Juniper Park, by Lee Campbell

Juniper Park

My mother was convinced for 30 years that Joni Mitchell sang,
‘They made paradise and went to Juniper Park’
when in reality: ‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot’

Juniper Park exists everywhere and anywhere you want it to

Climb aboard a bus and watch Juniper Park pass you by
Wave everyone now and then to what catches your eye
Don’t let anyone convince you that you have misheard
No one can tell you otherwise. For you, there is no such wrong word

Whilst not being complacent about the effects of elision
When two letters adjacent make one hell of a collision
Perfectly embrace it, that sonic slur
When the vowel and the consonant get together and blur

Back as a teenager, Dad drove me and my friend Kundai
into the centre of my hometown Tunbridge Wells
Royal, I may add, though there was nothing royal about me, my dad nor my friend
Kundai, new to the area at that time, had not quite grasped the lay of the land
‘I can’t find it, I can’t find it in the A-Z’, she panicked at the end of the night
‘Can’t find what?’, answered I
‘Botmer Hill. I can’t find any hill on the map called Botmer.
Botmer Hill – where your dad told us he is going to pick us up from now’, Kundai flustered
‘Oh dear’, replied I. ‘Dad said ‘Bottom of the hill’’

And how can we forget the glottal stop?
Those unvoiced letters that make sentences pop
It’s the Yorkshireman’s and Cockney’s spoken aberration
The naughty little brother of Received Pronunciation

Beginner level lesson in my English as a Foreign Language classroom around 2003
Vocabulary focus: Jobs
At the start of the activity, I told students that today I was not a teacher
and asked them to guess my new job
‘Are you a chef?’ asked Miguel. ‘No’, replied I
‘Are you an astronaut?’ asked Selma. ‘No’, replied I
‘Are you a tennis player?’ asked Pierre. ‘No’, replied I
‘Are you Harry Potter’? asked Yu Lin. ‘Harry Potter? That’s not a job’, replied I
‘Job. Yes. Harry Potter!’ replied a frustrated Yu Lin
‘Are you a doctor?’ asked Jorge. ‘No’, replied I
‘Are you a journalist?’ asked Malgorzata. ‘Yes’ replied I. ‘Well done, Malgorzata!’
‘Teacher! Journalist – Harry Potter!’ shouted Yu Lin
‘Okay, Yu Lin. Please write this on the board’, said I
Yu Lin took my chalk and wrote on the blackboard: ‘Are you a reporter?’

Let’s celebrate these mis-hearings from my days teaching TEFL*
And donated by friends, by my mum and my nana Ethel

They made paradise and went to Juniper Park
I believe in Milko. Where you from? You sexy thing
One of those dames were as sexy as hell. I said ‘Ooh I like your socks’
I’ve got shoes, they’re made of plywood

If you dream of sand dunes and salty air. Quant little feelings here and there
Solitude resistor. Is there still a part of you that wants to give?
Mega mega white pig. Mega mega white pig
The trucks don’t work they just make you worse, but I know I’ll see your face again

And moustache could defend any clipper
Like a gerbil touched for the very first time
I wish I could have told him in the living room
Anna Friel like a disco home

No one loves and no surprises
Calling Jamaica. Calling Jamaica
Poppadum Street. I’m in trouble deep
Sea lions on the shore

You’re the wizard of Oz. Ooh, ooh, ooh, honey
You come to me in a submarine. How deep is your love?
Let’s get biblical, biblical
We called in a tramp

Fairies cross the Mersey
Excuse me, while I kiss this guy
How can we be lovers if we can’t beat trends?
I believe in Malcolm

Slow walkin’ Walter, fire-engine guy
This ain’t rock and roll, it’s dinner time
… move that bunch of people
… to cut your nose off despite your face

*TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language

https://youtu.be/g5JZi2L6EjM

Twitter: leejjcampbell 
Lee Campbell’s poem ‘Clever at without being Seen’ was recently included in Sometimes, The Revolution is Small, Disarm Hate x Poetry’ project by Nymphs & Thugs Recording Co. UK and published in Queerlings online magazine. 
 

The Night I Told Genesis to Fuck Off, by Rodney Wood

THE NIGHT I TOLD GENESIS TO FUCK OFF
27 May 1972, Farnboro Tech

Chubby set up a trestle table inside & said to me
Mike was a student here & I’ve seen
the band practising at the Farnham Maltings.
They’re on fire!
I nodded, took the tickets
from my old school friend.
The Melody Maker
shakes hands with you on that, I said, Pass
my Dad’s regards on to yours.
The stairs behind
him went to room 306 where I spent two
years, one night a week, studying, & failing,
English A level. Then to the bar for two halves
of mild & ten Embassy.
The equipment
gathered dust on stage, the drums & guitars
waited like groupies but the band were elsewhere
high, smoking, drinking & talking like me
and my girlfriend gabbing about how I never
spoke to Chubby at school, why I couldn’t
pass English, I mean, I knew Brave New World,
Two Cheers for Democracy & Anthony
and Cleopatra backwards.
It wasn’t that,
said my girlfriend, it was the essay, your teacher
said you wrote funny & not in a good way.
Just then a smell of musk arrived followed
by the ginger-haired Jasper, swearing as usual
and scratching his nose.
Then Nick, striking a pose,
saying Genesis sounded like a river of silver
that glows, & Jon, who really made an effort
to be hip with long hair, wooden beads, flowery
shirt, flares & suede boots; he was posh
and came from Farnham, the nicest town in Surrey
We sit & talk till the support come on
to play their dreamy cross of Bach & Bee Gees.
A break, two more glasses of mild then
ex-public schoolboys, Genesis, amble
from the wings & they looked earnest, the real deal
for a few seconds until the lead singer came on
dressed as a daffodil & sang, in falsetto,
Walking across the sitting-room, I turn the television off
Sitting beside you, I look into your eyes
As the sound of motorcars fades.
My girlfriend didn’t like this bunch of posers.
Jon & Nick loved them.
An hour later Daffy shouted
Do you want more?
I yelled back Fuck off.
The hall was silent & the band slunk off stage.
My girlfriend gave me a kiss & that was the best
thing I’ve ever done.
Telling Genesis to fuck off.

 

When Two Worlds Collide, by Jeff Horsey

When two worlds collide

Eric worked at the post office.
Sorting letters at 6 am.
Finished early.
Home at four.
Picked up guitar.
Played ‘til his fingertips were sore.
He had a plan,
he had a goal.
Dug the blues and jazz and soul.
One a these days “Johnny Sansom” gonna MAKE the grade,
not just get post office pay.

Johnny played in pubs at night
until one am and only then,
did he worry about the early shift,
sifting letters and whistling riffs.
See Johnny was Eric in the broad daylight.

Monday morning six am
One of his post office friends
said “Man, you look just like the guy
played down the Bull and Bush last night.
Me and the Missus went for a drink,
she said she couldn’t even think,
‘coz this guy Johnny was in the bar,
trying to play an old guitar.
He could NOT sing.
He could NOT play.
What a WANKER,
she said to me.”

And here’s a video of Jeff ‘The Horse’ Horsey:


 

Learning a decade later what I stored in my fridge, by Beth McDonough

Learning a decade later what I stored in my fridge

Newly back from Salzburg
Alex the Milliner waltzed
into the staffroom and my new post.
Just three coffee breaks into November,
after I’d left the job from hell.
Pure pantomime, he passed around his swag-
Don’t look! Just take a feel,
and grab the first one that you rub!
Yes you, new woman, you!
Well. I did.

Something like a lightbulb
rolled around my palm.
I hid it in my pocket, but
cupped it in the dark.
Then I laughed. Of course I took it home.
Allegedly, it’s filled with cream liqueur.
The other sort had added chocolate.
Who cared either way? The lid
is still intact. Presumably the contents
have long evaporated or gone off.

But I like it in the top shelf, a sphere
of welcomes, care and craic.
I told him once how much it meant,
after all the dark. He did his most
magnificent only-Alex roll of eyes.
Whit? Ye’ve really still kept wan o Mozart’s balls?

 

Progressive by Brian Johnstone

The way she said,
“I thought you might,”
was my undoing;

my chat-up lines
remembered more
for absence

than success. I’d said,
“What sounds are
you into?” Not caring,

but just putting out
the only line
that I could think of

aiming to connect.
Not even that alluring,
but a girl

that was enough.
How she answered
long forgotten;

but remembered
– when she asked me
that same thing –

is her response.
“Prog Rock,” I’d said,
so keen to get it right.

She didn’t wait;
said, turning on her heel,
“I thought you might.”

Brian Johnstone’s work has appeared throughout Scotland, elsewhere in the UK, in North America and in Europe. He has published six collections, most recently ‘Dry Stone Work’ (Arc, 2014), and his work appears on The Poetry Archive website. His memoir ‘Double Exposure’ will be published by Saraband in 2017.

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