Tag Archives: August 2015

Sentinel Champions August 2015. SLQ Poetry Competition. Commended – Lee Nash

Bone china

I begin as dust – ash and white –
crushed ossein with feldspar,
powdered glass, fluxed, now clay

slaked for the wheel’s cool head.
I am in your hands, under,
between your hands. You feel

the lacuna not in bone but bole,
press out flaws with skilled fingers,
slowly pull me to form;

caress me with wet hands,
cut me with your ribs,
whirling mud in damp delight.

Giddy, I appear,
thrown, submissive, cleaved –
yet coming into my power.

Leather-hard, now leave
your mark, delicate sgraffito
beneath my coat, my fine slip,

the linear stroke, gestural score
with sharpened and blunt pen
tools. Now take your crazed bisque,

crackled and combed,
fettled and feathered, to the fire,
the point of fusion, glaze-high.

Never break me. My dust is dangerous –
stays in the lungs forever.
Yet do not put me on display,

rather let stay on your lips.
Fill me with your pleasure –
hot, steaming, fragrant.

Lee Nash. Commended

Sentinel Champions August 2015. SLQ Poetry Competition. Commended – Mark Haworth-Booth

Portrait of a Lady c.1465 National Gallery, by Alesso Baldovinetti (c. 1426-99)

For Tessa Traeger

It was easy, helping her from the frame –
the way I’d seen a footman hand a lady
from her coach – but everything looked the same:
her profile, pearls in the blonde hair, was ready
for the next Sunday visitor, while we
(her spirit, not the picture) went for tea.

‘I’ve not been out for years,’ she sighed,
‘so thank you for inviting me’. ‘What would
you like?’ I asked. ‘Just to look,’ she replied.
‘Seeing young people eating is so good.’
When someone scraped a chair across the floor,
she jumped, as if she’d heard a lion roar –

‘which actually, I did – at Carnival one year,’
she laughed, relaxed: ‘the old duke had one brought
to Florence to amuse his friends – oh dear,
the beast ran off, although it was soon caught.
Why do young women show their underclothes?’
‘Street fashion,’ I grumped, ‘means anything goes –

but please may I ask you something? Those palms
stitched on your sleeve – are they significant?’
‘Ah, my label – curators have no qualms
about regaling folk with their redundant
and hopeful speculations. No, that “symbol”
was just a joke among my girlfriends’ circle –

we all wore it one month to tease our men
and naturally it worked extremely well.
So I wore it when we had the portrait done.
Any other falsehoods I should dispel?’
‘I’ve always wondered, do you think it’s you? –
assuming that a portrait can be true.’

‘It’s me. My husband didn’t like the nose
because it isn’t classically straight –
but it’s correct. I like that. Also those
thin lips. The custom was to plump them out,
the bosom too, of course, but history
received reality – unflattered me.’

‘If I may, as I’ve known you all these years,
there’s one more thing. Now you’ve become great art,
what would you say you yearn for most, apart
from loved ones?’ ‘Well, love never disappears
(although it’s time I went) but what we miss’ –
and here she took a draught of breath – ‘is this.’

Mark Haworth-Booth. Commended.

Sentinel Champions August 2015. SLQ Poetry Competition. Andrew Brush – Commended

The Love Song of Air

I’ve brought you a warm Windrush wind.
Playfully it came through the bandaged poplar colonnade,
A silver glittering glissando
Rippling with applause,
Leaves belly-up – can-canning,
Her lenticel lips parted with pleasure.
(wind never knowingly blows up skirts)
Tousling the grasses long hair
Where once the picnic blanket came billowing down
Just to come face to face with dragon and butterfly
For the delicacy of kissing winged wind.
(weathervanes, windmills, washing lines, don’t dream of you)
Moving in the place like us
Amongst the festival of seconds.
Speaking to liquid adagio of Windrush River
In rippled fetch of breath.
Listening to the silence of unthinking things,
Clutching light and time to stay
Gathering a fragrant bouquet of day.
(it’s just atmosphere moving)

I’ve brought you a Corsican choir.
Three Tenors from Calvi
Two Baritones from St Florent
Two Bass from Bonifacio.
From the Cathedral where the Virgin Mary’s
Eyes always watched us.
(puffed sound waves organised)
Communion of wind inhaled
Notes to our ears Notes to our hearts
Sculpting silence they sing
The love song of air.
(vibrations becoming undetectable)

Andrew Brush. Commended.

Sentinel Champions August 2015. SLQ Poetry Competition. Jason Lytollis – Highly Commended

The Sea’s Return Home


Our sea comes in
in tongues riffling fast as feathers,
blurred with flap and clatter, this is Babel on wheels, the agglomerated
hurl and rive, the piling on of languages, cacophanous.
A noisy rainbow’s grafted itself white.

Whisht, now, it’s here;
the flags of many nations flare and are let go,
utterances marked by travel are swilled back to the mother tongue.
It broadens where it shimmies in, slicks the sea steps at talk’s ebb,
whispers: wheere and theere.

It knows where’s home,
our own bonny polyglot, always quick to catch on,
we all of us said it’d go far (and how!).
It fairly shot up – and out – but never despised its roots.
Scuffing on the doormat,

joggling the sneck,
it’s got its proper accent pat, slotted back,
backlogged with craic and ripe for dishing it; it’s been the Red Sea,
the Yellow and Black. The last lees of clatter filter out,
through the scrawp of stones, the wheezing frequencies.

Jason Lytollis. Highly Commended

Sentinel Champions August 2015. SLQ Poetry Competition. E K Wall – Highly Commended

The Unloved

Quietly, like the moon breathing,
she folds everything that she is
into the grey handkerchief of herself.

Into her grubby square, she drops
her dead parents’ iced eyes, glazed
over with misgivings, resentments,
disappointment’s cataracts.
(They never could see
the wood for the trees.)

Next, she rests, gently,
her redundant love that
nobody ever wanted. Her
odds and ends, her remnants,
her remains, withdrawn now from
her platter offered to a cruel world.

Juggling, in the cotton rag,
scraps thrown to her over
a lifetime of loneliness and warmth’s
occasional crumbs that she existed on,
she starts to stride out from
her familiar neighbourhood.

Passing stark landmarks, silences,
moments frozen in a dark time,
blurry now, corners where
she was mercilessly taunted,
she walks, her hair salt candyfloss,
towards the cliffs that hold the mad sky up.

And she keeps going.

E K Wall Highly Commended

Sentinel Champions August 2015. SLQ Poetry Competition. Highly Commended Paul Connolly

Coal Shed

It was there long after the outside toilet
Was demolished, lingered when the
Entire back yard – small cherry tree,
Sand pit – was concreted, even when itself

Was turned into a tool shed, it hung round,
Drawing my eye-flicking to where
It wasn’t and hadn’t ever
Been. The bottom board, side- and cross-slats unbound

The coal hole, blacked with slack and shadow. Bonfire
Night’s dark was scrubbed up, spit-and-polished
By it, and on grey days I thought it
Pooled the parasitic floaters in my eyes

In blurs more infinite than things. Its pull
Thralled me. In comparison El
Greco’s ophidian maw of hell
Is childish. Thirty-six feet cubed, half-full

Of coal then nothing, is awe. My son fears
The curtained off under-stairs. It’s
Half-full of odds and sods too, bits
Of shadow and the countenance that nears

As I bend over the garden’s slope, into
What’s held by the bent trees tonight:
Dark, flaring lacquered anthracite,
Displays its star-annihilating truth.

Paul Connolly. Highly Commended. August 2015

Sentinel Champions August 2015. SLQ Poetry Competition. 3rd Prize Jason Lytollis

Fast Forward: The Poetry Museum


Manuscripts outliving attributions;
ancient phonemes juddering on the tongue,
pentameters worn catalectic.
‘Daffodils’: prehistoric flora (see ferns
or bryophytes). Source: Digidata.

We have a piece called ‘Tintinnabulation,
words written above’ unknown location claiming
resonances across the supereons
from ‘henges’ (no data). ‘A sense sublime’
pertaining to receptors now vestigial.

Wordsworth [obscure]: a talismanic term
or else descriptor of outworn literature;
as in ‘had its words’ worth’ see also Lord Bryan,
Shirley-Ann Keats, Blake Williams, Saint Coleridge.
Q.v. Romanticism – a reproductive kink?

This final artefact has ships, towers, domes:
a literary idyll called Westminster, home
to chimes, assumed rung out.
The reference to, ‘That mighty heart’, is
thought physiological, relating to
the species before homo proximus.
‘The inward eye’, an early digitised brain?
Why would a race with non-interposable thums
assume persistence through a billion years
or think their art could outlast its analogues?

Jason Lytollis. 3rd prize. August 2015

Sentinel Champions August 2015. SLQ Poetry Competition. 2nd Prize Audrey Ardern-Jones

Lion in Chingola

strangers surround him,
touch his lifeless paws; I hold my father’s hand,
watch the bare-chested men
wipe their shotguns – expect his mouth to open,
to roar, to eat me up:

he lies centre stage in a bungalow lounge,
no bones, no flesh, a mouth with no tongue;
I stroke his quilt of beige-gold skin, uli musama*
tail-swipe my brother poking sixpences
through bullet holes:

outside, men slash sun-burnt grass,
inside my mother sleeps, curtains drawn
another migraine, the air dense.

*he’s beautiful (Bemba)

Audrey Ardern-Jones. 2nd prize August 2015

Sentinel Champions August 2015. SLQ Poetry Competition. 1st Prize Camilla Lambert

The hunger-monger


He can be a hurdy-gurdy man, jangling
and cranking his drone for skeleton figures
to totter in a slow sardana. In another guise
he wears a long coat of piebald browns,
and flutes promises of asylum far away,
where beds are soft and walls protect.
He plays at vanishing, returns to tread
field-edge dust, kicks away the dying weeds.

In his wake a cow stands motionless;
its head drags skinny shoulders down,
scant measure of hay long gone,
and a child cries, nuzzles unappeased.
Shadowed by him a hugger-mugger crowd
drags bundles to a drab encampment
where they may be fed. After empty days
they have forgotten what it is to eat.

In presidential corridors he is spotted
dressed in minion grey. He exits the rooms
of braided colonels or ministers of state
guarding a heavy bag, lips tight. And always,
like the hungry he needs to gorge upon,
he circles in and out of borderlands.
He hides in camouflage, sharing fires
by ragged shelters with the prey he trades.

Camilla Lambert. 1st prize. August 2015