Tag Archives: #SentinelLiteraryQuarterly



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).

Anthony Watts to judge Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2017)

Anthony Watts

Anthony Watts

We are pleased to announce that Anthony Watts will judge the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2017). The competition which is open to all poets living in any part of the world will open on 6th March and close on the 31st of May.

Watts has been writing ‘seriously’ for over 40 years and has had poems published in magazines and anthologies in addition to four published collections: Strange Gold (KQBX Press, 1991), The Talking Horses of Dreams (Iron Press, 1999), Steart Point (John Garland, 2009) and The Shell Gatherer (Oversteps, 2011).   He has won prizes in poetry competitions and his poems have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and Somerset Sound.  Rural Somerset has been his home for most of his life and he has no plans to leave it.  His main interests in life are poetry, music, thinking and messing about outdoors.


Hutton’s Unconformity – a poem by David Smith

David Smith

Hutton’s Unconformity

The mind seemed to grow giddy by looking so far into the abyss of time.’ John Playfair, James Mutton’s companion, 1788.

It took time to find the courage to attempt the scramble
Down, the cliff path being as treacherous as a kiss.
And once down, the scramble for the words begins.
But they are as slippery as the slope. I fear the worst.
Rocks …… sharper than a serpent’s tooth
Piled haphazardly like an ill-kept country churchyard,
Grey as a winter’s shipping forecast, visibility poor,
Topped with pinks, like a virgin’s blush.
Told you so. Words as stale as a teacher’s coffee breath
Jostle for attention, just like his unmanageable class.
I pick through the jumble, knowing they are worn, second-hand, possibly soiled,
And yet I must make-do and mend and create
If not something beautiful, at least something I would be seen dead in.
Around the rugged rocks the ragged rascal ran.

I see and feel defeated. But, you, sir, looked
And as you looked you knew that we had been staring
Down the wrong end of the telescope all this time.
You understood what these mute blocks and slabs were trying to say:
That time itself was not a murmuring stream meandering
To nowhere in particular but an ocean.
Or rather ocean after ocean after rolling ocean stretching
Further than the mind can see. Multitudinous.
And I bet that knowledge jabbed you with all the force
Of that gannet’ s beak, bayoneting the waves.

High above me, swallows swoop and dive and gather
Around the ruins of the abandoned church;
Below my feet, the sea, always an attentive lover,
Relentlessly, timelessly, licks every nook and cranny in the rocks.

I look around and see with your eyes, sir,
But I hold this pen in my own left hand and write.


Hutton’s Unconformity by David Smith was Commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Competition, May 206, by Mandy Pannett.

The Markfield Tomb – poem by John Gallas

John Gallas

The Markfield Tomb

Though it’s April now, when even shades are bright,
what was A Fine & Noble Wife Below remains unsprung.
Her monument in leafy tongues battered out of stone declares
that The End of Time is the Beginning of Eternity.

So she waits, in a lapidary swimming-pool with four
stone pineapples, departed, but not there yet,
for the Fiery Crane, and watches while she floats,
to the north, south, east and west.

The silver birches hold their silver breaths :
under the pavement Eternity counts – seventeen million
six hundred and fourteen thousand eight hundred
and ninety two. An angel sucks his trumpet.

Sometimes up, sometimes down, from pinkish coffin cliffs
to wet, black, corky beds, the Noble Wife treads water.
Down we go : the lawnmower is coming, tossing wisps of hay
into the springing air. The birches glitter on the wind.

The Markfield Tomb by John Gallas was Commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition May 2016 judged by Mandy Pannett.




Time is chipped enamel, a grinding

of molars, the appearance of cavities.

We are sieved through its jaws.


In front of its teeth there are only

our tongues, which grow moss.

Our eyes lick the cones of the hills.


The wind tunes the gaps in the gully,

sets our incisors on edge. This brokenness

goes back forever. Old jaws fail to clamp;


their outcrops roll in loose sockets.

Rocks have a trick, here, of sloughing off

solidity, shrugging their shoulders.


They let us pick through their leavings:

rowan trunks, harebells, brachiopods,

coral. The land lies: tosses out


waves, ancient cockles, serves up

a fish stew of geology. We pass

time. Again, we’re underwater.


‘Winnats Pass’ won first prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (April/May 2015)

Julian Dobson lives in Sheffield and his poetry blog is at https://52poemsinayear.wordpress.com