27 July 2020


Tony’s Next

Subtract another name
from where we’ve lived, and add
a new division to
the sum of what we had

or what we think we knew
three decades gone, some lot
of half a life notched up
these privet streets, the spot

where Tony died alone
but minus nothing more
than what he’d multiplied
for years behind that door.

And in his unseen rooms,
he mastered how to chat
remotely, learnt for friends
the patter of a lad

who spoke the Beatles look –
curls lacquered, drainpipes lean
and shoes to cry for – once
the face marked up to leave

his home behind, but caught
inside the hand-me-downs
of habit: parents dead
and sisters out of town.

He wrote his life each day
in walked out clauses, years
pared back to words and weeks
of borrowed space indoors,

but no one’s glimpsing now
his scribbled wit, those tips
for lawns and hedging, shrub
or annuals. Who could top

the plan he’d drafted, safe
beyond the police who found
his dogs well fed, alive
and Tony, sitting proud?

‘Tony’s Next’ by Will Daunt was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2019) judged by Roger Elkin.


The Day the Towers Fell

So many lives lost
never to be found.
Dreams crumbled,
leaving only debris.
Families torn;
futures destroyed.
Lives shattered
like broken glass.

Too-short pasts
Final “I Love Yous”
cherished forever
from cell phone calls
made in a panic.
Loved ones listened,
but were helpless.

Planes grounded;
our lives halted.
Color put aside
to mourn and heal.
Photos left
with diminishing hope;
maybe their loved ones
survived the ordeal.

Parades to honor
brave heroes fallen
and those still standing
will uncover the dead.
A moment of silence,
then a week, then a year.
Still in disbelief-
a whole nation in pain.

But we’ll recover
while the world still suffers.
Their buildings toppled
from generations of war.
Soldiers in the street;
churches are bombed.
No nation to mourn
as they bury the dead.

Children with guns
go hungry to sleep;
some will die
before morning comes.
A boy with one leg
sleeps near a burning tank.
Women are stoned
and damaged by kin.

Men know how to kill,
and teach their sons.
A girl walks on diamonds,
but has no shoes.
2 sisters from a trunk
are drenched in sweat-
their brother sells gum
and waits for his turn.

A boat with 400
capsizes at sea;
weary passengers cling
to tires and wood.
Before feet are dry,
some return home,
while others will stay
and begin new lives.

We witnessed terror
that September day;
a clear reflection
of the world’s turmoil
as seen through their eyes-
captured in one moment
and frozen in our minds forever.
Now we know as we never did.

We’ll rebuild and the dead
will live in our hearts.
We’ll go back
to our condos
and our Escalades.
The Twin Towers fell
while we all watched.
But what did we see?

Is it possible we saw
a mighty nation
punished for perceived
past crimes and secret
unholy alliances?

Have we been insensitive
to those nations
who have buried
thousands for decades,
miles behind the iron curtain
of the world stage and
a so-called free press?

Perhaps we felt
the anger and desperation
of those we’ve helped oppress-
those victims of our
“military occupations”,
sanctioned “settlements”
and “world leadership.”

Perhaps finally,
we saw a clear glimpse
of the bigger picture-
the day the towers fell.

‘The Day the Towers Fell’ by C. HIGHSMITH-HOOKS was first published in Sentinel Poetry (Online) Magazine, February 2003. Highsmith-Hooks is the author of The Soul of a Black Woman: From a Whisper to a Shout


Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2020)
Closing date: 31 July 2020
Judge: Terry Jones
This competition is for original, previously unpublished poems in English language, on any subject, in any style up to 50 lines long. Poems posted on members-only non-public groups for review/critique as part of the creative process are not deemed to have been previously published. Poets of all ages, gender or nationality living in any part of the world are eligible to enter.

Prizes: £250 (1st), £100 (2nd), £50 (3rd), £30 x 3 (High Commendation), £15 x (Commendation), 3 x SLQ Paperback (Special Mentions)

Fees £5/1, £8/2, £10/3, £12/4, £14/5, £16/7, £22/10)

Results: 31 August, 2020

Publication: Prize-winning, commended and specially mentioned poems will receive first publication in Sentinel Literary Quarterly magazine (online and print).

Enter competition now >>

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