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Welcome to SENTINEL LITERARY QUARTERLY

Vol.4. No.1. October - December 2010

 


Poetry

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Three Poems

By Michael Brooks

Hope Is the Rope You Hang Yourself With

So I amble up Deansgate past
Alfresco dining on rain-stained Manchester paving stones
Get lost in the Northern Quarter same as ever
In music shops peruse Gibsons and Fenders that
I will never ever own.

Sift through warehouses of print
Imagine my own name languishing somewhere
In between sections A and C.
Have a coffee in the same chain house
Pretty waitress stopped meeting my gaze many weeks ago.

Try on clothes in designer boutiques
The kind with only one satin shirt hanging amidst
Splendid pretension on a rack it calls its own
Always rush out empty-handed
Never meet the doorman’s eye on leaving.

Crossing Albert Square, sit and watch a weekend wedding
See them pose for photos, all excited and vibrant
But I can only see the cigarette butts that the bride
Rearranges across the cobbles with the train of her dress.

Sitting in some dirty bar, writing words and reading better
Hovering in some futile vacuum
Waiting for fresh cards to be dealt my way.

Coming toward me across the menagerie of Piccadilly Gardens
I saw a shadow of a man, unkempt and drunk
Aged well beyond his natural progression
He eyed me and I looked away, seeing in him
A vision of my future that waits patiently round
The corner for me to catch up.
The thought was so distressing that I turned
And quickly headed for home.
 


Plane in the Sky

Staring up, a solitary plane
Tear a stitch across the canvas of the sky
A plume of white like a swan ripple on a lake
Who’s onboard and on what course?
Journeys abroad, journeys homeward
Business trips, holidays in the sun
The sky is all theirs, a clear path ahead
Thrown like a slingshot up miles high
Such genius of man to engineer such flight
From here though, so effortless and serene
As the plane floats on across the clear blue sky.
 


Snapshot of a City Dislocate
 

iron bridges prop up pondering people as they survey paper cups that struggle on along the gutter – blonde waitresses steal cigs in back alleys composing bitchy soliloquies and erotic sonnets on phones – cars progress like cancer cells on a torrent of false destination and monotone routine, so predicable their path along cobbles and asphalt, drivers caged inside with revs per minute intricately correlated to heartbeats – blood shoots round their soft machinery, their muscled hydraulics and nervous systems fragile with the winter chill –

the most exhilarating moment of their day is the double-decker passing the traffic lights mere inches from their face, they feel the rare thrill of being within a footstep of death, they could almost reach out and grab it – daily masturbation now a modicum of pleasure, an extrication of lust, an expulsion of fluid desire that would render us disasters waiting to happen were the ritual not religiously adhered to – policeman on the beat no hope in his face, follows in his trail a vapour of snide rumours and innuendo, dirty aspersions levelled on him –

pedestrians texting into phones are cruise missiles burrowing their way through the invisible smog – and every time I ignore a homeless man selling magazines and praying for a change a little piece of my soul goes through its death throes inside me – a troupe of amateur dramatics play out some kerbside Shakespeare, harassing shoppers with high-fluting lexicon and displaced narratives – these streets are eroding more and more and still we wade our way through to reach the half-price summer sales –

the banks and building societies and financial institutions play with our lives until market’s end, growing day by day, swallowing up everything we hold dear like a tumour – the other day I stood examining graffiti on the side of a municipal building, deciphering the illegible tags and crude sloganeering, wondering if there was any way I could profit from this venture until the light fell and I had to go home – and I wish I could get my hands on some medicinal substances to retreat into numbness and never come back –

I wish I could administer an intravenous injection of hard drugs into the veins of the city, see the walls collapse over time, the tensile strength of steel-framed structures OD and fall to pieces, the lifeblood of the city, the resilience and pride of the people contaminated and in need of thorough cleansing – office workers are wired on espresso and microwavable panini’s, accountants are living their fucked-up childhood fantasies, graphic designers and advertising execs are conjuring up new ways to transform their own graffiti tags and exotic slogans into banknotes and glossy reality – an amateur band rehearses over the internet, full of attitude and ideas, they will part ways acrimoniously before a rough collection of demos can find their way to anyone’s ears –

two lovers are kissing on stone steps as the rain falls upon their shoulders, nothing else matters around them as far as the imagination can stretch, as long as the very concept of time and the false promise of riches and success, recognition and respect, because between the two of them, from the ruins of the city, they have found something infinitely better.
 


Michael Brooks, an aspiring writer from Manchester

 

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