Health Check, by Mary Dickins

HEALTH CHECK

Your veins are full of butter.
Your body mostly lard.
Teeth like wire cutters.
Arteries rock hard.

Your body mostly lard.
You’ve never heard of kale.
Arteries rock hard.
You’ve broken all the scales.

You’ve never heard of kale.
Your breath is rank with smoke.
You’ve broken all the scales.
Your diet is a joke.

Your breath is rank with smoke.
You love a Milky Way.
Your diet is a joke.
Ever heard of five a day?

You love a Milky Way.
You say Quinoa makes you gag.
Ever heard of five a Day?
You won’t give up the fags.

You say Quinoa makes you gag.
You claim whisky keeps you sane.
You won’t give up the fags
And the Friday night cocaine.

You claim whisky keeps you sane.
It’s not pleasant down below
And the Friday night cocaine
Keeps you going with the flow

It appears that what you fancy has set your spirit free.
So have another pasty. After all you’re ninety-three.

Mary wrote her first poem when she was four and poetry has been her passion and life support system ever since. However it took her another 56 years to begin sharing her work at poetry events, street parties and slams. She has been on television and radio as part of the Nationwide Building Society poetry ad campaign and continues to dish up poems all over the country as part of the Poetry Takeaway team. In 2017 she set up the “Poems not Pills” project to promote the therapeutic value of poetry for health professionals and their patients. Her debut pamphlet “Happiness FM” published by Burning Eye Books has just been selected as one of 10 uplifting books by the NHS for the NHS (see link below).
https://readingagency.org.uk/news/media/the-reading-agency-and-health-education-england-announce-a-new-book-collection—uplifting-resources.html

 

Penny Dreadful, by Phil Binding

Penny Dreadful – or The Terrible Tale of the Drive-By Poetry Murders of Old London Town

A cold wet dawn in the London fog,
an old man shuffled along with his dog
didn’t clock the limo with dark glass
whispering up from behind his arse.

The unseen driver yelled aloud
“I wandered lonely as a cloud,”
lobbed out a quill and sped away.
The shock of Wordsworth on a Walthamstow day

gave the old sod a seizure on the spot.
The only witness, a drunken old sot
bathed in vomit simply cried
“the daffodils, the daffodils!”, and died.

Officers exchanged significant looks.
“It’s another one”, they noted in their books
“Yus, he’s bin Wordswuffed alright.”
CID rocked up and security was tight.

A few days earlier, a little old bird
towing her shopping to the kerb
got buzzed by a flash motor, and heard
“…..let us go then you and I when the evening….”

In Doppler and missed the Routemaster Flyer
that crushed her beneath its Boris-funded tyres.
As she slipped into her own wasteland
she croaked to paramedics “It didn’t scan.”

The Daily Express pounced on the spate
of sonnet-soaked crimes, trumpeting hate,
“Catch the villanelle villains!!!” in red.
The Old Bill were baffled. “We’re baffled,” they said.

A senior Inspector gathered his cops
walls all plastered in digital shots
of grisly blood-spattered drive-by recitations
from Brixton High Street to Euston Station.

“You’ve had the briefing, now you know it
We’ve got a serial drive-by poet,
and he’s got to be vigorously sought.
We mustn’t rest til he’s eventually caught.”

“It’s the worst case I’ve ever met.
Oi is my cup of tea ready yet?
Gordon Bennett it’s a right old mess”
He adjusted his syrup to talk to the press.

“Just had reports of another one, guvnor.”
Some poor Nine Elms coster-monger
got Coleridged this morning, bad luck,
sadder and wiser, crushed by his sack-truck.

They raided the local poetry sessions,
poncey bards got nicked for possession
of venal volumes of popular verse,
others for criminal doggerel and worse.

Bethnal library had its shelves blocked
and records combed for lent-out stock
of Motion, Thomas, Plath and McGowan.
Open Mic evenings were brutally shut dowan.

Rumours abounded of writers rejected
underappreciated and dejected
who might consider revenge through crime
to be a creative use of their time.

Anyone caught with cravat or sandals
were stopped on the street like common vandals
entries to local competitions
were viewed with increasing and dire suspicion.

Then a breakthrough. After a hip-hop
attack of Keats in Kingston chip-shop
CCTV picked up the reg number in the night
“We’ve got im, guvnor. E’s bang to rights”.

The motor was registered miles from here
to a W Shakespeare in Warwickshire.
“Warwickshire?” What’s he doing here?”
And he hadn’t paid road tax for 400 years.

But hang about, result – it all stopped.
That couplet killer never got copped.
He faded into memory like William McGonagall.
No surprise – the enquiry turned up bugger-all.

In a quiet lane all covered in trees,
a burnt-out motor cooled in the breeze.
Nearby a discarded doublet and hose,
but who they belong to, nobody knows.

BIOG – Phil Binding
A poet and writer gently sliding into decrepitude in Burton and a member of The Lichfield Poets. I am all over Staffordshire like a rash at open-mikes and events despite friends begging me to stop. It’s already too late.

 

Juniper Park, by Lee Campbell

Juniper Park

My mother was convinced for 30 years that Joni Mitchell sang,
‘They made paradise and went to Juniper Park’
when in reality: ‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot’

Juniper Park exists everywhere and anywhere you want it to

Climb aboard a bus and watch Juniper Park pass you by
Wave everyone now and then to what catches your eye
Don’t let anyone convince you that you have misheard
No one can tell you otherwise. For you, there is no such wrong word

Whilst not being complacent about the effects of elision
When two letters adjacent make one hell of a collision
Perfectly embrace it, that sonic slur
When the vowel and the consonant get together and blur

Back as a teenager, Dad drove me and my friend Kundai
into the centre of my hometown Tunbridge Wells
Royal, I may add, though there was nothing royal about me, my dad nor my friend
Kundai, new to the area at that time, had not quite grasped the lay of the land
‘I can’t find it, I can’t find it in the A-Z’, she panicked at the end of the night
‘Can’t find what?’, answered I
‘Botmer Hill. I can’t find any hill on the map called Botmer.
Botmer Hill – where your dad told us he is going to pick us up from now’, Kundai flustered
‘Oh dear’, replied I. ‘Dad said ‘Bottom of the hill’’

And how can we forget the glottal stop?
Those unvoiced letters that make sentences pop
It’s the Yorkshireman’s and Cockney’s spoken aberration
The naughty little brother of Received Pronunciation

Beginner level lesson in my English as a Foreign Language classroom around 2003
Vocabulary focus: Jobs
At the start of the activity, I told students that today I was not a teacher
and asked them to guess my new job
‘Are you a chef?’ asked Miguel. ‘No’, replied I
‘Are you an astronaut?’ asked Selma. ‘No’, replied I
‘Are you a tennis player?’ asked Pierre. ‘No’, replied I
‘Are you Harry Potter’? asked Yu Lin. ‘Harry Potter? That’s not a job’, replied I
‘Job. Yes. Harry Potter!’ replied a frustrated Yu Lin
‘Are you a doctor?’ asked Jorge. ‘No’, replied I
‘Are you a journalist?’ asked Malgorzata. ‘Yes’ replied I. ‘Well done, Malgorzata!’
‘Teacher! Journalist – Harry Potter!’ shouted Yu Lin
‘Okay, Yu Lin. Please write this on the board’, said I
Yu Lin took my chalk and wrote on the blackboard: ‘Are you a reporter?’

Let’s celebrate these mis-hearings from my days teaching TEFL*
And donated by friends, by my mum and my nana Ethel

They made paradise and went to Juniper Park
I believe in Milko. Where you from? You sexy thing
One of those dames were as sexy as hell. I said ‘Ooh I like your socks’
I’ve got shoes, they’re made of plywood

If you dream of sand dunes and salty air. Quant little feelings here and there
Solitude resistor. Is there still a part of you that wants to give?
Mega mega white pig. Mega mega white pig
The trucks don’t work they just make you worse, but I know I’ll see your face again

And moustache could defend any clipper
Like a gerbil touched for the very first time
I wish I could have told him in the living room
Anna Friel like a disco home

No one loves and no surprises
Calling Jamaica. Calling Jamaica
Poppadum Street. I’m in trouble deep
Sea lions on the shore

You’re the wizard of Oz. Ooh, ooh, ooh, honey
You come to me in a submarine. How deep is your love?
Let’s get biblical, biblical
We called in a tramp

Fairies cross the Mersey
Excuse me, while I kiss this guy
How can we be lovers if we can’t beat trends?
I believe in Malcolm

Slow walkin’ Walter, fire-engine guy
This ain’t rock and roll, it’s dinner time
… move that bunch of people
… to cut your nose off despite your face

*TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language

https://youtu.be/g5JZi2L6EjM

Twitter: leejjcampbell 
Lee Campbell’s poem ‘Clever at without being Seen’ was recently included in Sometimes, The Revolution is Small, Disarm Hate x Poetry’ project by Nymphs & Thugs Recording Co. UK and published in Queerlings online magazine. 
 

One of my Finest, by Clive Oseman

ONE OF MY FINEST

I’ve written a poem that I think is good.
Probably the third best I have written
if I’m honest,
and the fourth best is awesome!
It was published in a journal
edited by my mate.
But I’m not one to blow my own trumpet.
I’ve tried. God knows I’ve tried,
but I’m not flexible enough.

I shouldn’t be reading it tonight really
because I’ve submitted it to Poetry North…. Swindon.
Yeah, Poetry North Swindon.
But I don’t think they’ll be listening.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t perfect.
The rhyme scheme is as obvious as a
Tory at an empathy farm,
and it doesn’t always flow perfectly
which is a shame I suppose, probably.

And there are bits where
I lost concentration because
the ferret was up my trouser leg.
I keep telling it, not when I’m writing,
but it never listens.

The strength of the poem is its depth.
It’s deeper than the Atlantic Ocean
if all the whales took a piss at the same time
on a particularly rainy day,
So you’ll have to listen at least twice
before you get it.

The poem deals with
the issues of the day
in a very novel way,
like why Margaret Thatcher is
the human equivalent of Smallpox
and why Man at C&A is the
only way to shop for clothes.

Ok, it seems a bit behind the times
but you know history has a way
of repeating itself like a
particularly vengeful gherkin
on a wet Sunday evening,
so really it’s ahead of its time
in a Swindon kind of way.

What? Why a wet Sunday?
When else would you eat gherkins, stupid?
Jeez some people ask
the most ridiculous questions.

Anyway, the poem is so good
I’ve decided not to read it tonight.
If you want to hear it send
£20 via bank transfer.

I’m sorry to inflict
this rubbish on you instead

Just class it as a metaphor
for disappointment.
Crushing, soul destroying
disappointment,
and a valuable lesson learned.

Clive Oseman is a a Brummie spoken word artist, comedian, satirist and promoter based in Swindon. His third poetry collection was published by Black Eyes Publishing UK in 2020.

 

Apple, by Clive Donovan

APPLE

A man and a woman presented themselves to God,
Tired and bloody from their futile war,
Wishing above all to make peace and retire
Into each others’ arms.
‘For Mighty Maker we know well our purpose
‘But cannot unite.’
Well God brought out and forth an apple
(From off his special tree)
And with his jack-knife smote it into two.
‘Observe now, this browned and swollen flesh,
‘That no longer neatly meets;
‘Refresh your mind upon this cloven fruit
‘For this is how you are.’
The man looked sad, the woman mad,
But both knew what to do.
‘Oh Lord please pare us, spare us not,
‘Cut our wounds off, shave us new
‘And stick us fast together again.’
But God had gone, his pie to make
And left the earnest pair to deal
With the osmotic principle,
And oxidation, too.
‘Let us at least eat of this apple,’
Said she of the twinkling eye.
They crunched and saved the seeds to dry
And after, lay concealed, curved and curled together,
Like spoons in a secret drawer.

Clive Donovan devotes himself full-time to poetry and has published in a wide variety of magazines including Acumen, Agenda, Fenland Poetry Journal, Neon Lit. Journal, Prole, Sentinel Lit. Quarterly and Stand. He lives in Totnes, Devon, U.K. quite close to the river Dart. His debut collection will be published by Leaf by Leaf in November 2021.

 

Slipping back into the creation of me, by I Am Cereal Killer

Slipping back into the creation of me

Slipping back into the creation of me,
I find myself hollow and nobody can help,
My thoughts are mine and nobody can change them,
Someone might want to,
Lisa said “One way to float is if you die”
But I am not of that,
There is too much life there to live,
To hold,
To love,

I am rising again like a flock that floats,
Up to the cloud for no one to find,
Hide again to shock me out of this world,
The tapping of the plastic that annoys me,
Rubbing and then buff for the showing of the world,

I’m done – complete,
The finishing of this story is never near,
But to the end we mustn’t advance,
The wow in my life has been rocked back and forth, forth and back,
Rocking until we feel sick with emotion, I can’t find the right metaphor but it will come,
On air I am hungry but that era is done,
I’ve begun but I do not know how to stop,

I slipped away and nobody noticed.

I AM CEREAL KILLER was born in 1995 out of grief and anger. After 19 friends and acquaintances died from complications from AIDS over a three year period, I was advised to “get it all out, write it all down.” And once I had it on paper, what would I do with it but put on a show? Inspired by the Divine David, I discovered I AM CEREAL KILLER’s extraordinary look, a kaleidoscope of colors constantly shifting with his mood of the moment.

I AM CEREAL KILLER is also the proud author of two books, This Isn’t a Gift, It’s Just the Way I Feel (yes, never fear to reutilize a title that worked the first time) and A Collection of Dildos on My Shelf. These can be found on the shelves of The British Library and are sold on Amazon (not by him) for exorbitant amounts. There is also a spoken word CD with tracks produced by Richard Torry of Minty, and a guest appearance on the Fuzzbox video, WGAF-AWFUI!

Now, I AM CEREAL KILLER talks about a much wider range of topics in regards to LGBT rights and acceptance. A new show is coming to New York City with fresh material and the fresh title of The Aerodynamics of Giraffes and How to Slice Them Properly (see show to understand title).

 

Ketchup : An Obituary, by Kevin Higgins

Ketchup: An Obituary

It all started that Friday he came home brandishing
another bottle of it, when there was already one
gleaming unopened in the fridge. A mistake,
the whole house told itself.

Next week he turned up dragging
six bags of almost nothing else.
From then on, had it with everything:
on his bread instead of butter; with
his cornflakes instead of his usual
low-fat milk.

Eventually, dispensing with all else,
as his main course,
tomato ketchup with a side of
another shining blob of itself.

After which, he hardly opened the front door,
except to sign for deliveries, the vast jars of it
that arrived twice weekly in a van
marked Ketchup.

When he wasn’t golloping it by the basin load,
he used it instead of shaving foam,
toothpaste, and as an ointment
to balm embarrassing rashes.
Spent most of the day bathing in it.

By the time he made it safely to his coffin
he was the colour of it,
looked as if all you need do was squeeze him
and the perfect dip for a plate of hand-cut fries
would spurt gloriously from between
those tomato coloured lips.

Kevin Higgins was born in London. He mostly grew up in and lives in Galway City. In 2016 The Stinging Fly magazine described Kevin as “likely the most read living poet in Ireland. His poems have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times (London), Hot Press, The Daily Mirror and on The Vincent Browne Show, and read aloud by film director Ken Loach at a political meeting in London. His sixth full collection of poems ‘Ecstatic’ will be published by Salmon in March 2022.

 

Jax, By Anne McDonald

Jax

You know the feeling when you want to go
And he’s enrapt in stretching conversation
You wait for hours
For pause or punctuation
And when it comes
You say politely, if somewhat sharply
“Lookit, I have to go to the Jax.”
Hoping something will hold it in ‘till you find the loo
You get there fit to burst and find
A bursting, red faced, cross legged queue
And so, we females exercise our amazing ability
Not to burst.
By various positions of the legs,
Crossed, Knotted, shifting the weight from one to the other
And your bladder feels like Friesian’s udder
When the milking machine breaks down
Or there’s a power cut.
In a brilliant attempt at mind over matter
You join in gossips delirious chatter
Of fellow sufferers
Until at last the toilet’s empty-
Rush in,
Bang door,
Knicks down
Then you notice there is no lock,
O.K.
So you hold the door with one hand
Stretched 3 inches longer than its normal length
And squat,
Never, ever sit on the bowl!
Because your jeans were tight
And your position is unnaturally elongated
(on account of the door)
Your aim deflects,
But you can’t stop
Four pints and two gins
The force of which is producing enough electricity
To do a seven pound wash on a short spin.
Then you begin
the hapless search
Under the bowl
And on the floor
And this is very difficult
When you are squatting with one hand
Still holding the door,
Your heart sinks
When you realize there is none.
Not a square,
Not a scrap
Not a cardboard holder
And so,
You almost dislocate your shoulde
As one hand still holding the door
You yank your jeans up and your knickers roll
Into a rope around the tops of your legs
Like they do when you go swimming
And don’t dry yourself.
Electric shock of a wet waistband
means the shirt you so meticulously tucked
In when dressing will hopefully hang outside
And be long enough to prevent people guessing
If you’ve wet yourself.
Now, some of us have tried to make a stand on this issue
And put off performance to march defiantly to the bar
to ask for some toilet tissue.
“Certainly Madam” the bar man says
“Will you be wanting it with ice and lemon?”
As he and his cronies piss themselves laughing
If you’ll pardon the pun
And he hands you a catering bale of Andrex.
So you take the rolls and cross the room
Trying to look nonchalantly cool
And feeling like an eejit
Until you reach it
Ladies loo
Complete with queue
Then it’s you
And then you’re in
Bang the door
Kacks down
Arm out
Paper ready
But
You
Cant
Go.
Nothing.
Not a drop.
Not a trickle.
Cold sweat,
And then a Lone Pathetic Dribble
After all that.
When this happened to me
I heard a woman next door
Grumble and fumble and feel on the floor,
“Do you want paper?” I shouted
My voice getting higher
“Paper?” she shouted
“I need a fucking hair dryer!”
Now I know that paper is made from trees
And people are genuinely worried
about the slaughter
Of the tropics
Which is affecting the ozone
And messing up the weather
But if this happens to you
I would humbly suggest
you use half a roll
for spite and badness
And put a wad inside your pocket
In case you get caught short on the way home.
So girls you might as well lash back the pints
And drown in the gin
With the jax in the pub
A woman can’t win.

Anne McDonald is an award winning writer and spoken word poet. She has performed in Dublin and London as part of a Women Of Wit collective and is a regular reader on open mic nights in Ireland, the US and the UK.
Her first collection “Crow’s Books” was published in March 2020. https://creativelythinkingweb.wordpress.com/

 

There’s a pervert in the craft shop, by Ronnie Leek

There’s a pervert in the craft shop he’s coming down the aisle
he’s been watching me for ages and following me for miles
if I’d seen him by the Velcro
I’d have torn him off a strip
if I’d seen him near the scissors
I’d have given him the snip
his trouser flies are open
his privates on display
there’s a pervert in the craft shop
please make him go away
his manhood’s very off-putting popping through the decoupage
he’s parading it like it’s on display
a whopper extra large
he collared me at watercolours
I said I’m in a rush
he asked if I had anything to help with his stiff brush
I told him I was married
said my wife was in the store
he said it won’t affect his stroke
and then he showed me more
he lowered down his trousers
and bent to touch his toes
I got a shock my heart did stop
it took me back to Wookey Hole
I slapped him with a bumper pad of Daler Rowney cold pressed
it sent him tumbling to the ground
he didn’t look impressed
and now he’s looking out for me
this sex pest’s gone astray
there’s a pervert in the craft shop
please make him go away.

Ronnie has been an actor and writer for over forty years. Appearing on television and theatres up and down the country.
His comedy play ‘Trollope’ won best comedy at the GMfringe and the Northern Soul award for best fringe production in 2018.
And his play
‘My Fitbit called me a fat bitch!’ Received rave reviews in 2019.

 

Nursery Rhyme to a President, by Joan Hardiman

Nursery Rhyme for a President
There was a crooked man who had a crooked smile
He found himself in Washington, helped out by Russian guile
Beat Hillary Clinton with Comey and spies
Moved to the White House, with jobs for his boys
“The working guy would elect me, he likes me”

Putin had a little scam to infiltrate the orange man
And everything the Kremlin said Donald had to do
Who dares impeach the commander in chief, credentials as white as snow
Nancy Pelosi, outed Zelensky for vilifying family of Joe
Blackmailed Ukraine, to Republicans shame,
played out In The Room Where It Happened
“What you’re seeing, is what you’re reading, is not what’s happening”

Immigrants and Mexicans climb the border wall
Along came the militia who tried to make them fall
Separated, incarcerated, the children put in pens
The world looks on in anger and doesn’t do a thing
“We are rounding ‘em up in a very humane way”

Climate change scientific hoax Greenhouse gases and factory smoke
Thunbergs glare, he said who cares
for plastic oceans or polar bears
NATO alone, world is prone, no yankee dollar
China and Jung had such fun, laughing at his pallor
“Man we could do with a big fat dose of Global Warming “

Two little Dickie Birds sitting on the fence
one named Donald the other named Pence
Tweet away Donald though you make no sense,
shame on you Pence for your deference
Come back Barack, come back Michelle
the country really needs you it’s all gone to hell
“Show me someone with no ego and I’ll show you a big loser”

Sing a song for Floyd, I can’t breathe they heard him cry
While three other coppers stood idly by
When Donald’s mouth was open the Klan began to sing
Wasn’t that an insult to the followers of King
“African Americans, I like them and they like me”

Melania in her tower house laying out her clothes
Trump was in the tanning room whipping of his robes
Epstein in the basement with the Duke of York
When along comes Virginia to do you know what
“I will be phenomenal to women”
“Frankly I don’t have time for political correctness”

There is an old fella called Biden,
who surely will give trump a hiding
The Jackasses will laugh,
when the NRA pass wagging their toy guns behind them
The Unite the White rally, full of hatred and spite
While cold blooded Covid destroys everyday life
“Guns, no guns it does’nt really matter
“I will make America great again”

CNN in The Rose Garden trying to get a clue
Fauci in the background face all askew
Trump is in the front row insisting it’s a flu
While fox news are airing fake Covid news
“USA will be stronger than ever before and soon”

Humpy Trumpy sat on The Hill
Humpy trumpy took a big spill
All his cohorts and red neck friends
couldn’t get him elected again
Good job, Good job.
“We used to have victories but we don’t have them anymore”

Joan Hardiman