Tag Archives: Poetry Competition

Peter Wyton


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


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.

John Foggin


did anyone share their secret?
There were the aunts
who tried to teach me how to sew,

how one might thread a needle,
draw a thread between pursed lips
to wax the frayed end to a point,

the way they stretched
a piece of fabric taut
on the tips of three fingers.


The aunts are dead
I watch You Tube.
A man at ease

at the top of a ladder,
hip into the upright,
wind ruffling his shirt.

He slides a slate ripper’s blade
under one cracked tile,
tells me how to feel

for the nail head, hook it in,
and with one smart hammer blow
cut the copper nail.

I have a slate ripper in my cellar,
a bag of copper nails,
a pack of copper tingles.

I have slates stacked in the shed.
I ‘ve never used any of it.
I want him to be true.

You asked me
if there was one thing
I would I like to do well

I would like to use an axe well.
I would like to own one good axe.
I would like it to sit right in my hand.

Outside the off-license
on a day of wet snow,
I saw a man with a dark hawk on his wrist.

It sat still and untroubled
on his gloved hand, and he wore
the glove and the hawk as a single thing.

That is how I would like to hold an axe.
To know how it would fly true
to the point of grain in the wood

where it splits white and honey
and scented, when each split piece sings,
that simple bright note.

I would like that, since you ask.

You asked me by John Foggin won third prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (February 2019) judged by Mandy Pannett.