in any way, shape, or form.
https://jeremyszuder.wordpress.com/

 

Recycling is good for the planet, by Finola Scott

Recycling is good for the planet

Seeing my ironed socks, polished glass
friends declare he’s servicable, a keeper.

But they don’t know, can’t imagine
his moonlit yearnings, his penchant

for rubber – not lingerie but stationary.
The flip side of those origami scribbles

fluttering from pockets, the notes stuck
on the fridge urging me to eat his plums.

Let’s not speak of housework. l say
live and let live, but dusting in a wet suit?

Vacuuming in lederhosen? Buffing
me in the buff? Even Alexa has given up.

I tried – took him to my book group
to the Ukulele girls, to Capoeira. No takers.

So next week he’s going on Freecycle –
Banker, slightly worn, one careless owner.

William Carlos Willams was not harmed 
in the writing of this poem. 
 

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.

 

Bohemian Raspberry (Liqueur), by Vanessa O’Rielly

Bohemian Raspberry (Liqueur)

I drank a little Amaretto with my Nan
Crème de Menthe, Crème de Menthe will you drink a cold Tango?
Thunderbolts, White Lightning, very, very frightening me
Galliano, Galliano
Galliano, Galliano
Galliano, Aperol, Limoncello

 

Corpus Christi College has no pastry chef, by Natlie Baron

CORPUS CHRISTI COLLEGE HAS NO PASTRY CHEF

Also the gold pelican on the JCR wall has gone,
as I believe has the JCR itself.
This despite the fact that Jack Turvey
stapled himself to the pelican and the wall
to prevent its sorry loss.

I digress: without a pastry chef and with the sorry loss
of the pelican, poor Corpuscles
have sorrier options. Adam Spicer,
senior Corpus sous chef and Masterchef:
The Professionals quarter-finalist

has been blamed for the crisis.
With no pastry chef,
a dearth of formal halls; the passing
of the loving cup in a silver horn
must pause. Worse, students are forced

to breakfast at Catz or possibly Fitzbillies:
the sole college founded by townspeople
in 1352, site of the oldest living court in Cambridge,
home of the hideous Chronophage and Parker Library,
now with no cake to crumb in fledgling mouths.

 

Is Poetry Pointless?, by Alanna Hammel

Is Poetry Pointless?

I don’t write poetry
I don’t think I ever will
It’s a rotary system
It’s one aim to kill.

I admit I did once overdose
On Lowell’s polyphonic prose.
You don’t see that lot nowadays,
With your Robert Frost
Or your Terrance Hayes.

They have all moved on to screenplays
If they do write it is melodic phrase.
What does pointless even mean?
Without purpose or meaning?

Purpose in poetry is fairly drastic
Some just want a book to read quick.
I doubt most poetry would please the reader
Unless you care for iambic pentameter.
I can see the poet waving its beater
Easy to confuse with the grim reaper.

Poets are killers
I’ll say it again
From your Rupi Kaur to your Dickinson
On rhythm the poet stabs to death
That’s about as good as poets get
While the poet goes through the alphabet
And thinks for a minute about their next sonnet.
Being struck by lightning odds at 500,000 to one
But Increased massively by reading John Donne.
They say you are what you eat
You also are what you read I learnt that from a man with a degree in ‘filíocht’
Little did he know his future would have sucked.
Writing poetry is pointless
I’m telling you now
That’s coming from someone who doesn’t know how.

 

My last joke, by Jorge Leiva Ardana

My last joke
After Luis Buñuel

Should the day come and my soul be released,
though a convinced atheist, I’ll call in a priest
and the barber that messed up so much my hair
will tell those presents about our secret affair.

The service will be set around plastic flowers,
the ceremony held at the most inconvenient hour.
Bagpipes will be nicely played out of tune,
your headache will last until the following June.

A party horn shall be resting on my lips,
a bubble pipe between my fingertips.
Buried in a place I’ve never been,
I thought –why not- of Aberdeen.

Arranges will be made as follows:
Weeping or sorrow not allowed.
A ventriloquist must read my eulogy.
Please, invite to speak an expert on ornithology.

All the money I have although is not much,
will be donated where it’s really needed,
the Oregon Taxidermy Association,
where I can finally get a standing ovation.

My relatives won’t get a dime
which might be the last of my crimes,
and if you think all the above sinister,
remember a Nobel Peace Prize
was awarded to Kissinger.

 

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.

 

What do you think of, by Sarah J Bryson

What do you think of

when you imagine Christmas?
Is it the fancy eats and sweetie treats
in mouth watering an-ti-ci-pa-tion?
Or is it the gluttony of Christmas
that overloads your mind
with thoughts of our out-sized,
slouch-on-the-couch nation,
engorging in the felicitations?

And when you think of Christmas sounds
do you think of the beauty of a choir,
singing mass at the mid-night hour?
Or the distorted speakers of the ‘Rotary’ sleigh
going round, with collectors shaking tins
on damp December afternoons,
and a skinny man shouting a thin “ho-ho-ho,”
lost inside the outsized Santa suit?

What do you see in your minds eye
when you think of Christmas?
Do you see the delicate twinkling tree,
put up lovingly by the whole family
or the glittery, over-dressed shop windows
and the grotesque street decorations
put up in October half-term, taken down,
perhaps, in time for Easter celebrations?

Maybe you think of the thrill of giving?
Bringing joy with your gift of a toy,
carefully chosen, wrapped and sent,
all savings spent? Or is this sentiment
lost in greedy commercialism?
When every child is asked to produce a list
and every shop sells gifts of badly-made-tat
to fill the stockings of each ungrateful brat.

What about the scent of Christmas?
Do you imagine oranges-stuck-with-cloves,
and hot mulled-wine which wafts to your nose,
mixed with pine needles, and warm mince pies?
But no, with Christmas trees made from plastic and wire,
and radiators, not a real log fire, and no time for making –
instead there’s the faking of the Christmas smell
sprayed from a can, which M & S sell.

But think of the excitement of Christmas…..
the thought of finding, with wriggling toes
a stuffed Christmas stocking… and thoughts of,
the possibility of, “What if it snows?”
And the thrill of seeing all those relations,
not seen since last year, (at Auntie Flo’s)
not since the last blazing row about….
ah well – who remembers what?

Another year flown, another marker for how we age,
see how the children have grown, since last time.

Sarah J Bryson has poems published in print journals, anthologies and on line. During the Covid pandemic, she took part in a weekly event, combining photographs with haiku style poetry. She has several poems on the Poetry and Covid site. She has been recently commended in the YorkMix poetry competition

 

The Urban Cowboy, by Ben Macnair

The Urban Cowboy

The Urban Cowboy,
thinks he is at the Rodeo.
In his white Tuxedo,
dancing as if he was
John Travolta.

The Urban Cowboy,
with his wide-brimmed Stetson,
a man with no name,
useless in the Cheers Bar,
never being served by Ted Danson.

The Urban Cowboy,
with his leather trousers,
the sheen and the crackle,
the static electricity,
is not who he says he is.
His Saturn Return turned to Jupiter,
his midlife crises a cliche
for a man born at the wrong time
in the wrong place,
to the wrong parents,
with the wrong face.

The Urban Cowboy,
rides the train, not horses,
his steed is late and expensive.
The Urban Cowboy could always
be anyone wishing they were someone else.

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