Category Archives: Daily

SLQ Daily, 02 October 2020

Read of the Day is ‘Food medicine for them’ highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2020) judged by Terry Jones.

The Blast from the Past is ‘Heart Surgeon in Stone’ by Josef Lesser. This poem was first published in Sentinel Poetry (Online) magazine in October 2003. This was how Lesser introduced himself back then: “My name is Josef Lesser and I am 63 years old. I have been writing poetry for about 18 months now, so I am very much a beginner. Although I have not undertaken any writing course, I have been reading a lot of poetry since connecting to the net. My wife and I live on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales, Australia and as I am now semi-retired I hope to write more and experiment with various styles.” The reading and writing certainly paid off as Lesser went on to publish more internationally in print magazines, anthologies and online journals including The Best Australian Poems 2006, Orbis, Istanbul Literature Review, Ken Saro-Wiwa anthology, Triplopia, Stride, The Rose & Thorn and other journals.

The current issue of Sentinel Literary Quarterly July – September 2020 is available for you to own in Paperback. Buy it from the SPM Publications Shop or from any Amazon store worldwide.

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.

Heart Surgeon in Stone
(for Rodin)

Can a Heart of Stone circuit life in a man?

Drain tears
Pump lust
Drive dreams

Who can fashion a heart?

Turn bronze into bone
Clay into flesh
Reveal space inside pain
Sculpt his mind into the mind of another
Each blow of his chisel, blood of a drop;
Auguste Rodin is the surgeon who can.

Those Burghers of Calais wherever they roam
continue when mist interweaves with the sun
to never find home.
Lament in your fate granite and steel
Drain tears
Bronze into bone
Clay into flesh
Spell passion with ‘p’, blood with a ‘b’
and anguish with eyes.
In their hands despair with a ‘d’ and ‘s’
for casting the soul.

When next you pause in the wandering desert
Baptist John with his faith is in prayer.
Search his form, pocket then his gospel of thanks,
“My Lord through your gift I breath life
to forward your deeds in your name”

Your gift beyond mountains, blood of a drop
Your gift to the surgeon in stone; his vision
I move as a man through space inside pain.

Josef Lesser

SLQ Daily, 01 October 2020

Esiaba Irobi
Photo: Olu Oguibe

October 1, 1960, Nigeria shook off the tyranny of colonialism
from Britain to become an independent nation.
Many Nigerians across the world celebrate this today.

October 1, 1960, a poet and playwright, Esiaba Irobi was born,
in Biafra. He lived in exile all his life in Nigeria,
Britain, the United States and Germany.
Of all the places he lived in exile, he loved Nigeria the most,
fondly referring to his host as “My own fucked-up cuntry

We celebrate the birthday of Esiaba Irobi today.

May 3, 2010, a mischievous rumour spread across the world;

How does somebody who wrote Nwokedi, The Colour of Rusting Gold,
Hangmen Also Die, The Other Side Of The Mask, Cotyledons, The Fronded Circle, Inflorescence: Selected poems, 1977-1988, Cemetery Road
and Why I Don’t Like Philip Larkin & Other Poems get to die?

Many of us, Esiaba’s friends, don’t even believe he is dead.
Maybe we are mad, yes, like those nuts out there who don’t buy
the deaths of Tupac, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson, the last superstar.
Esiaba is one of those people that defy death.

I even wrote a play, Funeral of the Minstrel, a rite,
to process this, and it still does not add up, so I will just say,
and I hope you all join me in saying, as loud as possible:

Nnorom Azuonye

I am not a major poet? But Philip is? What makes Philip
a better poet than me? Because he wrote, “they fuck you
up your mum and dad, they may not mean to, but they do…?”
Who, in England, from a middle class family, was not
fucked up by his mum and dad? Who?
– (excerpt from ‘Why I Don’t Like Philip Larkin’ by Esiaba Irobi)

Seven Stations of The Cross
(For Esiaba Irobi)

From Leeds to Liverpool,
Liverpool to London,
London to New York,
New York to Towson,
Towson to Athens;

The beaconer takes his bow in Berlin
And the exile becomes Myth:

Seven stations of the Cross.

I leave to live, said he
I exit to exist.

“When man waits and waits for God to act and God does not act, he takes on the role of God and acts. That’s why He made us in his own image.”
– Esiaba Irobi

Elegy for The Minstrel: Esiaba Irobi (after Neruda)

Through the drag of workdays, with your
Starburst smile and your flash of light,
With your syncopated rhythm,
Over piles of fractured bureaucratic language
From marking cover sheets, from tedious evaluations
Of quality, I hear you faintly, so distant now,
But the volume builds as you pound the big
Drum between your legs, call out for a response,
Over years, over continents, over the debris of
Our prime – you come drumming,
Banging through the buzz of humbug,
Silencing the moronic harpies of political correctness,
Shutting up the shrivelled whine of dry balled academics,
Calling forth a dance of resistance and orgasmic joy,
You come drumming,
Over ruined dreams of independence,
Over fields of civil war dead,
Over the hidden corpses soaked in oil
And covered up by shells full of dollars,
You come drumming,
In your fine robes with your pounding feet
With your thrusting hips
With your raucous laugh and righteous howl of laughter
You come drumming
Beating out a warning to the Beasts of Sandhurst,
Dragging into the light the secret police with their
Cowardly meals of ground glass in mashed potato,
Their Columbian neck ties,
Reducing the roar of tyrants into the buzz of
Dirty little mosquitos,
Composing your dance of rebellion and unstoppable human joy,
You come drumming,
Over the fields of middle age, over the fearful desert,
Over unspeakable silence of loss,
Over the graves of poor mothers,
And poverty emasculated fathers
Over the stilled rivers of molten steel,
Over the waters of the Tees, the Thames, the Mersey,
The Niger, all the world’s rivers, over pipelines greased with
Sweat and human blood,
You come drumming, and singing
Of revolution, of love, of sexual joy,
Of the pleasure and fires in great poetry
Of early Walcott and Neruda, of Soyinka,
Of Guevara, of Brecht’s first anarchic ballads,
Of Oxtail soup and the best kind of chilli
Of Goat curry with Rice and peas
Drowning out the drone of the conformists,
The vicious rumble of the bigots,
Cancelling out the hum of the vacuum of infinite space,
Demanding a place at all the parties to celebrate freedom
You will never be able to attend with us in person again,
Ensuring we will sing your songs and dance with your
Smile exploding within us,
Old friend, you come DRUMMING.

excerpt from ‘King James Version’ by Esiaba Irobi in Why I Don’t Like Philip Larkin & Other Poems

I KNOW A FUCKED UP ENGLISHMAN as clever as a fox
who does the mischief that is done in everybody’s heart
anywhere we gather to celebrate the festival of Ogun.
No one ever sees blood on his fangs but we all know,
deja vu, that everytime Ogun is rimmed or nibbled in the arse,
it, most certainly, is by his imperial majesty, King James IV.

The Returning
(To Esiaba Irobi)

Buried behind blinking seas
Of fire
Is a glance that beckons,
Death-cries of a Lion
Teasing the hyena’s gut
Yet retreat in a twirl
A giggling seduction

Seeds of your sowing
Sprung from my soil, questions
The sort of a setting sun
Turning her back, returning
Already sure
Of my speechlessness

Hearts must be brave in wars
Of life, I know; but glints
Of bow’d arrows reveal
Crimes un-committed
My feet remember
Another law of war
The lore of Gomorrah’n
Candle sticks that dared trap
Quills of wind in their eyes

So I flee, a free man
With slave chains to cotton
Fields; the cracking whips of
Eternal tutelage

Who are we but as errant ships
Sailed from the ports of mercy
Calling onto the other
As to a mother, and you are
The rain that relieves the cloud
The howl of the moon that excites the sea

Sequestered in questions,
Conundrums burst open
Coconut water of undiscovered selves
Penning shadows on pale pages by day
Pilfering snatches into
Drooping eyes of your night

Are you all one, cocooned
In this caves of wonder, teeth
Of the same slanted smile?
You smile as though
It was you who first discovered wine

Cast away in the corner rooms
Of maybes, struck in mid-speech
Like eyes caught in the fishing nets
Of Calliope’s bust
Your genius illumines the shadowed
Places of my heart

Reeking of inchoate
Desires and shameless thirsts
For the punch of your gin
To which no throat replies
The caress of vines that stable
Drunken tremors of a life without

When all that remains is
Tar stains on Life’s aged lips
When all left behind is
Ashy tendrils rippling
Through the desert dunes of Heaven’s gates

Who. Will. Tell. Your. Story?

excerpt from ‘Why I Don’t Like Philip Larkin’ by Esiaba Irobi


NOT BECAUSE he wrote obnoxious verses such as
‘Prison for the strikers, bring back the cat.
Kick out the niggers, how about that?’
‘Who is that feeling for my prick
Is it Tom, Harry or Dick?’
afterall we all wrote such doggerels at Oxford
just to amuse ourselves while listening to Louis
Armstrong’s ‘When the saints go marching in’
on Philip’s gramophone: His master’s voice.
It was the age of jazz. in those days it was fun
to jazz things up a bit. Just a bit. A little bit…

Yeah man!

From W.H. Auden we learnt jazzing things up.
Jeering, we learnt from T.S. Eliot, that erudite,
anti-semitic arsehole, whose surname and initials
are an anagram for ‘toilets’, who mangled verse
like an idiot, an art perfected in Gerontion:
‘My house is a decayed house. The Jew
squats on the window sill, the owner…’
‘Full fathom five your Bleinstein lies
Grave’s disease in a dead jew’s eyes…’
I forget the rest of his seductive, scintillating shit.
You see, Philip, was sometimes, like T.S. Eliot,
a political blockhead but, always, a marvelous craftsman.

Yeah man!

SLQ Daily, 30 September 2020

Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (October 2020)

Roger Elkin, Judge

The SLQ Poetry Competition this quarter to be judged by Roger Elkin will close on 31st October. The Early Bird Promotion offering 15% Off Entry Fees must end at midnight 30th September.

We are expecting a strong contest having already logged 250 entries from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, China, France, Germany, Belgium, Greece, Netherlands, Spain and Malta. Get your entry in today and let’s see about prizing it.

Prize Fund £535.00

Learn more about the competition and enter now >>>

Gap Year by John Foggin and Andy Blackford, SPM Publications, Poetry

Ukamaka Olisakwe, Monday Writer, 28 September 2020

The Sentinel Literary Quarterly Monday Writer this week is Nigerian essayist, poet and novelist Ukamaka Olisakwe. She is the author of Eyes of a Goddess and Ogadinma – a novel published in September 2020. Learn about the author, read the Monday Writer Interview, Ukamaka Olisakwe in conversation with Nnorom Azuonye. There is also a short excerpt from Ogadinma and ‘Girl to Woman’ her short story first published in Sentinel Nigeria in May 2011. This is Ukamaka Olisakwe, SLQ Monday Writer>>>

Read of the Day

Starvation 1945

A woman scoops tea from the week’s ration
into the prewarmed pot as her mother taught her,
settles herself with the morning paper.

Grey bodies strew the page in random heaps:
somewhere in Germany she’s never heard of,
bare ground, black trees. And bodies.

The picture brings to mind that morning after
a Blitz night, when she walked down Regent’s Street,
shopfronts blasted out and mannequins

scattered across the street awkwardly splayed,
and much too thin for life. She turns the page,
sipping her tea. Best not to look too close.

Her daughter leans across the table:
we’re running low on butter coupons.

‘Starvation 1945’ by A.C. Clarke was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2020) judged by Terry Jones.

Blast from the Past


We stayed the night,
and left as chilly dawn
broke a pale yoke above
an empty car-park.
Groups of birds flapped in trees,
like strips of black sky
torn by barbed branches.
A week into Spring,
and now its starting to snow;
perhaps the years heard your news,
gone mad –
shuffled its seasons
to end in May.

‘Diagnosed’ by Chris Major was first published in Sentinel Poetry (Online) magazine in September 2003.

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