Instructions for reading a gas meter, by Ama Bolton

Instructions for reading a gas meter

1. You’ll need a pen and paper and a torch.
2. Open the door of the cupboard in the corner.
3. Move the vacuum cleaner and the two pairs of boots.
4. Get a brush and remove the cobwebs from the meter.
5. Lie down on the floor so that your face is level with the meter.
6. If there isn’t enough room for you, move the sofa.
7. If you can’t move the sofa, get help.
8. No, not me. You know I’ve got a bad back.
9. Press the button.
10. No, the other button.
11. If you can’t read the numbers, get a magnifying glass.
12. Press the button again.
13. If you still can’t read the numbers, get your camera.
14. Turn off the flash, if you can remember how.
15. If you can’t remember, find the instruction manual.
16. No, I don’t know where it is.
17. Try the top drawer in the kitchen.
18. Under the mousetrap?
19. Press the button again and take a photo.
20. Quick, before the number disappears.
21. Maybe use the zoom?
22. Try again.
23. That’s better.
24. Upload the photo and write down the numbers.
25. Go to the website.
26. The password’s in the blue book under G for Gas.
27. Enter the reading.
28. Yes, I know it’s a smart meter, but the new supplier can’t read it.
29. No, we’re not changing back.
30. Cheer up; you only have to do this once a month.

 

Particles, by Marcus Bales

Particles

With Einstein, we have gone too far to call
Him real. That’s antithetical
To physicists like him, who, after all,
Are purely theoretical.

The cop asked Werner how fast he was going.
When writing up a speed citation.
Heisenberg said stopped there is no knowing,
But he did know his location.

Schroedinger’s box — it doesn’t matter that
It’s opened or remains still closed.
There doesn’t even have to be a cat —
It’s only meant to be supposed.

There’s rumor that there is a tape-recorder,
Paul Dirac is heard to talk
And place his normal evening take-out order
For himself: a Pizza Dirac.

“Minnesota Twins?,” asked Wolfgang Pauli
“Don’t give me any crooked spin
And if they are identical, by golly,
There’s no state they can both be in.”

 

Shell Shocked by Catherine Edmunds

The incubator’s light turned green. We cheered!
The wait was over, eggs would hatch tonight,
but as we watched it flickered fast. We feared
the hatchlings wouldn’t last, would die of fright.
“Not so!” Professor Zog cried, full of glee,
“Their life force cannot fail, I promise you.”
And he was right. Now all of us could see
a tiny movement; peck, peck, peck, and through
the mottled shell a beak appeared. A beak?
But dragons don’t have beaks. We were perplexed.
This looked more like a chicken. Zog looked bleak.
“Good grief!” he wailed. “I say! Whatever next!”
And thus it was, despite a heartfelt plea,
Professor Zog now works for KFC.

(Previously published in Anomalous Appetites)

Catherine Edmunds was educated at Dartington College of Arts, and Goldsmith’s College, London. Her published works include a poetry collection, four novels and a Holocaust memoir. Catherine has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her writing has appeared in the Frogmore Papers, The Binnacle, Butchers’ Dog, and other literary journals.

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School Uniform by Jonathan Pinnock

Henry’s Mum was making tea
when the Headmaster telephoned:
‘There’s been an accident in Biology –
I’m afraid your son’s been cloned.

‘We wouldn’t normally bother you
(except in case of disease)
but from a practical point of view,
we’re concerned about the fees.’

Henry’s Mum became quite grim,
and her voice was filled with dread.
‘How will I cope with two like him?’
‘It’s … worse than that,’ he said,

‘We didn’t notice what was wrong
till it was far too late.
You began today with just one son,
but you finished it with eight.’

Next morning there was quite a crop:
thirty-two from just one mould,
and when the process finally stopped,
five hundred and twelve, all told.

After that appalling day,
the school went to the wall.
The other pupils moved away,
so they renamed it Henry Hall.

Group activities in class
suffered less from indecision,
but games became a total farce:
they all played the same position.

Exam results were uniform,
both first time and re-takes.
They stuck to a consistent norm,
including the mistakes.

Careers were trivial to fix:
some took command of tanks,
a few went into politics,
the rest into merchant banks.

And Henry’s Mum still makes the tea,
when called on by a son,
each time wondering wistfully
if he’s the proper one.

(Originally published in Every Day Poets)

Jonathan Pinnock runs this place.

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