Tag Archives: sentinel literary quarterly poetry competition

Steve Xerri

Imagining the Lares

This is no age for loud-voiced gods like APOLLO
demanding to be set in uppercase; we have no place

for flesh made perfect in polished stone and niched
in the hallway. Life now happens among lost

bus timetables, tax demands, constant fluctuations
in the hub signal – while weak forces chip paint

from the doorframes, spot jampots with mildew,
subject us to the thinning of hair, the progressive

bend of bone. We have little commerce with things
immaculate, unvarying: give us rather the touches

of quantum godlings, their dabs found everywhere
in our brick-built houses, signing a unique presence:

theirs is the trefoil sprouting from the back step,
theirs the thread-legged spiders in the stairwell corners,

the groove dragged deep in the wood-block by the daily
bite of the breadknife, the colours we choose for curtains

and rugs. They watch by us as sparrows squabble
on the bird-feeders; keep company with us by firelight

in the deep trench of winter; are the ideas given sanctuary
under these pinewood eaves which grunt in the night

like living things. We offer them no hosannas, only
unvoiced thanks, an obscure pull toward reverence

at the sight, say, of sunlight that pours through glass
to pin a one-off complex of shadow branches

to the living-room wall – the sumac tree rendered faithfully,
a temporary print delighting us, their temporals.

Imagining the Lares by Steve Xerri won first prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2019) judged by Terry Jones.

Two Poems by John Lindley




Our Aunt left us a cottage.

She didn’t mean to but she did.

Slate it was. Neo-Gothic with chimneys like turrets,

gargoyles in her likeness

and a gash of gate where the fence gave out.

You couldn’t have shifted that place

for love nor money

and there was sod all of either

in its low rooms when we got it.


Everything about it was her: its mean light

and narrow views, its fittings that didn’t.

We poured nowt back into it but resentment,

shuttered it up the long winter long,

Havishamed her memory in the gloomiest room

she left us, stuck the Viewing by Appointment pitch

on a sign too big for its boots on an angled pole

in the given up ghost garden.


Empty, you’d think you saw smoke

shimmying out of the chimneys

but it’s the light round here plays tricks;

something to do with steam on slow drying slate,

weather fronts and sea air. It’s a mystery to us,

like the way it was left. To us, I mean.

The cottage, I mean. Not like her that.

Come Spring we think we hear the eaves dropping

the way she would through the bedroom floor;

open the windows wide the way her heart wouldn’t.



The God of Dogs



The God of Dogs knew a thing or two about design;

knew how to make the rolling shoulder’s plates

attractive whatever the pace,

how to fuel the head with purpose,

the Dunlop snout with scents unsniffed by us;


knew how to pattern a paw and patent it

so the copycat cat would stop dead in its tracks

and require those tracks made new

copyright of the God of Cats.


The God of Dogs flopped ears or perked them,

lathered His work in fur,

hinged the cocking leg to perfection,

metronomed tails.


To Him goes credit for the wolf cousin and fox

but most for the eyes, the blessed bright eyes

of dogs where the dog lovers melt,

where the world reflects a more finished glow.

To Him give thanks for the warm-scented saints

who walk by and amongst us.


We, dizzy with dyslexia, praise the Son of Dog

for deliverance and he has made a home for us

on the plain of his lolling tongue.

To Him we owe the music of claw tap on wood block,

the complex calligraphy of hair in the shag pile.


Dogs with their valves and varieties

pumped or puffed into being by that God of the air

who fastened those fluid flanks and haunches –

here, the one who punches above his weight;

here, the one who gentles down to size.


God of Dogs, who lies down with the lion and lamb

and outshines them both, what a clever hound you are,

drilled yet disobedient, dropping your depth charge dogs

into a sea of troubles, letting their newly-blown shapes

muscle and fawn and make sense of it all,

make sense of us all.



‘Inheritance’ and ‘The God of Dogs’ were commended and received a Special Mention respectively in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2017)

A green activist considers the police state – a poem by Bruce Marsland

Bruce Marsland
A green activist considers the police state

There was a spy in my bed,
but I did not know.

I read about the malware on my laptop
logging every keystroke,
tracking every website,
scanning every download
for a sign of indiscretion.

I don’t write to my friends so much these days.

I heard about the wire on my mobile
filing names of callers,
noting times of chatter,
loading lists of contacts
into algorithms of subversion.

I don’t talk to my colleagues so much these days.

I overlooked
my ring-wearer, planted,
working me undercover, double identity,
licence to rape,
on her majesty’s bedroom service.

Our children, offspring of the secret state,
lost at least one parent to the shadows
when surveillance ended
and my phantom other half, faking like mad,
pulled out.

I don’t look at my family so much these days.

The law has fingered my collar and cuffs
and every inch of my anatomy
for the crime of having an opinion,
for the treachery of being free.

There’s a spy in my bed,

a spy in my head
I do not know.


‘A green activist considers the police state’ by Bruce Marsland won the first prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (February 2016) judged by Roger Elkin.