Confessions of a Teenage Cigarette Smoker, by Sheila Jacob

Confessions Of A Teenage Cigarette Smoker

Woodbines were my first: the cheapest, the commonest. Whose Dad hadn’t angled one in his mouth, picked flecks of tobacco off his tongue as he stooped on the front path, mended the puncture on his pushbike? Angela, my classmate, nicked some from her brother, invited me to her house in the school holidays. My throat raged. I dripped ash, burned a hole in my favourite dress. Never again, I vowed. Mum and Dad hadn’t suspected, knew I always rode home on the top deck of the bus where passengers flipped open packets of Players, Senior Service, Park Drive, swathed everyone in smoke. Four years later, in the Kardomah, New Street, I took drags of Silk Cut between sips of percolated coffee, shared steamy Sixth Form chat about D.H.Lawrence and The Rainbow. I made new friends at college. We pooled our Embassy Regal coupons, saved up for a hair dryer. I sampled Disque Bleu with my French pal Cathie, pretended I enjoyed the acrid taste, the dizzying after-kick. If I closed my eyes, I drifted on a pungent haze to Paris, the Metro, the pages of a Francoise Sagan novel. In my final year, I met a boy who loved me, bought me Lindt chocolate bars and shots of vodka and lime. My heart thumped when he placed two Dunhills between his lips, lit both cigarettes and handed one to me.

Sheila Jacob lives in N. E. Wales with her husband. Born and raised in Birmingham. she finds her Brummie ancestry a source of inspiration. She’s had poems published in many U.K magazines and webzines, is working on her first pamphlet and hoping life begins at seventy-one.

 

An Archaeology Student Thinks about Sex in Maes Howe Chambered Tomb, by Tonnie Richmond

An Archaeology Student Thinks about Sex in Maes Howe Chambered Tomb

She’s aware that Gavin’s staring at her bum
as she bends double, clambers along
the long dark passageway into the tomb.
The others follow, cluster round, eager to learn.

Her lecturer begins his talk; all about midwinter
when this tomb aligns with the setting sun.
He offers theories -
about it being a humongous womb,
the sun-god penetrating the long stone vagina,
rays striking the back wall, impregnating Mother Earth,
ensuring fertility and good harvests in the year to come.

As theories go, it’s pretty good.
Gavin’s standing close, she feels his body heat
in this claustrophobic chamber.
All this talk of penetration, sexual congress overwhelms;
her nipples tingle. She moves, imperceptibly,
leans in towards him. Feels his breath upon her neck.

————————-

Tonnie Richmond has, since she retired from working in Local Government, spent her time either doing archeology in Orkney or writing poems. As the digging gets harder, she finds writing a slightly easier choice. She has had several poems published and is currently working on a collection of poems about Orkney.
 

Alternative Weather Fronts, by Sarah Dale

Alternative Weather Fronts
(most not mentioned in the shipping forecast)

Erotic fronts are twerking
round both poles
whipping their hailstoned g-strings
into every nook and cranny
of the coast.

Erratic fronts have forgotten
to take their medication,
consequently it’s raining gin
and the snow is lemon sorbet
with water biscuits.

Exotic fronts are offering
a massage service
to ship wrecked mariners
who it’s likely will decide to stay
at sea.

Esoteric fronts have discovered
surprising facts that are now written
for everyone to read
in towering cumuli
of clouds.

Ecstatic fronts are dizzy
with delight, causing spontaneous
dancing in the streets
spreading blissful havoc
world wide.

Emetic fronts vomit –
they’re best avoided
by staying indoors.
 

Blob-Fish, by Ben Macnair

Blob-Fish 

Some people claim the Lion as their Spirit animal,
because of its bravery.
Some people choose a cheetah,
for its speed.
Others choose a Llama,
because of its habit of spitting.
Politicians choose Ostriches
because they bury their heads in the sand.
I would choose the Blob-Fish.
Patron saint of grumbling.
The living embodiment of the phrase,
‘Cheer up, it may never happen’
because people assume that IT is always a bad thing.
Supposing though, just for a moment, that IT
is a good thing, and being told it may never happen
only re-enforces the negativity.

The Blob-Fish was never once imbued with looks or charisma,
designer fashions, or even a useful role to play in the ocean,
knowing that it will be the punch line of a joke,
happier fish will tell him to cheer up,
when it is just his resting face,
and maybe if it had a better name,
it would feel better about itself.
 

Lent in a Time of Coronavirus, by Sharon Larkin

Lent in a Time of Coronovirus
‘The Wet Market Sources of Covid-19: Bats and Pangolins have an Alibi’

A forty day diet can focus the mind
flatten the curves and trim the behind.
So, in choosing food for a modest dinner
to boost the spirit and make tums thinner,
why not just opt for tomato soup
and leave the bats to dive and swoop?

It would be best to eliminate snacks
to fit back into our jeans and slacks
but if the munchies come upon us
and we’re sick of all that hummus,
for our elevensies or for our tiffin,
let's not p-p-pick up a pangolin.

Do you want to stay asymptomatic
of a nasty virus and global pandemic?
Well, here’s some advice, long overdue,
when making casserole, hotpot or stew,
a couple of hints and easy quick wins –
just leave out the bats and the pangolins.

Taming the flesh refines the spirit,
in time for lots of Easter Eggs, innit?
So as we discipline mind and body,
to purge the flesh of all our gluttóny
and deliver ourselves from beastly sins,
let’s set free the bats and the pangolins.


With thanks to Professor David Macdonald, University of Oxford Science Blog, Jun 2021
https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/science-blog/wet-market-sources-covid-19-bats-and-pangolins-have-alibi

Sharon Larkin’s poems often begin with a visual stimulus but soon become ‘infected’ with psychosocial concerns, evident in ‘Interned at the Food Factory’ (Indigo Dreams, 2019) and ‘Dualities’ (Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2020). She runs Eithon Bridge Publications https://eithonbridge.com, edits ‘Good Dadhood’ ezine https://gooddadhood.com and blogs at ‘Coming up with the Words’ https://sharonlarkinjones.com

 

15 Love, by Ben Macnair

15 Love

Tennis is a game,
where they talk about love,
but spare none for the ball.
The thwack of the racket,
played politely by vicars,
with more than the scriptures
on their minds.

We are left out for the dog,
when our playing days
are little remembered.
We are mouldering,
greener than jealousy.
Chewed up,
spat out,
over the line,
under the net,
one last game,
for old time's sake.

 

It’s Fine, by Phil Huffy

It’s Fine
A question to be answered, please:
Why do most men avoid M.D.’s?

At thoughts of office calls we scoff
unless there’s something falling off.

And if our ankle’s had a twist
we hop around and then insist

that it’s improving very well
although, of course, it hurts like hell.

Sinus pressures, nasty fevers,
failures of most pain relievers,

bellies sad and oozing sores
propel us not through clinic doors.

The answer to this riddle, though
is well concealed although we know

that such recalcitrant displays
are just one part of manly ways.

first published by Light Poetry Magazine

Phil Huffy writes early and often at his kitchen table, casting a wide net as to form and substance. His work has appeared in dozens of journals and anthologies, including Schuykill Valley Review, Eunoia, Lighten Up Online, Orchards Poetry, The Lyric, andseveral haiku publications. Phil’s other interests are cycling, camping, pet care, potato chips, moonlight, and motor trips. He has published three collections of his poems and is proud to have recorded one of them (Magic Words) as an audiobook.

 

The Bible as a Haiku, by Mark Ramsden

The Bible as a Haiku

Grumpy old God: GRIM.
Hippy son hailed, nailed, prevails.
Zombie’s gang. News: GOOD!

I was a professional musician for decades, writing and performing half a hit single, which did not result in fame and fortune. I was also a highly unprofessional, alcoholic addict, who eventually dabbled in transgender sex work. Published work includes a widely critically acclaimed trilogy for Serpent’s Tail, more recently two novels for Fahrenheit Press and a story in Outcast Press’s sex work anthology Slut Vomit.

 

Death Becomes Me, by Julian Matthews

Death Becomes Me

Hey Death!
When you come a-knocking, will you step out of the darkness and punch me in the face?
Or will you come from behind, tap me on the shoulder and say, Boo!?
Will you kindly whisper in my ear as I lay down to sleep?
Or will you drown me when I am in too deep?

Maybe I will see you coming in the distance, your long shadow growing shorter and shorter
And I will put my house in order and greet you at the door
Or maybe i will try to shut you out
And jump out a back window --

Perhaps, you will come as my breath grows shallow
Sucking the air from me at every deep pause
Maybe the grump in me will swallow up all my dry humour
And infect those around me like an angry tumour

Maybe you will chew me from the inside out
A slow, growing entity that would go unnoticed
Until it's too late -- and I collapse like a hollow, empty shell
An insidious inception into several levels of my own private hell

Hey Death!
When you do come -- early or late
Just don't bait me and let me wait
No prank calls, please. No creeping up on me!
No last-call dying disease tease!

I know I cannot change what's already fated
But it's never too late to exorcise and heal all this hatred
And Death, I have a bucket list now before I kick it
So let me go about my business and just fulfill it, ok?

I know I fear you not at this final, windy bend
As long as there's some wit left at this twit's end
Don't curse me with any "sudden unforeseen circumstance"
Instead let the last twirl of this mortal coil be a whirling dervish dance!

Julian Matthews is a former journalist finding new ways to express himself through poetry, fiction, memoir and essays. His work has been published in the American Journal of Poetry, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Borderless Journal, Spilling Cocoa on Martin Amis, and various other literary publications. He is a minority based in Malaysia. Link: linktr.ee/julianmatthews