Eve Chancellor – Home Sweet Home

This is the kitchen, the estate agent said.
This is where you will have breakfast together
at the weekends. Scrambled eggs
just the way you like,
with a knob of butter,
the toast almost burnt.
She will tell you she enjoys cooking here
more than at the old house,
now that she has a nice view out
over the garden.

During the week,
this table will get used for letters and bills.
It is where you will sit every evening,
after you start your new job.

When your son gets into university,
you will talk about it here:
what day you are driving him up to
Sheffield, how much he should pack,
while she mentally sets aside pots and pans.

Next, your kitchenware will become compartmentalised
into boxes: knives and forks
wrapped up in tea-towels,
the non-stick saucepan from the collection
at John Lewis (the one you will say
is too good to give him);
you will argue about it here,
in front of the window,
where she used to enjoy looking out
over the garden,
clutter pooling at your feet.

Later, when she wraps her arms around you
to apologise, you will freeze
in the middle of washing up-

Yes, I can just picture us here, she said,
already hanging up their wedding photos.
The husband slipped out his wallet and said,
We’ll take it.

‘Home Sweet Home’ by Eve Chancellor was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (October 2021) judged by Rachel Long.

Klara Hughes – Who shall wall/Self from myself

after Christina Rossetti’s ‘Who Shall Deliver Me?’ (1861) and Fernand Khnopff’s ‘I Lock My Door Upon Myself’ (1891)

Dear brother,

I’ve been thinking for a while now that my eyes were never that colour, you washed them out in mildew. You took eggs from the sockets of my porcelain doll and made them duller, I don’t

recognise this room, it’s cut in a labyrinth of other rooms, what looks like a window is a trick. What looks like a mirror is a circle pooling its glass, I’m not sure

why you have placed an arrow pointing towards me. I’ve never known love

or pain. If I was remembering the dead, you’ve made lilies curl in tangerine scabs, making me lean

on a black cloth balancing weight like a coffin, and yet, I’ve never touched a dead body.

This space is heavy with charms I don’t understand.

I cannot be staring at you as that marble head on a plinth is hypnosis, you grow blue strokes in a feathery wing fanning my hair and on your right ear

you wear the red pulse of poppy seeds. What did I have that you always wanted?

Do you come in the night to find it?

There are times when I lock a door upon myself and take nothing to entertain, not even my needlework, let whoever I am peel herself

from herself. When I start to be missed I stroll off into a further landscape and make myself stranger. I’m not love-sick

or melancholic, or even hysteric – truth is I don’t know what’s wrong – I don’t have the words or slightest desire

to put fingers to lips and hush what it is you think I might say. Everything is vacancy.

I could be somewhat drained with sitting around and being painted.

I don’t think I’m obsessed with anything, but I am missing something. How did you see this and walk through a wall dividing?

Your loving sister,

Who shall wall/Self from myself by Klara Hughes was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (October 2021) judged by Rachel Long

Bath Time by Neil Elder

Bath Time

When I’m in the bath, and hear you arriving home,
I’m often sorry that you don’t come in to talk
to tell me about your day, like people do in films.
I would hide my modesty and you would
look lovely sipping chilled pinot grigio from a glass.

Granted, the bathroom is small and we have no chair
in here, and the edge of the bath is too narrow
for you to perch on comfortably,
and I suppose if you did come in I’d only complain
about the heat escaping, and you’d distract me
from my book with inane minutiae of your journey home
and the dismal office politics you can never leave alone.

On reflection I am glad the bathroom is so small
and we are not characters in a film,
because if we were you would be having an affair
that I would discover by chance one afternoon,
when a restaurant I know nothing about calls
to check the reservation you have made, triggering my paranoia
and ending with one of us meeting a watery
and violent death in the bath,
just like in the film you are so fond of.

Bath Time by Neil Elder was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (October 2021) judged by Rachel Long.


Neil Elder’s poetry concerns itself with the gap between what we think we know about people (and ourselves) and what we actually know. His collection The Space Between Us takes its title from this theme. His most recent book, Like This, is available from 4 Word Press. He occasionally blogs at https://neilelderpoetry.wordpress.com/ Twitter @Eldersville

Previous works include: Codes of Conduct, shortlisted for a Saboteur Award, winner of the Cinnamon Press pamphlet competition, The Space Between Us, Being Present (BLER), And The House Watches On (Cicero Press), and Like This.