Buffoon in a flowery shirt, by Hannah Kiely

Buffoon in a flowery shirt

Hannah Kiely

Bastard, you took a piece of my life, screwed it
into a younger version, razed, ripped, torn apart

Bastard, you took the piano, the silent hall
echoes torment, tears, spartan space

And bastard, I cursed you harshly at night
closed the outside light, curled like a gnarled arthritic hand

Damn you, big shot, deluded at the apex
of your own illusions, a buffoon; child seats, schools

Who are you now, living under hollow pretence
is it greener on your side?

Your flowery shirts, an over-compensation
the rise and fall of a default man

Ill-fitting skinny jeans, Gen Z or millennial
you are not, they won’t make you younger

Long hair, an ageing rocker, who never made it
your fondness for the old wedding cake, three slices so far

Unbroken, I begin to steal it back,
middle aged fool.

I secretly don’t envy you anymore.

Hannah Kiely is from Galway. Kiely completed an MA in writing at NUIG in 2020. She has been published in Vox Galvia, RTE Sunday Miscellany, Pendemic.ie and has been a featured reader on Over The Edge.

 

Never eat shellfish, by Janet Sillett

Never eat shellfish

My aunt, nothing like my mother,
used me as a sounding board, captured,
ten years old, in her stifling kitchen,
smelling of chicken soup
and terror

I was licking the cake bowl dry,
she proclaiming
that the Russians sent bad weather,
on purpose
tell your father that, the commie,
insisting I pray for Israel,
and that I must never eat shellfish
on pain of death from God

My aunt, never one for irony, was firm
that I should trust my instincts
and be myself,
but even then, I thought being myself
might mean downing small pink shrimps
from seaside stalls,
striped in pink sweet rock colours

I should shun men with slinky hips, especially
those with guitars
I had never met one of these wonders
but from then on, I would look for them on every street corner

Be careful what you wish for
I wished for Cadbury’s dairy milk,
and that her daughter,
younger than me, whose life’s work was snitching,
would be kidnapped to a desert island,
clutching her Hebrew scriptures
as her book of choice

Things happen for a reason,
I knew she meant
bad things,
as I mixed chopped fish in her yellow cracked dish

My father died later that year

My aunt was a lodestar
a beacon to what not to do,
an upside down road map
from childhood to flimsy maturity

In middle age, diagnosed depressive,
I missed her declarations
In old age, visiting my dying mother,
she picked wild flowers for her bedside

Janet Sillett recently took up writing poetry and short fiction again after decades of absence. She has had a poem published in the Galway Advertiser and is about to have her first flash fiction piece published in Litro. She works for a think tank.

 

Duolingual and becoming 007, by Beth McDonough

Duolingual and becoming 007

Lately, I have become anxious in Spanish.
Sonia. Trust me, I must keep checking.
Does she really have two jobs, this Sonia?
Clearly someone is certain this matters.
That maybe explains why she’s tired every Tuesday.
After all, she can’t even rise in the mornings at 5,
which I’m told my own Abuelo does daily.

How much does she need other work?
I’m assured that her bosses (Amanda y Ana)
are muy simpáticas. Undeniably.
(I can only assume they’re superiors
in job number one. Name her other employers!
Although I can now order up to 39 beers,
that number of jobs seems extreme).

So, I’m worried poor Sonia’s moonlighting,
perhaps as a tasseled pole-dancer, in a club
owned by inexpressibly sinister figures.
That’s confirmed by el jefe’s grey graphic. He’s mean.
What can Fernanda, her much older sister,
be thinking? She’s always annoyed in her big house,
loving three pretty cats and a dog.

But I’m sure El Señor Perez has noticed.
After all, he’s a man with two desks.
What is he jotting with his red bolígrafo?
Surely that can’t be nothing. We know
he is hungry, though yet again he is eating
his favourite cheese sandwich (no ketchup)
with a café con leche. He never drinks wine.

El Señor Gomez is now part of the scene,
wearing his brand new zapatos.
Don’t be fooled by his boleto from Mexico!
He arrived at the estación de tren!
One Señor Castro claims he is a friend!
No-one has mentioned that this one’s Cubano!
Oh, how I fear for you, Sonia.

Then out in WhatsApp, there is Babs.
She tells me nothing of Sonia, but thinks
she’ll just quit this, then ascend some Via Ferrata.
So she’s switched to Italian, to be shocked
that she’s to survive solely on chocolate ice cream,
which she hates. No beers or wine. That won’t help poor Sonia,
as my voice lisps a much slower Sean Connery.

Beth McDonough is adept at spilling cocoa, particularly after winter swimming in the Firth of Tay, or escaping from a bramble bush whilst foraging. She tries hard not to spill on poetry books, including her own fairly recent pamphlet Lamping for pickled fish(published by 4Word). 

 

Wallpaper, by Anne Donnellan

Wallpaper

It was no menial operation nineteen sixty seven
when the decision was taken to paper the kitchen
with walls that climbed to the sky flaking and bruised
a reek-making timber ladder from a the hayshed was used
lugged to the decorating site by a fleet of giddy relations
eager to exhibit their finer skills of smoothing ridges
they attacked the tedious of peeling scraping and filling
made festival of their chalky chore
with whistling lilting and tale spinning

our mother muttered at the makeshift paste bench
fretted over flour and water stirred in thick strictness
relieved when all was prepped to hang the sticky sheets
her elder sister plumbline dangling matched patterned strips
precision scissored like the postman’s moustache
she sponged bubbles and creases without blemish
patted the pink Victorian flora
splashed on velvet red finish

after decades of fading layers
I remember decorators no longer there
stories crawl from wallpaper

Anne Donnellan’s work has been published in the NUIG Ropes Literary Journal 2018 and 2019, A New Ulster, The Linnet’s Wings, Bangor Literary Journal, Boyne Berries, Poethead, Vox Galvia , Clare Champion, Orbis and The Galway Review. She was a featured reader at the March 2019 “Over The Edge: Open Reading” in Galway City Library.

 

Coup de Tea, by Bern Butler

Coup de Tea

I can’t remember when lunch muscled in
shunting dinner, in our house, from one to six,
and spiriting tea away altogether, but recall
it was the same time as kiwis, broccoli,
Telecom Eireann, a flat beige phone in the hall.

No-one missed luncheon-sausage that was
Already dead; rancid slices of blood moon,
or tomatoes, quartered like seasons, falling
backward over lettuce, or salad-cream
blobbed across sulphurous eggs, tinned
salmon, Welsh Rarebit, beetroot from a jar.

Baked beans survived but the toasting-fork
fashioned from a coat hanger was banished
to soot-black tiles at the back of the range
where dour chimney brushes hung
like artefacts from a frightening age.

Corned beef took off to America.
Bananas endured with bunches being
purchased as before but not eaten so much
between slices of bread; more relegated
to the fruit bowl from where they were
abducted, stuffed into Tupperware

to be eaten at school (but only with friends
whose mothers acquiesced with reform)
while we looked down our noses at those girls
who still went home at lunchtime for dinner,
and continued to speak of tea as a meal.

Bern Butler writes poetry and prose. Her work has featured in The Ropes Anthology, TheGalway Review, North West Words, The Blue Nib, Abridged 0-60, The Ireland Chair of Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears. She has an MA in Writing from NUI Galway and will be a guest reader at Cuirt Festival Galway New Writing Showcase 2021.

 

Good Morning Mr Magpie, by Teresa O’Connor

Good Morning Mr Magpie

So how is life in your new job?
It couldn’t be simpler
Your brush stroke always black
Not a hint of light
Only your face calico white

Do you still magnify a molehill?
Huff and puff it into a peak
like the Reek and talk is cheap
And have you climbed it yet?
Oh! and don’t forget your umbrella

And whose ear do you burn now?
You’re a gossip blogger, I hear
Always knew you as a luddite
But then you usually found someone
useful just around the corner

By now you must have genius status
It takes a lot of time to be a genius,
you have to sit around so much
doing nothing, really doing nothing

Teresa O’ Connor-Diskin’s poems have been published or forthcoming in The Galway Review, Skylight 47, Dodging the Rain, Vox Galvia, The Irish Farmers Journal and she was shortlisted for Poems for Patiences 2019.
One of her poems has been added to Poetry in Lockdown collection at the James Joyce Library UCD

 

You Gave me a Geranium, by Robert Garnham

You liked me enough to give me a geranium

You gave me a geranium.
I said,
‘You know I’m not into salad.’
You said, ‘It’s a houseplant.
Not even you could kill this’.

But it was your way of saying
I love you.
The geranium sat there in passive,
Filtering C02 and judging me,
Reporting back my foibles and transgressions,
Taking photographs
When it should have been taking
Photosynthesis.

But you looked at me,
Your eyes as dopey as a spaniel,
And I forgave you your hardy annual.
‘When will it flower and bloom?’, I asked.
‘When will it light up my room?
When will its scent take to the breeze,
Provide pollen for the bees,
Put me at my ease,
Probably make me sneeze,
Each one of which is
One eighth of an orgasm,
That eight of these
And I should think of you?’

That night I trailed my fingers through a box of
J. Arthur Bowyer’s Syncho-Boost Houseplant Compost,
And it reminded me of you, Pete.
The geranium made me complete, Pete.
My life so recently deplete, Pete,
Of love,
Now suddenly filled like the pot,
This upturned cranium
With the roots of the geranium,
Need I explainium?
Sorry for being a painium.

Because you liked me enough
To give me a plant
And I liked you enough
To keep it
Pot it, plant it, deadhead it,
Water it, feed it, treat it for greenfly,
I even gave it a name, ‘Dirty Liza’,
Because she liked her fertiliser.
Every time I looked she was there
And still alive because I still care
And even though you eventually
Disappeared
Like the pests I treated,
Like the greenfly,
I never did
Glean why
You gave it to me to begin with,
Suffice to believe
You liked me enough
To give me a geranium.

Robert Garnham has been performing comedy poetry around the UK for ten years at various fringes and festivals, and has had two collections published by Burning Eye. 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 Edinburgh Fringe. He was recently an answer on the TV quiz show Pointless. Lately he has been writing short stories for magazines and a humorous column in the Herald Express newspaper. In 2020 he was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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

 

Trousers, by Ray Givans

TROUSERS

“Is there no one who feels like a pair of pants?” Kenneth Koch, from his poem ‘Fresh Air’.

38L

54% Polyester, 44% Virgin wool, 2% Elastane.

We met in the Men’s department of Marks and Sparks.
I was hanging on a ‘bargain rail’
squeezed between a short-sleeve, Hawaiian-style shirt
and a chunky mauve jumper, XX Large.
He examined my labels. Dry Clean Only.
I recall being taken only twice to Ballyhackamore Dry Cleaners.
The attendant addressed me as, ‘one pair of pants’.

I am, what-they-call, a year-rounder
which gives me an advantage over the 30 + pairs
vying for a prominent position on his wardrobe rail:
chinos, cargo, drawstring, khaki, joggers, jeans – regular,
relaxed and loose – suit pants, moleskin, 3 band hi-vis polycotton
and corduroy – narrow and wide wale, in cream, blue and green.
In lightweight wool I am his favourite for the Office,
but, in truth, I am uncomfortable in summer, supplanted by
cropped trousers, shorts and long-leg cool linen.

Sometimes I am worn 2-3 days consecutively,
then shunned for several weeks.
Stich by stich my loop-holes are unravelling,
I see the day when I am turfed out for some bright young Turk.
I stay positive, think back to happy days of our association.
I was there when his son was forceps delivered in theatre,
proud to carry the digital compact in my front pocket.

There is still a faint stain on my knee
from the spilled celebratory flute of bubbly.

Ray Givans lives in Belfast. He has been published in five poetry pamphlets, and in one full collection. The latter was ‘Tolstoy in Love’, published by Dedalus Press, Dublin. This collection was shortlisted for the Strong award, for best first collection by an Irish poet in 2009. His most recent pamphlet collection is, ‘The Innermost Room’, Salzburg Press, at the University of Salzburg

 

What I’m Like, by Kevin Higgins

What I’m Like

Lively as an elderly blue-arsed fly
that’s just been clattered by
the weekend edition of the New York Times.
About as much use in a debate about anything
as a weighing scale floating through outer space.
Reassuring as a naked funeral director
stepping into the same hot tub as you
in search of new customers.
My future smells delicious
as the used odour-eaters
I was going to send you for Christmas
until I saw the price of the postage.
My dream, that little children of every
complexion and gender
will one day gather together
to play Frisbee with stray toilet seat lids
they plucked from the rubble.

Kevin Higgins has been described by The Stinging Fly magazine has described Kevin as “likely the most read living poet in Ireland. His sixth full collection of poems ‘Ecstatic’ will be published by Salmon in June 2021.  

 

The Mermaid and the Onion Seller, by Rosie Barrett

The Mermaid and the Onion Seller

Eckphrastic after The Picnic Basket by Dawn Timmins

I’ve just made a huge mistake
This man’s not mine for goodness sake
He’s bonny, brown and looks the part
but life is more than simply art.
Sat here on his bike I’m cold.
We’ll not be lovers when we’re old.
Mermaids don’t eat cheese, drink wine.
When I’m on land I know I’ll pine
for gentle currents, wafting weeds,
for whale songs drifting through the reeds.
My sisters, combing out their hair,
if they were here would simply stare
and tell me not to be so daft.
But they weren’t here when he laughed
said “Ma choupette, come, marry me
the good Lord will bless you, set you free
to be my wife, bear me a son.
I’ll teach you French, we’ll have some fun”.
He really hasn’t thought this through
but he’ll have a tale to tell his crew.
For the moment I’ll sit here
My nipples hardening in the air.
And later on I’ll tell him “No
We really can’t – I have to go”.