Tag Archives: kathleen strafford

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.


SLQ Daily, 04 October 2020

Read of the Day is ‘Girl in the Woods’, first prize winner, Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2020) judged by Terry Jones.
The Blast from the Past is ‘Feeder’ by Sundra, first published in Sentinel Poetry (Online) magazine in October 2003. Sundra was our guest poet that month.

Girl in the Woods

tips a breath of laudanum
from an opal vial
shadows hide from themselves
everything is sea pink translucent
she lies on blankets of lady’s cushion
thinks the sky is a looking glass
simply sees who she is
which is no simple thing


The Feeder
we called it the Feeder
a tiny hungry stream
that danced behind my old school
while we sat in class
learning about verbs

I often wondered how far it travelled
and how many back gardens it watched.

In winter it would freeze,
And there were all sorts of stories
about somebody who knew somebody
who was a victim –
like Jenny Cambell from 4B
she said it had Jackie Shannon’s older brother

He bunked first lesson
For the occasion
no sniggers or bullies to push him over
just him and the polished playground.

After stumbling and sliding for a while
he drifted to the middle,
and noticed his strung-along laces.
He kissed his teeth
as he crouched down to tie them
but before he could even reach the first shoe
the Feeder kiss its teeth at him.

The Feeder cracked open its mouth
and Jackie’s brother’s legs
slipped down into its freezing saliva,
he thrashed his arms;
desperately trying to grip the cold air,
that had earlier teased his nose and ears.

But nothing could save him
no one knew he was there –
it was their secret,
so alone he screamed,
and alone he fell
digested whole by the Feeder.
He was only 10 years old.

School banned us from going near it
but we didn’t listen
its whispers would pass through each classroom
each term and each year.

So, after being dared
and double dared
we’d skip class to play with our lives,
and there it would lie
cold and crisp,
waiting for our feet,
holding beautiful colours in its reflection of us.

SLQ Daily, 03 October 2020

Read of the Day is May 1970, highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2020).
The Blast from the Past are three poems by Obiora Udechukwu taken from his book Portraits and Landscapes. Professor Udechukwu was our guest poet in October 2003.

May 4, 1970

While tin soldiers armed with rifles
tear gas and bayonets
fired 67 rounds in 13 seconds
into mobs of unarmed students
wounding nine killing four

Kenny just back from Nam jumpy        addicted & empty
smell of blood on his hands                   pushed
down our basement forced                    into hiding
where the dark is stored                         father said
they have their place                               but haven’t dug it yet
grandma said they weren’t to blame   poor buggers
& neighbours organised vigilante meetings


Maru the Mad
Has gone for a walk
Our hill is now littered
With pellets of goat shit


Bushy-tailed squirrels
Trees undressing in the yard
Farewell to summer


Trapped in this cozy cage
Gazing at the cold wilderness
Of whiteness
We spin clouds into yarn
Weave yarns into song
Waiting for the new year

In France, the griot has gone home
In Ibadan, the towncrier is silenced.

(“Maru” “Haiku” and “Trapped” are taken from Portraits and Landscapes)