Mad Old George Haunts a Happy Day, By Jane Burn

I swear to you I saw them – saw the streets lined
with chipper ants, cheery-flapping tincey paper flags
in a butterfly blur of flustered Union Jacks.

I couldn’t help but scan the streets, so many folk
as to seem them a sea, lining many deep for a glimpse –
I picked out the stones of Windsor, heavy against the sky,

Round Tower trunked from a crop of trees, the windows
where the phantom of the first Charles peeps. He’s loving
the pomp, cocking his pearly ear, gibbering on about

incorruptible crowns. The sun lights rings on show-sheen flanks –
the Greys trot merry with ribbons red upon their nodding heads,
blinkered against the spectacle, buckles brassed. Footmen,

more than Cinderella ever wished from out of lizard’s skin
going down the Long Walk, hoi polloi cleaned off. Proles
all stiff and sunburned, pride-burst, shiny-cheeked and glad –

no room today for poverty, austerity, or frowns. Homeless
swept up like leaves for today is a day of pretending, of jollity.
There will be no other news – the world is whitewashed of truth.

We’re all agog – Victoria in that lush navy sack. Her fella,
the one we’re all meant to be lusting after, I saw him bend
so his clothes rode up. I saw his arse’s crack – tonight

there’ll be underpants, skidded in the hamper wanting washed.
Someone will have cleaned his clumps of shaved whiskers
from the sink. Collected his socks. Hats, hats, marvellous hats –

Camilla’s feathered Frisbee skimming her coiff, Amal’s tilted UFO,
Queen a lemon drop. Skeins of pink, spiked heels, thoroughbred legs,
a discreetly skirted Pippa – not for today any headline grabbing bums.

I saw the wife-to-be float St George’s steps in a trailing mist, go veiled to her very own Prince. I think those boys would be wishing most for their mother – her absence the most noticeable guest.

Henry took his Jane to the grave – they rot beneath the piebald floor,
spiced and wrapped in lead. Katherine from her oriel eyrie settles
sighs upon the bride, mourns the sharp felt losses of her womb.

The ghost of Anne Boleyn takes flight above the newlyweds,
keening, riven, cradling the scabby blot of her pitied head.
She makes an anomaly, bat-seeming in the bright of day –

nobody sees, fixated as they are on the lucky pair. Anne cries
her murder out – her neck weeps. I fear the woeful blood
might spatter the snow of that perfect Givenchy dress.

Jane Burn’s poems have appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies. She recently won first prize in the PENfro Festival Poetry Competition. Her next collection, One of These Dead Places will shortly be available from Culture Matters.


A Gentleman’s Guide to a Comfortable Life by Simon Williams

Wear a utility belt.
This avoids scrubbing holes
in your pockets with loose change
and inadvertently washing
phone numbers, first drafts and £10 notes
to lint.

Never take on anyone else’s fish.

Learn about cars
but also find a reliable garage
and join the RAC.

Buy cheap crap from China.

Own several pairs of trousers
and change them regularly.

Pre-heat the bathroom and
check towels before showering.

Own a Swiss Army Knife
or failing that
a smartphone with a compass app.

Grouchy is a respectable standpoint to work from.

Back up your stuff.

Perfect the appearance of being busy;
never be caught writing poems.

Simon Williams has six published collections. He latest pamphlet, Spotting Capybaras in the Work of Mac Chagall, launched in April and his next full collection, Inti, will be out later this year. Simon was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013 and founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet. He makes a living as a journalist.


A Failed Poet’s Reflections on Writing Poetry – Part 1 by Jose Varghese

I struggled hard to create unique phrases,
got stuck with clichéd metaphors,
tried to freeze the magic of life
in extreme close-ups and wide angle shots
and ended with a senseless collage,
wrote of ‘chirping birds and twittering sparrows’,
watched thoughts ‘pirouette’, kept dreams ‘etched
in memory’, and failed miserably. Poetry
did not arrive in search of me. Perhaps
I lack experience, ‘real’ experience, mind it,
or I am insensitive to life and language,
or it’s my tpying, full og typpos, you see,
or it’s my blind faith in free verse and its
irreverent choices of




or it’s just my attitude, my faltering faith
in the ways of the world of creativity.
I know there is something wrong for sure.
I have even started to wonder
whether the problem is with my readers.

(To be continued)

Jose Varghese is a writer/translator/editor from India who is currently  teaching English in the Middle East. ‘Silver-Painted Gandhi and Other Poems’ (2008) and ‘Silent Woman and Other Stories’ (forthcoming) are his books. He is the founder and chief editor of Lakeview International Journal Of Literature and Arts.



Come to the Acerbity Ball by Ron Runeborg

Some say a writer’s greatest worth is built upon one’s suffering
that depth is only reached through pain; then scripted without buffering
To honor true believers of the poet as enigma
I now invite you share with me a party for our stigma

I’ll send for you my favorite skull and crossbone clad balloon
you’ll ride in proper anguish to the dark side of the moon
You’ll wear your finest Visigoth, I’ll wear my blackest stare
we’ll danse macabre until the dawn (though dawn won’t visit there)

Let’s ruminate on sorrow, beat a fine dead horse or two
I’ll start a fear round robin, let’s begin with death by shrew
You’ll ride a foul but mighty wind, or play dismay charades
Let’s toot our funk on blue kazoos, let’s march in dirge parades!

I feel the turn already just by penning this request
I’m so much more an author when I’m sullenly depressed
So please accept this call to arms, let’s toast our gloomy trappings
lest we subject our readers to involuntary nappings.

Ron Runeborg lives with his wife Linda and Montague Pierre the dog in Lakeville Minnesota. He writes poetry and short stories and currently has two books available.