A Feeling of Light-Headedness, by Simon Williams

A Feeling of Light-Headedness

It started as one of those party games; all take a gulp of helium and talk like Mickey till your lungs deflate. Only, the effect didn’t stop; our voices never dropped to their normal timbres, our heads swelled and began to swing in the breeze. This was a little disconcerting; I think it was Angela stepped up first. When her feet reached the top of the sofa, Jim had lifted off, too, then Clare and Stephen, until all eight of us were butting the ceiling. Without the Prosecco, we could have been scared. Lucy, down a bottle and a half, managed to bounce to the hall, float up to the landing and steer into the bathroom. She came to realise how difficult it is to aim from high above the bowl. The lightheadedness wore off eventually; we floated down as gently as we’d risen. Lucky, really, it wasn't a garden party. With the prevailing wind, we could have reached Norwich, at 30,000 feet.


Just Sayin’, after William Carlos Williams, by Derek Adams

Just Sayin’
after William Carlos Williams

I have chucked
the plums
you left in
my fridge

and which
you would probably
were in date.

they were disgusting
and growing mould.

Derek Adams is a professional photographer, living in Suffolk. He has an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths. His most recent collection is EXPOSURE – Snapshots from the life of Lee Miller. Sometimes he tries to be funny!www.derek-adams.co.uk


The Thirty-Five Seconds University, by Phil Knight


In The Thirty-five Seconds University
You will learn all you will remember
Thirty-five years after taking a Degree.

Supply will rise to meet the demand.

God is in us all in every land.

All forces have their opposite and equal.

Media Studies
The first film was better than the sequel.

Creative Writing
Write about yourself and what you know.

Know yourself and know your foe.

Everything gets to happen twice.

Social Studies
People really should try to be nice.

The best thing about
The Thirty-five Seconds University
Is that your tuition has been absolutely FREE!

Phil knight is from Neath, South Wales. He had poems published in Planet, Poetry Wales, Earth Love, Roundyhouse, Atlantic Review And other publications. In 2014 Green Arrow published his chapbook Dylanation and in 2015 Red Poets published his collection You Are Welcome To Wales.


Why I Shall Never Invite You to a Passover Seder, by Bryan Franco

Why I Shall Never Invite You To A Passover Seder

I thought of you the other day
when the grocery store had
over a dozen jars of gefilte fish
marked down to half-price.

I remembered when I confided to you
how I drink the detritus liquid
after I finish off the fish:
it’s basically slightly gelatinous chicken broth
that is sweetened by the fishy Passover dumplings.

The next day you read a poem at an open mic
about drinking Gefilte Fish Detritus.
I felt as if my shrink was paid fifty-thousand-dollars
by the National Enquirer to reveal my dietary misgivings.

And though what you achieved
was a few cheap laughs
by our fellow poet friends
without mentioning my name,
I felt like you nailed me to a cross
and drizzled my private admission
in honey over my naked body
before taking a mallet to the glass wall
of a colony of Puerto Rican Fire ants.

Due to the triggered trauma
of your egregious betrayal,
I bought no jars of Gefilte fish
even though they had over a year till expiration.

Bryan Franco is a gay, Jewish poet from Brunswick, Maine who competed in the 2014 National Poetry Slam in Oakland, California. He has been published in anthologies, journals, and literary magazines in the US, Australia, England, Germany, Holland, India, Ireland, and Scotland and has featured in the US, Canada, England, Ireland, and Scotland. He performed at the New York City Poetry Festival in 2022 and is hosting a stage in 2023. He was a finalist in the 2022 and won 2023 NAMI New Jersey Mental Health Poetry Contest and is a Best Of The Net nominee. He has facilitated poetry workshops for Brunswick High School, Tumblewords Project, and Phynnecabulary. He hosts Café Generalissimo Open Mic, is a member of the Beardo Bards Of The Bardo poetry troupe, painter, sculptor, gardener, and culinary genius. His book "Everything I Think Is All in My Mind" was published in 2021.

Envy: So, Who made the Mouse King?, by Royal Rhodes

ENVY: So, Who Made the Mouse King?
An Apology to T.S. Eliot

A cold coming I had of it,
just the worst, assigned to the rear --
was that fair? -- for the journey:
Uriah Heep to your Becky Sharp.
Where are my gloves in this dead-on winter?
Have a Camel? My lungs are refractory,
my wellies wet in the melting snow.
But were there times the rest regretted,
in their time-share condos, floored in terrazo,
and their lackeys bringing cigars?
Then my Camels went stale -- curses and grumble --
while the Fates ran ahead with those winos & women,
and the turista hostile and toilets untidy
and the diners dirty, charging fortunes for chili.
The others had a great time of it.
At the end they made me travel all night,
snatching a nap at an old Motel 6,
while they pocketed shampoo and packets of Puffs.
In the end it's always penis envy.

Did my sore, freakin' neck get
broken or deadened for this? I lost breath, certainly;
I have evidence, not that they care. It was death,
but mine was harder than theirs; my breath
was hard, bitter-tasting. They acted like Abel,
that goody-goody boy on our block;
they stepped out to places, like the Magic Kingdom,
while I had to settle for Epcot's cheap sensation,
with those alien tourists clutching their VISA Cards.
I should be glad if they're trampled to death.

Royal Rhodes is retired and living in the rural farmland of Ohio. His poems have appeared in: Snakeskin Poetry, Ekphrastic Review Challenge, New Verse News, Lothlorien Poetry, and The Montreal Review, among other journals.


How to Write a Job Reference for Someone who Thinks you have Forgiven Them, by Clive Oseman


Thank you for giving me
the opportunity to supply
a reference for Billy, or sweaty bollocks
as he was known in prison.
Not without some justification, I'm lead to believe.

I met Billy in the heyday of football hooliganism.
Admittedly I was only doing a stretch
for ATTEMPTED murder
and playing Adam & the ants
in a public place
(sentences running concurrently),
but I looked up to Billy
for having the courage of his convictions
in his hatred of Oxford United.
Ok, he took it a bit too far
but he was young.

We became friends and
committed a few armed robberies together
when we were released,
but we never got caught
as we framed the local Tory election candidate,
who incidentally is due out
in a couple of weeks,
but I can honestly say
he has turned his back on violence
and did some voluntary work
as treasurer of the bowls club
until they went bankrupt.

You would be lucky indeed
to employ someone of Billy's quality.
With what you pay I have to
think back to the days where he would
only consider working for you
if he was eyeing up embezzlement opportunities,
to be honest.
What giant strides he has made.

On the hygiene front,
I'm told his bollocks are no longer sweaty.

I am sure that provided
you allow him to smoke weed on duty,
he will be a loyal employee.
He is intolerant of heavy handed opposition
to drug use at work,
but he maintains that
the shrooms were not his.

I hope you will give him the job,
as he owes me that five grand
I lent him to bribe the coppers,
and I want it back.

He is not an arsonist.

Clive Oseman is a Swindon based Brummie. He writes humorous poems and gets some funny looks, which he thinks is a fair trade.

Overhearing, by Carl Tomlinson


Out with the two-legs the other day
one of the ones who sits down to pee
asked the one who sometimes goes in the hedge,
like me, if it’d seen on something called Twitter.
“You had to say what you’d ask your dog.
If they had the power of speech for an hour.”
Why I’d need speech is beyond me.
They seem to know what I need.
And can tell me nothing I haven’t already smelt.
I’ll chew on a bone all day, but no way
am I chewing the fat with that. I’m staying stumm.
In case I fetch up in a poem.

My dreamed hedgehog. The new-Celtic elegy according to Mr. Pawel Markiewicz, by Pawel Markiewicz.

My dreamed hedgehog.
The new-Celtic elegy according to Mr. Paweł Markiewicz

I lost the cute hedgehog in last summer.
I can just only dream overnight - mourn.
The amaranthine body lay on grass.
Moreover, it was dark time of Blue Hours.

My life became unending lunar-dark.
Then moon shone palely without enchantment.
The Erlking at dawn, morn, dew and star cried.
Dark dazzlingly ovidian for his sake.

Without the hedgehog the time is so sad.
The bards singing the song of tender nights.
The hedgehog sits in a fair paradise,
dreaming of enchantment of butterflies.

The choir: >O, bewitch soft bat, the ontology of night.
The mourning dreamery lies, with the pearl sparks - cemetery.
Long live ghost of hedgehog, in spirit of the dreamy ghosts!<
The choir, I and animal are drunk of the musing wings,
shrouded in tenderness of hereafter-fogs, moonlit stars.

Paweł Markiewicz was born 1983 in Siemiatycze in Poland. He is poet who lives in Bielsk Podlaski and writes tender poems, haiku as well as long poems.


Review of the Sky at Night, by Ruth Aylett

Review of the Sky at Night

An uneven performance with some gripping parts:
Orion a definite success, just a pity the belt
is used only once; but then there is Hydra,
a random line of faint stars with no oomph at all.

The Milky Way really needs more volume,
we can’t all visit a desert for its full effect,
just dial it up a little for we city types,
and remove some astrology duds like Pisces.

The arrangement of Venus, Jupiter, Crescent Moon,
was a bit of a triumph, more conjunctions please,
and more often: waiting some twenty years
strains the patience of your audience. And brighter comets.

As for the Northern Lights – very fetching indeed,
but what a waste keeping them so far north
where hardly anyone lives. Try them in London,
say every few weeks, and vary the colours more.

Ruth Aylett lives and works in Edinburgh and has been known to attend readings with a robot. Her poems are widely published in magazines and anthologies, and her pamphlets Pretty in Pink (4Word) and Queen of Infinite Space (Maytree) were published in 2021.