Why I ended up (for a while) in Hull, by Janet Sillett

Why I ended up (for a while) in Hull

My group of friends read Larkin aloud
skiving off hockey,
outliers in a school
which dished out piety at 9am

We admired his contrariness,
dirty words,
and suburban weariness,
his constipated ennui

Larkin inspired me to study
in a god forsaken east coast city
a shared terrace with a parrot
a bath in the kitchen
on Anlaby Road

I skulked in vain in the library,
until we parted company abruptly,
Hull, Larkin and me
I moved on, as they say,
to Plath, Stevens, Crane
to a concrete place of learning,
and Larkin expressed his adoration
for Margaret Thatcher

I reread his poems, when living
in bedsits, in semis,
in the disillusionment of marriage

But let’s face it,
Larkin was a bigot, racist, serial snob
I want to see them starving,
the so-called working class
nostalgic for the good old days
when only white men played cricket for England

Consumer of pornography
(but never in the library)
composer of sado­masochistic reveries
shared to fellow man poets
posh adolescents fumbling with themselves
in bedrooms after lights out

I want to cancel Larkin
unknow his life,
his pervasion of archetypal Englishness
I settle for drowning in his poetry
with fingers in my ears

PS Apologies to Hull which I now think is a great place.

Janet Sillett recently took up writing poetry and short fiction again after decades of absence. She has had poems published in the Galway Advertiser, Poetry Plus magazine and Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis, and flash fiction in Litro. She works for a think tank.

 

Speed Dating, by Enna Michaels

Speed Dating

So here I am, A newly single mum of two.
Not exactly all that defines me – But it’ll do.
Some friends suggested I go on a date,
Find ‘someone special’ before it’s too late.

Thanks ‘friends’ if that is what you are.
I thought I was doing well thought I was shining like a star.
But my ‘friends’ are quite persuasive so here I am in a shabby hotel.
Surrounded by the desperation brigade and things are not going well.

First, we’re told to mingle, we have been given a free drink.
But frankly it’s not that appealing and the majority of them stink.
The ‘ladies’ are sat at tables, the ‘fair blooms’ should be approached.
With caution in my opinion – the men circle ready to be reproached.

The first one is called Gary and he really likes his car.
He promises to drive me wherever I want to go – so long as it has a bar.
The second one is ‘Mikey’ – he went to university you know.
Although he didn’t quite manage to finish – but is quite happy on the dole.

The next one is quite exotic – Julio is his name.
He looks around with boredom in his eyes, so in some ways we are the same.
But the charms of dashing Julio are limited, he sweats more than a bull.
And as he talks about his successes it’s the clear the comparison is full….

Then I’m introduced to Arthur, he calls himself ‘a proper gent’.
He shows off a fake Rolex, and that’s not all that’s bent.
Sebastian seems quite nice; he admits he doesn’t have a lot to say.
His beloved wife brought him along – apparently, they like ‘role play’.

Oliver seems very shy – he admits it’s not his scene,
I wonder if his mother knows he is out – far too young and green.
Milo is a chef you know, cooking is his passion,
And lots of pretty young girls too, especially those into fashion.

There are more men than women here, we’re expected to be polite.
I secretly wish I were elsewhere, being more productive with my night.
I finally think of something to speed things up and end this silly game.
I look deeply into the eyes and say, “Are you Brexit or Remain?”

 

My Other Sticker is Funny, by Claire Hadfield

My other sticker is funny.

They began as a statement, a declaration, proclaiming affection for a prime location.
I ‘heart’ New York- a harmless affirmation of warmest thoughts- just information.

Then things evolved, just a slight mutation; we began to proclaim our procreation.
Baby on board, Lil’ Princess, Lil’ Man all hail and salute the next generation.
Do we really need such information in the form of an adhesive notification?

But the worst, the nadir, the abomination is a relatively recent innovation;
Your family in graphic representation.
The mum, the dad and confirmation of their successful insemination, cartoonified in silhouette
Reduced to a ‘quirky’ simplification of hetero-normative ideation.

“So what?”, you say, “Cease your assassination!
Why begrudge us confirmation of our plastic-coated validation?”
No! Go look elsewhere for your aspiration.
There’s only one cure for my vexation: total sticker annihilation!

Twenty years of teaching teens led to a highly developed sense of cynicism, a thick skin, and the compulsory eyes in the back of the head. Now a teacher-trainer at Plymouth Marjon University, Claire gets paid to indulge her curiosity, enthusiasm and passion for words on a daily basis.

 

Doing It, by Heather Moulson

Doing It

Sexual intercourse did not begin for me.
In 1973.
That science lesson when we were told
we will all Have Sex in adulthood.
What?! Every night?! Doesn’t it hurt?!
I look down at my grey school skirt.
Girl’s faces screwed up in distaste.
Sir! Julie piped up, would we get paid?!

The lesson was a disaster,
Julie was sent to the headmaster

Against a tree during the miner’s strike,
Julie was known as the local bike.
But it wasn’t true, she was taking the piss,
it never went further than a kiss.
A french one with tongues, I believe,
although maybe I’m being naïve.
But she was intact like the rest of the class.
To be honest, it just sounded a pain in the arse.

 

Advice for undergraduates re-submitting work for this semester’s poetry module, by Emma Purshouse

Advice for undergraduates re-submitting work for this semester’s poetry module

If you see a cliché kill it dead.
Don’t use rhyme for rhyme’s sake, red.

Steer clear of obscure abstraction,
it will drive your lecturer to distraction.

Want to piss of him or her?
Then use a t’will, a t’was, a t’were.

All good things in moderation
applies in particular to alliteration

which when wildly wielded will
wind one up and make one ill.

At this point I’ll interject,
that it should only be used for deliberate effect.

As for rhythm don’t get me started
Please, avoid extra long lines which jut out miles further than the rest of the poem, these lines probably should be split and parted.

Oh and never say the same thing twice.
Don’t be an oxymoron all your life.

No tormented soul or bleeding heart,
this makes my nervous twitching start.

Show me, show me, please don’t tell.
Follow this advice and all will be well.

Emma’s first novel Dogged is now available to buy from Ignite Books.                                              https://ignitebooks.co.uk/products-page/emma-purshouses-books/

 

Truth, by Maurice Devitt

Truth

In my early years,
The Zebra Book of Facts for Boys
was my go-to reference;
rarely stuck for a capital city, flag
or element on the Periodic Table.
It was only when, at fourteen,
I brought it as a comfort blanket on my first date,
that I realised its shortcomings:
the conversation flowed
as I sought to impress my consort
with the range of my general knowledge,
but when I left her to her door
and she asked me
if I’d ever kissed a girl before
I didn’t know the right answer.

A past winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland and Poems for Patience competitions, he published his debut collection, ‘Growing Up in Colour’, with Doire Press in 2018.

His poems have been nominated for Pushcart, Forward and Best of the Net prizes and his Pushcart-nominated poem, ‘The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work’, was the title poem of an anthology published by Hibernian Writers in 2015. He is curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site.

 

Exercising my Demon, by Aaron Williams

I was possessed by a demon so lazy,
He left the Priest feeling slightly hazy.
He wanted some ecclesiastical action,
But this Demon didn’t give him no satisfaction.

My Priest said “you’ve got to stick it to him!”
So I took us both to the local gym.
I did some cardio and did some weights,
I stayed there until really very late.

Finally, when doing some cross-training,
My chest started straining,
And a voice (not mine) wailed like a Banshee,
“The power of exercise compels me!”

So that was how my Demon was exorcised;
Bloodless, sweaty Holy exercise.
Now I’m a major fitness fanatic
Thanks to forces oh so Satanic!

Newly middle-aged male who wrote a short ‘poem’ on a whim a few months ago and is quite enjoying writing rubbish when the whim takes him. Also, still harbour a mild grudge against a former English teacher’s cruel and public comment questioning my intellect 😂

 

On Writing Poetry, by Nikki Fine

I have no inkling how to start,
And listen to these words in vain:
“Technique is just the Greek for art.”

The moment when true lovers part,
A wartime death, a drop of rain –
I have no inkling how to start.

I seek the words to set apart
A poem sure to bring me fame,
With no technique to make it art.

An idea’s there within my heart;
Thesauruses must take the strain
For I’ve no inkling how to start

And clogged up rhyme, and counterpart
Strict rhythm, make themselves the bane
Of technique, just the Greek for art!

Heroic couplets won’t impart
Enough to fool my struggling brain.
I have no inkling how to start
And technique’s all just Greek for art.

Nikki Fine is a former teacher who would now rather have some fun in life. She has previously had poems published in The Interpreter’s House, Riggwelter and the Oxford Magazine, and has been long-listed for the Fish International Poetry Prize.

 

Not Getting Dressed, by Frank Dixon

You can’t put your shoes on
because all the left ones
have crabs in.

Your tops all have spiders in them.

There are aliens
in your knickers.

There are beetles
in your skin.

Take your face off.
Then, you will just be blood.

Or, you can go out naked.

Frank Dixon is originally from Chorlton, Manchester. He now lives in a valley just outside Huddersfield. His poem ‘Impatience’ was published in ‘I bet I can make you laugh’ by Bloomsbury in August 2018. He likes computer and board games, and loves precious things.

 

Percussion Band, or Letting the Whole School Down by Marilyn Francis

Overawed by circumstance
(sounding brass and angels)
I missed three cymbal clashes.

No one was more surprised
than me when Miss Madden
promoted me from triangles.

Cymbals are a crucial element
in this performance, she said,
I’m going to trust you

to get it right, on the night.
I loved Miss Madden
for choosing me.

It seems that failing to strike
a note at all is worse than
striking the wrong one.

Nowadays I think it was more
the cymbolic representation
of one hand clapping.

Marilyn Francis lives, works, and writes poems near Radstock in the wild south-west of England. She has had one collection of poems, “red silk slippers”, published by Circaidy Gregory Press. She also has some other poems out and about in the world, though she has even more lazing in her notebooks.