Forget what you’ve been told

The kindliest fallacy
is that you should always keep things simple.
Say what’s in your heart!
But romance is a craft;
the reason we sparked fire, 
spat words
and searched for obscene metaphor 
in dull places.

Tell me, do you want to be a lover? 
Are you ever excited by shopping lists,
or the prospect of writing thank you cards 
for hoards of wedding gifts? 
No, because you’ve been told
that love is mishap and adventure.
I offer up the true fundamentals:

Lesson one: you must accept 
all true love is cut short –
there will never be sufficient years.
Time refuses to expand
so you must make room in your chest.

Lesson two: real love is painful,
a cigarette butt to the heart.
Any loss of love will burn right through you.

Lesson three: love does not equal happiness. 
Happiness apes love, 
it is a new-fangled measure of longevity.

If love always equates to happiness 
I’m afraid you’re still 
doing it all wrong.

Jo Brandon

Jo will perform as part of the showcase of poets published by Valley Press on 17 October, 7:30pm, in the Creative Lounge at the Workstation.


Suddenly, there was a huge eruption of News.
The News stopped all the flights
The News meant we couldn’t get home.
News was spewing from the sky.
It was feared some people had been swallowed in a burst 
of hot News and killed instantly.
Some people jumped off the News to their deaths.
No one knew when or if the News would stop.
Billions of pounds all over the world has been lost 
because of the News.
I was caught up right in the middle of the News and 
interviewed about  it by men with fuzzy microphones 
asking me to be an ordinary person.
We have to keep an eye on the News.
The News could explode again at any minute.

Kate Fox

Kate will perform on 7 October, 7:30pm, at Queens Social Club to celebrate 25 years of Off The Shelf Festival of Words.

Chaos Theory

For Japanese steel pannist Asami Nagakiya, who was strangled to death and possibly raped in Trinidad 2016, where she had come to perform at the annual carnival. Mayor Raymond Tim Kee caused outrage when he made comments implying that she was to blame for her own fate.

The quick, brown fox
wagging his thick, brown brush
suggestively at the passing hunt

The Kesenumma apartment block
swaying gently before the earthquake

The gazelle a whisker short
of cheating the cheetah’s jaws

The postman caught in the rain
The sewer rat drowned in a drain
The sheep hit by a train

They brought it on themselves

The Bangladeshi village
coiling the floodwaters around its ankles

The commuter who chose
the seat next to the nail bomber

The fly in the ointment
The spider in the bath
The fish on the hook
The mouse in the trap

The blue-eyed baby boy
whose crying drove his parents to divorce

The cyclist mowed down
by a drunkard in a Porsche

The Boxing-Day puppy left in the street
The icecap bleeding into the sea
The Saudi housewife making her tea

They brought it on themselves

The third generation on the dole
The grandmother in the nursing home
The sick, the poor, the ugly, the old

The refugee in the jungle
The teenager in a tangle
The bee that spent his bumble
The classroom kids in Columbine
were just asking for the gunman
And Asami Nagakiya
provocatively caressing steel 
as if all she wanted was to make it sing
as if all she wanted was to wear a feather in her hair
and feel the rhythm of the island skip across her skin

she must have read the subtext
knotted into her bikini strap

she must’ve known the risk she took
every time she flashed the bare enamel in her mouth

Just like the butterfly who knows
that the beating of its wings
may attract the praying mantis,
or even kindle chaos
on the other side of the world.

Genevieve Carver

Genevieve will performing her show, The Unsung, with a live band on 21 October, 7:30pm, at the Upper Chapel.