English Spelling, by Sarah Lawson

ENGLISH SPELLING

Practically since the dawn of history
English spelling has been a mystery.
And everything you ever learn’ll
Not prepare you for the r in colonel.
Do not expect a tidy law
To explain the end of Arkansas.
Spelling is just a rough mnemonic
And not reliably always phonic.

Sarah Lawson lives in London, originally from Indiana, educated in the US and Scotland; has published poetry pamphlets and two collections; translates from French, Spanish, and Dutch; has also written one play, one novel, and two memoirs.

 

 

Insects, by Gill McEvoy

Insects


We applaud the little ant
for its strong community;
we venerate the bee
for its firm autocracy.

We might commend the wasp
for it also has a grasp
of the above.

Alas for it, its sting
makes us want to kill the thing.

My name is Gill McEvoy, previously published by both Happenstance Press and Cinnamon press, now with Hedgehog Press. I won the Michael Marks Award in 2015 for my pamphlet “The First Telling” (happenstance Press 2014. I currently live in Devon which hasn’t been a bit warm and sunny of late. Probably a bad choice!

 

The Correspondence Promotion, by R. Gerry Fabian

The Correspondence Promotion

Having quickly fallen out of favor,
he steadies his guard
and keeps his chin tucked in.
Somehow, life goes on.
He becomes office dust
and scatters himself
into various nondescript places.
He knows the broom closet
will soon need
a new fluorescent bulb
and thus draws a parallel
to his own dilemma,
The water cooler
begins to growl
and sputter
and he sees
that no one pays any attention.
The carpeting is pulling
away from the wall
in such a manner
that people curse it
each time they trip.
Secure in this area,
he secretly sends emails
to the home office
until he works his way
to executive vice-president.
 

Summer Pastoral, by Maurice Devitt

Summer Pastoral

The weather was so good that I left
a poem unfinished on the desk,
swapped slippers for dancing shoes
and stepped out onto the street.
As I did, every door seemed to open
in sync, disgorging a series
of flawless figures, just about recognisable
as my neighbours, dressed uniformly
in chiffon and silk – greys, blues
and powdery pinks – falling
into geometric formation.

A man passed me a parasol
and I sashayed into the swell,
toes and heels in perfect time
to the lush music that enveloped
the scene, every movement
choreographed to a jaunty rhythm,
smiles appearing on even the cloudiest
faces. When we reached the end of the street
we twirled and bowed in concert,
hats and caps erupting into the sky
as the music crescendoed and started to fade.

Conversation turned to the rumour
that a famous musical director
had bought a house on the road
and we wondered would he really fit in.

A past winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland and Poems for Patience competitions, he published his debut collection, ‘Growing Up in Colour’, with Doire Press in 2018.

Curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site, his Pushcart-nominated poem, ‘The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work’, was the title poem of an anthology published by Hibernian Writers in 2015.

 

A Joke in French, by Mark Connors

A joke in French

We had it tough. Miss Finnegan,
hair bunned so tight it stretched her face
taut, gave it a lift plastic surgeons
could only dream of. When she took Religon,
fine! French brought out her psychopathy.
She terrified us, stalked our dreams
like a sexless sadist from a video nasty.
I have lost all hope. You lot are a disgrace,
she'd say, her head boiling without steam.
But get her talking about Jesus
turning water into wine, or talking Zacchaeus
down from his tree, and she was a love!
And man, she could make her pupils laugh:
Remember it this way: one egg is un eouf.
 

It Wasn’t Me, by Neil Fulwood

IT WASN’T ME
(after Shaggy)

Sue Grey came in and she caught me red-handed
puking on the Comms Room wall.
Picture this: there were two guys fighting,
the shindig was a free-for-all.

How could I forget that
I’d sent a round robin email?
All the invites I’d texted out,
she’d screengrabbed the WhatsApp trail.

How could you give investigators access to your office,
empty bottles and a discoloured patch where the boff is,
nasty stains spattered high enough to reach the soffits:
all bad publicity from which the Opposition profits.
You want to be a true blue Conservative MP?
Then deny the evidence that’s there for all to see,
never admit a single transgression publicly
and lie through your teeth just like me.

But she caught me chugging Bolly
(it wasn’t me)
leaving drinks with a colleague
(it wasn’t me)
BYOB for a skinful
(it wasn’t me)
can of lager with the ring pulled
(it wasn’t me)
fifth of vodka with the cap off
(it wasn’t me)
told security to fuck off
(it wasn’t me)
and now it seems the party’s over.

I’m not going to say I’m sorry for the parties I held,
but I really wish the media would stop giving me hell.
I’ll maintain I followed legislation set down at the time
and I’ll whinge and piss and bitch about my fifty quid fine.

And all because …

Sue Grey came in and she caught me red-handed,
knocking back the Pinot G.
Picture this … well, I guess you don’t have to,
some bastard took a picture of me.

Neil Fulwood was born in Nottingham, England, where he still lives and works. He has three collections out with Shoestring Press: No Avoiding It, Can’t Take Me Anywhere and Service Cancelled. A collection of political satires, Mad Parade, is due for publication with Smokestack Books in July 2022.

 

Worms, by Sarah Dale

Worms
…are hermaphrodites, and much addicted
to venery, and consequently very prolific.

History of Selborne Gilbert White

Be as jealous as you like,
worms have it both ways
without shame, or guilt –
check them out,
any warm damp night
going at it hammer and tongs
all over your garden.

Do old worms complain
about the morals of the young?
You bet they don’t –
there’s no age of consent
if you’re a worm,
no tabloid worms digging dirt,
bugging other worms’ phones.

Every single worm is busy
having as much sex
with as many other worms
as he/she/they can possibly reach
and making as many new worms
as he/she/they can manage –
good news for gardeners.

After a misspent youth in libraries and museums, and some time in between, Sarah has finally achieved her dream job in Lichfield working for the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum (and book shop). She writes for fun and enjoys swimming.

 

The politics of envy, by Janet Sillett

The politics of envy

1
I am eaten up
each day waiting in front of this house
for the 24 bus to King’s Cross
twisted with it
transfixed at the stuccoed veneer
draped with wisteria
shot with purple perfuming the hallowed air
of Keat’s ‘melodious plot’

I loathe the inhabitants of the house with Heath views
Hampstead Heath once wild now as tamed as the middle class
reading beige sex in not-quite-made-it booker longlists
a city banker’s family perhaps
he looks like one
the nanny, dragging a small child
his jacket emblazoned by the crest of a school
where five year olds can learn Mandarin. And there are
no additives for lunch
a small fretful dog, pampered
by plaid rugs and vegan biscuits
sniffing at Hampstead’s rare detritus

I want that banker to be exposed
as a uber fraudster
the nanny sent back to Sweden
the poor dog in kennels
the child in state school, tieless
picking at frozen chips

the elegant façade cracked
its blue plaque smashed


11

After work in Betjeman’s Parliament Hill café
I take what counts for tea in NW3
tiny petals floating in urine coloured water
High up here with London displayed
like a Victorian panorama
a glimpse of the Shard, fuzzy in sun mist

I catch a bus, sweat smelling, to Highgate
a pilgrimage to Marx’s grave.
Would he have disowned me
if we had met on his weekly walk on Hampstead Heath
or at the meeting of the Congress of the Communist League
the Red Lion Soho
explaining the tenets of socialism
over borscht and German beer?

Yes of course he would

it’s just I crave that house
with its perfect symmetry

I am, I’m afraid,
largely
unreconstructed

Janet Sillett recently took up writing poetry and short fiction again after decades of absence. She has had poems published in the Galway Advertiser, Spilling Cocoa, Green Ink Poetry, Paws for Thought, Poetry Plus and flash fiction published in Litro. She just retired from from a think tank.

 

A Mossy Rock in the Forest, by Robert Garnham

There's a mossy rock in the forest
A place I always like to go
A mossy rock in the woods
I go there when I'm feeling low.

And I sit on the rock in the moss
And it's hard and it makes me forget
I sit on the rock in the woods
If it’s damp it’ll make my bum wet

There's a mossy rock in the forest
Surrounded by foliage and leaves
And big arse rhododendrons
It's a place that puts me at my ease

And I sit on the rock in the moss
And the ground it's wet and spongy
And there's mushrooms sprouting up
And other types of fungi

There's a mossy rock in the forest
Its ok I suppose it could be worse
There are badgers and squirrels in the forest
That's it now I'm done with this verse

And I sit on rock in the moss
I only like to sit here a whiles
And the rock is not exactly comfy
You wouldn't want to sit here with piles

There's a mossy rock in the forest
the branches here are terribly scratchy
I try to watch some porn on my phone
But the WiFi signal here is patchy.

And I sit on the rock in the moss
And I sit on the rock in the moss
And I sit on the rock in the moss
And then my mind wanders off.

Robert Garnham has been performing LGBT comedy poetry around the UK for ten years at various fringes and festivals, and has had three collections published by Burning Eye. He has won slams in places such as London, Edinburgh and Swindon and headlined or featured at events such as Bang Said the Gun, Raise the Bar, and Milk and in 2019 was the Hammer and Tongue featured artist for a tour of the UK. He has supported artists such as John Hegley, Arthur Smith and Paul Sinha. His website is https://professorofwhimsy.com/

 

Davros’s Daughter, by Simon Williams

Davros’s daughter
rebelled in her teens,
took against her father’s
domineering ways.
By 20 she had left Skaro
now glides the streets of Brixham,
never too close to the slipway.

Davros’s daughter
doesn’t take well to jokes
about climbing stairs.
Lives in a bungalow, though.
She enjoys cool jazz,
looks straight to camera,
murmurs ‘Extemporise’.

Davros’s daughter
has a blue light on her forehead.
She believes she got the idea
from an Indian lady.
She dresses from Saltrock,
fleece hoodies hide her spiky hair,
to blend with other Brixham folk.

Davros’s daughter
wears a bra with 48 cups,
often slips it off and sighs
at the end of a long day.
She knows little of love,
can be quite abrupt
but, oh, how she glides.

Simon Williams has been writing since his teens, when he was mentored at university by Roger McGough. He has nine collections, the latest being The Magpie Almanack (www.simonwilliams.info), from Vole, published December 2020. Simon was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013, founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet and published the PLAY anthology in 2018.