Tag Archives: Roger Elkin


Showering Grandma – a poem by Roger Elkin

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Showering Grandma   You sensed she’d reckoned right from the start we were kitting-out this wet-room especially for her.   That’s why she sits resplendent now on the bath-stool she’s placed just-so beneath the snaking shower head.   Only those … Continue reading


History’s Footnote: the fly – a poem by Roger Elkin

History’s Footnote: the fly  for Elliot Gittings   For much of the time goes unnoticed even when, after his zigzag tantivying, he draws near and lands four squarely almost in your face, to stand silently, legs angled and straddled like … Continue reading


Being Waspish – a poem by Roger Elkin

Being Waspish           … our neighbour said right from the start, No good will come of it. By “it” she meant billeting the Yanks in Stannard’s shirt-mill, where they bunked up between the greasy reek of stilled machines and the … Continue reading

A green activist considers the police state – a poem by Bruce Marsland

Bruce Marsland
A green activist considers the police state

There was a spy in my bed,
but I did not know.

I read about the malware on my laptop
logging every keystroke,
tracking every website,
scanning every download
for a sign of indiscretion.

I don’t write to my friends so much these days.

I heard about the wire on my mobile
filing names of callers,
noting times of chatter,
loading lists of contacts
into algorithms of subversion.

I don’t talk to my colleagues so much these days.

I overlooked
my ring-wearer, planted,
working me undercover, double identity,
licence to rape,
on her majesty’s bedroom service.

Our children, offspring of the secret state,
lost at least one parent to the shadows
when surveillance ended
and my phantom other half, faking like mad,
pulled out.

I don’t look at my family so much these days.

The law has fingered my collar and cuffs
and every inch of my anatomy
for the crime of having an opinion,
for the treachery of being free.

There’s a spy in my bed,

a spy in my head
I do not know.


‘A green activist considers the police state’ by Bruce Marsland won the first prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (February 2016) judged by Roger Elkin.

On Thursday – a poem by Joy Winkler

Joy Winkler

On Thursday

Jointing a chicken, breast from ribcage,
thinking about her face, deflated skin, yellow eyes
clavicle like a wishbone. If you bend the legs back,
twist until they crack, your knife will find the place.

Thinking about blood around her mouth, how
the paramedic called her the wrong name, how
she used to carve her way up our street like a model. 
On the slab, legs, breasts, wings in pairs

the rest in the pan keeping the tempo
of a rolling boil. Where she fell, a bottle
of gin, small jigsaw pieces in a knotted
plastic bag.  I took her arm, we’d never

touched that much before, years of neighbourly
routine. She was bristling angry when her legs
gave way.  The fat in the chicken stock floats,
small islands, the carcass rendered down.


On Thursday’ by Joy Winkler won second prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (February 2016) judged by Roger Elkin

Out of Niger – a poem by Jill Fricker

Jill Fricker

Out of Niger

We paid to leave.
The mean harvest traded.
Skinned goats, throats slit, blood
drained into bowls, their hungry flesh,
hides, bones, all sold, fire-scorched
pots, thatch from the roof.
In Algeria, we’ll beg for work;
a better life than here.

We are less than cargo;
on top of swaying trucks,
black-scarfed against the sun’s white
heat, mouths too dry to form words,
we watch our tracks vanishing,
the journey itself a mirage,
deception of shape-shifting sand.
When we stop, we are nowhere.

Our truck lists on deflating tyres,
oil drips like a wound;
abandoned, we follow the maddening
orb, her fiery rise, her bloodied
fall, negotiate north.
My sister goes first, feverish and parched;
we dig her grave in sculptured dunes,
their parting grains a flowing amber.

We have no tears.

‘Out of Niger’ by Jill Fricker won the third prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (February 2016) judged by Roger Elkin

Showman – a poem by Virginia Astley

Virginia Astley


Unexpected. You’re juggling in the square

flashing seven, throwing high

to a wind-torn sky                 

before it all falls apart           

and you turn my way

and catching my smile –

it’s been a while since our paths crossed –   

you ask if I’d like to walk.


Down the high street

to the edge of town and an alley

I’ve never noticed

to a muddied track where we climb higher

and higher, pausing to look back –

until we reach the summit

where, leaning against a bench looking out to sea

we watch the breakers.


Strange how different it is up here.

Two deer in rough winter coats

bound into view, pausing

as if they sense a change.

Later, on the leeward side of the hill

you show me the fox-runs

and I know, when nights are warmer

this is where I’ll find you.


‘Showman’ by Virginia Astley was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (February 2016)

Foreign Languages – a poem by Christina-Varvara Palmou

Christina-Varvara Palmou
Foreign Languages

Can we speak in eyes?
It’d be easier for me to speak.
Can I reply in laughter and shower steam?

Speak to me in hugs.
Then everything not understood will turn
into intimacy and drip over me.

Hear me in silences.
Because the words are for everyone and you are
the no one else that my mind is filled with.

Carry me in kisses.
Only the sliding of your thicker bottom lip on my hip
can hold the weight of the million things you do to my mind.


‘Foreign Languages’ by Christina-Varvara Palmou was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (February 2016) judged by Roger Elkin

Fly-tying – a poem by Fran Baillie

Fran Baillie


She stood at his knee as he opened the box
with the angler on top,
up to his armpits in river.

His mellow voice
flowed as he pointed;
dubbing needle, hacking pliers,
whip finisher, peacock eye
and pheasant tail.

He said it was
as easy as tying your shoelaces
but she instinctively knew
this was not how it was.

She was lured by their names;
Hare’s Ear, Tiger Stripe, Copper Nymph,
Green Beast and Woolly Bugger –
a forbidden word
so it was whispered.

These flies, painstakingly
fashioned of fur and chenille,
tinsel, wax and glue
looked ready for flight,
as he was.

‘Fly-tying’ was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (February 2016) judged by Roger Elkin

Peter Barton’s Lessons of History – a poem by Caroline Davies

Caroline Davies

Peter Barton’s Lessons of History

A trench is not just a trench.
Each one was dug out spade by spade,
the work of men who were also soldiers.

A tunnel is not just a tunnel.
This one shows pick marks in the chalk
and a perfectly square shaft
made by men who were miners before the war.

This passage is not just a passage.
Here are sappers John Lane and Ezekiel Parkes
listed among the missing. They have no headstones
but eighty feet below ground Peter knows where they lie.

A map is not just a map.
This German one has a cluster of crosses by the sally port
where they knew the attack would start.
Each cross is a dead Australian.


‘Peter Barton’s Lessons of History’ by Caroline Davies was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (February 2016) judged by Roger Elkin