Chicken Mystery, by Catherine Doherty Nicholls

Chicken Mystery

I found a frozen chicken in a hedge.
Fully wrapped, not a bit defrosted,
Maybe I could roast it with potatoes.
Who threw it there?
Some litterbug had tossed it.

I put it in my bag
and kept on walking,
White winter sunlight,
blinding as it set,
Then more things rolled towards me on the tarmac,
A tin of beans,
and lemons in a net.

If I took them would that count as stealing?
I pondered
as I wandered back to mine,
Was I being followed by the owner,
of a chicken that cost two pounds ninety nine?

Something told me someone was behind me,
It was creepy, l felt right on edge,
Panicking, I ran till I was gasping,
and threw the chicken, beans and lemons in a hedge.

Winner of no Poetry Ireland Competition, or any other competition, no published debut collection, nothing printed anywhere yet.
Her poems have been nominated for nothing so she’s nominating this poem to go on this page – a great place to start.

She is the curator of nothing. Her anthology doesn’t exist, yet she keeps going.

A student of Kevin Higgins.

 

Fairy-tale Romances, by Ama Bolton

Fairy-tale Romances

“Happily ever after”
(forgive my hollow laughter)
it’s fantasy, a figment of folklore.
Your knight in shining armour
could turn out to be no charmer
but a bully or a silly pompous bore.
Even sweet Maid Marian
may turn out to be a harridan,
and Sleeping Beauty! You should hear her snore!

Though the Prince may seem adorable
his manners are deplorable.
Cinderella’s pretty, but quite dim.
Snow White is vain and shallow
And Jack’s a tedious fellow;
he’s always at the golf-course or the gym.
Unless you’re into farming
don’t tie the knot with Charming
you’d soon run out of things to say to him.

Beauty’s a part-time Beast,
the prince, half frog, at least.
Beware Bluebeard! Beware of Reynardine!
The end of the love story
is far too often gory.
Living on your own can be just fine
with a dog or a cat
to sleep on your lap.
You can make up your own storyline.

Ama Bolton, former member of The Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream and Pun, convenes a Stanza group in Somerset. Her poems have featured at festivals, on Radio 3’s The Verb, and in magazines and anthologies including Bridport Prize 2008. She blogs at http://barleybooks.wordpress.com/

 

Disappearing Act, by Lucy Tertia George

Alright, alright, quiet down. I have an announcement and I hope you understand
that due to circumstances beyond the control of The Ritzy Music Hall and Working Man’s Club, tonight’s performance of Magnifico
will not go ahead as planned.

When we booked Magnifico, straight from Blackpool’s Magic-o-rama,
we had every intention of bringing you the Winner of the Most Promising Comeback Award, with all the trimmings
but without all this drama.

The last communiqué we had from the artiste said he was on the A324. But somewhere between Little Billingsdene and Crug we lost all contact. To the management this qualifies
as ‘force majeur’.

His assistant Delores is backstage, crying her eyes out, confidence cracked. She’s done up like a Christmas Tree, but her nerves are shot
and your hollering has upset the doves
they use in the act.

We regret there’s no refund but you’re not paying for nowt, you enjoyed the free buffet and the singalong with Marjorie and that, we feel, should constitute
a good night out.

No, this is not like the time we promised Night of 100 Stars,
when, in a misunderstanding that some of you felt should come to the attention of the Advertising Standards Authority,
we only had 12 people on stage
and three of them didn’t have their Equity Cards.

Of course, I’ve called his mobile phone, I’ve dialled his agent twice.
I even rang the Magic Circle, but have you tried getting information from a secret society? No dice.

Throwing anything at the stage will result in a lifetime ban.
You’ll not see the panto or get a seat for the Tom Jones tribute act where he wows the crowd with Sex Bomb like the very man himself— and I know you’re a fan.

You’re only hurting yourself if this place is trashed.
I’ll cancel Weekly Bingo and the darts team will be forced to practice in the boys changing room at the Youth Club
and that place stinks of Flash.

If you won’t listen to reason, I’m off, do your worst.
I’m taking Delores to the All-U-Can Eat at the Golden Horseshoe and if I see Magnifico I’ll have his guts for garters.
That’s if you don’t get him first.

Lucy Tertia George is an author, publisher and satirist, sometimes known as Lucy Lyrical. Her novel, Three Women, was published by Starhaven Press in 2018.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lucytertiageorge
Twitter: @Wordville

 

Broccoli, by Melanie Branton

Broccoli

If you have to eat broccoli,
gobble it cockily.
Flaunt it with pride,
don’t gulp it with guilt!
You’ve done nothing wrong –
it will make you grow strong,
for broccoli-eaters
are stockily built.

If you have to eat broccoli,
stick to it doggedly:
pick up your fork
and submit to your fate.
Don’t let it go cold
and disintegrate soggily.
Eat all that broccoli
up off your plate!

Melanie Branton is a spoken word artist from North Somerset who is totally obsessed with cats, linguistics, Vikings and vegetables. Her published collections are Can You See Where I’m Coming From? (Burning Eye, 2018) and My Cloth-Eared Heart (Oversteps, 2017) melaniebranton.wordpress.com

 

For the Breakdown Men of the Leamington Spa Vehicle Recovery Office, by Kerry Priest

For the Breakdown Men of the Leamington Spa Vehicle Recovery Office

O breakdown men, O Bob, O Mick, O Roger, when fourth gear
failed to engage on the A46 just south of Coventry,
we were right there, Eileen and I, between those twin keeps,
the castles of Warwick and Kenilworth, and it transpired that chivalrous
men worthy of Elizabeth I still walk, or rather drive,
the asphalt and tar of the low-slung heart of England.

When we attended the conference, Hello Kitty from a Feminist Perspective
at the department of Sociology of a nearby university,
it was suggested in some quarters that academic standards must be slipping.
But standards in vehicle recovery in the South Midlands are, if anything,
clearly rising, O Mick, O Roger, O Bob!

With an exhaustive collection of alphabetized Haynes manuals,
you await the phone in the back office
like three Tibetan Bodhisattvas with a library of ancient scrolls.
And there’s something about your matching waffle-weave polo shirts,
call it a casual formality, but it took only one glance
to know you’d never presume to assume that it was friction disc wear
that left Eileen and me stranded on the dual carriageway,
but would allow for the possibility that the clutch pressure plate
was prevented from sliding on the transmission input splines,
or that you might need to refit the clutch release bearing and lever,

for you combine a sharp sense of the way things should be,
of a job done right, with the purest instinct of those who have laboured
a lifetime in a vehicular environment.

Breakdown men, you know your camshaft from your crankshaft
as easily as I know any two Sanrio characters from one another.

I’d wager your MOT checks are thorough without being overly stringent.

And is it The Specials or Madness or some more obscure Two Tone release
that you play, Mick, on your retro record player with inbuilt speaker
when you go back to your virgin Queen, your Anne Hathaway,
who you keep in Yorkshire terriers and cream leather sofas?
And is it a Ruby Porter or an IPA you gulp of an evening, Bob?
as you share a table in a 1930s brown brick tavern?

O breakdown men, we were brought together by hapless luck,
but our entire lives were one long collision course
to this enormous corrugated box, a testament to metal
where Eileen and I bask momentarily in your benevolence.
Such benign technocracy O Bob, O Mick, O Roger!
What rottweilers, what girders, what stanchions of steel!

 

I want to be . . . By Geraldine Ward

I Want to Be…

like Pam Ayres
and Victoria Wood.
Not care what others think,
and are highly talented.
I want to be a cross between Julie Walters and Buddy Holly.
Get your head around that!
I do not have the sideburns
or matching quiff
of dark suits and shades and sixties glitz.
I would have loved to have been Debbie Harry.
Blondie was just the biz.
Eighties punk rock glamour puss.
Name a celebrity you admire?
Chances are they are either still here,
or harps and lyres.
Shaken not stirred.
Bond had his last dance.
Sean Connery really was a class act.
The problem I am left with, is who I could choose to be?
Well, everyone else is taken, all that’s left is me.

Geraldine Ward is an author and poet from Kent. She has had work in ‘The Sunday Tribune,’ and ‘International Times’ among other publications. She enjoys playing the piano, cello and ukulele. Her twitter handle is @GWardAuthor

 

To my first boyfriend, by Carla Scarano

To my first boyfriend

You liked my loose denim dungarees
and the XL second hand chequered man’s shirts
I bought at Porta Portese Sunday market.
My girlhood knee-length skirts and matching tops didn’t fit.
I felt fat, my body rounding
shaping itself beyond my teenager’s imagination, dangerous.

But you liked my new look
you thought I was cool.
I could sit on your knees during the break,
the trousers brimming under my shoes
dragging when I walked.
The hem became ragged so mum sewed it up.

The head teacher called me one day
and asked why I was dressing in such a way
despite my good marks.
I said I felt fat, I needed loose clothes
I needed space to fit my body,
a better chance.

Carla Scarano D’Antonio lives in Surrey with her family. She obtained her Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and has published her creative work in various magazines and reviews. Her short collection Negotiating Caponata was published in July 2020. She worked on a PhD on Margaret Atwood’s work at the University of Reading and graduated in April 2021.
http://carlascarano.blogspot.com/
http://www.carlascaranod.co.uk/