Category Archives: Competitions

Grapefruit Moon by Colin Watts

Grapefruit Moon, a short story by Colin Watts was commended in the Sentinel Annual Short Story Competition 2015 judged by Alex Keegan.

Read Grapefruit Moon

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Strix Aluco by Diane Cook

Strix Aluco*

No wonder they call you wise.

You have solved the swoop-grab ratio
of vole-shadow to deepening wingspan
as easy as Pi r2, and digested
the full philosophy of mouse
before the dark had a chance.
And now at 3am you screech your eureka moment to the world.

And the world is just you, and me.

From your urban revenant of forest
you tear a hole in my dream.
The one where I’m on the precipice of bird-flight
waking the dust off my feathers
in time for that wafer of air
to take me by surprise,
with your wings sprung like flick-knives,
your man-trap talons. This close,
I am no more than an idea of animal sinew
flexed behind the membrane of your eye.

Friday night by the wheelie bins.
I watch you stare wiper-eyed
above the acid glow of street life,
neck swivelling 270 degrees,
way a match for R2-D2.
Well, numbers are your game.
And tricks. Potion-maker, breaker of bones.
No wonder they called you Strix,
the Romans. They knew
a single lunule egg would check alcoholism,
long before the dawn-rakers
in circumferential sway around the ivy
mixed their random pukings
with your pellets’ perfect revisions.

But the irrational was God
when he put your ears on askew,
crowning you an unholy bird.
You’ve turned that round:
calculating where two angles cross
soft scamperings in leaf mould
down to the third claw, left paw.

Strix Aluco by Diane Cook won first prize in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh. *Strix Aluco – Latin for Tawny Owl

Garments by Philip Burton

Garments

I comb the Oxfam shop in Skipton
for trench coats lined with gabardine

a retro-fashionista with a croupier’s hand –
I screw my eyes, feel my blissful way:

liquorish leather, sandy camel hair
gap-year anorak, a maze of astrakhan

the mystic drip of gunmetal drop-waist,
the hot summer of trim Ottoman jersey

Egyptian gingham, spandex kimono,
the fresh cool finger-sift of chesca bead

Indonesian bolero, silver lace midi,
the backhand slap of gold sequin mesh

organdie, organza, spandex, tulle, velour,
the knuckle rap of beaded scallop

hint of chiffon, pale braided paisley lace,
the whoosh of louche vanilla blouse

ritzy, plain, plain ritzy and a glam encore –
a live rendition of democracy; love

how they pull together on the rail –
people should take a lead from clothes –

ah! the worsted pull of gabardine.
I pay. I should pay more. I go

philip

Philip Burton has a love for readings and performance, developed through life as an English and Drama teacher, Lancashire head teacher, folksinger, amateur actor, and as a poetry practitioner who, as Pip The Poet, has provided hundreds of poetry days for schools and for adult learners. His poems are widely published. Stir won the Teignmouth poetry festival poetry competition, 2015, judged by Penelope Shuttle. His collection titled His Usual Theft, Indigo Dreams (pub.), will be available in 2017.

Garments by Philip Burton won third prize in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh.

Austral by Catherine Faulds

Austral
Do not expect a rescue service

Cold invades the bones.
The ice in my gin is millennia old,
netted as it reached the sea’s surface.
It sits on the bar, clear as a mirror,
to be chipped into drinks
while the ship dances with ice floes in the channels.

Day and night, separated
only by gradations of light,
make sleep a conscious act
timetabled from the darker world;
I float among seals whose home is the sea
fly with birds who sleep in the sky
wake at the edge of the planet.

A mass of icebergs on the horizon:
as they calve, their offspring melt
into mythic forms – dragons, sphinxes, gryphons,
pleated like whaleskin.

While snoozing seals turn and sigh,
penguins marshall in waddling armies.
and at the edge of the black beach circling a crater
the sea is hot

Austral by Catherine Faulds was highly commended in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh

Toronto Girl by Oonah V Joslin

Toronto Girl

slender quick how you think no consonants no consequence no breaks events through the day like cup of coffee double shot no lid no lip you flit among high rise traffic fumes and sun-glint twenty four carat bank finger-sampling sushi mall-bites a fluttering cyber-walk mannequin ear-plugging louder to drown the surround sound long into the slim-line stream-line uniform casino Niagara night falls.

restful dawn
golden girl awakes
another gadget-day to go

Toronto Girl by Oonah V Joslin was highly commended in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh

Homing Bird by Ruth Calway

Homing Bird

Called at your door again today. Last time
it was April; now it is September.
The path is still the same in leaf and stone,
being forever written; thirty years
of bearing and breaking. Knocked softly,
once for the present, once for the past.
My heart, remembering, opened like an old book
that through long use has lost full hold, let pages fall.

Yet that thrill on the threshold; reunion
with a place known to hold and set you free
as a poem becomes the mind’s own motion.
Inside out, outside in – tree, rock and fell
breathe here as in their ancient forms; the house
holds steadfast, and speaks as a hidden spring
beneath bids, forbids, carries you home. To hear this
is to know the weight and livingness of the word.

Footsteps resound the rooms above like rain,
the staircase beats with the wings and echo
of a thousand inspirations. As though
memory had gone before I follow,
turn to see them as though watching behind
their waterfall of light. William’s
bowed reflection; Samuel’s far star-bound sea.
Dorothy, eternally making up the fire.

Homing Bird by Ruth Calway was commended in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh.

De Motu Cordis (On the Motion of the Heart) by Heather Combe

We have yet to explain, however, in what manner the blood finds its way back to the heart from the extremities by the veins, and how and in what way these are the only vessels that convey the blood from the external to the central parts.
– William Harvey (1578–1657). On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals. The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Her slender arm is clasped in his hand.
One finger softly brushes translucent skin,
feeling her fluttering pulse quicken.
Tracing fragile veins, from elbow to wrist.

Part of him longs to take a scalpel,
and part her skin, like stage curtains.
Hungering to explore her circulation;
to reveal the intricacies of her anatomy.

She shudders. Picturing again the animals,
still breathing, splayed in his study.
The mewling cries, the scalpel’s glint;
his notebooks full of precise sketches.

An intense stare and narrowed eyes,
her husband, pathologically curious.
Enslaved to the pursuit of Knowledge,
that most insatiable mistress.

Despite herself, she craves these moments.
The unexpected thrill of his gentle touch,
the novelty of his breath on her neck,
and the subtle warmth of his skin on hers.

Too soon, he will return to his research.
Immersed again, in miniature anatomical worlds.
And with heavy heart she will wait, hopeful,
that one day he will find his way home.

De Motu Cordis (On the Motion of the Heart) by Heather Combe was commended in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh.

Vintage Song by Anne M Carson

St Andrews, Victoria

Grapes move inexorably towards ripeness. Inside the berry,
behind its fleshy walls – the mechanics of veraison. Acid

levels fall, sugars rise, the flesh dehydrates, phenols and
tannins grow fat with flavour. Little factory, humming with

alchemy, broadcasting musky perfume into the autumn
air, wave after waft of sweet enticement. The aromas are

streamers the fruit unfurls into the atmosphere, festooning
the vineyard with the intoxicating odours of harvest. Once,

grapes were blessed before vintage, a priest in regalia
sprinkled holy water over the vines. Vestiges remain of the

blesséd grape; mythic presence, thrum of spirit. Festivities
celebrate the crop – laden tables adorned with grape-leaf

foliage, glasses boasting previous vintages, friends proposing
toasts. Happiness to have the harvest home. Before the feast –

the delicate balance of sugar-levels and picking-friendly
weather. Humans are on hand with measuring devices and

daily readings; instruments and science pick the exact moment.
Birds fly in early with special picking teams, preferring their

grapes on the tart side of sweet. They discern the perfect timing
for their forays with only fragrance to guide them – fine natural

viticulturists, regardless of weather. Scores of Silver Eyes find
tears in the nets, waiting in orderly aerial queues like planes

in airport landing patterns, co-operative and collision-free
without traffic control. Bird after patient bird flies through

holes smaller than a child’s fist, keeping entries separate from
exits. Vociferous local Gang Gangs troupe in for the day,

return home to roost each night. Pied Currawongs become
familiars in daily-ness, arriving en masse to take up temporary

residence. Their vestments are formal. They decorate dusty paths
with brilliant blood-red splats studded with ruby gems; startling

splotches of colour which brighten the dull dun and tan bush.
They announce the season, the readiness of the crop. A single

bird initiates the call, anticipates antiphonal response. It rings
out onomatopoeic; currrawong, currawong, currawong.

Volleys of sound echo the valley; dawn greetings warbled
into pristine cold mornings, chansons chanted into crisp-

skinned days, solos sung into the descending chill of dusk:
beautiful, haunting. Each phrase tapers to eerie vibrato,

finishes with rising intonation. In secular times, the birds
offer the vineyard the simple grace of choral benediction.

Vintage Song by Anne M Carson was commended in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh

Sight Beyond by Audrey Ardern-Jones

I’ve pencil-sketched threads of light
across a black-blue sky
spread from a crack on the horizon
of a restless ocean;

I’ve veined in lit rivulets
across a summer moon
and the intricate splinters of saffron glass
in the eye of a caged eagle;

I’ve mixed cadmium pale yellow
with cerulean for the inside tone
of a portrait, used Windsor lemon
and cobalt violet for filigrees of an iris;

but it’s the blind girl I met in Waitrose
with tinted glasses that I want to paint
her air of something
I could neither touch nor know.

Sight Beyond by Audrey Ardern-Jones was commended in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh

Keats on the Moon by Al McClimens

As he made his way down the ladder,
nervous as a kid on a climbing frame,
he was still rehearsing the lines
in his head. The sun struck sparks
off his spacesuit, tinting the scene with sepia
while up above the command module
skedaddled across the sky like a firefly
as the stars flared and died. Below him
the crescent of home sank in the blackness.
That is all ye know on Earth, he thought,
and all ye need to know.
When his boot
touched the surface his heart burst
and he knew the words he had to say
were useless but he said them anyway.

Keats on the Moon by Al McClimens was commended in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh