Stay safe everyone, during these troubled times. The Stoke Stanza has continued to meet online through lock-down. It’s not the same as in the upper room at The Leopard in Burslem but still with the opportunity to share and discuss poems.
Here are a few recent poems to lift the mood through lock-down.
PANDAEMONIC by Paul Freeman
Out in the oldest costume
Darkest feathered sweep,
Treading on cracks, the fissures
Past the fishers, the tankers, the reek
Of sweatshops, workshops
Rainforests laughing with fire,
Past the cages, the markets
Cataracts and hurricanoes.
Who is applauding
This barefoot performance
Who indeed? Let’s hear some applause for the next two poems by Geoff Sutton.
HI LILI HI LO
deer forest in may
the hills are reeking of death
rock litters the pass
fertile hinds give birth
over and over
when you summit out
then you have to go back down
surf the shifting scree
the eat well
feed off poison
superbugs we say
and at chernobyl
fungi feed off radiation
fatal to mortals
we have it coming
a test for the weakest point
so better shape up
you have a drink on me john
english short greek long
epi oin och eu oi
i might pour out wine
its the optative
lets uncork a bottle now
heres your beaker
On a similarly Grecian theme, via his local dump, Mark Johnson brings us
ACHILLES AT THE TIP
The lance arced through a sky
bright with spring sun glanced
off its surface as it swung a
parabola round and down
and into the catafalque
of vanquished gear; here,
at Leek’s municipal tip,
there is a private second Troy,
as a boy in the shape of
a man hurls kitchen
spars and dreams
that Gun Hill rising behind
the piled wreckage blazes
with a fierce Anatolian light.
We can always rely on John Williams for Delphic oracles and Mount Olympus (as well as Mount Parnassus). Here are two of John’s recent poems.
Now Mars Bars, Starbursts and Galaxies
are junk food, the gods must have made them
easy to buy and lethal to consume
like their other gifts, weapons and prophecy.
No-one complains when beer cans
let us talk to the greats or become a legend,
or to turn back time for a Marathon bar
we slide a coin in a slot machine.
The gods riveted ATMs to the wall
against ramraiders equipped with jemmies
and bestowed the touch-screen to make us urgent:
the burning want, sign of the divine
since the gods love us, give us speech,
phobias and the burger bar. They’re kind this way
as the coil rotates like the Wheel of Fortune
and drops a future in the vending tray.
In preparation, over 600 secret bunkers
were set up in the countryside
Struck from the map, the secret patch
gives up a Pepsi can and rusty nails,
coins of old dead kings and bottle caps.
My uncle scans the fireweed like frying on a flame
and listens to the sizzle in his headset
sweeping his detector over the field.
Buoyed up by a permit and free to dig
he sells the scrap as salvage for the cash.
He searches for the Doomsday Room
made of lead to stand the blast.
The sun ignites the metal in his mind
as he crumbles soil to nothing in his hands.
Unhindered by the burn of nettle rash
he powers up again for the deep hot spots
too frail for fingers or his steel-toed boots
and sets to work with his precision gear,
scalpels, tweezers, toothbrush and probe
to find the flare where the world would burn.
Finally, Phil Williams in elegaic mood:
Wind tugs frayed twine across each raised bed,
the broken stems of this year’s seedlings,
those wigwam ties the coal-tits tore and pecked
to line their nests.
It hits them raw, the two men on the roof
opposite, scooping pitch between the tiles,
all boots and shorts and builders’ bums.
The copper beech tree nods and heaves.
I will wild this garden, blur the verges but retain
your borders, those deft perennials you planted,
foxglove, iris, clematis, forget-me-nots –
and through all your cream varieties of rose,
the one you ordered for its name, The Poet’s Wife.
The next Stoke Stanza Zoom sessions are on Tuesday 25th August and Monday 7th September at 7pm. To find out more contact John Williams on email@example.com