Alan Humm – 6 poems

The first time I played with David


…was at the Collingdales.

The studio: a warm, confiding light,

cloth merging into sunshine

in the gloom.

Looms were prosaic blocks

you rubbed together

to make fire.


Everywhere – books.

The house was built on them

in the same way that a mind

constructs itself upon

its memories.

You were always here,

rather than the elsewhere

that my house inspired.

Chopping wood, drinking

elderflower wine,

I learned that time

conspires to keep you

in the places that you love,

aware of every moment in the way

that you feel water round you

in a river. Dave’s fingers glide

along the cello strings; mine fumble

but it’s not the music that’s important:

it’s the house; the thing I’m living up to.

I am flat, or sharp.

It doesn’t matter; call it art.




Men and bright metal and the air,

all burnished gold. Art, see.

The gatefold sleeve disclosed

a record that felt more: more bleak;

more serious – the chords processing

and the voice as frail as smoke.

I had a song about El Salvador.

It didn’t matter where it was;

the point was me: my seriousness.

When Dave played cello,

ghosting me,

his tone was bleak; assured

– a doubling.

I felt the microphone display my voice

like billowing sheets. I felt it.

When I played it back

it was just me,

aiming to please and not to please.

Grit in an echoing quarry;

lost, but not in song.




The park was fathoms deep;

the town’s night-self.

Robert’s road avoided it. It had sly curves; a tilt

too fit for purpose: a slow lullaby.

Nervous at the piano – dull but spry – he used to study me,

stiff fingers playing

what appeared to be a finger bowl.

One day, I put “Respect” on

and I danced,

attempting to embody it.

He moved like I’d thrown fire crackers at his feet

and I was pleased to see the difference,

eager to prove my own night-self

in the ascendant.

“…sock it to me,” in excelsis.


The Duke’s Head


I was too poor

to pay the entrance fee;

had entered when the light

was still half-hearted sepia.

Aspic. I was suspended in it,

while, outside, daylight felt like a fire

that had refused to start;

reflected from the tiny shop

and the street’s sudden narrowness,

it seems, in memory, the colour

of a dying leaf.

People were a relief. You saw yourself,

at last, reflected in the narrowness

of the boys’ eyes; the girls’ pale shoulders;

how they sat there

like the seat was a boat’s prow.

If they sat still,

gilded as carefully as flowers,

it would come,

the thing the music named.


Outside, the darkness curled below

the window, seeming to protect

the things you thought were animated 

and made permanent

by the wildness of your love.

Music Shop

Oh, but it was fun.

The music shop, instruments brimming –

simmering – in a light 

that was like the light of libraries:

dimly, ironically withholding; displaying,

really, how the urge to sing’s

embodied in the swiftness of a curve;

a brassy glaze.

You plug in and there is

that hum: you on the runway;

power an imperative – the will to fly,

the bass making the thrum

of wheels; the drums 

sending you upwards.

Your excitement, multiplied. 

Not that which flies 

but flight itself,

transcending how the shop

is like the inside of a cake;

the song, too: fake Phil Spector

made exciting just by being thrown 

into the air.

My brother stared. He shook his head.

“It’s like the bloody

Kids from Fame”, he said.

Gainsborough Silks

Sun tries the roofs

but still the town is coffined 

in its atmosphere.

Your hair, dull gold (I call it gold),

is doubled in the threads I tease

out in the factory.

I spool, or else unspool, the bobbins

and there is a moment when they rattle; 

come unmoored – I feel it in my chest.

I will not rest, it seems. 

I have the frail, attenuated balance

of a top; am spun between the streetlights

and the hedges, light and dark,

as though I am the two sides of a coin.

They stand in judgement: 

all the houses; the sententious gardens;

streets deformed by shadow 

into grappling hands.

I stood beneath her window

in my stupid hat, a panama,

and I tell people now that I was splashed

by passing cars

but all I did was stand,

my yearning so diffuse

it felt the way a fog looks

when it smothers you.

I ape my own predicament:

hunched at the threads,

it looks as though my body’s

shrugging itself off. 

When I am Floundering

I am the element I flounder in.


Alan Humm

Fiction Poetry Promotional

Poetry and fiction promotion – Brexit Brokeshit by Joseph Robert

Title: Brexit Brokeshit

Genre: Poetry and Fiction

Author: Joseph Robert

Length: 72 pages

Publisher: Meandi Books

Publication date: 28 July 2019

Link to buy:

Extract from Brexit Brokeshit:



(Page 5-6)


Flecks of mineral, white in red dregs

Hard water and dirt in them dregs


But the lees sounds so mucher the betterer, the best dregs

All hints of chocolate and rounded fruits


And, and Dionysius’s fashionable mask

Goldenly E.U. stars on blue smudge


Reassurance of highest quality

National Geographicca typico, besto in all the bloody mess


Vine bile, or grape tar, or agro syrup,

Or portable, potable, pissable heartburn


Unfastens the thinking and lays a body low

Two scoops of, no, Medicine to forget


Yeah, yeah, Medicine to forget

Read, in a mag, root o’ culture, bulwark of civilization


Like getting down on all fours to sip the waters of that, that

Mystical river, the one, you know




Medicine to forget

How it works, forget


But always remember who makes the stuff

Where and why for, and what they charging?


That’s a good Primitive.



Billion Euro Cheeseburger

(Page 9)


Billion Euro Cheeseburger, its coming soon,

whether through hyperinflation, hypergourmandation, avant-

garde arty stunting, or tax hole ‘sploitation, it is coming,

Billion Euro Cheeseburger,

laugh, don’t laugh, eyebrow arch, eyeball roll, same diff.:

a Billion Euro Cheeseburger’ll be served up, just the same,

‘But will you swallow it?’ will be the question claimed via

MEdia to be on everybody’s oft-spoken-for, static lips.

Billion Euro Cheeseburger, grab her by the buns and list off

every currency name securely deposited in your head, past

present, real and made up, blink and think of their symbols,

cos I can’t be bothered to do it for you anymore for I fear,

Billion Euro Cheeseburger, Happiness Hand Grenades and things

that make as much out of little sense as Grexit, stage left.




(Page 16)


In my Eu-topia,

Bureaucrats would be promoted solely on the grounds,

Of honesty, personal honour and due diligence,

An army of friends and an armoury of credentials,

Following after school chums, death-gripping their coattails

Would be grounds for immediate dismissal,

Also, the highest pensions should go to those,

Who don’t make real money,

In their prime, 

All right fine,

I’ll eat my Brussels sprouts and go to bed without dessert,

To have night terrors about nativist campaigners,

Because that’s really worked out so well in Europe’s past,

At midnight, I hold tight to my stuffed plush bear, Utopia,

A harmless fantasy, like Santa Claus when I was younger,

It helps keep me sane.



The Adversity of Diversity

(Page 7-8)


            “I’ve got nothing against that sort of people. Not in general. Just the criminals who steal our jobs. You agree with me, sure enough.”

            “Give us another beer, mate.”

            “Right! Exactly. There you go. The facts are there if you open your eyes, listen to the radio. In the papers though, read carefully . . . But you know it’s about our way of life.”

            “Fuck yeah, so who you putting your money on this Sunday?”

            “That’s not betting. Rigged, all of it, a fix. This entire season money’s talked. That, that pretty boy can be brilliant to watch. I’ll grant you he’s in fine form, but I don’t like the dodgy look of him. Wouldn’t let my daughter near the likes of him. Made the boy take his poster down. Not a proper role model.”

            “Too right. So, nice weather we’re having. Heard it won’t last past Monday, but the fuckers are wrong half the time.”

            “My boss at work is one of them. But he’s alright. Most the time. Except when he pals up with his own, but the exception proves the rule, as they say, and they’re right. My dad said so, rest his bones. Never get that supervisor job. You watch. They don’t play fair, always a united front they put up. Take that stuck-up bitch next door. Like her ugly kids shit don’t smell.”

            “You’re a laugh minute, sure enough, and you got a lot to say and that’s the truth. But leave the children out of it, eh? They can’t help it.”

            “I do what’s best by my people and I tell it like it is. Said that to the magistrate too. Out of character, out of character, right, sorry. Bollocks! Damn sure they weren’t going have it their way with me. Not when they’re the ones that are out of character. No backbone, no values. Ah, but what can you do these days? You have to laugh.”

            “Cheers, I’ll drink to that.”

            “You’ll drink to anything, Pat, you crazy Irish bastard.”

            “Give us a ciggie.”

            “Fuck’s sake. Here.”

            “Ta very much. You’re a prince of a man.”

            “Oi! You over there. The fuck you looking at, cunts? That’s right. On yer way. Don’t eyeball me. Lived here my whole life.”

            “Steady, man. Mind the heart condition. Boys probably didn’t mean anything by it. Leave it alone.”

           “Everybody knows me as a decent bloke.”

            “Uh-huh, that’s right.”

            “I know how I’m voting, and you should do the same.”

            “Can’t be arsed, things are the way they are, and I can’t change a thing.”

            “Fuck off then.”

            “Joking, joking. You have to have a laugh. Every day above ground is a good day.”

            “Oh, well, alright then. But jokes apart, these goddamned asylum-seekers are colonizing this street. Christ, and what they make their women wear! It’s barbaric. I remember this neighborhood when it was the way it should be.”

            “Say, where’s the bog, mate?”

            “Through there and to the left. Just don’t piss all over the seat. The missus would fucking murder me. Crazy foreign bitch. You know that lot. They’re hot-blooded.”



More about the author at:


Rodney Ramos – Fiction

The Barrow Bovidae

Dawn stood on the street corner, wearing her usual faded work jeans smeared with soil. Typical archaeologist’s wardrobe. She looked up as I approached, tucked her plum-coloured fringe behind her ear and smiled.

         “You’re early for a change,” I said.

         “Did you remember all the stuff?”

         I flipped my satchel open to show her the notepad, graph paper, measuring tape, pencil, eraser and torch.

         “It’s so good to be out of that stuffy office for a change,” I said.

         “I know, today’s gorgeous,” she said, smiling. “Where’re we off to anyway?”

         “Seaforde. Apparently there’s some nice one’s at the back of the graveyard.”

         My study of Mausoleums had taken me practically all over the county during June. Most of the tombs I had surveyed held the skeletons of couples who had owned considerable wealth during their lifetimes. How romantic. Or maybe ironic, considering I was now climbing inside the ancient coffins to take measurements with my ex-girlfriend in tow.

         Dawn was a clingy sort of person. She had offered herself up as a volunteer to take notes for me, as I shouted out numbers in semi-darkness. Not too many girls would do such a task. Or maybe it was because of the perks to the job – like the fact that we had a casual thing going. My volunteer in more ways than one. In any case, she was happy with the arrangement, no strings attached and all that. Nothing a man could complain about, really.

         The artistic study was coming along well. I would plot a scale version of the Mausoleum, then sketch in the intricate stonework of the facade later. I had covered a nice range of mausoleums in my study – from the more elaborate nineteenth century style crypts, to the simple, weatherworn tombs of the seventeenth century.

         We went by bus. The journey took about forty minutes and was uneventful. We passed the house that I vowed I would one day own. I wondered how long it took to build it and what the perimeter measured. Dawn complained about her hay-fever. Once we got off, I navigated with my beat-up map and we found the forgotten graveyard down a stony lane.

         My eyes scanned the scattered gravestones that were like small rain-worn hillocks dotted around the site.

         “I don’t see any Mausoleums here,” I said, squinting against the afternoon light. “Do you?”

         Dawn shook her head. “Looks like there could be a barrow up there, though.” She pointed towards what looked like a miniature, grass-covered, Ayers rock on top of the hill. It was partly hidden behind a clump of trees, but appeared to be no more than about fifteen feet long and about six feet high. The grassy hillock certainly did look like a long barrow. I jerked my bag up my shoulder and climbed the weed jungle of the hill with Dawn at my side.

         As I approached, I noticed a metre-wide stone slab above two crudely hewn rectangular entrance posts, each no more than a foot thick. The passageway was blocked with soil and grass. Dawn and I worked to pull away the turf, until the entrance was clear.

         “Weird,” I said, scratching my ear. I bent down and entered through the narrow doorway. “Wonder why it isn’t marked on the map?”


Grant Tarbard – 2 poems

Vase of Caged Birds

after Flock of Paper Birds by John McCullough

I hurt for the father of my childhood to be gone.

I enamelled the thunder of his anger

into a vase of caged birds. They scratch out

alphabets with their keratin nibs, 

writing chainmail into my flesh, trailing        

like a dropping feather from the sky


into this poem, retching ribbons of nouns

as morning robins. A blackbird


makes its presence known, settling

on my tongue as an empty house


of dove-white words, making my father        

as translucent as the stem of a feather.



The Uterus Encyclopaedic 

She felt the grim maul of a cheap suited 

surgeon’s thumbs inside her birth canal,

nodding the plum feathers of gas and air

she felt the downy hush of a needle 

going into her spine, riddling across

the dispatches of her skin. We held hands 

as the likeliness of witnessing a 

transfiguration occurrence became 

Lilliputian. The point we joked about,

that you couldn’t award vital existence,

is acquiesced. Exquisitely grotesque,

your pink tissue origami stretches 

like an open encyclopaedia,

all the bawling world does a belly flop.


Grant Tarbard is the author of ‘Loneliness is the Machine that Drives the World’ (Platypus Press) and ‘Rosary of Ghosts’ (Indigo Dreams). His new pamphlet ‘This is the Carousel Mother Warned You About’ (Three Drops Press) and new collection ‘dog’ (Gatehouse Press) will be out this year.


DS Maolalai – 1 poem

Like going on holiday


Your life 

explained to cats 

might leave them laughing.  

at 14, and kissing someone; 

getting a taste  

for hands 

and tongue flavour. 


Kissing a lot of people then, 

over 10 

or 15 years. 

falling sometimes  

hard in bed 

as if lost, 


in a tunnel. and then, suddenly, 

love – a bird 

landing by the window. a thing 

you’ve handed 

which you now can’t do without. the way that once 

you didn’t carry a phone 

and now you have one.


Like going on holiday – placed in your bag 

like a book 

you won’t read 

but you carry anyway 

because not doing so 

would be wrong. 



DS Maolalai has been nominated seven times for Best of the Net and three times for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016) and “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019)