Paint Spill by Julia D McGuinness

right outside B & Q
as people tent a kneeling girl;
an uprighted paint tin smirks
with seeping lid by a slick
of glistening Lavender Mist.

Fateful rush, fumble, tangle
of keys, dog-lead, shopping;
honey dip dreams tripped
in a moment’s tin-clop slop
on slate grey asphalt.

She wipes her dog’s legs;
in speckle and sprawl
feels the importunity of paint.
Plans upended; coral tears
streak cherry lush cheeks.

Buttermilk cheer of helpers;
sponges and sympathy,
but nothing to stem
the Tropical tide of if onlys
coating her paint-smudged brow.

Shades stacked on shelves
hold still for an apricot dawn
of laughter with friends;
dog in his soft mocha basket,
rain pawing the stain outside.

Julia D McGuinness is a writer, counsellor and writing for wellbeing practitioner based near Chester. She has written 4 non-fiction books and her poetry has been published online. Her first poetry collection, Chester City Walls, was published last year by Poetry Space.


Mea Culpa by Mark Mayes

As his forehead met my nose,
causing it to explode
into a cascade of blood and snot,
I wondered what his childhood had been like,
and the precise nature of his family’s dysfunction.

As his size-ten DM’s crunched into my bollocks
at an equally disconcerting speed,
I bemoaned his lack of life chances,
and the undiagnosed dyslexia,
which had so sorely troubled him.

When, having whipped out his Stanley,
he proceeded to inscribe a map
of the Scilly Isles – on my neck,
I blamed the NHS for not proactively
offering him counselling
at a more formative age.

Finally, as he stamped rhythmically on my spine,
chanting ‘Bastard’ all the while,
it dawned on me
that he was the real victim here,
and I had no right to complain,
if anything, I was to blame,
for in me he saw the cause,
the cause of all his pain.

My Home Counties’ vowel sounds
had put him out of joint;
plus the unpardonable act
of spilling his pint.

(originally published in The Interpreter’s House)

Mark Mayes has published poems in various magazines, including: The Interpreter’s House, Ink Sweat & Tears, Staple, The Reader, The Shop, and Fire, and has had work broadcast on BBC Radio. He has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize.