Moon-egg – a poem by Camilla Lambert

Camilla Lambert
Moon-egg

Where the beach
had pushed the sea
down and stretched out
in ribbed sand to the rocks,
he bent down, picked out a pebble.

A pale moon,
he told himself,
feeling its curve nestling
in his palm. Or a hungry star?
Its pocked skin smelled of cold space.

He turned it over,
assessing the weight.
Or a sandpiper’s egg?
He tapped, sifted thoughts.
No, this one must be a moon-egg.

He laid it down
on a nest of blackened
bladder-wrack as waves
flickered across the sand
to lick around the cratered shell.

He left it circled,
resting behind the world,
as neap tides slid to spring
Only the dunlin flocks were there
to see a new moon slip up above the sea.

‘Moon-egg’ by Camilla Lambert was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2016) judged by Terry Jones

Two Cups – a poem by Math Jones

Math Jones
Two Cups

Two cups set upon a stone, made altar.
At once naked and dressed in white,
linen on the rock. Silver and linden.

Two cups. Reach toward the one and it
will disappear, blink out of vision,
leave you grasping air. The other remains

to be drunk from. In the air now
is your life and beating days,
the nights like alternating breaths.

In the sky around is space to move,
to bathe within, and light that floats
and every touch is beauty’s truth and you.

The other remains, hard upon the rock
and to be drunk from. It does not disappear
if you reach a hand, or if you turn your back.

It is to be drunk from, if you want
its bitter taste, perhaps to have its poison
running through your veins, then

it will disappear, blink out of vision,
leave you grasping air, taking too
the memory that it ever touched your lips.

Two cups set upon a stone, made altar.
At once naked and dressed in white,
linen on the rock. Silver and linden.

‘Two Cups’ by Math Jones won third prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2016) judged by Terry Jones.

The Greens – a poem by Lesley Burt

Lesley Burt
The Greens

She deserves more, the woman,
than heaving his autumn leavings
while he rides northerlies south –

than to blanket corms in warm loam,
graft buds in bark, bank up moss
while he palms a turquoise shoreline –

than to quilt leaf mould, stoke
sets and dreys with chestnuts and worms
while he sinks grappa with buddies –

than to brace up for the bite
when he storms back to her forest
to sprinkle his killer silver dust.

‘The Greens’ by Lesley Burt won first prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2016) judged by Terry Jones.

Review of Strata Smith and the Anthropocene by John Freeman

Strata Smith and the Anthropocene by John Freeman

Published by The Knives Forks and Spoons Press 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-909443-85-3    £6.

Review by Mandy Pannett

johnfreemanbookNow here’s an intriguing title to conjure with – who is this Strata Smith with the dare-devil name that makes me think of Indiana Jones or Crocodile Dundee? What is this weighty-sounding Leviathan of an Anthropocene? What kind of a book is this?

Superficially, it is a slim booklet of thirty-seven pages divided into thirteen passages each one concerned with an aspect of geology. William Smith and his famous map of 1815 forefronts the narrative as the dilemmas and questions induced by the Anthropocene, (the human-influenced epoch of present geological time), provide  a constant background. This is the apparent content but, if one digs deeper as if into layers of rock, there is more. Much more.

My immediate pleasure in Strata Smith comes from the multi-faceted writing which moves in and out of the subject connecting threads and thoughts. We have biography interspersed with personal anecdote, poetry, philosophical questions, fascinating information on fossils and rocks, digressions into social history, quotes from writers ranging from Shelley to Bill Bryson – a huge variety of style and subject matter in a short space.

‘Green is the colour William Smith chose to represent chalk on his 1815 map, ’ says John Freeman at the beginning of the first section Smith Honoured. To me it feels as if this mention of green with all its political and literary connotations provides the keynote  for  the thirteen passages. There is springtime in this era that man is creating, a growth of catkins, celandines, daisies; colours of red and green are vivid on trees and there is an ‘intensifying light’ in life itself that is determined to survive, that will outlive ‘us, and all our sources of pollution’. (Springtime in the Anthropocene’). Yet there is always menace and ignorance, an earth that is ‘bruised’ with a ‘cut lip, swollen cheek’, the dread of being wiped out so that today’s geological time will be just one more ‘layer’ marking ‘the sixth mass extinction’.

The ‘horizon of the Anthropocene’ is grim and John Freeman makes no pretence of hiding the grimness. But this is an author who knows his craft exceptionally well, can treat a heavy subject with lightness, is able to make the abstract vivid and detailed. What I particularly like is the awareness that there are no simple answers and we are ‘a collective too numerous for any definitive narrative.’ (Mapping the Collective). I love the metaphor that is used of interactive maps in Paris Metro stations where the pattern of direction may be changed with the touch of a button. In the same way opinions and viewpoints change, says John Freeman, and ‘the trouble is there are so many’.

Strata Smith and the Anthropocene is profound and thought-provoking but also a joy to read in the way it touches on interactions, small significances, understandings that grow ‘from inklings to hunches, to theories to be tested, to almost complete certainties by stages.’ (Smith Obstructed).
I highly recommend it.

Mandy Pannett

John Freeman’s new collection, What Possessed Me, was published by Worple Press in September, 2016. It is his first verse collection since A Suite for Summer (also from Worple), in 2007. White Wings: New and Selected Prose Poems was published by Contraband Books in 2013.  Earlier collections include The Light Is Of Love, I Think: New and Selected Poems (Stride Editions), and Landscape with Portraits (Redbeck). Recent magazine appearances include The Rialto, London Grip and Tears in the Fence, which also recently printed his essay on the poetry of Jim Burns.

An interview with John Freeman in which he discusses ‘Strata Smith and the Anthropocene’ may be read here http://sentinelquarterly.com/2016/05/john-freeman-interviewed-by-mandy-pannett/

 

Poem by Scott Elder

Recital

 
The sound of her name rings in the air.  It’s always been there.

Alice is waiting.  An aisle flutters under her footsteps.

At the end of the aisle a piano is waiting.  It’s ever been there.

Instants flicker and merge to a hum. She stills her breath

to breathe in the silence, closes her eyes and envisions a field.

The field is empty and covered with snow.  A lady is standing

dead in the centre.  Alice, she whispers, it’s time to go.

A blackbird starts, wings a line through snowflakes falling.

The notes begin to bubble and purr.

 
Scott Elder lives in France with his three young children. Since winter 2013 his poems have appeared numerous magazines in the UK, Ireland, Canada and the USA. A first pamphlet was published by Poetry Salzburg in July 2015.  He was a runner-up in the 2016 Troubadour International Poetry Prize and his work has been respectively highly commended and commended in the Segora Poetry Competition 2015 and the Wild Atlantic Words Competition 2015, and long listed in The Plough Prize 2015 and the 2016 Cinnamon Pamphlet Competition.

Theophilus Ejorh. Two Poems

When I Write
Before the rise of the Cockerel
From his wooden roost
To break the silence of dawn,
A crowing bell in his throat,
I must pluck my steely pen
From its holder, its nib
Spurting with grief floods.

I must wake the haunting Muse
And summon visions of gods
Bestriding skull domes,
A blood mass gleaming under their feet,
And how with matchless and cruel intensity
They must exhale fires from puffing nostrils
To afflict the fields, bleed the trees,
Strip young leaves of songs,
And cripple a crouched land
With a baggage of sorrows on its back.

I must etch lines about ancestral hills
Stripped of heads,
Of hemorrhaging birds
With pruned feathers,
Of crimson rivers that belch
The stench of their rotten entrails,
Of wailing streets stormed into fright
By the bomber’s blasts and the slayer’s stabs.

I must etch lines drenched in dolour,
Of a gnarled world that groans and smothers
In the claws of murderous beasts.

So, I write of Aleppo’s cold blood rivers,
Of Mogadishu’s plains gasping in gory floods,
Of Borno maidens snatched and hauled into a cruel fief.
I write of the execrable thrones of demons
Of a newfangled world that decrees abominations
And mock the tumult in the clouds.
I etch lines about mongrels in fat castles
Gorging on the sweat of Calcutta’s slave factories.

I sing of the fury of avenging winds
That set reprisals against those forbidding thrones.
I write of blood pumping in a swell of retributions,
measure for measure, soul for soul.
I muse, I write, I etch
Of the blood of reckoning seasons.

 

Sunset at Dusk
(i.m. Chinua Achebe)

Were you the last pillar of reason standing tall
In the wild forest shaken by rustling winds?
Were you the last stone capping the rock
In the savannah stormed by wild anthills?

Blacksmith, whose fingers anvilled words
Into arrows of truth! You walked this land,
Where angels had fled on wings of haste;
Where men faltered and fell in the clefts of soil.

Has death swept the custodian of truth away
Leaving the land and its ancient lore unguarded?
Has the Ogidi gong gone silent when the songbird rode
Into heaven’s gates in clouds of swash?

The earth trembled at your passing,
Brazen gong, who told how kings and princes
Danced naked in the village square
And then wiped his nose with glory.

You told how the Cock farted and the earth hounded him
Like a drunken mob chasing an outlaw,
Because we know that the head that upsets the wasp
Must face the wrath of its sting.

For integrity you spurned
The laurels of a nation that sold its gleam,
Oji tree, whose head pried the secrets of the skies.

Bastion of birds of sorrow, now will they that nested
On your boughs scurry into unfamiliar
Thresholds where the sun holds back its gleam?

The sun that set at your dusk has cast grim shadows
Upon the broken walls of the clan. We still remember
How you held off the fury of gods like a rampart,
And walked where warriors dreaded to tread.

From a deep well of memory I sing you
This song of honour. I sing of your nobility,
Faithful custodian of truth, Oja flutist
Who plucked home a wealth of glory.

 

 

THEOPHILUS EJORH is a Nigerian-Irish creative writer, scholar and researcher, and holds a PhD in Sociology from University College Dublin, where he teaches. He has published one volume of poetry, Echoes of the Moment (1994), and edited two, Embers of Words (2012) and Bluebells Are Blooming Again (2013). Prizes include the first and second prizes in the 2013 and 2014 European Anti-Racism literary competitions organised by the South Dublin County Council. His work has appeared in various local and international journals and anthologies, including the 2015 edition of The Stony Thursday Book. He is the founder and CEO of Migrant Writers and Performing Artists Ireland, and lives in Dublin.

Poem by Byron Beynon

Leaving this Place

We are leaving this place
for the last time.
It is autumn,
the radio is turned on
at this hour for the news.
Outside the bay
continues to draw the eye,
a sharing of tides
with the air carried aloft
touching the names of stars.
The door sounds
the same as it closes
behind us, and for a moment
our steps are simple and quiet,
as uprooted shadows
recede across the front.

 

 
Byron Beynon lives in Wales. His work has appeared in several publications including the Sentinel Annual Literature Anthology, London Magazine, Wasafiri, Cyphers, Poetry Wales, Stony Thursday Book and the human rights anthology In Protest (University of London and Keats House Poets).  Recent collections include The Echoing Coastline (Agenda Editions) and Through Ilston Wood (Lapwing Publications, Belfast).”

Two Poems by Peter Taylor

Post-Script

I have not, until now, tried to write about him –
our father who ought to be in Heaven –
save for a brief description of a man’s face
shortly after death. It could have been anyone’s face,
a man of any faith, no clear trace of religion,
no “about to go somewhere” face – just a
cold, grey hue, the colour of a statue, as
still as a statue, yet no solid look – more like
the delicately shaped ash of a fire gone cold,
long before it was ever old.

Ought to be in Heaven? Not a bad man but,
yes, a sad man: a man unrewarded for his
loyalty to lowly small scale sales of
office tat, of this and that, ten shilling lunches
for likely sources of ordinary orders.
And in the depths of family dysfunction, he
spoke to his customers, not so much to us;
lonely at home where there lay in wait, each night,
the itch of cash being tight, in so slow motion;
being passed over for promotion.

He rarely shared the pain, so found no ally, no
tie to others, no bond on which he might rely
to live a private life that cocked a snook at
the tawdry world outside, where he might hide
and find succour, perhaps even love of a kind.
As it was, I remember, mostly, ghost-cold indoor
freezes, heated by rows, the children in bed,
frightened by the thought that frustration might
lead to blows. One time they did, in front of us all,
in front of black flies on the wall.

Mother says he made himself ill through worry,
a sorry end to a sorry life, strife at each turn,
leaving earthly happiness aside, hoping for
some paradise at the end of it all;  but
the end, once it began, was long and no-one knew
what it was – save him, who felt it deep, deep within,
saw the wood for the trees and knew he would leave
this beaten life early, the burly Reaper on his way,
scythe sharp as tongues. We heard his moans,
we heard the shrieking whetstone.

So there we are, the morning after, by the slab,
thinking of waxworks, because the nurses had
fiddled with the lines on his face – nearly enough for us to ask,
silently, is that him, surely some mistake?
A doubt for a second only, as his name is on a band,
around his wrist, in case he goes missing, perhaps?
Now he’s in the queue for those due to be readied,
for the fire or the earth. He is cold now but is down for
the fire – some colour at last (a wry irony at best),
until ash settles white and nothing else left.

Cliff Walking 
  
Fall away cliffs close by our feet
falling away to far down distant seas
would need to fall a long way to hear
this still day’s whispering waves
waiting to roll in at the whistle of the
goading tide, pulled then pushed
then dragged by an inscrutable moon;
its magic alone at work, no arms to
swish oceans in their shelves and troughs.

Gusty winds bend backs and
drum in heads that fight for balance;
keep eyes in front, not a foot cliff-ward,
forward is the only way, the lonely way,
no slip shared, no hand to grab, no
life spared if a boot slides before the
path widens and minds unlock their
grip on tightened limbs that loosen as
eyes rise at last to racing skies.

As just a single hour scuttles by while
rain drenches, chills then, blow over,
last spills running down weathered cheeks,
the autumn sea-cool sun unveils a
coast now stretching out a full day’s march –
oh so far away – and dries, warms, restores.
bodies sense our lives’ survival; the
elements have smiled on us today, have
played with us. And tomorrow otherwise?

And so a just point jointly roots inside:
one day, some unsettled day, as
dark night must faithfully follow day, it
will be otherwise; and the wind or water will
take us – oh so very far away but where the
sun shines long each day if we earn it well,
making warmth, in our own way, on our way,
our walk along the long path, telling of
humanity, telling our connection with a
passer-by, telling the celebration to be
held each day that has ended with a
promise for the morning and the
sleep of an open soul, a humble heart.

And in that sleep we will prepare for the
warm days – now not so very far away –
foot-sure, cliff-skipping, eyes up, down,
all around, no fear, no slipping, no
vertigo, so quick, so light, walking
through the day and into night.
seabirds swoop just a yard away
but know we are there, in the same way
we have seen them all before, when the
way was slow and our bodies tired.
Those were the early days; we can play
games with them now, as the young wind
once did with us, now we are beyond
old and past the start of the new days.
And, as we’d been told, there’s no cold
in the rain and, running in and out of the storm,
our bodies bone dry and washed by the sea,
our embrace is, as always, perfectly warm –
and there a promise for all days.

 
Peter  Taylor is a poet of four years vintage, his work focusing on links between human beings and the physical world and the enduring significance of relationships with other people and the things that surround us. He recently won the Paragram chapbook prize for his pamphlet “Perspectives from an Open Heart”.

A Wind Scraithe. Poem by Colin Honnor

A Wind Scraithe

A wind scratches, a silty loess
wind ghost plait ropes, rammels
wind liass freights its effortful
abrasion
the ant soul formically exudates
scatter nests its cargo fine ghosts

to freight diaspora, compose anabasis
the fluke reflects saltire vanishes
farewell, disappearing the silent chorus
termite calm

erosion revenant splay chrism dried kelp
kilned barnacle loch
soon cell whispers calx particle
splits to lodge in its house of moon
the red tide of aphasia.

a different sea landlocks idea
pure arch of blue,
salts lake to its sour ice
inflame tree re
peon crouch hunched under the pui hee
a different bohemia
known unknown chokes, silty labials

forked ridges ride ammonite bay
ice haar unrecords the floe secret histories
at the cobwebs drackle dew point
between flame bush

centaury dews hooves freight
droop from thorn to berry sun
this vouches to separate leaf
shatters so twist the affect of plumb fall of nothing

reflects hue silence the winter thought of you

how you would stop amazed bemused
perhaps amused at some perception

doubt had interfused with caertainty
a cogitate white perplexity

fled in the sun‘s heat, evaporates
the white stones

melting the transient filigree
fable of the dissolving tree

to gather in one silent space
filling this plaited coronel

and the far off approaching roar
is not rain nor ocean

II
No we shall not go
to the ashphalt of extinction
where knees need not heal
Look out over the field of flax
the fields of gold, corn wheat and barley
there you will go though you return
to sifted sand, shunted gravels
where hearts cannot heal
look out over the fields of gorse
the fields of thistle, heather
THE HOOKED BEAM, THE COUNT, HIS ONE EYE
proleptially monocled treats oaths
binding justicially unstitches the wolf
from the lions skin
Kaspar ist todt der frei Germanium
no you will not return to Dumpton Cliff among yellow furze
good too for these pale cold days
stumps of chain radar metal bruise in sea gorse
the grass of parnassus, the ladies mantle
where bones of metal stork bury to trip the enigma.

 

 

After the University (Wales, and Leeds, where he edited the internationally acclaimed journal Poetry and Audience)  Colin Honnor has worked in publishing, the OU and the law. He is a literary scholar and a translator of modern European poetry, and also runs a fine arts press in the Cotswolds.

Two Poems by Nick Cooke

Eclipsed

Don’t mind me as I glide past on my scooter,
one foot in the air, an arabesque stagily held
against the traction of reality
while you trudge on, lost to reverie.

I wear long shorts and a fishnet vest.
You’re in grey slacks and burgundy brogues
and I’d lay odds there are braces underneath
that tweed jacket with Frankenstein shoulders.

I’m sure you can hear and hope you
enjoy my music pulsating forth
from the cables plugged into my skull.
Good luck with your glorified silence.

We inhabit different spheres, right enough,
and though I feel you mock me,
even if you choose not to regard me,
I have an advanced diploma in indifference

and will invite you kindly to self-copulate
should you dispute my rights over more than half
the dusty pavement. No, I know you won’t –
you’re far too busy not minding me

to suspend your plodding fixation,
your superstitious paving stone stare;
to glance up where the aura might blind you.

 
Animal Kingdom

my face in ecstasy
aped by you
amid giggles
and hand over mouth
too late
and I doubt we can go
on with that between us
a strangled fox
caught in the ripple of a mirror
unless we love
without animalising ourselves
even minimally
in which purest of dreams
we have some hope
but with lips mashed
and buried heads
it’s like music with no beat
no driving pulse
and I do not think I
can live like that

so instead
let us seek a medium
which if not happy
at least can smile content
in the teeth of compromise
and allow for the odd
half grunt and grimace
on either side
without sacrifice
of respect or favour
and in moderate degree
may even embrace
perspiration and sighs

 

 
Nick Cooke has had several poems published in Sentinel Literary Quarterly, along with the anthologies Poems For a Liminal Age and To Kingdom Come, and other outlets including Agenda, Ink, Sweat & Tears, The High Window Journal, Dream Catcher, Poetry Space, I am not a silent poet and Nutshells & Nuggets. His poem ‘Tanis’ won the Wax Poetry and Art contest (April 2016) and ‘Process’ was Highly Commended in the Segora Poetry Competition (July 2015). He is currently working on his first collection.
He has also written several novels and a collection of stories which so far remain unpublished, as well as around twenty stage plays and eight film scripts.