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Friday, 14 August 2020

THE SMILE POEMS #11- MAGIC SET

Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping (40 years in retailing), the golden age of Hollywood (including westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. 

joecushnan@aol.com & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, Black Bough, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. I wrote a book on retailing, on dealing with job losses and a biography of film star Stephen Boyd.

This is a series of (hopefully) funny poems from hundreds I've written over the years (inspired by the likes of Spike Milligan and Roger McGough) to provoke a smile in these odd times.


MAGIC SET

Have you seen my magic set,
Can’t find it anywhere?
I’ve searched under the table,
I’ve looked behind the chair.
I’ve rummaged in all the cupboards,
I’ve been in every room ,
No sign, no trace, no clue,
I’m sinking into gloom.

I’m lying on the sofa,
I feel a growing tear,
I mean - how can a magic set
Just simply disappear?



Text © Joe Cushnan 2020

Thursday, 13 August 2020

THE SMILE POEMS #10 - OH WHEELIE

Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping (40 years in retailing), the golden age of Hollywood (including westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. 

joecushnan@aol.com & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, Black Bough, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. I wrote a book on retailing, on dealing with job losses and a biography of film star Stephen Boyd.

This is a series of (hopefully) funny poems from hundreds I've written over the years (inspired by the likes of Spike Milligan and Roger McGough) to provoke a smile in these odd times.


OH WHEELIE

It’s wheelie bin day,
It wheelie, wheelie is,
It wheelie, wheelie, 
wheelie, wheelie is.
It’s wheelie bin day,
It wheelie, wheelie is,
When the bin lorry 
Does its wheelie biz.


Text © Joe Cushnan 2020

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

THE SMILE POEMS #9 - DOWN UNDER

Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping (40 years in retailing), the golden age of Hollywood (including westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. 

joecushnan@aol.com & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, Black Bough, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. I wrote a book on retailing, on dealing with job losses and a biography of film star Stephen Boyd.

This is a series of (hopefully) funny poems from hundreds I've written over the years (inspired by the likes of Spike Milligan and Roger McGough) to provoke a smile in these odd times.


DOWN UNDER

After my bath, I pull out the plug
And I’m sure without failia,
The water heads south to
A
u
s
t
r
a
l
i
a
-
b
l
u
b
b
e
r
y
w
u
b
b
e
r
y
a
a
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Text © Joe Cushnan 2020

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

THE SMILE POEMS #8 - SETTEE

Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping (40 years in retailing), the golden age of Hollywood (including westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. 

joecushnan@aol.com & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, Black Bough, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. I wrote a book on retailing, on dealing with job losses and a biography of film star Stephen Boyd.

This is a series of (hopefully) funny poems from hundreds I've written over the years (inspired by the likes of Spike Milligan and Roger McGough) to provoke a smile in these odd times.

SETTEE

I am building a settee,
Slowly, 
Painstakingly, 
Methodically,
As a skilled 
And patient 
Craftsman should.

Progress?

Sofa, so good. 

 


Text © Joe Cushnan 2020


Monday, 10 August 2020

THE SMILE POEMS #7 - VAMPIRE

Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping (40 years in retailing), the golden age of Hollywood (including westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. 

joecushnan@aol.com & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, Black Bough, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. I wrote a book on retailing, on dealing with job losses and a biography of film star Stephen Boyd.

This is a series of (hopefully) funny poems from hundreds I've written over the years (inspired by the likes of Spike Milligan and Roger McGough) to provoke a smile in these odd times.


VAMPIRE

Vampire was always hungry,
From all that nightshift work he did,
He liked a hearty supper
Before he closed his coffin lid.

His wife made him a feast,
Endless dishes on a conveyor
And he ate everything in sight,
Vampire, the buffet slayer.



Text © Joe Cushnan 2020

Sunday, 9 August 2020

THE SMILE POEMS #6 - DIZZY SPINSTER

Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping (40 years in retailing), the golden age of Hollywood (including westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. 

joecushnan@aol.com & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, Black Bough, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. I wrote a book on retailing, on dealing with job losses and a biography of film star Stephen Boyd.

This is a series of (hopefully) funny poems from hundreds I've written over the years (inspired by the likes of Spike Milligan and Roger McGough) to provoke a smile in these odd times.


DIZZY SPINSTER

She was my mother’s sister,
But she suffered this affliction,
Where she couldn’t stop herself
From her spinning-round addiction.

She’d have a get-up spin at dawn,
Then spin all through the day,
She’d spin to bed at bedtime
And spin the night away. 

I said: “You’ve got to stop that.”
She said: “I’ve tried, I can’t.” 
You see, my mother’s sister
Was indeed my giddy aunt.

 

Text © Joe Cushnan 2020

Saturday, 8 August 2020

THE SMILE POEMS #5 - BATH WATER

Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping (40 years in retailing), the golden age of Hollywood (including westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. 

joecushnan@aol.com & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, Black Bough, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. I wrote a book on retailing, on dealing with job losses and a biography of film star Stephen Boyd.

This is a series of (hopefully) funny poems from hundreds I've written over the years (inspired by the likes of Spike Milligan and Roger McGough) to provoke a smile in these odd times.


BATH WATER

Well, you see,
It was like this,
It was a busy time,
Not enough hours
In the day,
Only two hands,
Mind all over the place.....
You see,
I threw out the bath water
And then couldn't find the baby.....
You don't think,
Cough, splutter,
Perhaps,
Maybe...........




Text © Joe Cushnan 2020

Friday, 7 August 2020

THE SMILE POEMS #4 - NERVOUS ASTRONAUT

Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping (40 years in retailing), the golden age of Hollywood (including westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. 

joecushnan@aol.com & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. I wrote a book on retailing, on dealing with job losses and a biography of film star Stephen Boyd.

This is a series of (hopefully) funny poems from hundreds I've written over the years (inspired by the likes of Spike Milligan and Roger McGough) to provoke a smile in these odd times.

NERVOUS ASTRONAUT

Ten…
The astronaut breathes a long slow sigh
Nine…
Not long ‘til the rocket’s in the sky
Eight…
The final checklist has been ticked
Seven…
Nervous lips have just been licked
Six…
Dashboard alive with noise and light
Five…
Nervous spaceman’s first Moon flight
Four…
It’s noisy now he’s at four
Three…
The engine builds into a roar
Two…
Butterflies wrestling in his tummy
One…
Astronaut cries: “I want my Mummy.”



Text © Joe Cushnan 2020

Thursday, 6 August 2020

THE SMILE POEMS #3 - WILBUR SMITHEREENS, TRACTION MAN

Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping (40 years in retailing), the golden age of Hollywood (including westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. 

joecushnan@aol.com & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. I wrote a book on retailing, on dealing with job losses and a biography of film star Stephen Boyd.

This is a series of (hopefully) funny poems from hundreds I've written over the years (inspired by the likes of Spike Milligan and Roger McGough) to provoke a smile in these odd times.

WILBUR SMITHEREENS, TRACTION MAN

Wilbur Smithereens,
Author of action,
Reflected on life
In hospital traction.

Unlike his heroes,
All rugged and brawn,
He stood on a rake
While tending the lawn.

The thwack of the rake
Sent him reeling back,
In the haze of the daze
He tripped over a sack.

He landed and started
A skateboard in motion,
Smashed off a wall
And increased the commotion.

A plant until then
Balanced safe on the wall
Wobbled then toppled 
On top of it all.

Concussed and confused,
He lay wilted and limp,
Not a hero to cheer
But a real life wimp.


Text © Joe Cushnan 2020

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

THE SMILE POEMS #2 - PHONE ALONE

Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping (40 years in retailing), the golden age of Hollywood (including westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. 

joecushnan@aol.com & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. I wrote a book on retailing, on dealing with job losses and a biography of film star Stephen Boyd.

This is a series of (hopefully) funny poems from hundreds I've written over the years (inspired by the likes of Spike Milligan and Roger McGough) to provoke a smile in these odd times.


PHONE ALONE

Alexander Graham Bell
On a night in all alone,
Whilst doodling with some bric-a-brac,
Made a telephone.

But he found it was as useless
As a waxwork in the sun,
His telephone failed until
He made another one.


Text © Joe Cushnan 2020

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

THE SMILE POEMS #1 - DRUM BURST

Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping (40 years in retailing), the golden age of Hollywood (including westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. 

joecushnan@aol.com & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. I wrote a book on retailing, on dealing with job losses and a biography of film star Stephen Boyd.

This is a series of (hopefully) funny poems from hundreds I've written over the years (inspired by the likes of Spike Milligan and Roger McGough) to provoke a smile in these odd times.

DRUM BURST

He practised drums for hours,
Morning, noon and night,
Banging away at his drum kit
With all his blessed might.

No time for any breakfast,
No lunch, no dinner, no treats,
No time for tea or coffee,
Just boom-tish-boom-tish beats 

But things eventually took a turn,
Just after a paradiddle,
Three days after this session began,
He was bursting for a piddle.



Text © Joe Cushnan 2020




Friday, 31 July 2020

GUEST POST BY ACCLAIMED WRITER JAN CARSON

Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping (40 years in retailing), the golden age of Hollywood (including westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. 

joecushnan@aol.com & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. I wrote a book on retailing, on dealing with job losses and a biography of Stephen Boyd.

πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘GUEST POSTπŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

It is a pleasure and a privilege to have the award-winning writer Jan Carson writing a brilliant guest post today.













Jan Carson is a writer and community arts facilitator based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She has a novel, Malcolm Orange Disappears and short story collection, Children’s Children, (Liberties Press), two micro-fiction collections, Postcard Stories and Postcard Stories 2 (Emma Press). Her novel The Fire Starters was published by Doubleday in April 2019. It won the EU Prize for Literature for Ireland in 2019 and the Kitschies Prize for Speculative Fiction in 2020. It was shortlisted for the Dalkey Book Prize in 2020. The Last Resort, a ten part BBC Radio 4 short story series and accompanying short story collection is forthcoming from Doubleday in early 2021. In 2018 Jan was the inaugural Translink/Irish Rail Roaming Writer in Residence on the Trains of Ireland. She was the Open Book Scotland Writer in Lockdown 2020.

******
Postcard Stories 2



I’ve always worked best under pressure. I like deadlines, projects and commissions. My imagination is expansive. I need boundaries to reel it in. I often set myself writing tasks and projects; a bit like being back in school. I work best with repetitive, daily or weekly writing goals. I like to write in the same place, at the same time, for the same duration every day. I like to drink strong coffee whilst I’m doing this. I have good days and bad days. Sometimes I hit a deep vein of generous words. Sometimes I pick at the same three sentences over and over, like a toddler going at a scabby knee. Most of the time I don’t feel much like writing but I still turn up every day. Even on the most constipated mornings, I rarely regret my writing time. I’ve tried other ways to coax the stories out; nothing but routine seems to work for me. 

I know lots of writers have struggled to write during the Pandemic. They’ve feel blocked and preoccupied and exhausted. I completely understand how difficult it has been, wrestling with anxiety and weariness every time you approach the page. I’ve also found writing an awful lot harder this year. Most days its felt like swimming through custard just to pull together a couple of paragraphs. I’ve written even more nonsense than usual, (and my nonsense quota is pretty high). But I’ve felt compelled to continue trying because I don’t know how to cope with the world, when I haven’t got words. What I’m trying to say is, I don’t think there should be any judgment when it comes to writing practice. Every writer approaches writing in their own peculiar way. It’s completely understandable if you’ve found yourself frozen for the last few months. In my experience, clinging to the routine of everyday writing, as if it’s some kind of life preserver, is also an equally valid response. 

Productivity has always been my coping mechanism. When I get stressed, anxious or confused, I can’t be. I have to do. If I wasn’t writing to curb the worry I’d probably be alphabetising my books or scrubbing the floors or teaching myself Portuguese. The truth is, I find solace in writing. It also gives me a means to vent my frustrations. On the best days it’s a vehicle for making sense. I tend to write huge amounts of material -most of which will never see the light of day- in order to occasionally get to the good stuff. I write an awful lot. I am whatever the opposite of a minimalist is. Recently I’ve also found myself writing as a means of shaping my time. The two to three hours I spend sitting at my laptop are often the only solid points, in days which feels like fluid mush. I feel more real and present sat at my laptop. I feel, at least a little bit, like myself. 

Every writer has a different approach to craft and practice. Sometimes, I wish I could write differently. I’d like to be the sort of writer who takes months over every story. I’d like to be deliberate and careful and slow. And have fully-formed notions of what I’m doing. But after almost twenty years of writing, I can admit that I’m just not wired like that. Routine and excessive productivity are the only things which work for me. When it comes to writing, you do whatever you need to get you through.

Which brings me neatly to Postcard Stories. Back in January 2015, I was stuck in a rut between my first two books. I had no ideas and no motivation. I probably should have taken a break, instead I fell back on old habits and announced I’d be writing a short story each day for a whole year. I’d post these stories, on the back of postcards, to friends who lived all over the world. The first two weeks were hellish. Even for a writer who relishes routine, the need to find inspiration every day felt like an overwhelming ask. By early February I’d fallen into a rhythm. The ideas began presenting themselves. I felt as if I’d toned the muscles of my imagination to such a point I was seeing stories everywhere. I managed an entire year of stories without missing a single day and on the 1st of January 2016, felt a little bereft. The daily practice of writing something small and complete had become a kind of foundation on which other ideas could be built. Let me put this idea another way. The half hour I’d spend writing a postcard story became a kind of warm up for the rest of my writing day. After finishing each postcard I’d approach the novel I was working on more confident and limber than coming at it cold. The small stories were daily reminders that writing was something I could still do.

Over the years Postcard Stories have become a kind of crutch for me. There are almost a thousand of them now. I use them to ground my writing practice and to sketch out ideas I might develop in the future. I use them to record those smaller ideas, which might otherwise distract from bigger projects. I use them when travelling to make my writing a kind of camera so I pay close attention to the unfamiliar. I use them, almost like meditation, to make sense of moments I find myself in. So, it’s no surprise that Lockdown found me once again writing a Postcard Story every day and mailing them out to isolated individuals. Yes, I did this to cheer folks up. But I also did it for myself. Because productivity and routine continue to be my coping mechanisms and these stories have become my primary means of tricking my imagination into action. If I’m writing something every day, no matter how little or how slight, it’s harder for my imagination to seize up. It’s easier to tell myself, the easy words will return again. 

Postcard Stories have got me through some very dry writing spells in the last five years. 2020 has been an absolute drought so far. I hope they’re going to start working their magic again soon.


Postcard Stories 2 is published by The Emma Press and available to purchase from the website www.theemmapress.com The collection launches online as part of the Eastside Arts Festival at 7pm on August 6th 2020 (GMT). Book your free ticket to this event at www.eastsidearts.net

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Thank you very much, Jan. Best wishes for continuing success, greater recognition and many more accolades.

Joe Cushnan

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

APROPOS OF NOTHING #100 (AND FINAL) - 29 JULY - ROBERT HORTON & ROBERT FULLER

Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping (40 years in retailing), the golden age of Hollywood (including westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. 

joecushnan@aol.com & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. I wrote a book on retailing, on dealing with job losses and a biography of Stephen Boyd.

This is a series of very short items that have nothing to do with the current news agenda.  Swift diversions for a moment or two.

AT 100, THE FINAL APROPOS OF NOTHING

Apropos of Nothing #100 – 29 July

Today, I salute two of my old-time TV western heroes.

Robert Horton was born on 29 July, 1924.

Robert Fuller was born on 29 July, 1933.

Horton played scout Flint McCullough in 189 episodes of Wagon Train from 1957 to 1962.  He played the title character in the 1965/66 34-episode series Shenandoah.  In the late 1950s, he played various characters in Matinee Theatre and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.  He was guest star in many TV shows, his last appearance in a Murder, She Wrote episode in 1989.

Fuller played ranch hand Jess Harper in Laramie from 1959 to 1963.  He joined Wagon Train as Cooper Smith for 60 episodes, 1963/65.  He was in Return of the Seven (1966).  His third long-running series after Wagon Train and Rawhide was the non-western, medical drama, Emergency! (1972/78) in which he played Dr. Kelly Bracket in 125 episodes.  Along with many old western TV stars, he made a cameo appearance in the Maverick film (1984).  His last screen appearances were in a few episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger (1997/2001). 

Both actors had great ‘cowboy’ voices.  I remember them both fondly. 

Robert Horton died at 91 on 9 March, 2016.

Robert Fuller is 87.


Roberts Horton and Fuller