They were always jolly, the ladies who worked at The Fish Pond, and the fish and chips were the best in Birstall. The owner was Belgian, knew his frites. The working of muscular arms, the dance between frier and counter, the rhythmic movements of folding newspaper, were highlights of my childhood. I took my children there when I visited home, Paris children, their English quirky. They listened, bemused, to the local voices, the banter and the laughter, trying to make sense of it, stood on tiptoe, curious as to what was going on in the hiss of beef fat and batter.
Before she wrapped up our order, the lady leaned over the counter, pointed to the yellow plastic containers of salt and malt vinegar and asked my two, did they want anything on theirs. They looked at me, slightly worried, and the older one said, “Can we have citron, please?”
The smell of frying
as pungent and memorable
as the scent of pines
the rustle of newspaper
like small waves
lapping golden sand
the foreign chatter
Very Often Scraps
Lowry dropped me onto cobbles
where the fat thick aroma of peas
from over the road sustained me
through a textbook northern winter.
Steam wreathed queues snaked
around the corner in the always
grey evenings.Reeking bundles
of old news were carried out.
There were very often scraps.
Gritty salt on my fingers matching the air
Lips coated with grease and the taste explodes
With flakes of fish mixing with perfectly
Cooked thick fingers of fried potato.
The perfection that together makes a perfect
Seaside meal on the pier
And separately I can easily avoid
Their heady mixture a compliment that
Completes it’s partner in heated harmony
-©Ailsa Cawley 2022
American Fish and Chips
It’s a chain restaurant near the mall
that’s supposed to look like a British pub.
There’s a Union Jack on the wall,
between a Beatles poster,
and some old-fashioned Guinness ads.
Football game playing on the televisions in the bar,
American football, that is, Bears vs. Packers.
The sound isn’t on, but a few men roar their disappointment.
The chicken sandwich is pretty good here,
the burger is okay.
Everything comes with bacon,
except for the fish and chips.
Brown next to brown, crispy and warm.
A scoop of white coleslaw in a little paper cup,
to be healthy, I guess.
A pale lemon wedge reclines as an afterthought
on a useless bed of wilted lettuce.
It’s delicious, of course,
deep fried flaky white cod.
My stomach will hate me after this,
I think as I dip my fries in a pool of ketchup.
Bios and Links
has been writing stories, poems and verses since she was a child.
It’s not always what is considered poetry by some, as she isn’t a lover of sweet, schmaltzy rhymes!
She is currently writing her first novel. A psychological thriller with a paranormal element, and she hopes to bring out a poetry collection one day!
She lives on the Isle of Skye. While some of her poetry is written from personal experience, others are written from her slightly dark and twisted imagination.
lives and works in southwest France. Her poems and stories have been published in magazines and journals including Ogham Stone, the Ekphrastic Review, ink sweat and tears, Gleam, Nightingale & Sparrow, Green Ink and Brilliant Flash Fiction. She blogs at https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/ Her poetry chapbooks, thicker than water and birds and other feathers were published in October and November 2020.
is a poet, fiction writer, and breast cancer survivor living in Schaumburg, Illinois, with her beloved husband, Matt, and two retired racing greyhounds, Giza and Horus. She is the founder of her poetry blog, The Midlife Crisis Poet (www.themidlifecrisispoet.com), and her work has been published in The Wells Street Journal, Arsenika, Black Bough Poetry, Ang(st), Perhappened (including a 2020 Best of the Net nomination), Kaleidotrope, Mineral Lit Mag, Rejection Letters, Versification, Sledgehammer Lit, Bombfire Lit, and others.