Redefining Ireland, by Kevin Higgins

Redefining Ireland
“Ireland must reassess military power” Simon Coveney

In the absence of Seamus Heaney,
if Ireland is to be renowned for anything other
than bog water, cabbage and
our negligible corporate tax rate,
we must invest in at least one
intercontinental ballistic missile
which until the necessary
Plutonium – 239 gets here
we’ll fill with hydrogen sulphide
reinforced regularly
courtesy of our world famous piggeries
and drag it to every St. Patrick’s Day parade
from Castlerea to Bantry
because people need something to celebrate.

Instead of the perfect simile
we’ll offer annihilation
for somewhere roughly the size of Iceland.
Instead of metaphors we’ll give you death
immediate or lingering
(terms and conditions will be applied
no liability admitted).
Instead of the occasional Haiku
we’ll build a leprechaun Hiroshima
put it in a box
then skulk the Earth
looking for someone to drop it on.

KEVIN HIGGINS

 

Lecher, by S.F. Wright


LECHER

Genose
Had a goatee,
A large stomach.
A bible-thumping
Christian,
He’d sprinkle
Conversation
With:
“God sees all,”
Or,
“The lord giveth as taketh away.”
If someone said,
“Jesus Christ,”
Genose would say,
“It’s not his fault.”

Despite his Christianity,
Genose, 55, hit on
18-year-olds
Who worked at
The bookstore’s café.

I’m sure the girls
Thought him creepy,
But felt bad;
Hence,
No one reported him.

Once,
Genose got hung up
On an 18-yr-old
Blonde-haired girl;
Despite there being
No evidence that
The girl was interested,
He was heartbroken
When she told him that
She’d prefer if Genose
Never speak to her again.

In the breakroom afterwards,
Genose
Took large bites
Of a reheated
Philly cheesesteak sandwich.
Grease trickled down his chin,
His eyes wet.

“She was the one,” he said.
I punched out at the timeclock.
“She would’ve been perfect.”

I didn’t know what to say;
I mumbled something
About things like this happening;
Then walked out to my car.

On the way to
The hamburger place
Across the street,
I thought of Genose—
And felt
Distant disgust
Yet relief;
And wondered
Which was worse:
To end up like Genose
And be aware of it;
Or to become someone
Like Genose
And be so delusional
That you’d think that
A pretty 18-yr-old
Would be receptive
To your advances;
That you were as normal
As everyone else.
 

Beach Body Ready by Ben Macnair

Beach Body Ready 

The human body is never really
Beach body ready.
It is designed for rain,
for offices, for chairs and sofas.
So if I was to get a body,
ready for the Beach,
I would develop a Crab’s body.

A hard outer shell,
two razor-sharp pincers,
I would grow stalks for my eyes,
learn to walk sideways,
and always look angry.
It would be brilliant for the beach,
but a dead loss in nightclubs, car parks,
night classes,
making friends would be difficult,
and Line Dancing would be impossible.

Chairs would be uncomfortable,
young children would point and stare,
and it doesn’t matter how good a hard shell is,
it never protects you from the slings and arrows
of careless laughter.
 

Should I Take my Bumbershoot With Me?, by Rodney Wood

SHOULD I TAKE MY BUMBERSHOOT WITH ME?

should I take my bumbershoot with the crook handle pimped with a sterling silver knob
& a rainbow of Swarovski crystals?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a sword, walking or shooting stick?
should I take my bumbershoot that covers the face of the newly dead?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a plant pot or a vase for hydrangeas?
should I take my bumbershoot that enters the forest of other bumbershoots?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a clumsy paint brush used with a puddle?
should I take my bumbershoot that stop drips falling on my head when painting the ceiling?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a film screen for say Fast & Furious 27?
should I take my bumbershoot whose ribs are used for drying my large smalls?
should I take my bumbershoot that makes me fly like Mary Poppins?
should I take my bumbershoot that points to the person responsible for whatever?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a symbol of protection & shelter?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s the gelatinous body of a jellyfish?
should I take my bumbershoot that breaks my fall when jumping from the 3rd floor?
should I take my bumbershoot that hangs from the ceiling as a decoration?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s covered with notes & phone numbers?
should I take my bumbershoot that holds rubbish & discarded poems?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s used when I’m a detective & under cover?
should I take my bumbershoot that cannot takes punches & just folds up?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a temporary headstone?
should I take my bumbershoot that protects me from bird shit?
should I take my bumbershoot that captures the sound of clapping?
should I take my bumbershoot that frightens tigers, dogs & cats?
should I take my bumbershoot that has a crest above its ferrule?
should I take my bumbershoot that prevents anyone seeing a stolen kiss?
should I take my bumbershoot that diffuses the light in a photo studio?
should I take my bumbershoot that danced with Gene Kelly & Rihanna?
should I take my bumbershoot is a lover, friend or partner with a wedding ring?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a boat?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a shopping bag?
should I take my bumbershoot that deflects bullets?
should I take my bumbershoot that’s a baton I lead parades or funerals with?
should I take my bumbershoot that displays magazines like Penthouse or Marxism Today?
should I take my bumbershoot that is always under the weather?
should I take my bumbershoot that shades me from the sun?
should I take my bumbershoot that keeps me dry when it’s raining?

But today I'm going by car to the shop to buy some milk
so I don’t need to take my bumbershoot

Rodney Wood lives in Farnborough, co-hosts a monthly open mic at The Lightbox in Woking and has published two pamphlets :Dante Called You Beatrice, and When Listening Isn’t Enough.

 

The Ballad of Laurel Blaney, by David Ludford

The Ballad Of Laurel Blaney



Old Tally was a minstrel
He wandered free and wild
And one day he met Annie
And Annie bore his child.

Now Laurel loved to play, she did
She loved to fool around
But went too near the river
And Laurel went and drowned.

Now if you should see Laurel
Just run away, just go
For Laurel’s now the devil’s girl
She’ll drag you down below.
Beware the deep, deep water
Beware the devil’s daughter.

Now think of young Jack, a boy
Who loved to dive and swim
Just think back for a moment
You may remember him.
Jack he was an active boy
Yes, swimming he loved most
He wasn’t scared of monsters
He’d never seen a ghost.
Jack stood on the riverbank
One lovely summer’s day
When Laurel grabbed him by the foot
And swept him clean away.
Beware the deep, deep water
Beware the devil’s daughter.

Remember too poor Jenny
Just strolling back from town
A shortcut by the river
She hadn’t meant to drown
A bully boy from school she saw
A silly girl he thought her
He rushed and pushed
She slipped and slid
And fell into the water.
No Jenny hadn’t meant to drown
Wicked Laurel dragged her down.
Beware the deep, deep water
Beware the devil’s daughter.

The purpose of these tales, my friends
That make you shake and shiver
Just beware
And take great care
When you are near the river.
For every tale, old or new
There has to be a moral
And my advice
I won’t give twice
Remember wicked Laurel.
Beware the deep, deep water
Beware the devil’s daughter.

End


Dave Ludford is a writer from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, where not many writers come from. Except George Eliot. His short works of horror and science fiction have appeared in a variety of online locations.
 

They Will All Take Us With Them in the End, (After Tom Lehrer), by Neil Fulwood

THEY WILL ALL TAKE US WITH THEM IN THE END
(after Tom Lehrer)

When you click into your news app
it’s not comforting that what’s hap-
penning out there is global brinkmanship.
Europe’s status quo’s been ballsed up
by a goon who wants to call up
every missile that he’s got and let them rip.

But don’t you worry.

No more Tory lockdown scandals,
no more guff about Prince Andrew,
or price hikes, NHS, or student debt;
if BoJo, Biden and Vlad P
push this shit past DefCon 3,
you won’t care about bent coppers in the Met.

‘Cause they will all take us with them in the end,
when diplomacy’s been fucked off round the bend
and a jab of that red button
vends total world destruction -
you’d be “M.A.D.” not to know how this one ends.

They will all take us with them in the end,
loudly claiming they had something to defend.
Was it a patch of foreign soil
or the current price of oil?
Did the Footsie close ahead right at the end?

Oh they will all take us with them to the grave,
telling lies about the lives they tried to save.
There’ll be no more cant and spin
with the planet all done in
and no world leaders left to rant and rave.

Down by the old maelstrom,
Liz Truss is wondering what went wrong.

And they will all drag us down with them in flames,
with no scapegoat left behind to take the blame.
We’ll finally be united
when that fireball’s ignited,
nearly eight billion unrecorded names.

They will all drag us down to dust and ash,
the victims of an act both cruel and rash,
dead as some assassin’s mark
care of a pissed off oligarch
deprived of his wads of laundered cash.

Of course they’ll take us with them in the end,
they’d do the same if they had their time again,
so hum a Missa Solemnis
just before that Yellow Sun hits
and the farewell bash concludes at Number Ten.

You will all go directly to your version of heaven.
There will be no hero to save the day, no 007.

For they will all take us with them in the end,
every man, woman, child, foe and friend.
When history overtakes us
and we all turn slightly vaporous,
yes they all will take us with them,
oh they all will take us with them,
yes they all will take us with them in the end.


Neil Fulwood was born in Nottingham, England, where he still lives and works. He has three collections out with Shoestring Press: No Avoiding It, Can’t Take Me Anywhere and Service Cancelled. A collection of political satires, Mad Parade, is due for publication with Smokestack Books in July 2022.

 

Me and Joanna Lumley, by Jennifer A. McGowan

Me and Joanna Lumley

I caught Joanna Lumley reaching
through the open window of a bakery for bagels
crisp and hot and frankly

much tastier than any dreams
that had consumed us
in our adult lives (as I said to Joanna)

and she agreed, then added, “Except for the Gurkhas.
I’m proud of that,” and I agreed,
then at the corner we went our separate ways

to stare at the sky, to dream of mountains,
of hot butter running everywhere, equally.

Jennifer spends as much time as she can in the 15th century, but comes back for hot showers and bagels.

 

The Happiest Days, by Finola Scott


The happiest days

Do you remember gym, Amanda?
Do you remember a gym?
And the toilets that smell of piss and booze
and the games we play so scared to loose?
And the fleas that tease everyone's knees
and the cheers and jeers of the lower years?
And the years and years of our growing fears
The casual division of girls here boys there
The binary allocation without any care

And the years and years of our quiet tears
at the thump on the floor for more and more?
And the linking hands and the birl and swirl
of the girls dreaming and wild romancing
on those mats rolled back for social dancing
Do you remember the cotton and crimplene
and the boys' hot glances in between?
The wanting and waiting to be chosen
and those hard shoulders so very frozen

Do you remember a gym Amanda?
Never again Amanda
only the handbags laid on the floor
and the drum beat and bass line's solid roar
as we strut and show we know the score
Those string vests sweaty hands no more
Only the bright laughter of fierce women
who stamp and chant that it's raining men
Only the boom as we own the room

Finola Scott’s poems are scattered on the wind as well as on posters, tapestries and magazines. Her work is in The High Window, New Writing Scotland, I,S&T and Lighthouse. Red Squirrel Press publish her pamphlet Much left unsaid. Dreich publish Count the ways

 

Combat Cheese, by Sally McHugh

Combat Cheese


On the shores of Lough Ree
(although not known for its Fromageries),
solidified cheese surfed through the airwaves-
a lightning strike to the head of Queen Maeve.
As she stretched and bathed in full display,
she was crushed by the cunning of curds and whey;
aged-fresh Maeve, wrinkled white to grey rind,
was struck via sling (it’s prehistoric times).
Was the chalky meteorite of creamy Camembert
or of an ancient Brie - with a buttery flair?
Perhaps it was a local fromage blanc
or a full-bodied shaving of Parmesan?
How about a goatmilk flat white from Port du Salut
or a Provolone vegan with a vodka hue
or a chewy Caerphilly à la castle cellar store
or a blue ram’s rocket filled with Roquefort?
Whatever churned concoctions prevailed
and imbued this calcium-infused cocktail,
Maeve’s aged, matured, rapturous reign
crumbled - by combat cheese to the brain.

Sally McHugh lives in Co. Galway. Her poetry has appeared in ROPES2018, The Blue Nib Literary Magazine (2019), Pendemic (2020) and Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis (2021). She also likes to dabble in art and calligraphy. Twitter:@fordofthekings