Category Archives: Competitions

Food medicine for them


They came from Honeydew on Sundays
farm people on a lift
they brought children
with silent cries, mouths open like birds.
They brought malnutrition, two kinds:
marasmus, and kwashiorkor
known for turning hair red.
Sparse hair and bloodless gums.
Protruding stomachs.
They came to be scolded
‘you’re so fat, feed your child.’
Mute, not explaining that pap can feed an adult
but a child needs protein to hold the body
from leaking into legs, swollen, discoloured.
They brought marasmic babies
who stopped eating small,
had to be coddled to eat.
They came for the prescription:
Pronutro in the morning; mince, vegetables for lunch
and supper. they got better, slowly
depressed babies with large black
dead eyes waking up, showing interest in
waiting for that lift to bring mother.
Sometimes for six months, waiting.

(pap: mealie meal porridge)

A retired nurse, Cornelia Smith Fick was editor of a primary health care magazine and a writer for Takalani Sesame (radio and TV). Her poems and short stories are in Itch, Botsotso, Fractured poetics: a poetry anthology, Soho Square V, Bloomsbury, To breathe into another voice, a poetry/jazz anthology, Poetry Potion, Spelk, New Contrast and Atlanta Review. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of the Western Cape.

Dalí Eating Sea Urchins


Windfalls (you’d think) from a marine sweet chestnut,
their spines still slowly quiver.
He finds scissors. Digs in

cutting a circle through each unresisting
anus, flips off the round of shell
like the lid of a jar. Snaps the rest

in two as he might a peeled orange.
Five glistening lobes in each half, nestling
in a puddle of dark brine. He drains

and rinses them, scoops out
ten mouthfuls of sex – salt cream
dissolving on his tongue –

licks his fingers slow and thorough,
tasting the creature’s final throb, seasoned
with guilt: the sweeter for that.

‘Dalí Eating Sea Urchins’ by A.C. Clarke won second prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2020) judged by Terry Jones.

SLQ Daily 4 September 2020

In SLQ Daily on the 4th of September 2020, our Read of the Day is ‘Materfamilias’ by Gail Wright which received a Special Mention in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2020) judged by Terry Jones. Our Blast from the Past today is ‘Fishing’ by Alison Chisholm, our Guest Poet in August 2003.

Something to look forward to, our Blast from the Past tomorrow 5th of September will be ‘My eConversation with Alison Chisholm’ by Nnorom Azuonye.


When I clean my teeth, there are only two toothbrushes in the holder.
They are orange and lime green; bright,
but not so conspicuous as
the two empty slots in-between them.

The washing machine has only been on twice
this week.
Only twice.
In a full week.

The shopping bill is half what it used to be
and the fridge is never full.
Stuff would get thrown away
if it was.

Only the top two placemats of the pile in the middle of the table
get used.
They are of the wipe-clean kind,
but I don’t really need to any more.

The television isn’t set to MTV or Netflix
when I turn it on,
and the volume is never higher than

Cushions remain in place on the sofas.
The cupboards are full of clean cups,
the drawers of forks,
and teaspoons.

‘The dream!’ everyone says. ‘Bliss!’
‘Yes!’ I say. ‘Time for us at last!’
And I go home to defrost two pork chops in the microwave
just so I can hear the ping.

‘Materfamilias’ by Gail Wright received a Special Mention in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2020) judged by Terry Jones.


I cast the line, let my hook dip
to settle above stirred sand
until mud flurries still. Sharp in green depths
it waits, watches ripples break on stone,
reaches when a hint of fish gleams.

The bait is snatched; float bobs, and I
reel in a glittering wedge
that spins and dances, writhes and flaps.
I catch it, cold and slithering,
ease the hook, feel it thrashing.

Its silver glistens early summer days
of paddling in the stream, of reed and rush
and willow catkins. Chill and splash
made small legs shiver; grass scent
tickled nostrils; frog percussion throbbed.

And there were picnics,
tomato sandwiches and lemonade,
races through dandelion and clover;
then home for tea, warm baths and tales
of prince and witch and once-upon-a-time.

The small fish flickers. I throw it back,
watch as its movements synchronise
with water’s rhythm. I cast another line,
trawl for another flash of silver, gather
fresh harvest from memory’s drenched stores.

‘Fishing’ by Alison Chisholm was published in Sentinel Poetry (Online) Magazine, August 2003. Chisholm has written eleven collections, six books on poetry writing including Crafting Poetry, and also the distance learning poetry course for The Writers Bureau. Her poems have won numerous competitions in Britain and America, and been broadcast on TV and radio. She has taught creative writing and poetry writing to adults since 1983, and has given workshops in schools and libraries, and at conferences in Britain and overseas, including The Writers’ Holiday, Fishguard, The Writers’ Summer School, and Relax and Write weekends. She is a regular columnist for Writing Magazine.