A Joke in French, by Mark Connors

A joke in French

We had it tough. Miss Finnegan,
hair bunned so tight it stretched her face
taut, gave it a lift plastic surgeons
could only dream of. When she took Religon,
fine! French brought out her psychopathy.
She terrified us, stalked our dreams
like a sexless sadist from a video nasty.
I have lost all hope. You lot are a disgrace,
she'd say, her head boiling without steam.
But get her talking about Jesus
turning water into wine, or talking Zacchaeus
down from his tree, and she was a love!
And man, she could make her pupils laugh:
Remember it this way: one egg is un eouf.
 

Worms, by Sarah Dale

Worms
…are hermaphrodites, and much addicted
to venery, and consequently very prolific.

History of Selborne Gilbert White

Be as jealous as you like,
worms have it both ways
without shame, or guilt –
check them out,
any warm damp night
going at it hammer and tongs
all over your garden.

Do old worms complain
about the morals of the young?
You bet they don’t –
there’s no age of consent
if you’re a worm,
no tabloid worms digging dirt,
bugging other worms’ phones.

Every single worm is busy
having as much sex
with as many other worms
as he/she/they can possibly reach
and making as many new worms
as he/she/they can manage –
good news for gardeners.

After a misspent youth in libraries and museums, and some time in between, Sarah has finally achieved her dream job in Lichfield working for the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum (and book shop). She writes for fun and enjoys swimming.

 

The politics of envy, by Janet Sillett

The politics of envy

1
I am eaten up
each day waiting in front of this house
for the 24 bus to King’s Cross
twisted with it
transfixed at the stuccoed veneer
draped with wisteria
shot with purple perfuming the hallowed air
of Keat’s ‘melodious plot’

I loathe the inhabitants of the house with Heath views
Hampstead Heath once wild now as tamed as the middle class
reading beige sex in not-quite-made-it booker longlists
a city banker’s family perhaps
he looks like one
the nanny, dragging a small child
his jacket emblazoned by the crest of a school
where five year olds can learn Mandarin. And there are
no additives for lunch
a small fretful dog, pampered
by plaid rugs and vegan biscuits
sniffing at Hampstead’s rare detritus

I want that banker to be exposed
as a uber fraudster
the nanny sent back to Sweden
the poor dog in kennels
the child in state school, tieless
picking at frozen chips

the elegant façade cracked
its blue plaque smashed


11

After work in Betjeman’s Parliament Hill café
I take what counts for tea in NW3
tiny petals floating in urine coloured water
High up here with London displayed
like a Victorian panorama
a glimpse of the Shard, fuzzy in sun mist

I catch a bus, sweat smelling, to Highgate
a pilgrimage to Marx’s grave.
Would he have disowned me
if we had met on his weekly walk on Hampstead Heath
or at the meeting of the Congress of the Communist League
the Red Lion Soho
explaining the tenets of socialism
over borscht and German beer?

Yes of course he would

it’s just I crave that house
with its perfect symmetry

I am, I’m afraid,
largely
unreconstructed

Janet Sillett recently took up writing poetry and short fiction again after decades of absence. She has had poems published in the Galway Advertiser, Spilling Cocoa, Green Ink Poetry, Paws for Thought, Poetry Plus and flash fiction published in Litro. She just retired from from a think tank.

 

A Mossy Rock in the Forest, by Robert Garnham

There's a mossy rock in the forest
A place I always like to go
A mossy rock in the woods
I go there when I'm feeling low.

And I sit on the rock in the moss
And it's hard and it makes me forget
I sit on the rock in the woods
If it’s damp it’ll make my bum wet

There's a mossy rock in the forest
Surrounded by foliage and leaves
And big arse rhododendrons
It's a place that puts me at my ease

And I sit on the rock in the moss
And the ground it's wet and spongy
And there's mushrooms sprouting up
And other types of fungi

There's a mossy rock in the forest
Its ok I suppose it could be worse
There are badgers and squirrels in the forest
That's it now I'm done with this verse

And I sit on rock in the moss
I only like to sit here a whiles
And the rock is not exactly comfy
You wouldn't want to sit here with piles

There's a mossy rock in the forest
the branches here are terribly scratchy
I try to watch some porn on my phone
But the WiFi signal here is patchy.

And I sit on the rock in the moss
And I sit on the rock in the moss
And I sit on the rock in the moss
And then my mind wanders off.

Robert Garnham has been performing LGBT comedy poetry around the UK for ten years at various fringes and festivals, and has had three collections published by Burning Eye. He has won slams in places such as London, Edinburgh and Swindon and headlined or featured at events such as Bang Said the Gun, Raise the Bar, and Milk and in 2019 was the Hammer and Tongue featured artist for a tour of the UK. He has supported artists such as John Hegley, Arthur Smith and Paul Sinha. His website is https://professorofwhimsy.com/

 

The Cannibal who Came to Tea, by Arran Potts

The Cannibal Who Came to Tea

Hello I see you made it then?
I’m not too hard to find.
Between your teeth? Aperitif
Small pieces of my mind.

This spoon is finest silver
So you can gouge and pry;
I’ll never see, your love for me
As I give you the eye.

I’ll lend an ear, poke out my tongue,
If you can fit it in.
Then I propose, you pick my nose;
My gravy on your chin.

No-one knows that we are here,
I’m glad that we’re alone.
No need to cook, I’ll let you suck
The marrow from my bone.

Pull me apart, eat out my heart
Slurp up my blood and bowels.
I’m such a giver, please take my liver
Mop up my mess with towels.

Make some bacon from my back
Carve into my cheek;
Have a nibble, on my nipple
Chew me till I'm weak.

Now take my hand, you’re nearly done,
I see you have the guts.
It doesn’t hurt, and for dessert
I’ll let you eat my nuts.

Arran has friends who are poets and fancies a little bit of the glory and adulation they receive. He’ll also settle for someone saying, ‘That’s ok.’ He’s a husband, father and teacher.

 

Help, by Yash Seyedbagheri

Help

a word shoved into a garbage can
you know? beneath Swedish meatballs and empty Pepsis
help is a man beneath the sun-colored walls of some coffee shop
carrying cardboard shame and coughing toxicity
help is

a flaccid man in Bermuda shorts
murmuring sudden defeat, you know the type
waddling down a street with divorce papers, smile an upside-down parabola
you’ve only explored five hundred options
but help is a triviality. you know

every problem has its own solution
so help yourself
brush away words stalking like crazed Lifetime psychos
delinquent, overdue, risk, management,
they’re just little crumbs

nothing that can’t be swept away
and waterboarded in Merlot
doused with a few episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm
for comparison. after all Larry David got a fatwa from the ayatollah right?
and if they rise to the surface----visualize positivity


a week out
a month
a year into the expanse of time
just never ask for help
call it assistance, don’t call it help
it’s feedback.

yes, you’re sinking into negativity, you’ve bounced too many times
liver rotting like Rasputin, eyes rife with rings
get feedback, evaluate the options
eat more TV dinners, don't eat onions, visualize, self-actualize, cut streaming services while

asking for encouragement, support, assistance
after all you’ve sunk a little lower
the numbers like icebergs, your sheets stale, space rife with dust
but it’s just support, fine it’s assistance
but it’s not help

Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA program in fiction. His work has been published in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Write City Magazine, and Ariel Chart, among others.

 

The I.T. Guy, by Sarah James

The I.T. Guy

Wired, he talks high speed
in a language beyond us,
our faces blank screens.

He e-valuates our systems
with zip and drive,
recommends new leads.

He keeps our firm’s site
secure; but can’t help close
frozen windows.

His fast processing
mega memory leaves us lost
for Word’s.

His virus checks clear,
we return to work
with our hacking coughs.

And yes, when we call
to request more back-up,
sometimes he bytes.

Sarah James is a poet, fiction writer, journalist and photographer. Her latest collection, Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic (Verve Poetry Press), is partially inspired by having type one diabetes since she was six. Good laughter is a medicine she’s not always found easy to come by. Her website is at www.sarah-james.co.uk.

 

Inside my Head, by Susan Lindsay

Inside My Head                                                                           

After Grayson Perry, Channel 4 

 

Under the skull

shaped to be my own,

smooth curves I’d love

to run my hands along

when gone –

I do love bone –

 

wild circuitry.

All my fingers tip

flashing right in;

impulses deployed 

for digital dance

 

the beat of my feet,

heat and my heart’s 

thump, thump

never missing a beat

flowing red, taking

oxygen from the rise

and fall of my chest

cleared blood, 

                           dear kidneys

thank-you, back for more

once it’s done servicing

the sorting house, my brain

 

and, still not mentioned –

fuel, taste, the process of waste.

 

I can see

not only through skin

that tree –

100 billion neurons

dendritic spines, soma –

deluged with light

ALL around perceived

to sort, prioritise

register, file

for recall 

reaction

through changing

expressions, 

                       voice,

speech central 

sound: sound-box – check Ö

language, words – check Ö

tone- check Ö

mouth shape – check Ö

sufficient breath – check Ö

speak….  AND listen,

more again,

simultaneous

      transmission

in system central

 

who knows who,

what, is behind it

maybe the great

sky mother –

 

and monsters

God and the gods,

utopias, dystopias

vibrating paint box

clay, the earth

the moon and, yes,

the stars

 

my own rocket

control centre

blasts off 

in less than nanoseconds

24/7

 

grey matter matters

the gut’s great

processor                              

under the skin,

who needs cylinders

I’ve got brain

the world

 

inside my head.

 

 

Biography. 

Susan Lindsay … a most compelling and unique voice in Irish poetry, Eamonn Wall, at her February 2022 Reading, University Missouri-St. Louis. Milling the Air (2018) is Susan’s third collection from Doire Press. Her work is published in journals, she has read at festivals and facilitates Conversations mediated by poetry. Blog: http://susanlindsayauthor.blogspot.com

 

So Surrey, by Trisha Broomfield

So Surrey

I’m tired of being Surrey
with vowels of pure cut glass
surface good intentions
and Pilates perfect arse

I’m tired of being Surrey
with legs like licorice sticks
tipped into boots, DuBarry
where obese is still size six

I’m tired of being Surrey
with hair five shades of fair
driving blind to others
volunteering just to care

I’m tired of being Surrey
sunglasses half my face
Botox, fillers, collagen
and running out of space

but being here in Surrey
it’s full of all things green
Pesto sauce and olives
and kale to keep me lean

I think I’ll stay in Surrey
though not so near a beach
I’ll take up Bikram yoga
and do my roots, so pass the bleach.

 

It Always Starts with Jumpers for Penguins, by Jennifer A. McGowan

It Always Starts with Jumpers for Penguins

Stitch small. You’re covering
apology, not sin. Light fabric’s best,
to match their bones.

Flash colours. British birds
are little brown jobbies. They yearn
to steal the jazz of peacocks, lay down
a riff of hypersonic tremolos. Cardinals
want dominos, to pass unnoticed.

Mind the seams are on the outside.
You don’t want to ruffle feathers.