23 July 2020


Right of Way

Not a soul saw you park-up,
lock your mum’s untaxed car
find the footpath to follow the river,
strike out across fields for half-a mile
or more before the trail goes cold.

The church tower clock
would have been tolling the hour.
Twelve or thereabouts by now.
You’d have seen the trees wouldn’t you,
but not known their names. Ash. Beech.

You’d pause to stroke their barks.
The deep electric greens of the carpet moss.
You’d cross a stile to the unmade road.
Three sheep stare at you as you pass.
About then you’d realise you were lost.

If someone had been watching from distance
they would have seen you stop here,
the map inflating from your arms
like a paper accordion.
They would have wondered at your resolve.

They’d think they heard some faltering in your heart
or carried the rucksack like a yoke
and they’d stay to watch when you unlock
the field gate, to see if you might cross that bridge
take the track to higher ground, disappear.

‘Right of Way’ by Michael Brown was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly poetry competition (August 2019) judged by Roger Elkin.



I sat on a hill
And screamed God’s name
And heard the echoes ripple
Through granite and beams
Of ancient iroko

I sit under the moon
Beside the sun
And fail to pluck the stars
From the palmnut head
Of the heavens.

‘Thinker’ by Chika Okeke-Agulu was first published in Sentinel Poetry (Online) Magazine January 2003 Okeke-Agulu is the author of Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in Twentieth-Century Nigeria.

SLQ Daily