Sentinel Poetry #35 – October 2005

Online Magazine Monthly…since 2002. ISSN 1479-425X




Cathy Anne Stevens


Passing Out


I didn't have the luxury of manilla,

Enveloping my potential shame.

One by one they're searching my face

As I hand them over-

My bland smile for each, an anonymity;

Giving them the choice,

Crow or cry

Or find some warm burrow in which to rip it open.


Eleven years back, it was

Bare on the wall of the unit:




I hovered, puppy thighs quivering,

Cold sweat clinging to cheap fibres.

There, at the mineshaft of the classroom door,

Reading not from the list

But from Sir's eyes.


Behind me, distant

The hum of my mother's expectation

Parked and waiting in the school car park.

If I failed, I knew I would have to vanish;

Join the legendary boy who hurled himself from the top of `A' Block

- or did he hang by a nylon tie?

No, stabbed to death with a bic!

I couldn't; useless cowed lump.

I knew I'd drag the millstone,

10 heavy Fs,

Back, and she would smile with red eyes

Thinking of cheap retake colleges with every soothing pat.


`Beakers Tate', we called him

His bland grin fooled no-one.

I took a gulp of air, braced,

Plunged into the abyss.

...As I teetered up to the listings

His eyes were creased, gold behind thick specs.


I floated from that dark place on paper wings.

Alive and Great.


I could do anything.



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