Schoolyard Memory, by Maurice Devitt

Schoolyard Memory

When I refused to share my Latin homework,
you challenged me to a fight
outside the tuckshop, first thing after school.
With little choice, I accepted,
my strategy hopelessly unclear. You had form
and news of the mismatch sparked from class to class.

The lane was choked with the cough
of cigarette smoke and the acrid smell of BO
funnelling from the knots of baying boys
heralding my entrance. You strutted around
the makeshift ring, joking and laughing
with your cabal. I was tempted to admit defeat,

but conscious that attack is often
the best form of defence, I walked towards you,
shucking school bag and gaberdine,
baited you with words of bluff bravado,
silencing the crowd and tempting you
to hit me for the first time. I flinched

but didn’t react, tried to distract you
with the recitation of random tracts of Latin
unseen and the declension of obscure French verbs.
You continued your attack, my rubbery mouth
spitting out the syllables of broken words,
until I could take no more, legs buckling under me.

Curled on the ground, I sensed the mood
of the crowd shift to hushed concern,
and unfolding myself like a deckchair into standing,
rushed to concede. You win, I mumbled,
sweeping up my school bag and disappearing
into the maw of the crowd, tears starting to fall.

Perhaps chastened by the incipient shock
that rippled through the school, you never asked
for my homework again and, when we left school,
our paths diverged, until today – I saw you in town
stepping out of a brand-new Tesla,
pristine paintwork too tempting to ignore.

Maurice Devitt

A past winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland and Poems for Patience competitions, he published his debut collection, ‘Growing Up in Colour’, with Doire Press in 2018.

Curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site, his Pushcart-nominated poem, ‘The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work’, was the title poem of an anthology published by Hibernian Writers in 2015.

 

The Poem that Got Me Cancelled, by Daragh Byrne


Daragh Byrne is an Irish poet writing in Sydney, Australia. He has had work published in various journals and newspapers, and his poems have been commended or placed in numerous competitions in Ireland and Australia. He runs The Sydney Poetry Lounge, a long-running open mic night.

 

Too Many Straights, by Claire Duthie

There are too many straights on telly
The situation has really got very silly
And out of hand
Wny don’t you understand?

There’s far too much prancing
On strictly come dancing

Wny wallow in the mire
And watch ” married at first sight?”
It really, really is dire.

Lionel Blair
Is no longer there

Mayday, maidez
Paul O Grady

Heaven help us
Russell T Davies

 

Bruce Wayne : Space Pioneer, by Ross Crawford

Bruce Wayne: Space Pioneer

Whit if Bruce Wayne wis a real guy?
Whit wid he actually be like?
Wid he still run aboot each nicht
Getting intae a ficht
Wae every petty criminal in the city?
Wid he?
Say ye pit him oan a fixed-term contract:
How wid he react?
Wid he sit through an annual review
Tae discuss aw the jaws he’s cracked?
Punchin fuck oot the symptom
Never curin the cause
Is much mair fun
Than trying tae change the laws
“Least ah dinnae kill,” he’d cry
“An ah’m no gonnae justify
Masel tae the likes ae you.”
But it starts tae make ye hink:
If he’s a billionaire who’s only kink
Is dressing up in aw that bat gear
And makin wee guys pish in fear
Is he helpin or hinderin?
Is he actually a guid yin?
Ah bet ye if Bruce Wayne wis a real guy
He’d prolly jist try tae get tae the moon
Like aw the ither silver-spoon
Billionaires blastin aff intae space
Auld Brucey boy racin big bald Bezos
Tae build the first galactic base
Nae cosmic threats tae fight
Fur this Dark Knight
But he still cannae forget
That his parents are deid
Instillin him wae this insatiable need
Tae dae them baith proud
And so he has vowed
That in the name ae the slain
Thomas an Martha Wayne
He’ll lead an interstellar trip
Perform a low-gravity flip
Inside a bat-shaped spaceship.

Ross Crawford is a writer/scriever based in Stirling, Scotland. He mostly takes his inspiration from the history and nature of Scotland, but his head can be turned by sci-fi and superheroes. He writes in Scots, English, and Gàidhlig. You can find him on Twitter at @RRMCrawford

 

Surf School, by Robert Garnham

Thou has the charms of a warthog.
Vile, doth your snout snuffle
Amongst the remnants of last night’s moussaka.
Has thou perchance upon my corduroy trouser leg
Upchucked?
Be gone!
Quoth my
Surfing instructor.

Upon my word did the very same surfing instructor
Not two hours previous
Raise an eyebrow or two as, with help,
I oozed into the requisite wetsuit,
Like a slug into a Smarties tube,
Thus requiring considerable tugging,
Talcum powder, axle grease, Vaseline,
Gravity and sheer luck,
And yea, for it was the closest I had come
In many months
To sex.

Unleashed on the sea thus be-rubbered,
I had all the equilibrium of a sparrow
In a cement mixer,
All the agility of a lopsided basset hound
With an inner ear infection,
All the balance of Fox News
And all the rhythm of a drummer divorced from his drum
And also, coincidentally,
Three months in the grave.
You might say that
I wasn’t really cut out for it.

Thy surfing instructor, Troy, were a frown
With a man attached.
Sayeth he,
I’ve never seen a surfboard just sink like that.
It just went down like a stone, didn’t it?
You’re rewriting all the laws of physics,
And upon my word,
Did’st thou notice the countenance of that
Dolphin?
Such a worried demeanour.
And you’ve put the fear of god
Into a porpoise.
And also,
Thou art emitting
A vast and toxic slick.

Thy wetsuit were as shapely as a
Delaminated lorry tyre,
Such that a passing walrus should deliver
A cocky wink,
And surely I would have excelled
In all my brine-soaked majesty
Were it not for a chafing in the gusset
Which brought tears to mine eyes and
Conjured
That night I spent in Nuneaton with an
Abraham Lincoln impersonator
Whose frisky appetites
Could ne’er be sated
Yet ate my buffet breakfast and scarpered
Without so much as a how do you do?

The sea were as rough as mine uncle
And it pounded on the beach like
An angry old man on the doors of the closed cafe
In which he has left his baccy tin,
And no matter how I progressed
I could stand not on that blessed board.
For when it cometh to surfing I am nought
But a charlatan, a poseur,
A ne’erdowell enmeshed in misery,
No more qualified to join the surfing greats
Than a giraffe join a coven of mallards,
That I might hang my head in shame,
And mutter, oh, when do I get to say cowabunga?
And hand in my ankle bracelet
And my coral necklace
And my flip flops
And submit to the life of a land based mammal
Such as a badger or a dental hygienist.

How vast the expression of shock on the face
Of my damp-headed instructor
When I leaned on the flanks of his
Cobbled rickety surf shack
And the whole place concertinered
Into a jumble of wooden planks.
He hardly laughed at all.

And thus began a tirade the general gist of which
Implored me to explore
Other avenues of past-time
In which my ham-fisted bungling efforts might
Not cause quite so much pain, anguish, damage
And general gnashing of teeth.
And that, dear listener,
Is how I became a poet.

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. Je has supported artists such as John Hegley, Arthur Smith and Paul Sinha. He has made a few short TV adverts for a certain bank, and a joke from one of his shows was listed as one of the funniest of the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe. Lately he has been writing short stories published in magazines such as Stand, Defenestration and Riggwelter, and a humorous column in the Herald Express newspaper. In 2021 he was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and shortlisted as Spoken Word Artist of the Year by the Saboteur Awards. His influences are diverse and include Ivor Cutler, Salena Godden, Bob Newhart and Laurie Anderson.

Robert is the editor of Spilling Cocoa. His website can be found at https://professorofwhimsy.com

 

The Ballad of Bertie Bassett and the Bisto Kids, by Ray Pool

THE BALLAD OF BERTIE BASSETT AND THE BISTO KIDS

This is the ballad of Bertie Bassett
And how he dealt with the Bisto Kids,
He rode into town to settle a score
And to see the woman he did adore.

He felt like settling down at last,
To put away his chequered past,
Mary was in his line of sight,
He hoped to see her this very night.

The Bisto Kids were on his list
riotous gamblers who carried arms,
Bertie now was on the prowl
And soon would face them cheek to jowl.

Meanwhile unbeknownst to them
A US marshall was on the train
Coming to put the kids in gaol,
For shooting and looting in Cripple Dale.

In the diamond X saloon
A poker game was starting up,
the Bisto Kids were always cheating,
The atmosphere was overheating.
Bertie was known for his licquorice log
And had his pick of womenfolk,
Now in the bar, his legs astride,
poor Mary nearly had a stroke.

The players all got up to leave,
as in strode the marshall, the place went quiet
all the drinkers began to burp
They thought it was old Wyatt Earp.

The Bisto Kids had pulled their guns
And theirs were not the only ones
Bertie held his weapons high
But Mary revealed a gartered thigh

Which drew old Bertie’s eyes away
when a bisto bullet hit his leg
but Billy had the quicker draw,
the Bistos fell upon the floor.

“Jack, Jack” a voice was heard,
“Jack, Jack, wake up, wake up !
You fell asleep and the dinner’s ready,
And what have you done to your favourite Teddy?

Little Jack, just shy of ten
His allsorts box quite empty, then
As the smell of gravy came through the door
Said: “Mum, I’m not hungry anymore.”

My flirtation with poetry blossomed whilst working at the BBC. I had a poem published in the Breathru Magazine run by Ken Geering in the late sixties. It is only since semi-retiring from the music business that I ventured into live poetry reading, and am now a prolific writer of poetry. I tend to choose subject matter of a quirky or satirical aspect, often read with mimicked accents and dialects. I have had two pamphlets published by Dempsey and Windle and poems in anthologies by Paradox and Indigo Dreams.

 

President Marcus Choy, by Art Ó Súilleabháin

President Marcus Choy

Marcus Choy was an awkward boy
all homework had a tale
teachers, it appears, he set out to annoy
with excuses, no matter how stale.

The pup ate the page, he was at that stage
he couldn’t find a pen
a budgie escaped and left its cage
the lights went out again.

He was so sick, he developed a ‘tic’
re-repeated his words
a doctor was called, he was anemic
the house was invaded by birds.

An alien landed, he was stranded
a tiger escaped from the zoo
little sister the book demanded
what was he to do?

Teachers, all fed up with his tricks
digging under their skin
a job that expected excuses – politics!
some seat he would have to win.

So, he bought a suit to appear resolute
as sharp as any pin
promises, promises, all the truth
the better to help him get in.

With so much wealth, he’d solve the health
thousands of houses he’d build
he’d change the system by acts or stealth
every promise fulfilled.

No one would be poor, he’d be a real doer
things would simply get done
Dublin homeless would be fewer and fewer
living would be fun.

But he made up his mind to be one of a kind
he’d be a poet or die
his wardrobe had to be redesigned
for ‘the job’ he would apply.

He’d develop a blog and get a dog
the voters he would dupe
decrees he’d write, laws he could cog
a saying he could loop.

Oh, what a lark, a house in the park
just like Uachtarán Higgins
in seven years, he would leave a mark
another story begins …

Art Ó Súilleabháin was born in Corr na Móna, Co. Galway and spent some years in Boston USA. He worked in Dublin, Castlebar and Washington DC before returning to Corr na Móna. His first collection of poetry for adults (Mayflies in the Heather) was published by Revival Press in April 2021.

 

Ketchup : An Obituary, by Kevin Higgins

Ketchup: An Obituary

It all started that Friday he came home brandishing
another bottle of it, when there was already one
gleaming unopened in the fridge. A mistake,
the whole house told itself.

Next week he turned up dragging
six bags of almost nothing else.
From then on, had it with everything:
on his bread instead of butter; with
his cornflakes instead of his usual
low-fat milk.

Eventually, dispensing with all else,
as his main course,
tomato ketchup with a side of
another shining blob of itself.

After which, he hardly opened the front door,
except to sign for deliveries, the vast jars of it
that arrived twice weekly in a van
marked Ketchup.

When he wasn’t golloping it by the basin load,
he used it instead of shaving foam,
toothpaste, and as an ointment
to balm embarrassing rashes.
Spent most of the day bathing in it.

By the time he made it safely to his coffin
he was the colour of it,
looked as if all you need do was squeeze him
and the perfect dip for a plate of hand-cut fries
would spurt gloriously from between
those tomato coloured lips.

Kevin Higgins was born in London. He mostly grew up in and lives in Galway City. In 2016 The Stinging Fly magazine described Kevin as “likely the most read living poet in Ireland. His poems have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times (London), Hot Press, The Daily Mirror and on The Vincent Browne Show, and read aloud by film director Ken Loach at a political meeting in London. His sixth full collection of poems ‘Ecstatic’ will be published by Salmon in March 2022.

 

Fairy-tale Romances, by Ama Bolton

Fairy-tale Romances

“Happily ever after”
(forgive my hollow laughter)
it’s fantasy, a figment of folklore.
Your knight in shining armour
could turn out to be no charmer
but a bully or a silly pompous bore.
Even sweet Maid Marian
may turn out to be a harridan,
and Sleeping Beauty! You should hear her snore!

Though the Prince may seem adorable
his manners are deplorable.
Cinderella’s pretty, but quite dim.
Snow White is vain and shallow
And Jack’s a tedious fellow;
he’s always at the golf-course or the gym.
Unless you’re into farming
don’t tie the knot with Charming
you’d soon run out of things to say to him.

Beauty’s a part-time Beast,
the prince, half frog, at least.
Beware Bluebeard! Beware of Reynardine!
The end of the love story
is far too often gory.
Living on your own can be just fine
with a dog or a cat
to sleep on your lap.
You can make up your own storyline.

Ama Bolton, former member of The Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream and Pun, convenes a Stanza group in Somerset. Her poems have featured at festivals, on Radio 3’s The Verb, and in magazines and anthologies including Bridport Prize 2008. She blogs at http://barleybooks.wordpress.com/

 

Trial by Poetry, by Oscar Windsor-Smith

Trial By Poetry

My first time at a formal workshop:
Comes the question of poetic voice and
I’m soon stumped.
Worrying.
It seems I’m not one person
for long enough to tie-down
a single stable output;
flibbertigibbet:
north/south, east/west
mongrel that I am;
a middler;
a literal mediocrity…

But then again,
the middle may provide
firm footing
for a bridge
between divergent minds.

And what’s so wrong with that?

Oscar Windsor-Smith lives in Hertfordshire, UK. He has fooled enough editors to get fiction, creative non-fiction and non-fiction published in diverse places, in print and online, and has occasionally been falsely accused of poetry. By jammy luck he has been a finalist/shortlistee in various international competitions. He graduated from the Birkbeck, University of London BA in creative writing in 2018.

Oscar Windsor-Smith – Writer

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oscar.windsorsmith

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Twitter: @OscarWindsor