Gannet, by Catherine Doherty Nicholls

Gannet

Alice had a mallet
and she swung it at a gannet
as it swooped
to steal her sandwich at the beach

Then the gannet landed on the
sandwich,
and with malice
pecked her hand that held the mallet
till she screeched.

She was really bleeding
but the tide was not receding
so she swung again
and nearly cracked his head

In the great commotion
they were swallowed by the ocean
as they fought for ham and bread
and now they’re dead.

Catherine Doherty Nicholls

Winner of no Poetry Ireland Competition, or any other competition, no published debut collection, nothing printed anywhere yet.
Her poems have been nominated for nothing so she’s nominating this poem to go on this page – a great place to start.

She is the curator of nothing. Her anthology doesn’t exist, yet she keeps going.

A student of Kevin Higgins.

 

Nothing, by Ama Bolton

Nothing

Nothing’s worse than toothache.
Nothing’s worse than fleas.
Nothing’s worse than finding
half a maggot in your cheese.

Nothing’s worse than tasting
coffee you thought was tea.
Nothing’s worse than failing
your Maths GCSE.

Nothing’s worse than losing
car-keys down a drain.
Nothing’s worse than choosing
the wrong till, once again.

Nothing’s worse than Christmas
when you wake up with the ‘flu.
Nothing’s worse than birthdays
when no-one’s there with you.

Nothing’s worse than meeting
right person at wrong time.
Nothing’s worse than G&T
without a slice of lime.

You’re right, my dears, for nothing’s
far worse than all of these.
You’ve got one life. Enjoy it.
And stop complaining. Please.

Ama Bolton, former member of The Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream and Pun, convenes a Stanza group in Somerset. Her poems have featured at festivals, on Radio 3’s The Verb, and in magazines and anthologies including Bridport Prize 2008. She blogs at
http://barleybooks.wordpress.com/

 

Do dust mites eat ginger biscuits?, by Trisha Broomfield

Do dust mites eat ginger biscuits?

I did wonder as I sipped my morning tea
dark and caffeine free
accompanied by a ginger biscuit or three
it was the crumbs, you see
parent mites with little mites of their own
living on the breadline during Lockdown
but then I thought, of course not
they’d have gorged themselves on me
I know they eat people,
if only by miniscule degrees
but perhaps I could tempt them away
with my ginger biscuit crumbs, flax filled, gluten free.

Trisha has had three pamphlets published by Dempsey and Windle. She is a regular contributor to Surrey Libraries Poetry Blog and has a regular poetry spot on her local radio. Humour escapes from her work regardless of any constraints applied. https://www.facebook.com/Trisha-Broomfield-Poetry-2340859049276291

 

Ads for adults, not suitable for children, by Carole Donaldson

Here’s one concerning my embarrassment at the conversation I was forced to have with a highly inquisitive and precocious four-year-old boy to which I’ve always told the truth …erm, except in this case. I mean, how does one start?

Ads for adults, not suitable for children

When your four-year-old is smart and bright,

and sat there watching telly one night,

Well it’s not quite what I’d call ‘night’ really,

more afternoon/early evening clearly,

then he looks to you to innocently ask,

while you look on, somewhat aghast,

about the advert he’s just seen.

And he’s like “What does it all mean?”

and in that moment it’s soon the case,

that you don’t know where to put your face

 Why so untimely the ads must show,

such intimate detail to let your child know,

that ladies suffer at a certain age,

and especially after the menopausal stage

It’s stunning these inappropriate ads

in front of young impressionable lads

without a hint of unbridled shyness,

discuss the ins and outs of vaginal dryness

 

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.

 

What the Dickens, by Julian Isaacs

Angela Merkel, reading Edwin Drood,
Said she liked Durdles the best.
Although she never found how Eddie met his end, And without intending to be rude,
She felt sure Jasper had something on his chest, And was not a faithful friend.
That night in the hookah bar,
It was just like Cabaret.
She played the part of Rosa Budd,
And was certainly a star.
She’d learned all her lines to say,
And looked like Joan Collins in The Stud.
Thus demonstrating that all the world is nothing but a stage,
Whether for Schubert’s Unfinished, Mahler’s 10th, or Edwin Drood performed off the page. That’s the thing about literature and history;
Read all you like — some of it will remain a mystery.

 

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.