Poem, Poetry

Tom Kelly

Men I Have Known

One man’s neck ran off at forty-five degrees,
looking as if he was holding a conversation with The Invisible Man.
I never spoke to him.
I worked with a man who told me his baldness
was caused by FBI agents drugging him
on a boat from New Zealand to the UK.
Another was a compulsive liar,
‘He couldn’t lie straight in bed,’
someone said of him.
I knew a beatific priest.
He saw goodness in the darkest souls.
No-one ever spoke ill of him.
A man stole from his work mates,
had a leg blown off in WW2.
His father said, ‘Pity it wasn’t his head’.
I have known men who could not take any more,
never said a word to anyone. Lost to us.
They have stayed firmly in my heart.

Tom Kelly is a north-east of England poet, short story writer and playwright. He has had eleven books of poetry, short stories and a play published in as many years. His new collection THIS SMALL PATCH has been recently published and re-printed by Red Squirrel Press.


Poem, Poetry

Rodney Wood

Banal Poem About Dogs

In the early 1800s the Kennel Club were looking to name
a medium-sized dog with a unique black, liver spotted coat.
It is the custom to name a new breed after its place of origin.
The committee found a picture, dated 1720, of a white dog
with black spots running beside a carriage in England
so were going to name it an English Carriage Dog but then
they were presented with a painting dated, 20 years earlier
by the Slovak artist Martin Kodic, showing a white dog with
black spots with the coastal region of Dalmatia in the background.
A member, Mary Dukes, mentioned there was a mosaic
from Roman times showing what might have been such a dog
but the committee were not convinced. So the dog became
known as a Dalmatian & the people of that country now had
to start breeding a dog with certain characteristics i.e.
they wanted it to guard, run, scare off robbers & wild animals,
to hunt & be good in a family environment. They failed.
Granted, the dog looked how it was supposed to but it was lazy
& generally mediocre when it came to guarding, running, scaring,
hunting & being a good family dog. The people considered it useless.
By the early nineteen sixties though the lure of the dollar beckoned
& all dogs in that country, over a hundred of them, went to Hollywood.

Rodney Wood lives in Farnborough, his poetry has appeared recently in The High Window Press, The Journal, Morphrog, Magma and other places. He is a Stanza Rep and joint MC of the monthly open mic nights in Woking.  His has two pamphlets, “Dante Called You Beatrice” ( Red Ceiling Press) published in 2017 and “When Listening Isn’t Enough”  (Independent Publishing Network) was published this year.

Poem, Poetry

Ross Thompson

King Of The Mist

I cannot tell what unknown force compelled
me to ride a barrel over the Horseshoe Falls,
whether it was courage or stupidity,
hubris or suicidal tendencies

that led me to construct an iron and oak
bathysphere and plummet, like Lussier
or Lucifer, the fifty-one metres
from crest to plunge pool where dense mist obscured

the remains of five thousand fools who knew
the risk of fractured jaws, dismembered arms
or certain death but nonetheless held their breath
and took a dive at seventy-five miles

per hour into the depths. Barnum and Bailey
would have wept for my bravery, as the crowd
wept when my puncheon split open, my body
spilt out, and the torrent flailed my limbs to make

it appear as if I was swimming clear
of the invisible hole punched through the sound
but I was spewed from the mouth of a cannon
and my broken body was never found.

Ross Thompson is a writer from Bangor, Northern Ireland. His debut poetry collection Threading The Light is published by Dedalus press, and his work has featured in a variety of places including television, radio and short films. Most recently, he wrote and curated A Silent War, an audio poetry sequence in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that raised funds for charity. He is currently working on several projects including a second full-length collection. 


Poem, Poetry

Kate Young

On the Brink

Perched high on a rooftop tile
a gull catches my eye.
Its beak is greed-wide,
closes with curve of a question.

Stirred by urban-scape and bin
it pecks at logo
moulded in yellow,
and ingests the waste of it.

A crack of plastic twists,
releases a fizz of bubbles
in gutter. It flows, uncontrolled
to oceans drained to stone-grey.

Pinkened lungs
of coral sponge
give way to skeletal bone
stark against a scalded sky

the flare of forest fire,
its tongue curled in hunger.
We pray for rain,
the surge and quench of flood.

I sense a slowing of wing and fin,
a quickening pulse,
the rhythm of ink penned,
blue-lipped on the brink.

Kate Young’s poems have appeared in Ninemuses, Ekphrastic Review, Words for the Wild, Poetry on the Lake, and a Scottish Writers Centre chapbook. She also had poems in Places of Poetry and Write Out Loud. Her winning pamphlet A Spark in the Darkness is due to be published with Hedgehog Press. Find her on Twitter @Kateyoung12poet.

Friday Feature, Poem, Poetry

Friday Feature – Joe Williams

Today we celebrate the new Maytree Press release from Joe Williams titled, The Taking Part.

The Taking Part is a short collection of poems on the theme of sport and games, encompassing television quiz shows, pub sports, and board games, as well as more traditional sports like football, cricket and athletics.

As Joe says: ‘Sport and poetry might not seem like an obvious combination, but the best sport stories are really stories about people, and I think that’s what these poems are too. Games and competition have been an important part of our culture throughout human history. They can be central to our relationships, our memories, and our ambitions, and I wanted to write about all of those things.’

This wonderful collection is now available both direct from Joe and all good bookshops. More details here: Shop – Joe Williams: Writer, Poet, Performer

You can also join Joe plus guests for a special online launch event of The Taking Part on Saturday 29 May at 2pm – Joe Williams: The Taking Part – Online book launch Registration, Sat 29 May 2021 at 14:00 | Eventbrite

Penalty Shootout in Zero Gravity

It was Barry’s idea, so
he only has himself to blame.
For all the thrill of orbital flight,
of seeing the Earth from space,
those journeys are so damn boring.

I admit to sneaking the ball in,
and that Barry was winding me up.
The running commentary didn’t help,
calling me Gareth Southgate,
him being Andreas Köpke.

No one could have predicted
the ball would hit the airlock button,
just when Barry was leaping up,
trying to stop my rocket blast,
straight to the top left corner.

Perhaps he’ll be a hero yet,
get a glove to an asteroid
hurtling towards the Earth.
The slightest of deflections,
nudging it over the bar.

The Worst Match I Ever Saw

Notts County v Rochdale,
Meadow Lane, ’96.
Fog draped like a theatre curtain
over the halfway line.

Behind our goal with pie and peas
we watch the action fade away,
hoofed into the unknown,
dribbled into the mist.