By A. C. CLARKE
The long thin priest raises his hand in
dismissive blessing. His vestments glitter
green and gold, that insect sheen
which dizzies me with thoughts of summer’s
unforgiveness. The memory of incense
weighs down the cloistered air.
Along the walls Christ burdened by his cross
enacts the suffering I’ve caused.
Confession boxes wait near candles
spiked through the gut. Bless me father
for I am damned. We file out like
a funeral cortege. Saints follow us
with sightless eyes. I step into the light
near-blinded, breathe the scent of rain.
‘End of Mass’ by A. C. Clarke was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2020) judged by Terry Jones.
By MICHAEL BROWN
Do not be taken in by our lugubrious appearance,
an apparent lack of get-up-and-go,
our certain want of brio.
No — do not be misled
by the ponderous pendulum of each leg,
deceived by the humph and schlep
of the single loaded step,
the hulk, the mass to move from walk
to run (a biomechanical joke),
the effort to shift the feet to haste
with not so much as one complete aerial phase.
Something is happening though you don’t see it yet.
You want, too, for our slow, fateful gait,
the repeated lumbering metres of grey,
nondescript days and days like these.
It’s in the bone, the habit, this mind of our own
to know we know what you can’t know:
within the kinetic heart, ceaseless
change: how all is time, all is flow.
‘Considering the Elephant’ by Michael Brown won third prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 202) judged by Terry Jones.
by RODDY SCOTT
Lit houses strain at their moorings
in the midst of the maelstrom
some flotsam of a boy
alone in the multiplying winds
life and soul at a party of his exclusive ken
gatecrasher at a ball for the elements
drunk on adhesive and air, cheeks bunching
out with bullfrog rhythm, hands clenched
to the lips sucking hard at the white poly bag
he silhouettes under a tinny orange
from the tall street lamp and glancing up to this window,
with his own code
spells out one word,
and a whole society of meanings.
‘Morse’ by Roddy Scott was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2020) judged by Terry Jones.