by A.C. CLARKE
A woman scoops tea from the week’s ration
into the prewarmed pot as her mother taught her,
settles herself with the morning paper.
Grey bodies strew the page in random heaps:
somewhere in Germany she’s never heard of,
bare ground, black trees. And bodies.
The picture brings to mind that morning after
a Blitz night, when she walked down Regent’s Street,
shopfronts blasted out and mannequins
scattered across the street awkwardly splayed,
and much too thin for life. She turns the page,
sipping her tea. Best not to look too close.
Her daughter leans across the table:
we’re running low on butter coupons.
‘Starvation 1945’ by A.C. Clarke was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2020) judged by Terry Jones.
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.
Subject: Poems may be on any subject or style and MUST NOT have been previously published, posted on a website or blog. Poems posted on members-only writing groups for workshop purposes as part of the creative process are not deemed to have been previously published.
Length: Maximum 40 lines per poem.
Entry Fees: £3.00 per poem, £12.00 for 5 poems. (You may enter as many poems as you wish – with the appropriate fees. All 5-poem entrants receive a FREE Sentinel Champions #4 e-Book.)
First Prize: £150.00
Second Prize: £60.00
Third Prize: £40.00
Three Highly Commended Poems: The authors each receive a signed copy of The Wilds Anthology edited by Andy Willoughby and Bob Beagrie (The Wilds Anthology have been donated to this competition by Ek Zuban Publishers, http://www.ekzuban.org.uk/index.htm)
First Publication: The three winning poems, three highly commended poems, plus nine other poems will receive first publication in Sentinel Champions – Selected Poems & Short Stories from the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Writing Competition Series. (This magazine appears in print and e-book formats) Up to 15 poems in total, subject to quality, from this competition will be published in Sentinel Champions Magazine in November 2011.
Entries Deadline: 20th March, 2011 Results due: 30th April, 2011 announced in Sentinel Literary Quarterly magazine at https://sentinelquarterly.com
Judge: ANDY WILLOUGHBY, author of The Wrong California: Middlesbrough Poet Laureate Poems (Mudfog 2004), Tough (Smokestack Books 2006).
Competition Administration: Sentinel Poetry Movement
ENTER BY POST OR ONLINE >