Wednesday, 16 October 2019

I Become a Gymslip Girl by Jennie Farley

We wear our boaters tipped to one side, 
our navy-blue cardies back-to-front,
tunics tucked up to show our knees.
We stick out our tongues behind 
the prefects’  backs, clamber over the row
of toilet cubicles to lock them from inside,
practise real kissing with smoochy lips. 

Susan is famous for her back-flips in gym,
Annabel for her trilling voice,
Tansy Trout for being a hoot.
I am famous for telling horror stories 
in the dorm after lights out, my fee 
two pennies from each gymslip girl
intended for Sunday Church collection.

In the mirror my eyes have gone black.
I have sold my soul to the Devil.

---
Jennie Farley is a published poet, workshop leader and teacher living in Cheltenham. Her work has featured in magazines including Prole, Under the Radar, The Interpreter’s House, and been performed at festivals.  Her first collection was Her Grandmother Skating (Indigo Dreams Publishing 2016) followed by Hex (IDP 2018). She is working on a short pamphlet The Gymslip Girls.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Touch-type by Thomas McColl

I lightly tap
your naked back
with my fingertips.


You say that touch-type
is the best type
of massage to give.


Not that it does a thing until 
I gently type the magic word
which begins in r and ends in x.


In any event, 
it’s only upon that final tap, 
where x marks the spot,  


and there it is, 
invisibly 
but, all the same, 
indelibly 
imprinted on your back… 


relax 


…that your massaged-with-a-message muscles will.

---

Thomas McColl has recently had poems published in magazines such as London Grip, Fat Damsel, The High Window, Prole, Dodging the Rain and Ink, Sweat and Tears. His first full collection of poetry, Being With Me Will Help You Learn, was published in 2016 by Listen Softly London Press and, this year, is one of four poets showcased in Co-Incidental 4, a pamphlet published by The Black Light Engine Room Press.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Things They Don't Tell You by Barbara O'Donnell

That the moment the words terminal diagnosis
leave the doctor’s mouth, the grieving starts.
Speaking a foreign language to cover for

the fact that there is nothing they can do.
That the family will fight, even as they know
the treatment plan is the best medicine available.

That his swallowing reflex will depart before him,
making you figure out ways to give him
the only thing he begs for, cold juice or whiskey.

That you’ll beg the pharmacist to tell you,
which is the better mouthwash to use.
As if it would make a difference.

That you’ll spend those last days, not telling
stories or saying how much you love each other.
But that he’ll repeatedly throw you out of the room.

Make you wonder again, whether to contradict
the doctor’s orders; to give him what he wants.
But which will also hasten his demise.

So that you can try to eke out the minutes, that
the clock tells you are passing, but which seem
to stand still inside the close, bare room,
which seems to be his wish.
That when he does go, the
guilty relief is almost immediate.

---

Barbara O’Donnell was born in West Cork in 1975. She works full time in the NHS in London. Her poetry has been published in Atrium, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Skylight 47, South Bank Poetry and Three Drops Press. She also dabbles in essays and flash fiction.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Why Men's Judgements of New Clothes Shouldn't Be Trusted by Simon Williams

I join four men outside the fitting room,
while women try on size 14
with 16 in reserve.

We’re trying to look in place and failing.
It’s important not to let your eyes settle
on any racked garment for over 30 seconds

or any racked customer for over five.
This is especially true if the fitting room
in anywhere near lingerie.

Nobody is interested in our slight discomfort;
five expressionless faces keen to compress
time, urgent to breathe less material air.

People want to read Big Thoughts
on how we were misused as boys,
how we were louts on bikes.

But it has come to this; such a longing
for a brief appearance from the cubicle,
a show-off of prospective wear

that all clothes look wonderful on you.

---

Simon Williams has eight published collections, his latest being a co-authored pamphlet with Susan Taylor, The Weather House, published in 2017 by Indigo Dreams. Simon was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013, founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet and produced the well-received PLAY Anthology. He has recently created the science poetry show, Cosmic Latte.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

To the storm witch’s lover by Kate Garrett

Take this hawthorn twig and keep it close – collected
from the forest floor in exchange for a copper penny –

if the gusts threaten to take you, if the lightning flashes
sickly over the roiling ocean, the charm will keep you.

I’ve caught fair winds for you in my hair, braided it tight.
If the king’s ships chase your sloop, I’ll know – I’ll see

across the world through the hagstone, undo a knot,
blow a kindly breeze to your sails with a kiss. Come

back home to me with wine and gold; once again we’ll
cheat the noose, lay low – certain as the moon, the tide.

---

Kate Garrett is the author of several poetry books of varying lengths, most recently The saint of milk and flames (Rhythm & Bones Press, April 2019) and To Feed My Woodland Bones (Animal Heart Press, September 2019). Born and raised in rural southern Ohio, she moved to England 20 years ago, where she still lives in Sheffield with her husband, five children, and a cat. More information about Kate and her work can be found here: www.kategarrettwrites.co.uk

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Gonna Build a Shrine by Gwil James Thomas

For the loose ends
of that love, 
all those days gone
that now feel like a way 
to stay close – 
fill it with our mixtapes,
sex and sentiments –
so I don’t forget of course, 
like I could forget of course, 
so it can greet me 
each morning, 
night and day 
until it looks like some 
museum of mistakes
and I’ll pick up 
the hatchet, 
lighter fluid, matches
and call you up so
we can burn it down
and go separate ways,
looking back with a smile –
having done one last thing
together.

---

Gwil James Thomas is a poet, novelist and inept musician originally from Bristol, England. He is a Best of The Net nominee whose work can be found widely in print and also online. He has forthcoming chapbooks from Concrete Meat Press and Holy & Intoxicated Publications He is currently laying low somewhere in Northern Spain.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Holidays by Leena Batchelor

I know my kids are home,
The socks now live on the floor.
When my kids are back,
I can’t get in the door,
And the cat looks askance at multitude pairs of feet
That are dodged on the way to the gate.

I know my kids are home;
The house has become Blackpool with illuminations,
And birdsong is drowned by the latest MTV.
Tetris is the new kitchen game,
Amazing how high those plates can stack!
Wait, what’s that – oh – there’s the matching fork – and
Since when did plates live in bedrooms?

I know at least one of them will become a Nobel scientist,
The proof is in the experiment growing in the glasses collected on bedroom windowsills.
One will probably be an engineer, at least when he learns how to put that clock
Back together!

Yep, they’re home!
I wouldn’t have it any other way.

---

Calling herself a “poetic minstrel with living in her veins”, Leena writes passionately about everything that strikes her mind and heart, hoping her poems offer some meaning to others. Quietly passionate and slightly kookie, Leena can often be found reading at Dear Listener, SpeakEasy and 42 Worcester. Living in the historic and majestic city of Worcester, Leena finds her inspiration in travels and expansive life experiences. Find her on facebook at PixieMusePoetry and twitter @pixie_dragonfly

I Become a Gymslip Girl by Jennie Farley

We wear our boaters tipped to one side,  our navy-blue cardies back-to-front, tunics tucked up to show our knees. We stick out our ...