Janis Joplin never belted Southern Comfort and screamed the blues
Wednesday, 19 January 2022 17:39

Janis Joplin never belted Southern Comfort and screamed the blues

Published in Poetry

Janis Joplin never belted Southern Comfort and screamed the blues

by Fred Voss

“We’ve got to wear these fricking masks!”
says our new supervisor
to us machinists and de-burrers and shipping clerks and punch press operators gathered
around him on the shop floor for the special coronavirus
pandemic meeting he has called
to tell us we must all wear our sanitary masks at all times
he says “fricking”
instead of “fucking”
because long since the days when he was a hippie
and said “fucking” in every other sentence
he quit drugs
and drinking and blasting iconoclastic long-haired-hippie rock music and joined
a fundamentalist Christian church
and started saying “fricking” instead of “fucking”
sounds earthy and solid and true and sexy and noble
as an elephant trumpeting
a steamroller rolling
a hula dancer swaying her hips under a Waikiki palm tree
Freud uncovering a repressed memory
Joe Louis landing a k.o. punch to Max Schmeling’s Nazi jaw
sounds like something that would make Jimi Hendrix
unplug his electric guitar
Romeo forget Juliet Harry Houdini
resign himself to handcuffs Valentino take off his tango shoes Jim Morrison
put on a hair shirt
and the supervisor finishes by telling us to all wear our masks at all times and stay
in good health and then shouts,
“Alright! Let’s all get back to fricking work!”
would Paul Bunyan
have said “fricking”
would that speeding locomotive driver Casey Jones would Jack Dempsey Pablo Picasso
Janis Joplin never belted Southern Comfort bourbon and screamed the blues
Lead Belly never split a chain-gang boulder with a sledgehammer
and we machinists and shipping clerks and de-burrers and punch press operators
file back toward our machines
as all the air goes out of all the balloons
on earth

Something like a pandemic that’s a matter of global life and death
ought to at least make men give
a fuck.

Let Us Face the Future
Wednesday, 19 January 2022 17:39

Let Us Face the Future

Published in Poetry

ronavirusLet Us Face the Future

by Chris Nash

Common and apart, we stand in defiant windows,
Each in a viral, personal Grenfell, care of uk.gov,
we’re refugees like all the rest, too late we know
our land’s no longer ours, beyond the heal of love:

An invisible hand locks our lives in data series,
all the roads we assembled to the future together,
are needlessly dissolved in self-inflicted fevers
to end in malls, they commandeer as mortuaries.

The poorest she that is in England screams for relief,
ghosts of daffodils shake masked heads in disbelief:
When and how did we allow our golden western isles
to be consumed cut-price, in death’s supermarket aisle?

From the doorstep shore, oh yes, we’ll clap our NHS,
Remembering whose 21 votes stopped its progress
We will rise, raise our eyes from TV’s slumbering view,
to see from island isolation, over white cliffs, a world anew.

Author's Notes:

Let Us Face the Future was the title of the Labour Party’s visionary 1945 Election Manifesto.
‘Ghosts of daffodils’ is an echo of Wordsworth’s vision of our holy, golden islands.
The Tories voted 21 times to stop the passage of the NHS legislation. Winston ‘Boris’ Churchill said it ‘was the first step to turn Britain into a National Socialist economy’.
‘The poorest she that is in England’ is an echo of the famous words of Thomas Rainsborough in the Putney Debates 1647.
‘TV slumber’ is an echo of the revolutionary lines of Percy Shelley in The Masque of Anarchy 1819 - ‘Rise like lions after slumber’.

RIP - the criminal Tory lack of preparation, and mishandling of our people - more St Bodge than St George.

Meanwhile (spoiler alert) back at the Apocalypse…
Wednesday, 19 January 2022 17:39

Meanwhile (spoiler alert) back at the Apocalypse…

Published in Poetry

Meanwhile (spoiler alert) back at the Apocalypse…

by Jim Mainland

Tammy’s new flatmate is acting strangely again
Gwen awaits the results of her hospital test
Barry’s practical joke backfires
Leanne’s drinking reaches devastating proportions
Len prepares to meet his natural mother
Ben suspects Lisa is cheating on him
Carol discovers Jason and Keith in a compromising position

Liz suffers a nasty surprise – like, globally
Don brings the world to the brink of ruin
Bo dithers while the pandemic tsunamis
Matt is all washed up, again
Dom is trampled into sneery biscuitcrumbs by his own herd

Darren fails to deflect the death-ray from space
Colin’s attempt to haircut the planet goes badly wrong
Sanjay fatally affronts the entire animal kingdom
Dick unwittingly torches the last known rainforest
Sue empties the Pacific at one gulp
Sally causes the sun to become lozenge-shaped
Wayne provokes a spectacular implosion of the four winds
Desirée suspects something is rotten at the earth’s core
Bob discovers that black holes possess no irony

Giant feet steamroller the probity of mankind
Jealous flora bankrupt neighbouring galaxies

Contains strong language, gory violence, and scenes of an adult nature

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised, there is no helpline

Last in the series

Wednesday, 19 January 2022 17:39


Published in Poetry


by Sally Flint

'I owe them my life.' - Boris Johnson, thanking NHS staff.

It's early morning: no-one speaks. Not yet.
Yellow's Orthopaedics, pink Paediatrics,
purple Chemo ‒ not enough aqua for A&E,
so there's a sharing out of ICU's blues.

They've sat with the dying beyond shifts,
high-fived and hugged each other for the ventilated
dads, mums, daughters, sons, brought back.
Now, in handovers with bleary-eyed night-staff,

they dread further shortages coming.
It'll take more than a pandemic to examine
if the 'public purse', can pay those on 'the frontline'
enough to 'put food on their tables', settle their debts.

Nurses always applaud patient recoveries,
know sometimes it's a word, a touch, saves
a life. It's not about colours. They know politicians
who clapped loudly when blocking their pay rise.
Some dream of a future government unmasked.

Everyone's Hearts Were Clapping
Wednesday, 19 January 2022 17:39

Everyone's Hearts Were Clapping

Published in Poetry

onavirusEveryone’s Hearts Were Clapping

by Owen Gallagher

Everyone stood outside their front door.
As the clock struck eight they began to clap
slowly as if someone was coming on stage
but as more in the street joined in, they clapped
louder and louder as if they were freeing
something within, perhaps a patient who never
had the opportunity to thank everyone
who looked after them when they were ill.

Everyone was clapping all over the country
banging lids, pots. Fireworks lit the sky.
Their spirits zoomed. They felt how a patient
must feel when administered good news.
Their hands will never finish clapping.
Everyone has been a patient.
Everyone’s hearts are clapping.
As long as hearts clap, hands will too.

In The White Man’s Clinic
Wednesday, 19 January 2022 17:39

In The White Man’s Clinic

Published in Poetry

On the day the Irish government announced they are (for the duration of the crisis) incorporating all private hospitals into the public health system, Kevin Higgins offers this poem in memoriam of Ireland's two tier health system which will hopefully never come back. It was inspired by a private hospital, the Galway Clinic, which actually does have a self-playing grand piano in the foyer but is only open during office hours.

In The White Man’s Clinic

by Kevin Higgins

A grand piano plays itself
on a giant Chinese rug
in a foyer so vast I once went there
by mistake, hoping
to catch a long haul flight
to Melbourne via Abu Dhabi.

Instead found myself in a glass palace
where surgeons do things
no one thought possible
and which, in the end, weren’t;

in the process making sad intestines sing
like water damaged concert violins,
lungs hoot like ruined tubas
in a building designed to mature
into a hotel, when it fails as a hospital
for those who can afford to die
during office hours.