Latest Poems | September/October 2011

Here’s a selection of poems from the Stoke Stanza session at The Leopard on Tuesday 27th September. Most were read and discussed on the night but some have been submitted since.

Enjoy. And if you like what you read why not come along to our next session? You would be very welcome.

Steve Savage brought the following poem to The Leopard on 27th September and subsequently revised it in response to comments he received. You can tell us which version you prefer using the ‘comment’ button.

We’d love to hear from you with any comments or feedback you have on any of the poems here. They are all the property of the writers and can only be used or reproduced elsewhere with their permission.

The Black Quill | by Steve Savage

All obituaries announce alphabetically
Why not by day, time?
Why didn’t Smith die
Before Adams thought of it
He may well have done
But do we need to know
That death doesn’t work for us

The man in hatched, matched and
Despatched needs direction
To stop himself thinking
That the morbid lists of his trade
Will one day include himself
Some order needs leaving
For the next Black Quill to follow

The Black Quill | Steve’s later version

Some order needs leaving
The man in hatched, matched and
Despatched needs direction
To stop himself thinking
About the morbid lists of his trade
That will one day include himself
Death doesn’t work for us

Obituaries announce alphabetically
Not by day, time
Why didn’t Smith die
Before Adams thought of it
He may well have done
But someone needs to know
For the next Black Quill to follow.

Old Dogs | by Mark Davenport

on photographs of 19th century Whitby fishermen by Frank Meadow-Sutcliffe

Behind sepia veil
they stand with spray-clotted hair
faces wind-scuffed.

Ears humnming with shanties
slow, gentle lulling
cold grey screech-blowing
tasting her with salt-soaked lungs.

Feet toeing the yawing swells
teetering balance on boat deck
hands seaweed sun hard
fast fingers sewing the nets.

These sea-blued eyes
looking out from faded worlds.

By the Bullet Factory Fence | by Geoff Sutton

not a bad place for blackberries
but only a few are ripe

putt-putt putt-putt
they’re test-firing again
like guerillas in the maquis
maybe blanks maybe not

a dead chestnut stark against the sky
is where we used to come a-conkering
forty something years ago

lady convulvulus weaves her white horns
in out
entwining and binding the chains
bracken fronds caress each other in the breeze

a paramilitary jeep creeps past inside
to see just what we’re up to
for all they know we could be IRA or Al-Qaeda

the brick huts stand far apart
sheep are grazing on a blast bank

if someone got careless
hut jeep sheep fence us
we’ll all end up sky high

today we walk home
with nineteen early berries
maggoty reddish and tart

Home | by Bert Molsom

When I go home it’s not the house,
the enclosure I want to see.
Fields exist, whether hedged or hefted,
wired or walled, and so does my home.

I feel at home without feeling
bricks and mortar. The walls, windows,
roofs, floors and doors may well contain
my home but I don’t feel for them.

My home provides calm, a respite
from external storms, a refuge
from the false performing outside.
Here I can safely be myself.

What is it makes this place my home?
What change makes that house into yours?
Why do we return to the right house?
To find the people within it.

Forget Me Not | by Drew Nuttall

A stirring in the rafters of a memory long gone,
An infestation long forgotten, now returned.
The hatching of a scratching patter, needling at the mind,
Reminder of the way the winds have turned.
And never before was it so loud, not even at the first,
in silence it has grown as it was spurned.
A neglected part of you, that you thought was weeded out
And yet now that you’ve moved on begins to burn.
A nettlesome regret as you seek to find your peace,
The overdue reprise you know you’ve earned.
‘I won’t be left behind!’ howls the memory maligned,
Reminder of a lesson never learned.

The Bully | by W K (Bill) Harper

The sleeping trees in winter lie
the river signs a lullaby

but boisterous wind comes bustling by
disturbs the peace of land and sky
scattering leaves and larks on high
bending branches that creaking cry
causing cold evergreens to sigh
sending slow crows flying awry
bowing bushes onto the ground
whipping water round and round
battering by the chicken pound
ruffling ducks’ feathers on moles’ mound
making wires sing a whining sound
wreathing rushes till they are bound
then at last its violence spent
wind veers off howling discontent
to other hills and vales now bent

the river sings a lullaby
the sleeping trees in winter lie


Cathedral
| by Jenny Hammond

Orion gazes down, sporting his belt,
with Rigel at his foot and Betelgeuse
in red upon his shoulder, while Sirius
in Canis Major smiles above the spire.

Those nameless men with Magna Carta memories
laid the foundations of this great church where
Bishop Osmund from Old Sarum lies and
William Longespée, half-brother to the king,
sleeps beside the long-forgotten gentry.

Artisans of Wiltshire have learnt their trade
from stonemasons who passed their knowledge on.
They still use claws, chisels, pitchers, punches,
and mallets made from applewood, to dress

and carve the limestone into finials,
pinnacles, figures to stand in niches,
grotesque gargoyles grinning from the corbels —
sculpting in perpetual evolution.

Alexander Von Humboldt | by Oliver Leech

‘The fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing.’ Archilochus

Alexander von Humboldt knew oodles of facts.
Men are agog that his normal sized noodle
could somehow contain the whole kit and caboodle:
all isms, all ologies, botany too,
the length of a shrimp, the weight of a gnu,
the dates of all monarchs, all parliament acts,
all concords and ententes and treaties and pacts;
flora and fauna from Russia to Spain
just morsels to feed his omnivorous brain
and whatever phenomena entered his sight,
he neatly recorded the distance and height.
They call him the last man to know all the lot,
the whole universe, its last tittle and jot.
You smart alec Masterminds, you friends that we’d phone
bow down and pay homage to this man alone.

And compared to von Humboldt
I’m a regular dumb dolt
a sad, mangy dull dog
or, at best, I’m a hedgehog
for there’s only one thing that I know
and it doesn’t seem much to show,
not a fact to collect like a trophy to win
but something to honour and cherish within,
not a scroll down of footnotes to dazzle the expert
but a sentence, one sentence that fits on a T-shirt.

Dawn’s Early Light | by Peter Branson

Gold eagle blazoned on a field of blood
lights up grey days, Apache warriors,
Cochise’s band, back page. Though just a kid,
you nose behind the lines and understand.
You are Geronimo, move like a ghost,
warpaint, head-band, along mean terraces,
watchful, silent as tumbleweed. In these
enlightened times, when Cherokees deny
Freedmen, the black kinfolk of former slaves,
their share of tribal rights, the Great White Chief
rides with the underdog, plays with straight bat
for once. Where cavalry with air support,
fork-tongues and spivs with pardon bags, impose
their will, you’re Glendwr, Wallace, Hereward.

 

 

 

 

 

Maestro | by Peter Branson

For Roy Fisher

Oh it was him all right, a poems ‘n’ pints;
stone pub, deep in the Peaks and well outside
what’s comfortable for an evening’s drive.
First time you’ve been, you settle in to smiles,
enquiring glance or two. Later you read.
Whole thing goes rather well, you feel. Just when
you are about to leave, next visit pledged
New Year, you spot an old bloke near the back
you’ve missed before. Don-like, he gestures you
should pause. He’s other-worldly, feted, priest
or bard. Hoarse whisper, barely audible,
you lip-sync “Very good.” That long trawl home
synapses dance; can’t wait to look, reveal
“a modern great”, flack jacket of your book.

 

 

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About theleopard66

I am a member of the Stoke Stanza of The Poetry Society and run a bi-monthly Poems & Pints event in Alsager.
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