Tag Archives: Mandy Pannett

Jocelyn Simms

It was the silence

that caught you out –
like the soft middle of a meringue.

Like waking on an opalescent cloud,
or thinking yourself lolling
on a branch of a white cherry tree,
scents mizzling your head.

Flicker through sea foam,
finger-ripples that brought Aphrodite
to Limassol’s shore, anchored
to her pearly shell.

Walk along a melting ice tunnel
in Chamonix. Each droplet
has a story to tell.

Pressure builds, omits a sigh
when breath exhaled
disturbs this paradise.

Behind thin suburban walls,
as you snatch at guilty pleasures,
a faint susurration, no more.

**********

‘It was the silence’ by Jocelyn Simms received a special mention in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (March/April 2020) judged by Mandy Pannett.

Peter Wyton

DUTY OF CARE

We’re swapping cigarette cards. Having furnished us
with coffee, walnut cake, my wife’s across the lawn,
dead-heading flowers, whilst his, still belted in the car
sits expressionless, seemingly content. Incontinence pads,
apparently, are not infallible. He smilingly declines to put
our three-piece suite at risk. We sort through job lots
knocked down to him round rural auction rooms.
He’s weeded what he wants to keep, but offers up
the cheap-o surplus, well within the purse range
of the clientele who’ll browse around my market stall.
‘Cricketers, 1928’ issued by W.D. and H.O. Wills,
John Player’s ‘Struggles for existence, 1923.’
For these I barter scarcer cards I’ve saved for him,
stuff that I daren’t display on open sale for fear
of kleptos, Churchman’s ‘West Suffolk Churches.’
Half a set of Taddy’s ‘V.C. Heroes of the Boer War’
plus sundry oddments which he checks out carefully
in fat, hand-written notebooks. Every so often
his gaze averts to the unmoving figure in the car.
From time to time he hurries out to button or unbutton
a garment, murmur a few words, never leaving her
until he’s pressed a kiss upon an unresponsive cheek.
“Chairwoman of the Inner Wheel. Golf Club captain,
switched off like…like,” he once told us, groping
for the phrase, “ A bloody bedside lamp! I mean,
I could get carers, but the woman cared for me.
Look at this suit. I ruled the roost in board rooms,
but I’m useless with an ironing board. She’d not
have let me out like this…” most of his phrases
taper off in bafflement. Haggling complete,
I help him load the residue, “ I’ll take her to the weir
on the way home. The sound of active water
sometimes makes her smile. Keep an eye out for
Mitchell’s ‘Regimental Crests’, I’ve almost got the set.”

‘Duty of Care’ by Peter Wyton won first prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (February 2019) judged by Mandy Pannett.

Gabriel Griffin

WINTER MORNING VISIT TO THE SUN KING’S PALACE

Early morning crackled like a cellophaned bouquet;
no one tramped in but us. The keeper’s cigarette smoke-
ringed our breath; we stamped our boots and I
half-wished to shake them off and, socked as in a mosque,
slide gliding down the silent, frozen halls.

The gold we had expected, not the winter light
that shattered through long windows, splintered,
flashed, reflected in tall mirrors, in crystal drops
of chandeliers, in your green-gold eyes. I looked
at you, you looked around; I guessed
that all this gold was setting you on fire –
we were in Paris on the cheap, and cold.

I thought to cool the ardent flames that, flickering,
enrosed your skin. Let’s go outside. But outside
dazzled even more than in: hoarfrost had tossed
its crystal needles in the night: terrace, fountains,
statues, paths and sculptured trees shimmered
in a white and lunar light. I took your hand – it burned.

We stepped through freezing, frozen gardens, no one
but us, monarchs in worn overcoats not thick enough,
watched by winking eyes, by courtiers of ice, spied on
by squinting frost. We kept our secrets to ourselves, afraid
we might be overheard, misunderstood; soon abandoned
Paris, one going south, the other north. Neither had said
one word of the words that needed saying then
to melt that ice. The words are frozen in my head.

Winter morning visit to the sun king’s palace by Gabriel Griffin won second prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (February 2019) judged by Mandy Pannett.