Category Archives: Sentinel Champions

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


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


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 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

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

Redacted by Aelred Down




Redacted by Aelred Down 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.

In the Walled Garden by A C Clarke

In The Walled Garden

This afternoon on the cusp of October
each blade of grass still keeps
its glitter-drop memento,
a tiny prism, as if
a glass rainbow had splintered
harmlessly, the way a sky rainbow
breaks light without a wound.

A feather dropped from a pigeon rests
near a litter of shed leaves.
It doesn’t matter,
the way a tumble of windfalls
means not carelessness
but plenty, their bruises
glut for wasps.

Outside, traffic is growling, a plane
thrums overhead. I think
of glass and steel colliding, the sharp
glint of wreckage
flesh crushed purple;
and how bombs, falling, burst
into angry flowers.

In the Walled Garden by A C Clarke was highly commended in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh.

Liverpool Bay by Seán Street

Liverpool Bay

The voice of a hand on my
arm. Less of me to answer
now, watching from here, waiting,
your ship rising from morning
towards the sunrise as two
great birds flew out to greet you,
took you with them through dawn light
past a shoreline to a skyline,
from a desert to a pool
of life’s possibilities.

The dialogue of breathing.
Where West pours in on the tide,
the exhale of East answers.
Water swims with memory,
but when I ask, it only
whispers to shingle. Too much
to question an ocean,
too many conversations
murmuring here at once
in mid-flow. Too much to ask.

The dialogue of breathing.
How we come and go, we tides.
It is what seas make us do.
We come and go – breath and tides –
body heat’s ebb under moons,
the convection of spirit.
We’re printed here together
somewhere across all this deep.
Listen for voices, further
out each time the moon rises.

The voice of a hand on my
shoulder, and it’s you again
out there on the morning sea,
forever coming towards
me, and the city reaching
for the ploughed space in water
left by your lost ship’s grey ghost,
past a shoreline to a skyline,
forever coming back home,
coming in on the bay’s tide.

Liverpool Bay by Seán Street was commended in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh.

Upon a Night by Mary Rozmus-West

Upon a Night

What goes on in the longest night? More
meals for owls, extended predators’ hours?

Who registers additional losses, the nests
now empty, which stomachs full when time
is called by a tiny chirp hesitantly
announcing the shortest day? The sun

stumbles, spilling milky light from behind
wintering clouds. Opalescence bargains
with tenebrous forces, pretends that all is
well, even as the body count mounts.

Everything’s something, deserves at least notice
say the conflicted heroes. Did you really think
that no one would die when you left the injured
bleeding in the darkness? Dolus eventualis.

‘Upon a Night’ by Mary Rozmus-West was commended in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh