we set the field on fire.
Flames a white lineleaping
between darkness and darkness
flickering dancers swaying
into the brightening sky.
Stubble burning quickly clears the field
and is cheap. Kills weeds, including
those resistant to herbicide.
Kills slugs and other pests.
Dawn is red
across golden stubble. Cut short
and burning. Don’t ask them
why. If you ask them why –
because they always do it that way.
The annual air pollution disaster is
almost upon us.
The wind changes.
Smoke blows back across the field.
There are ominous signs
in the Punjab. If the trend continues,
Delhi could become again
a veritable gas chamber.
Cover your face. Quickly.
The negative health effects of crop burning
will also lower the productivity of residents
and may lead to long-term adverse impacts
on the economy.
Quickly, cover your face and run.
‘Soch Vichar’ by Wendy Toole was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (April 2021) judged by Mary Anne Smith Sellen.
Wendy Toole lives in North London. She writes mostly poetry and short fiction, and is currently completing a collection of short stories.
A hare isn’t always in a trap
or hanging from a butcher’s hook.
It isn’t always being jugged, or stewed,
nor is it necessarily a symbol for something else,
a fairy story, or a woman gone mad. A hare isn’t
always the subject of a sketch or even a poem.
Mostly, it is itself, rare, but somewhere out there
on the hillside or in the grass beside the river,
super-vigilant, the way hares are, sleeping with its
gentle eyes wide open and, in an act of faith,
running with them closed, a creature of that light
which falls between day and night. And the fact
that we don’t see her doesn’t mean she does not
exist – unlike the shape-shifting atoms of scientific myths.
Take yourself out of the picture. Leave her free
to race beyond the snare of your words.
‘The Hare’ by Maggie Wadey was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (April 2021) judged by Mary Anne Smith Sellen.
Maggie Wadey is a novelist, screenwriter and poet. Her mother was Irish and her father English. In 2016 she published ‘The English Daughter’ (Sandstone Press) a memoir of her mother and Ireland. She has recently completed a novel, ‘Eros In Blue’, composed of eleven closely-connected parts, and in October last year she won first prize in the Wells Literary Festival Open Poetry Competition. She lives in Hackney, East London, with her husband and more than a thousand books.
A man came to take pictures today. To view oor streets and hames,
doorways and closes.
We hid in the backcourt and ca’doottae him. Watched in a hush
from the stair windae. Played chappie wi his camera,
Played keeking round the end o’ the block.
The wind blew through Da’stroosers on the poleas they copied
his walk to work. The wee yin’s dress swung, flitting like she was dancing in it. The apron rowsted and scolded, shaking its weathered strings.
When oor washing wis collected and the camera packed away, the views were taken, and our homes flattened. Folded.
Never seeing the photographs, we are still part o’ them. A blurry giggle in the sandstone. A whisper on the edge.
‘Flattened’ by Debbie Love won third prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (April 2021) judged by Mary Anne Smith Sellen.