The tree of death is saving my life.
My skin burns with the sunset and rust
of its leaf, its sap, its poison in proportion
to how much to kill, how much to save.
Graveyard tree, roots hollowing passages
in the Underworld I might travel from
to crook a sky in an elbow of branch.
Taxotere, Agent Chemotherapy, yew and me
wedged together, become each other – wedded
blood to blood. Remember me? I climbed you,
maimed you, saved your leaves for this – knew you
hated interference, amputation. I swept up your leaves
like tears – rage not sorrow. Now you have me.
This time I can’t descend without consent,
can’t let go. I’m hooked on you.
Lest I catch my death of you, be my angel
either way, releaf me from this half-life.
Yew by Ruth Calway won second prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2019) judged by Roger Elkin.
Mam Tor, January
You’re high. Breathe in the crystal-pure air,
breathe out clouds of mist. Keep on going up.
Marking the path, dark timber fencing poles
line up to stake the stone-hard mountain slope.
Ice bristles along the stretched wire mesh
like magnetised iron filings, to make
an ascending filigree sculpture.
Seen from the valley you are just one fleck
dotting across a camouflagefell.
Yet butting upwards to the peak you thrill
at high banks of cumulus gapped by rays
of silvered sunlight, feel you belong,brush
between cushions of tangled heather, step
over jagged rocks and marvel on your way
at a simple fence on a freezing day.
Mam Tor, January by David Duncombe won first prize, Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2019) judged by Roger Elkin
I can’t drink like I did before
the doctor found me at death’s door.
Worst case that she ever saw.
Took me ages to withdraw.
When she left I knew the score,
either give up drinking or
lose the woman I adore.
I’ll give it up for her I swore.
A curse upon the monkey’s paw
for granting me one last encore,
Stag Do at The Troubadour,
drinking cava through a straw.
A stellar cask of cronies roar.
Soon my spirit levels soar
in search of music and amor
and two more brandies por favor.
“Excuse me mate you’re being a bore.”
Excuse me mate your wife’s a whore!
The bouncer picks me off the floor,
kicks me through the nightclub door.
“If you come back I’ll call the law.”
I go back ’cause I want war.
Swing my bat and break his jaw
then break into a liquor store.
If I behave, I’m out in four.
That’s why I can’t drink no more.
Two Doors by Simon Tindale was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (November 2019) judged by Oz Hardwick.