Little Man What Now? by Mark Connors

Little Man What Now?

Why do you think you ruminate the small hours? Do you count abject failures or
regrets? Have you tried turning your head off? Is that a stupid question? Have you tried
teleportation, picturing somewhere you love, fucking off there? Do you blame cheese for
dreams that don’t go easy on you, even though you only eat vegan substitutes? Have you
tried masturbation, but with more vigour than is usual? Have you taken the air today?
Have you completed your target of 11,000 steps? Have you tried indentifying birds by
their song? Do you think some birds sing for pleasure or is birdsong merely anger? Or
like most things, is it just about the sex? Did you know that pet birds are sexually
attracted to their owners and sing only for them? Do you think owners of pet birds
reciprocate? Have you tried falling asleep to the sound of a hair dryer? It works for
Wayne Rooney, but he can afford the electricity. Have you tried listening to an
audiobook? Try Bill Bryson’s The History of Almost Everything. I’ve never got past
chapter One. Have you tried listening to Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2, you
know, the music from that scene in Brief Encounter? I know it’s good, but it has a
calming effect. Did you know the station scene was filmed in Clapham? No, you tit. Not
the one in London. In The Yorkshire Dales! Have you tried sitting on your right hand, or
numbing it some other way, prior to masturbation, so it feels like someone else’s? Have
you tried listening to The Planets? No, not by Holst, you tit, but actual planets? Have
you tried training yourself to become a synasthete? Have you tried losing yourself in the
streets of an imagined old city? Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me? That’s
not a serious question. I know how attracted you are to the woman sleeping next to you.
I’m just checking you’re paying attention, although that kind of defeats the object of this
lesson. Do you watch too much television? Do you realise you’ve been watching News 24
before bed since your father died in the summer of 2001 when the world seemed like it
had gone to hell? Do you really think this helps? And the Pepsi Max, man. You down
that shit like a motherfucker. Do you realise you rehearse arguments you never end up
having, although one could argue it’s more productive to have them with yourself than
someone else? But at this time? Really? And I know you like, get creative and shit, when
you least expect it, or fucking want to, for that matter, but mate, this stuff can wait till
tomorrow and if the ideas are gone by then, fuck it. You’ll remember the good ones and
if you don’t, so fucking what? YOU NEED TO SLEEP, YOU GIANT COCK. But listen,
this ruminating about the jobs you lost, the jobs, incidentally, that were both at least
partially responsible for you finally getting to do what you love doing, what the fuck’s all
that about? And what the fuck do you know about property management anyway? YOU
CAN’T EVEN CHANGE A FUCKING PLUG! And a help line? You can’t help yourself
most of the time and, like they said, you’re too much of a fixer, at least you think you are.
They come at you in dreams anyway so why waste time on them while you’re awake?
Like the horrible Nazi redneck in ‘Falling Down’ said, ‘Think about it.’ Have you tried
whale song? Frog song? Knowing you, you fucking weirdo, they’d probably turn you on.
What about the songs of Stephen Sondheim or Elton John? The songs of Stock, Aitkin
and Waterman? Or even Dennis Waterman? Did you know that Dennis Waterman was
related to Pete Waterman? No, not the songwriter, you tit, the boxer. He was a
welterweight champion. Did you know Dennis Waterman was once married to Rula
Lenska? You don’t remember her? She was the one with George Galloway on Celebrity
Big Brother, you know, with the imaginary cream, and the pretending to be cats? Did
you know your best friend thinks you look a bit like Dennis Waterman? And William
Hurt. And Kevin Bacon. Did you know Dennis Waterman has a net worth of 5 Million?
Have I been talking too much about Dennis Waterman? Can you hear me counting
down from ten?

Mark Connors is a poet and novelist from Leeds. His poetry pamphlet, Life is a Long Song was published by OWF Press in 2015.  His first collection, Nothing is Meant to be Broken was published by Stairwell Books in 2017. His second collection, Optics, was published by YAFFLE in 2019. His third collection is due out later in 2021.

Reshape while damp by Rona Fitzgerald

Reshape while damp

God knows I tried, thirty lengths of the outdoor pool
in Clontarf every day in my teen summers. Then
a walk home to Raheny or tennis with friends.

But it was hopeless, I remained a big girl,
tall, broad shoulders, strong legs, solid!
Not the sylph of my imagination –

on my toes dancing tap or ballet
fitting petite clothes that flattered
the feminine form of the day.

At work, I selected black gravitas
to hide curves. It suited me.
Professional, alert, but never at ease.

Did I rebel?

Of course not, I was wearing normal
fitting in, tucked away in sharp tailoring.
Safe from disapproval.

Fate softened my jackets, wool itched –
so soft silk or linen covered my frame.
My shoulders remain firm!

Rona Fitzgerald ‘s poetry is published in UK, Scottish, Irish and US, in print and online.
Recent publications include Poetry and Covid, September 2020. Dreich Number 8, Season 2,
April 2021, Wee Dreich April 21. Littoral Magazine Candlemas edition, The Brown
Envelope Book, 2021 and The Arbroath Anthology 2021.

The Phoenix Retires by Ron. Lavalette

The Phoenix Retires

I’d rise from these ashes
but these ashes comfort me.

These ashes are all I have now;
these grey remains are my home,
far more accommodating
than even the most beautiful
sunrise, more promising than
any new day, these days.

These days are so dark,
rising from these ashes
offers no promise; offers
only another deadly pyre,
another chance to ash
and disappear again.

I will forego feathers;
ash will be my new forever.

Ron. Lavalette lives on the Canadian border in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. His debut chapbook, Fallen Away, from Finishing Line Press, is now available at all standard outlets. In addition, more than 200 of his creations (poetry and short prose) have appeared in journals, reviews, and anthologies ranging alphabetically from Able Muse and the Anthology of New England Poets through the World Haiku Review.  A reasonable sample of his published work can be viewed at EGGS OVER TOKYO: