Marilyn Donovan – Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl

Snow   its pale tossed


whiteout and bare dark twigs


grown sentient

snow    as habitat

  as adjective 

bone  hook





soft and cool as cotton grass heads


a statue

fused to a branch

sifting the pulse of the forest

its cold metallic resinous breath

face     a sounding board for silence

voice hollow as bird bones 

suddenly      detached

hinged on night

a ghost


calico-pale curve

paragliding the gloom

the forest



                 hemlock   redwood   lodgepole   cedar      


Marilyn Sentinel 14.6.21

Marilyn Donovan is a retired librarian living in Kent. Her poems have been published in many magazines and several anthologies, including In the Telling (Cinnamon) and Bugged…Writings from Overhearings (Bell Jar). Her debut collection was A Calculus of Balance: poems after Piet Mondrian (Limpet). She has won or been placed in several competitions, including Canterbury Poet of the Year and the Wirral Festival of Firsts. ‘Snowy Owl’ was inspired by a beautiful bird seen on a trip to the Pacific North-West.

‘Snowy Owl’ won first prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (April 2021), judged by Mary Anne Smith Sellen.

Trevor Breedon – Chatsworth Street

Chatsworth Street

Not one memory of the place contains rain,
yet here it is now, siling it down, windscreen
runnels melting the house front’s worn brick,
its unmatched windows and the door
with the high letter box, from which news,
good and bad, drifted down for 18 years.
Odd that rain is not remembered, while snow
builds miniature ranges in gutters
and sun bakes gravelled tar into dinner smells,
fag smoke and sawn-off woodyard scents.

Today the strongest stink is said to be of weed
from dealing dens, the talk is of fireworks
launched into neighbours’ homes. But only
at the top end of the street, a resident proclaims,
the end that was for night-time gatherings
under the iron lamp in games of growing up,
baked bean kisses and long drags on rescued nubs,
before seeking, hiding, then vanishing inside
to listen to adult voices wonder
how they might escape this place.

Trevor Breedon

Trevor Breedon lives near Canterbury in Kent. He started writing poetry in 2014 after a career spent working as a sub-editor on newspapers in Sheffield, Nottingham and London. He is a member of two poetry groups, SaveAs Writers in Canterbury and SoundLines in the Sandwich/Deal area.

Chatsworth Street by Trevor Breedon was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (April 2021) judged by Mary Anne Smith Sellen.

Review of Lure by Alison Lock

Title: Lure
Author: Alison Lock
Publisher: Calder Valley Poetry
Reviewer: Mandy Pannett

‘With words, I state my being in the world’. This declaration by the narrator/survivor seems, to me, to sum up her resolve, her vision, her whole reason for existing after a terrible, nearly fatal accident which left her, broken in spine but not in spirit, ‘in a cramping brace’, flat on her back for months like ‘a translucent bookmark’. This, a time for recovery and for contemplation, offers a chance to heal the ‘rupture’, the ‘displacement’. The accident, of which she has no memory, is ‘a gap that must be filled’.

An account of an accident then, and its aftermath, a description of gradual recovery. But this is no factual narrative detailing events and progress. Alison Lock is a skilful writer and knows how to bring the reader with her on every stage of the journey. With her we view the happenings – the accident, the rescue, the hospital environment, the returning home, the re-visiting in a new season. The poems are divided into careful sections, the language is simple, clear, lyrical where appropriate, sensory and full of imagery of the natural world. There are descriptions of pain and the slow mending of ‘particles of bone’ which join ‘white and white’ but there are also bluebells and harebells and a summer evening with ‘the evening primrose, white musk yellow’. Lure is rich in its variety of tones and moods and the reader is there throughout the experience.

An aspect of the writing that I find particularly beguiling is the focus on the immediate and near, a view from the level of earth. When the badly injured narrator is trying to crawl to safety she says ‘I have never been so close to ground: its elements of metal, earth, stone, trash, shit.’ A dead shrew is flattened on the path and she observes, is aware of observing, ‘every hair on its back.’ These moments of closeness, when she is struggling to live, when she realises that the ‘gift of life’ is still hers to cherish, seem to be the beginning of transcendence.

I mentioned the visionary, mystical aspect and it is a key element in Lure. The author believes she was meant to be saved, that St Brighid ‘held me/in that moment when I fell.’ At the moment when she was almost lost – ‘an oak twig/made brittle’ – some invisible watcher ‘pulled me from the deep.’

These are radiant poems, inspirational and full of grace. I’ll end with the author’s own words, the first words she managed to write in hospital, scribbled in pencil on a scrap of paper:

            By grace
            my place
            of being in
            the world
            is neither
           nor here
           but as a part
          I am
          of all things.

Buy ‘Lure’ here.

The Daedalus Files by Mandy Pannett