Category Archives: Poetry

D A Angelo – Frankenstein’s Dog

Frankenstein’s Dog

The cross-stitch of rain cannot undo
the bolts on my neck. He wanted
a friend with a mind submerged as his,
that tasted brine and iodine whenever
the thought of love crossed an invisible
threshold. I learnt to be the needle
to his record, knife to his cutting board,
cook to his broth. Drawn to the bulb
of his scalp, I curled around his feet
like parentheses and listened to stories
that might glaze bone. God how I longed
for a life other dogs might have: eating
air, drenching myself in ponds and lakes,
chasing clouds, lying on my back
and letting the wind tickle my stomach.
We cannot abandon the ones we love,
not even if their dreams plunge into yours,
turning your eyes the colour of headstones
when you wake.

’Frankenstein’s Dog’ by D A Angelo was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (April 2021) judged by Mary Anne Smith Sellen.

Kathleen Strafford – Feelin’ Alright with Joe Cocker

Feelin’ Alright with Joe Cocker

Singing the mad dog blues
Joe’s body flails and contorts
as if playing guitar     piano and drums
                                 all at once

Raspy vocals            pass through
Steel City                 slag and flume
wooing lovers          distorting the room
until the ceiling        gives way
becomes a crow flying
where no one can escape its sorrow
jazz and booze
knock out his teeth
ripping out his throat
don’t ask how many times
he’s wailed a tormented mating call
                    in Delta’s garden
                          the world is alive
                          hold on
                          I’m taking you with me

Feelin’ Alright with Joe Cocker by Kathleen Strafford received a special mention in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (January 2021) judged by Oz Hardwick.


Alex Howard – Couchsurfing at Nikolay’s

Couchsurfing at Nikolay’s
He met us at Kiev station,
its crematorium-like archways
filigreed with gold,
its Soviet escalators
lapping like tongues of steel.

We had walked past him, twice:
his calls drowned
under the brakes of trains
that screeched like the victims
in a Hammer Horror.

He led us through a park,
Chernobyl swings dangling like nooses,
and through a brutalist underpass
grey and dead as graphite.
Here I uzed to play viz mother,

he says, brow lumped like tyre tracks.
At his flat, he pours us vodka
turning on all three bars
of an electric heater,
that glow orange with the dust-

burnt fragrance of irregular use.
Six shots in and he’s nodding at landmarks
from his ninth-floor window,
eyes sparking like flint
under the city’s sulphurous glow.

All evening long
his war stories splintered and fell
like Panzer-struck birds.
The next morning, we slink out early
saying we have a flight to catch. Untrue.

At the underpass, I gaze back at his block:
a sheaf of starlings
twist like biblical locusts
against its sun-shocked brick.
They’re the only life I remember.

Alex is an author, poet and academic. His first book Library Cat has been translated into Korean, French and Italian and is an Elefanti Bestseller in Italy. In 2017, it won the People’s Book Prize.

Alex’s poetry has appeared in several journals, including Orbis, The London Magazine, Aesthetica and Gutter. It has been shortlisted for the Jane Martin Prize and earned winning entries in the Charles Causley International Poetry Prize, judged by Sir Andrew Motion, and the Red Cross Writing Prize.

Alex’s first academic book, Larkin’s Travelling Spirit, was published in January this year with Palgrave Macmillan. He is currently editor of the health & wellbeing theatre journal, DementiArts, as well as co-editor of the Philip Larkin Society’s journal, About Larkin.

Couchsurfing at Nikolay’s by Alex Howard received a special mention in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (January 2021) judged by Oz Hardwick.