Category Archives: Sentinel Champions


Poem by Karen Morash

Things I Have Advertently and Inadvertently Taught My Daughters This Past Year No one is wholly good or wholly bad. (with one or two exceptions) A movie scene with a woman being a warrior can make up for badly-written dialogue … Continue reading

Answering Julia Copus – poem by Sandra Galton

Answering Julia Copus

Yes, Julia, love can be like spilt tea,
inching up through us, warm and sweet,
sepia-coloured, you describe it –

but when it steals in unbidden,
that first timid stain (should you resist)
will embed itself, bleeding like raw meat

dense and violet, its fist of iron
ever-present, binding yet purblind,
drumming senselessly. Unanswerable,

not mere autocrat, but anarchist,
it breaks every rule – its rivers,
like arteries starved of oxygen, double

back to that place before you knew
love – and how it was to be
you being you.

Answering Julia Copus by Sandra Galton received a special mention in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (November 2017) judged by Abegail Morley.

Machine – poem by Martin Wildman


I slept and dreamt of the Amazon,
unhooked a river
and it became an endless souk.
I crafted an apple –
that crisp dead fruit became a tiny wall of glass.
I breathed three stars into a clock
and they shook to tell me my brother was there.
I spoke to an echo
and a woman’s voice cried an electric crackle.
I heard a bluebird tweet
and it carved a troll of ancient granite.
I searched in the dust of God’s library
and found a tome shaped like my face.
I hunted for Jesus amongst the chatter
and a million prophets appeared in the smoke.

At night, when I breathe,
it is with a machine
without which I would die.
I would suffocate in the very air
that feeds the bats and the hyenas
and the crying babies in their mother’s arms.

One day, I asked a changeling
whether I needed to use technology
and he scattered ten thousand flowers on the floor
which spelt out the words
‘Without me, you are nothing.’

Machine by Martin Wildman received a special mention in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (November 2017) judged by Abegail Morley.

The Call – poem by Audrey Ardern-Jones

The Call

Lately she’d promised not to paddle in the sea
or ride her bike, instead she stayed inside,
pill packets left in rows on the dressing table.

A stickler for no waste – pulverised left-overs,
stewed teabags squeezed to feed cuttings,
calendar pictures made into thank you cards.

She made collages from dried fish bones, tops
of poppy heads, toothpaste tops shaped
as rocks – green splintered glass as forest trees.

In summer months she’d drive down south;
whole mornings in her Morris Minor, driving
on A roads, B roads, sandwiches and flasks of tea.

She’d sit with grandchildren on her knee
playing games with words in a Collins Graphic
English Dictionary – spelling out the impossible.

I suppose we shouldn’t have been surprised,
a shrill voice enquiring ‘are you next of kin?’
We couldn’t find our map, like us, it was missing.

The Call by Audrey Ardern-Jones was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (November 2017) judged by Abegail Morley.

The Return – poem by Lyn Thornton

The Return

She’d have known him anywhere
by his height, by his chest barrelled
like an ox, by his scars, by the way
he looked at her, by the way he kicked
the last suitor down the stairs.

She stood by the fire like a statue,
hoping to unfreeze her veins, warm
to welcome him; when she opened
her mouth nothing came, certainly
no sound he could recognize.

I am come, he said not looking at her
but at the mirror that hung above her head,
there he saw his face crumble as if the silvering
had slipped but not before it imperfectly caught
the shadow of birds she’d woven, take flight.

The Return by Lyn Thornton was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (November 2017) judged by Abegail Morley.

Sometimes, in the snow, I think I see – poem by Gabriel Griffin

Sometimes, in the snow, I think I see

the white and silent day shatter
in sound, little men catch up
with the herd of beasts and run
at them, shouting and beating

bones on hide drums, separating
a young one from the rest that
grunts and bellows while they
drive it towards and then over

the edge of a gorge. Swiftly
they climb down the cliff, clamber
over rocks, slid through the dead
beast sharp stones that hiss

cutting into tough hide, then carve
crimson and squelching flesh
into hunks they can carry back
to their women in the caves.

Sated, they stretch their legs
by a fire lit with dried punk, found
in young forests of silver birch
sprung new from the snow after

the great cold abated from
the frozen wasteland of ice that
had been their world for as long
as any had memory. Mammoth meat,

a strong taste in their mouths, bright
flames to keep away auroch, tiger, wolf,
bear. They tell of ice gods whose names
fall as snowflakes, of the swollen goddess

of birth and of death; carve from stones
figurines in her semblance, fashion flutes
from mammoth and vulture bones
and sing with no words to the soft piping.

Some venture far into the mystery, dare
darkness, hidden pits and the cave bear,
to paint their world on rock walls and ceilings:
horses that gallop over frozen lands, bulls pursued

by stick figures with spears, the shaman dancing
with his headdress of horns. And we wonder:
did they know we would come? Did they
leave these for us? And, if so, why?

Sometimes, in the snow, I think I see by Gabriel Griffin was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (November 2017) judged by Abegail Morley.

Grave Marker, Whitby Abbey – poem by Michael Brown

Grave Marker, Whitby Abbey

To touch a Saxon cross, make your hand
a star and arrange it to each rune with love.
Here was one who felt such slackened
feldspar through that world of stone —
eyes narrowed, intent to the fault line,
a seam of rock. Once it took such time
to score or scratch or deftly nick
these half-familiar marks where now
you strain to place your fingerprint
to fix a dream blade’s dance,
trace the grit and grain — how the will
to rough out lives or interlace
straight lines became.

Grave Marker, Whitby Abbey by Michael Brown was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (November 2017) judged by Abegail Morley.

Of One Matter – poem by Derek Sellen

Of One Matter

         – after the painting La Sagrada Familia by Josefa de Óbidos.
           in which Joseph holds out a cross to the infant Christ

In Sevilla, in the first years of my life, not yet waist-
height among the crowds, I saw the Virgin borne up
out of candle-lit dark on the shoulders of twenty men,
step by juddering step into the full sun. Trumpets sounded
and a gypsy voice sang the saeta.
                                              The memories came with me
into my father’s country where I studied with the nuns;
for me, those effigies had breath and blood and sinew
more than the convent’s pale life. So when I painted
la Sagrada Familia, I gave Joseph the long-bridged nose
of a wooden saint with its triangle of shadow, Mary
a breast contoured by the run of a grain. My Christ-child
reached to the slender square-cut cross, gazing on it
as if he and it were of one matter, drawn to each other.
I thought of the novice who’d hidden a stillborn in her cell
and of trees that are felled for the supple strength of their heart.


Of One Matter by Derek Sellen was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (November 2017) judged by Abegail Morley.

A Place to Call Home – poem by Jude Neale

A Place to Call Home
To Nettie Wild

Paint white-silled windows
on the rooms of the homeless.

Fill them with hollyhocks and sky.

Let the honeyed light filter in
flooding the room
like pale cream on milk,
laughter spilling over sorrow.

May they fall into the sweep of stars
glittering their hard-eyed promise
over the lintel and stoop.

There’s a path in front;
it wavers and crosses
a meandering stream,

where it falls and falls again
into gleaming rain bowed glory.

They say build your own house
from dignity and pride.

Yet they know nothing really

of disappearing into innuendo,
or the grey incomplete answer
that swings like twilight
through dusky memory.

Paint an open door to enter through.

For the feral cat
curls round the rug,
she dreams of fire
and the yielding warmth
of your lap,
as you settle deep
in the plain wooden chair.

Paint a small bed,

draw up the covers,

and rest

like a wild salmon
finding her singular way

A Place to Call Home by Jude Neale was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (November 2017) judged by Abegail Morley.

splendid in its silence by Jude Neale
Splendid in its Silence is Jude Neale’s prizewinning poetry collection published by SPM Publications.

Negotiating slugs – a poem by A C Clarke

Negotiating slugs

I wanted to salt them away,
but couldn’t stomach orange meltdown:
thought I’d cope with poison,
their death in agony under the joists.

And yet …

there was that evening when I switched a light
on three of them, heads down at a saucepan
chummy as rootling hogs. By morning
only a glisten on the worktop
a memory of three grey bodies
hooked over a rim like stubby fingers.

And again…

there were three babies, thin as matchsticks,
not one as long as my little fingernail,
trekking the grownups’ trail in the lee of cupboards
even they couldn’t squeeze into; distracted
from food-quest by a poking paw
(what if the cat became furless and sticky?)
they curled up like kittens. I carried them
into the garden, close to the sorrel they love.

And then …

there were the two I kept in a jar –
lid tight shut, but air enough
though I was vowing pellets next time –
shook out next day behind the dustbins
where they lay still as peelings. I waited.
First one and then the other tendered
a cautious eye-stalk to the light,
muscled its way to shade, the breeze
shuffling a strip of white rag between us.

Negotiating slugs by A C Clarke won third prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (November 2017) judged by Abegail Morley