Double-speak, by Margaret Kiernan

Double-speak

-after Pablo Neruda, Walking- around.



I am sick of being the target, a patsy for all those money-making swindlers

out on a spin. Those double truthers lisping tongues on the fame game.

The fiddlers on how to write their family history, their gutter minds dawdling.

I am sick of neon-lit evening scenes on a boulevard somewhere, the rich and restless gossipers
sniffle, refuse to be the first to leave, polish off their double-speak.
I am sick of it all, the single supplement, the Friday take-out meal, unclaimed lotteries, and deals.

I’m the one to do tasks in full, only find them send back, again I am too swift.

I give the street beggar my last coins and laugh uproariously when a driver in a Mercedes arrives to fetch him and bring him home.

Today, I read that somewhere, far away, a scutching fire cleansed. End.

Margaret Kiernan

Margaret Kiernan s an Irish author, and a Best of The Net Nominee, for 2021 and 2022. She writes poetry and prose and is widely published. She writes with Over-the-edge, Galway. Her background is in social justice and Diversity.

 

On My Death Bed, by Kevin Higgins

On My Death Bed

I will not be calling out to any gods
though I'll probably drop Satan a text to thank him
and his daughters
for some of my more lively afternoons.

I will not be signing forgiveness treaties with the Frauds
but do tell them to stick their heads in the door
when it's least convenient
so I can stare at them and say nothing
and listen to their sphincters creak.

The rest of you who were just being
your honest arsehole selves
I forgive, absolutely
and hope you forgive me
my arseholeness.
There were days
it was all I had to offer.

KEVIN HIGGINS is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway. He has published six full collections of poems: The Boy With No Face (2005), Time Gentlemen, Please (2008), Frightening NewFurniture (2010), The Ghost In The Lobby (2014), Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital (2019), & Ecstatic (2022). His poems also feature in Identity Parade – New Britishand Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010) and in The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed Neil Astley, Bloodaxe May 2014). Kevin was satirist-in-residence with the alternative literature website The Bogman’s Cannon 2015-16. 2016 – The Selected Satires of Kevin Higgins was published by NuaScéalta in 2016. The Minister For Poetry Has Decreed was published by Culture Matters (UK) also in 2016. Song ofSongs 2:0 – New & Selected Poems was published by Salmon in Spring 2017. Kevin is a highly experienced workshop facilitator and several of his students have gone on to achieve publication success. He has facilitated poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre and taught Creative Writing at Galway Technical Institute for the past fifteen years. Kevin is the Creative Writing Director for the NUI Galway International Summer School and also teaches on the NUIG BA Creative Writing Connect programme. His poems have been praised by, among others, Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul, Observer columnist Nick Cohen, writer and activist Eamonn McCann, historian Ruth Dudley Edwards, and Sunday Independent columnist Gene Kerrigan; and have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, TheTimes (London), Hot Press magazine, Phoenix magazine, The Daily Mirror and on The Vincent Browne Show, and read aloud by Ken Loach at a political meeting in London. He has published topical political poems in publications as various as The New European, The Morning Star, Dissent Magazine (USA), Village Magazine (Ireland), & Harry’s Place. The Stinging Fly magazine has described Kevin as “likely the most widely read living poet in Ireland”. Kevin’s poetry has been translated into Greek, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Albanian, French, Russian, & Portuguese. One of Kevin’s poems features in A Galway Epiphany, the final instalment of Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor series of novels which is just published. His work has been broadcast on RTE Radio, Lyric FM, and BBC Radio 4. His book The Colour Yellow & The Number 19: Negative Thoughts That Helped One Man Mostly Retain His Sanity During 2020 was published in late 2020 by Nuascealta. His extended essay Thrills & Difficulties: Being A Marxist Poet In 21st Century Ireland was published in pamphlet form by Beir Bua Press last year. In December 2021 Kevin was both expelled from the British Labour Party, of which he was an overseas member, for publishing his poem ‘Tribute Acts’ in Socialist Appeal magazine and, on the very same day, awarded ‘Poet of The Year’ at the Labour Heroes Awards event at Conway Hall, London. Kevin now writers a regular book review page for Village Magazine, mostly focussing on poetry. This year Kevin received a dozen nominations for the position of Ireland Chair of Poetry – Ireland’s Professor of Poetry. Ecstatic, Kevin’s sixth full poetry collection was published in June 2022 by Salmon Poetry. For the past month Kevin has been in University Hospital Galway, where he is receiving chemotherapy for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.

 

A Girl from Yorkshire, by Neil Windsor

A Girl From Yorkshire

Oh how the parents sigh, not inclined to rejoice
Dismayed from the outset at their offspring's romantic choice
They disapprove so blatantly as they take her presence in
Looks of curiosity, at a loss for words, of this potential next of kin
Then the floodgates open, there's no holding back
Lacking even the basics of civility and tact

Oh no, but the girl's from Yorkshire can't you see, she's just not our expected southern type
She's all flat vowels and sarcasm, excuse us while we snipe
She talks of strong tea and rugby league, she's left her whippet on the lawn
She's not a patch on a fragrant english rose, all sweet and Henley born
They're still living in the days of pit ponies, cobbles slick with icy rain, and beef dripping chip shop grease
Striking miners around braziers on the village green, we far prefer maypole country dancing, and afternoon cream teas

She's from Yorkshire they say, all Sean Bean, Hockney and Selwyn Foggit, working mens clubs and spam
She's not up to our southern ways, she's never been on the tube, paid the congestion charge, she's never watched The Arsenal or West Ham
The bustling size of London must be so hard for her comprehend, from The Docklands and Bermondsey to King's Cross and Harringay
She'd be out of her depth in Fortum's food hall or the opening night of a west end play
She's not our sort of girl, nice enough in her own way, but an uncultured square northern peg in a roughly hewn round hole
We can't bring ourselves to sanction your relationship dear. Good grief the girl's from Yorkshire after all

Pick a southern girl why don't you? Choosing to shower this one with your affections makes absolutely no practical sense
We need to protect our breeding stock, maintain a northern romance resisting defence
We're not prejudiced you understand we're just southernly civilised with a touch of self righteous attitude
It's the thin edge of the wedge to let her into our flock, we really don't mean to be rude
But the girl's from Yorkshire for goodness sake, all mills, chimneys, rhubarb and tripe. A trip around the charity shops is their idea of a day out
Her dysfunctional family probably lives in on of those terrible two up two down overcrowded terrace houses, replete with outside toilet no doubt

The girl's from Yorkshire my precious, we're tolerant and polite to a fault, but let's be realistic for a moment, she hasn't the refined attributes we seek and require
Heaven's above, the girl's from Yorkshire, She thinks Bremner, Giles and Boycott are gods, she's not the sort of potential daughter in law we desire
We all love to visit their quaint Dales and picturesque coastal and market towns now and again, but we wouldn't want to live there, all Chuckle Brothers and dregs of summer wine
They have scraps with their fish and chips, listen to brass and silver bands and treat Headingley like a shrine
Saints preserve us, the girl's from Yorkshire. She drinks pints as she quotes Bennet, knows Sutcliffe and Hutton's batting averages by heart, eats pork pies and parkin, and spreads mucky dripping on bread!
Oh but the girl's from Yorkshire darling, all rough edges and uncultured ways. For the sake of our sanity and social standing trust us, drop her like a hot potato, find a southern girl instead.

Neil Windsor is a Writer of children’s short stories, Artist and Poet from Leeds who produces and performs all his work with an absolute passion and a slightly slanted off – kilter view of life.
He also plays extremely bad left handed blues guitar.#neilwindsorart

 

Shakespeare has a Bad Day, by Clive Donovan

SHAKESPEARE HAS A BAD DAY

What is the question? To not do or do.
Do not do it lest it be more fortunate
That not doing may be the best?
But best to not do tardily, I guess.
Be not so tardy in this enterprise
For we may well wish to own this ill upon us
As those who wish us ill may not in actuality,
And in the end the not doing of it should surely be
My own will let to suffer right whatever cost.
Oh would it were that being just would be
Just not to do or yes, just do it
Or no, or yet, yes, maybe.
What's it all about anyway?
Toby or not Toby?

Clive Donovan is the author of two poetry collections, The Taste of Glass[Cinnamon Press] and Wound Up With Love [Lapwing] and is published in a wide variety of magazines including Acumen, Agenda, Crannog, Prole, Sentinel and Stand. He lives in Totnes, Devon, UK. He is a Pushcart and Forward Prize nominee for 2022’s best individual poems.

 

The Day I Cooked my Son’s Speech Therapist, by Beth McDonough

The Day I Cooked my Son's Speech Therapist

she arrived all kindly shiny in thunder, ahead
of his school bus return. Full of plans,
ASD-specific wisdom. He crashed in, appalled.
I no wanted to see her.
She flashed three PECS cards
at his face, intoned, in triple slow time
H e l l o K eir
I have come to visit you and your Mum.
Put her whole fisog in his.
I no wanted to see her,
He dashed off his jacket. Ran out the back door.
She nodded towards my space.
I can help you understand how he communicates,
what he needs to let you know.
We followed him into the garden. He whizzed
for the trampoline. She chanted
from the circumference upwards. More cards.
My son turned to the fence,
bounded furiously, bounce, bounce, bounce
I no wanted to see her. Away now. Away!
Solicitously, she advised me
Sometimes he speaks very fast, and runs words
into one another, so we don't know what he says.
He turned quickly, saw her still standing, transplanted
from class to his own garden,
then he spun away in disgust.
No wanted to see her.
Jumped on and on. Small splats of rain
did not dissuade him. I took her inside,
made coffee. Offered scones.
If we sat inside the conservatory we could
observe, as he leapt up by the lupins.
She enjoyed everything, I think. Seemed pleased to eat
that scone, as she helped me along.
My temperature rose.
So I brought extra coffee, closed a window.
She took one more scone. I shut the door.
My son trampolined on.
Yes, she'd love another scone.
Steam rose from plants.
He pogoed on.
I'll come out whenever you want,
I'd love to help. I sealed
the last window. She lifted
her third scone as I watched
sweat drizzle on her lips.
At last I persuaded her that we must not
take more of her weighted time.
Slowly, I sluiced her to the front door,
thanked her hugely, assured her
if we needed, we'd certainly phone.
She stilted formulaic farewells.
Away! Away! he replied.
Don't worry. We'll soon learn what he's saying.
As her car departed, my son
came in for our usual time
of juice, maybe cake, and told me
I no wanted to see her.
We hugged. Don't worry. We won't.
Soon after, the Therapist married
and moved to a faraway post.
I gave her a pretty coffee pot.
Considered very hot scones.

Beth McDonough’s poetry appears in many places; she reviews in DURA. Her pamphlet Lamping for pickled fish was published by 4Word. Recently, her site-specific poem was installed on the Corbenic Poetry Path. Currently Makar of the FWS, she’s found year-round in the Firth of Tay.

 

Celebrity Stoning on Thin Ice, by Terri Metcalfe

Celebrity Stoning on Thin Ice

It’s very easy to shout insults
to people that I can’t look in the eye,
to an online presence who might as well be a ghost
haunting the blue walls of a white bird

They call it cancelling
but it used to be called public shaming,
boycotting
bullying

It’s a commodity –
you give me one opinion,
I give you two fingers
and three minutes to take it back

or you’re retweeted as threadworms
spreading from the anus to the mouth of the internet
but who wins in the end?
Gameshows, that’s who.

Cumbria native Terri Metcalfe has been published in Abridged, A New Ulster, Green Ink Poetry, Spilling Cocoa and Skylight 47 amongst others. Shortlisted for the Open Window 2023 mentorship programme, she will be a featured reader at the 20th anniversary of Over The Edge Literary Events held in Galway this January.

 

I Said, Pointedly, by Phil Huffy

I Said, Pointedly

Author, watch your language,
avoid the common traps
of amateur expression
and paraphrastic lapse.

Banish inclinations,
when speech you recollect,
to state the speaker’s motive,
describing her affect.

Poet, please consider
this thought as apropos:
You’ll make your meaning clearer
with words that people know.

If you fancy rhyming,
its use must be astute.
Don’t make your grand allusions
a trivial pursuit.
first published at Poetry Super Highway
 

The Passenger, by Lynn Valentine

The Passenger

November and everywhere turns mouse,
garden no longer good enough though
the compost heap smoulders with rot of apples.

The mice brush by inside discharging dark
pellets of shit, nips of urine, craze
of footprints. The air grows furred, weighs
heavy with whiskers, a particular brown-grey
colour scheme, rushing of small rodents.

He is frightened to open cupboards, too scared
to sleep, to become part of the scurry.
He puts down poison, traps, peppermint spray,
packed up clothes for a holiday.

The last item to sneak into his steamer trunk?
A wee sleekit beastie—mouse.


Lynn Valentine’s poetry collection, Life’s Stink and Honey, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2022 after winning their literature award. Her Scots language pamphlet, A Glimmer o Stars, was published by Hedgehog Poetry in 2021. Lynn is on Twitter @dizzylynn

 

When I Die, by Tonnie Richmond

When I die

please don’t say I’ve passed away
or gone to heaven. Instead,
I’ll hope that you will simply say
I’m dead.

You might say that I lived life well,
there were some ups and downs. I tried
to do my best, had fun with family and friends
but in the end, I died.

Please don’t suggest I’m somewhere in the sky
looking down on kith and kin. I’m sure
you wouldn’t really like that! Just accept
that I am here no more.

I hope that you remember me sometimes,
think of me kindly, memories don’t spoil.
But please don’t use some flowery euphemistic words —
I really have not stepped off this mortal coil.

Tonnie Richmond is retired and is interested in archaeology and poetry. These days she finds writing poetry easier than digging. She has had several poems published by Dreich, Yaffle and others.

 

Lockdown Adventurers, by Heather Wastie

Lockdown adventurers

8 people over ninety
falling from playground equipment
60 encounters
with venomous spiders

5,600 amateur builders
coming into contact
with electric hand tools
2,700 with hammer or saw

349 tussling
with lawnmowers
2,243 with hot drinks,
food, fats, cooking oils

Though many found comfort
adopting pets,
7,386 bitten, or struck,
by dogs

Ninety-year-old woman
bitten, or struck,
by crocodile
or alligator

Despite more time at home,
number struck by lightning
up
from 3 to 18

Adventurers
The tip of the iceberg

Found poem, written January 2021 using words from article: Covid: Thousands needed hospital treatment after lockdown DIY https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-59854919

Former Worcestershire Poet Laureate Heather Wastie was born in Cradley Heath and now lives near Kidderminster. She has performed extensively across the UK and published eight poetry collections. On Twitter and Instagram she is @heatherwastie. Her Facebook group is Wastie’s Space, and her websitewww.WastiesSpace.co.uk is embarrassingly out of date.