Category Archives: Poems

Your Windows

L THOMPSON

Your windows are not like my windows;
your windows care nothing about public opinion.

Your windows are high-born and sashed,
flung up wide, spurning net and blind,

silly little louvres and prissy gold keys,
and small sad stickers saying I Check ID,

and every cringing and conscripted and servile
curtsey to respectability. Your windows stretch

and arch, greet the seasons like cats,
quiver for spring, shimmy for summer,

bristle for autumn. Your windows
wear the rain like goose pimples

on skin rubbed at odds to the grain,
and smell cold and sooty as snow.

Your windows are single-glazed, Georgian,
lethally dangerous, clear-eyed.

They admit the sun to rows of books,
they yield a field of wit and knowing.

My windows are glass in name only;
they are deaf and nearly mute. They muffle,

bend light, repel glances with a plastic glare.
My windows are swagged with drapery,

and yours are shamelessly, brazenly bare.
I display some nylon flowers in a vase,

craving approval from all quarters,
and your window laughs and laughs and laughs.

“Your Windows” by L Thompson received a special mention in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2017) judged by Oz Hardwick.

Thompson lives in Belfast and has been writing for a number of years. She has had poems published in Cannon’s Mouth and Ware poets.

Our Father

MICHAEL BROWN

I pad about the house from room to room, a sullen ghost
doing its damnedest to bed down for the night.

Noise follows me like dust. The kids have multiplied.
In the kitchen I skulk through walls, softly become obsolete.

A radio is turned-up too loud. In my head I tune it out.
The dog catches my eye, seems to empathise.

A sudden shriek from the living room —
on TV someone is howling life at such a pitch

it seems grown men no longer compromise
or find the place to hide inside their skin.

“our Father” by Michael Brown was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2017) judged by Oz Hardwick

Michael writes from Middlesbrough.

Labile

SHARON PHILLIPS

is a word you should not confuse
with labial, which describes parts
of the vagina commonly called lips
and in effect means lippy, taking
you back to your teenage strops
and to the first lipstick you bought,
its plastic tube labelled ‘rose wine’,
a pink that suited your skin so well
you still look in vain to find its match,
though at your age its formula might
be liable to seep from your mouth
in runnels, slippery as eyeshadow
melted by the tears you can’t control.

“Labile” received a special mention in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2017) judged by Oz Hardwick.

Also by Sharon Phillips – What does the heart mean in popular culture?

What does the heart mean in popular culture?

SHARON PHILLIPS

Anyone? Seat of the emotions, yes.
Romantic love, yes. What else? What
does the heart mean to you? Yes, you.
Heartache, heartbreak. Good. Or not,
as the case may be. My achey breaky
heart, its causes and effects. No cure.
Any more? Heartbeat, indeed: it skips
when my baby kisses me. Kissed me.

Some of you may think that absurd.
Failure to cite popular music will lose
marks. Total eclipse of, anyone who had,
etcetera. Your examples will be more
up to date. Past my sell-by date, she said.
More ideas? Heartbroken. Broken-hearted.
Good. More detail, anyone? Who had love
that’s now departed. How apt. Well done.

Another noun, perhaps? Heart-breaker.
Bang on. Check spelling for accuracy.
She said I kept lyin’ when I oughta been
truthin’. I didn’t understand. Still don’t.
Quotation, not quote. I try not to feel bitter.
Bitch. Any more? Yes? Heartsick. Archaic
but nonetheless useful. Explain, anyone?
Dejected. Correct. Despondent. Yes.

Sources:
Bacharach, Burt and David, Hal. ‘Anyone who had a heart’. Warner Chappell Music
Collins English Dictionary. Definition of ‘heartsick’.
Hazlewood, Lee, ‘These boots are made for walkin’’. Universal Music.
Montgomery, Bob and Petty, Norman. ‘Heartbeat’. Universal Music.
Steinman, Jim. ‘Total eclipse of the heart’. Warner Chappell Music.
Von Tress, Don. ’Achey Breaky Heart’. Universal Music.
Weatherspoon, William, Riser, Paul and Dean, James. ‘What becomes of the broken hearted?’. Sony Music Publishing.

“What does the heart mean in popular culture?” by Sharon Phillips was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2017) judged by Oz Hardwick.

Sharon retired from a career in education in 2015 and started to write poems again after a break of 40 years. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ink Sweat and Tears, Picaroon, Algebra of Owls and Snakeskin, among others. In 2017 she won the Borderlines Poetry Competition with her poem ‘Tales of Doggerland’ and was also shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. Sharon lives on the Isle of Portland, in Dorset.

Witness

CHRISTINE COLEMAN

The trees are doubly bright and upside down
dangling from the ceiling of the lake
the day they see the swans.

Something unspoken between
them is starting to grow – a mirrored
tilt of head, a certain look, an open palm.

They watch them glide together side by side
into a kind of dance, their necks precisely
matching curve with curve. And now

those thick white ropes are intertwined.
She sees the gesture as a knot of love
and he, a biological imperative –

what they witness next is violence.
She bites her lip to block the words
no wonder myth interprets that as rape.

He slips from her. She doesn’t fly away, or
dip her head to forage in the mud. What
follows now becomes a further truth –

face to face, they rise up from the surface
of the water – their gleaming breasts are
resting on each other’s. Their necks

are craning up towards the sky, and beaks,
upheld like palms in greeting, touch.
It takes a while before they realise

where that deep-throated call
is coming from. Their fingers lock, until
the final echo of the swans’ duet has faded.

‘Witness’ won third prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2017).

Sonnet 142

RICHARD CRAVEN

It’s katabasis for the French school kids,
and he’s the psychopomp, decoding tags
with the chutzpah of Pound libelling yids.
Appropriately lame, his flat feet drag
along the sidewalk, past the gurning drunks
and jaundiced ghosts outside the pharmacy.
The overwhelming reek of Mendip skunk
betrays the junction with Jamaica Street,
where Murakami’s Wave was haply sprayed.
String ties to rail a fleabag Cerberus
under the calvary where Christ’s been made
to spin upon his head. Our Virgil must
now take his leave, for chums of his slouch here
with Stowfords cider and, he hopes, some gear.

‘Sonnet 142’ won Second Prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2017)

Young girl gazelle-eyed

GABRIEL GRIFFIN

When the ten-year old,
packed like a Macdonald’s
take-away, explodes

in chips and nuggets
over the market place
the question coils

in your mind like
a charred wire: just what
did they promise her?

Houris?

‘Young girl gazelle-eyed’ was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2017)

Every Time I Pack a Case I Cry

TAMSIN COTTIS

I uncouple
from the preparing of my trunk.
I do not get on board
with the choosing of tuck,
the sewing of nametapes,
the stowing of an extra blanket for my bed.
My train set fills the floor.
While you are busy packing
I decide to stage a crash. A landslide
is triggered, derailment follows,
then crossed signals, fractured
lines, lost children.
You fold my pyjamas
and press my ties.
Roll all my socks
into tight grey balls.
To save on space I wear my blazer,
worry at the silk lining

with finger and thumb
in the taxi back to school.
A screen slides shut
inside my head,
a fire is damped.
Home shunts into a siding,

‘Every Time I Pack a Case I Cry’ was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2017)

Field Mushroom

RICHARD WESTCOTT

Unexpected – this is no plant
but machinery made from flesh
discarded in the grass.
Here’s an air intake from a jet
with several soft fins crumpled.
I turn it over in my hands to see
a scabby disc, rust flakes peeling,
scorched, as if exposed to radiation
one flattened breast excised complete
with areola. I rotate it
heavy on its shaft and flick
the gills which never breathed.

Unexpected – here is life –
seething in the flesh
coggy maggots twist and turn –
little wheels inside an engine
working in their darkness
to transform flesh, recycle scrap,
digest the meat and make new growth –
unseen soaring spores pour forth
out of this rotting fruiting body –
not plant, machine, nor breast, or fish
but mushroom, which you might expect
I could have picked and eaten.

‘Field Mushroom’ was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2017)

Spider Times

ANGELENA DEMARIA

 

Full grown, and shiny brown as hazelnuts

they’ve slung their skeins of silk between the bushes

and the garden chairs, the leaves and roses.

All the garden glitters with desperation.

 

In their skeletons they feel its coming.

Soft pads taste the ancient bitter tang.

Waking will be harder every morning

and the stone of sleep heavier to carry

as they spin and weave.

 

The greenfly is long gone, the last late bumblebee

blunders through their sticky traps with ease.

Dimmed diamond eyes can only watch

the inedible rose bay seeds bob

in their unwilling captor’s shrouds.

 

The web’s gone, and my spider isn’t hiding,

waiting to spin again. Usually we’d snuggle up together,

he/she more comfortably than me perhaps,

although the spider drew its eight legs in,

its small brown body round as a scarified seed

 

and then I’d think to hold it, almost kill

it with inspection, as it hung webbed up for combat

between the Victorian whorls.

We’d sat together since the start of June

on the black arbour seat

 

sniffing the cool white jasmine,

my nose, its waving feet, tasting

the sweet bright air. But now September’s in.

There’s just one filament of web,

fine on the ironwork like baby hair,

breathing my in/out breath until it breaks.

 

 

‘Spider Times’ was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2017)