Featured poet | Geoff Sutton

Geoff Sutton was born in Scotland and used to be a teacher. Now he’s part-time gardener, hill walker, reader of just about anything written, grandparent and occasional writer. Oh, and he’s seriously addicted to Stoke City. Proud to be a Leopard!

ALWAYS ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

I was looking through the window
To see what I could see
But all I saw were my two eyes
Staring back at me
Always on the outside looking in

I wandered through the wild wood
I was looking for my home
I saw you walk together
You saw me walk alone
Darkly on the outside looking in

When I saw the lighted windows
Of any homely place
They pulled the blind down as I passed
They wanted to hide the face
Of someone on the outside looking in

I went on to the sea’s side
I was searching for you there
But all I found were mermaids
Plaiting bladderwrack in their hair
Sadly on the outside looking in

I met a former lover
She said I’ve lost your name
But I know exactly where you are
You’re really just the same
You’re always on the outside looking in

I’ve been strolling through the spaces
Where people used to be
And soon I balanced the me in you
Against the you in me
So inside mirrored outside outside in

The dead live on inside us
I hear them every day
We echo each other word for word
But they haven’t much to say
They’re only on the outside looking in

THE BAY:BARE TO RED BANK

the tide goes out like a racehorse
the water is not very deep

there’s a bank of white cloud over Barrow
a spaniel chases the sheep

a man walks by on the sand below
the tattoo on his arm says Status Quo

over there a fisherman
digs bait with a spade
windscreens are glistening
on Morecambe promenade

the view across Coniston
is hazy and wide
and none of this is far
from where the Chinese cocklers died

BLAIRMORE 1940

midges whing through the gloaming
up the slope beside the lodge
where Nev and Shuggie
lop birches and rowans
wear white handkerchieves
with a knot in each corner
to mop sweat from bare skulls
while the bombs fall on Clydebank
but the burn runs clear
through the pipe under the road
into the loch which is still holy
before the great gray nuclear sharks
slide south north west and east

here I was once for sure

BY THE BULLET FACTORY FENCE

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

putt-putt putt-putt
they’re test firing again
like guerrillas 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

MILLEFEUILLES MINUTES

Sit up all night
For some delayed flight,election news
Away Ashes, for the hell of it.

Dark nothing happens

Time
Like pastry rolled thin
Folded over and over

Till

Screens show an ETA
Labour landslide,England win
Another day. Breakfast

Straight from the oven
Bitten into, flaky and bright
A hot croissant, fragile and light.

SCREE RUNNING ON SGURR ALASDAIR

‘Partnered with this great peak is the classic route by way of the Great Stone Chute from which neighbouring belvederes may seem almost vertical.’
(Irving Butterfield)

The magma chamber
Of a dead volcano

For millions of years
The Great Stone Chute
Spewed chunks of basalt and gabbro
From his summit down into Coire Lagan

For fewer than a hundred and-fifty years
We’ve been scrabbling about
A waterfall of loose stone

Now there’s more below than above
You’re up Sgurr Alasdair without a paddle
Shoot the Great Stone Shoot
While you can

Graham says

Bounce down
Boots straight
Two-footed
Down the central river
Go down
Now

I go
Fast
Then faster

Graham overtakes me
Sits on a square boulder
Says it’s his usual seat
Enjoys a new view of the In Pin
Which properly is An Stuc

Says Graham

NOT PLANTS BUT NAMES OF PLANTS

HIMALAYAN BALSAM
you brought me here
I Iike it here
no enemy but you

I’m here to stay
I own this land
I spit my seed at you

DEADLY
Monkshood or Wolfsbane
Nightshade Henbane
Ragwort dried Laburnum Foxglove
eat us die Yew too

GOOD
Feverfew Yarrow
Nettle Comfrey Chickweed too
We’re all good for you

FOLK
Purple Loosestrife Woad
Ploughman’s Spikenard Shepherd’s Purse
Dyer’s Greenweed Flax

RAGWORT
Once you killed me on sight
I hid and bided my time
Now you’ve taken your eye off me
The fields and tracks are mine,mine

KNOTWEED
I know I’m knot pretty (pardon the pun)
Though once you must have thought I was
But I’m never fussy about where I live
And I’m having enormous fun.

BLUE DAY AT SETTLEMENT

the limestone ridge lies frozen in the sun
on Pit Lane the heifer shippon stands empty
a place for sheep

the rumps of the ewes are saffron and turquoise
where the ram has trodden them

Gallowber Lane crosses an arena in the hills
where paths meet from Spital Sealford and Kilnerfoot

is this where they lived
where they raised clints into an oval
from where they could see and be seen

the map says only settlement
this place has lost its name

even if by some galactic fluke
their voices curve round the cosmos
bounce back to this blue site
rite of birth   crop   death
spell out cylch   carnedd   trum
that is not what they meant
not what they mean

for names may describe
Ingleborough  Hutton Roof  Penyghent
long ridge flat place stone ring
but in a maker’s mouth
or spoken by a stranger
they break free from sense
Gragareth                Ghru
become things

WESTPORT LAKES

Now these brown waters lie clear
The toxic Fowlea Brook cleaned up
Seagulls from poisoned landfills flown

Never mind the diesel from the D road
Virgin trains, the far from clear canal
With birdlime thick on the towpath bricks

For early morning striders and their dogs
Lycra girls on the redgra jiggling past
Camouflaged anglers who watch three rods

Stilted cafe like a yacht in dry dock
Goose with one leg in the carpark
Illegal model motorboaters

It’s simply miles miles better

WRITING THE POEM
i.m. Ken Koch 1925-2002

what what
sing five times ten times ten
there there

begin again
an experience
not a description of an experience
take care

and four other things
star jar wheelbarrow wind
silver gray red west

that

hard to know when to stop
get out as early  as you can

what

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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.
This entry was posted in Recent Poems. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Featured poet | Geoff Sutton

  1. Alan Moorhouse says:

    A lovely reflection on life in Always on the Outside Looking In. It scans well too – and would make a good song.

  2. Dave Kennerley says:

    It’s a very long time (Alsager Circle days) since I encountered a Geoff Sutton poem and I’m happy to rediscover him here. Same clear, crisp style with such a gentle humour. I especially enjoyed “Not Plants but…” and “Scree Running…” Best wishes. Keep writing, Geoff – Dave Kennerley (Byron Bay, NSW)

    • geoff sutton says:

      Oh Dave,so good to hear you! Heard about you in Round the World in 80 Blogs.Tell me how you spend your days. Didn’t you used to work round Bath/Bristol? Going there tomorrow to visit daughter & family.Take care!!

      • Dave says:

        Ha! Wonderful thing the electric interweb. I was thrilled to see the photos of you Andy & Kath posted, and to rediscover your poetry here. I’m glad to see that you are still writing and must confess I have been somewhat less than prolific.
        Yes, I taught in Bristol and lived in Bath for 14 years before moving to Australia – a refugee from Thatcher’s Britain. Send me an email and I’ll fill in the gaps. davekennerley@bigpond.com.
        And have a lovely time on Bath.

  3. Mike Fuller says:

    Is that mountain Scur Alaistar near Ben More ( Crainlarich ) and Stob Binian, I hope it is now I’ve mentioned these mountains otherwise I may look rather silly. Did you know there are about 90 separate mountains higher than Snowdon in Scotland? I just thought what the hell I’d try and prove I know something!!! I’m Mike ( Fuller ) by the way, I was at the Leopard, Burslem in June, 2013.

    With Best Wishes for Christmas and The New Year!!!
    Keep Truckin,
    Cheers – Mike ( Fuller )

  4. Mike Fuller says:

    Sorry Geoff!!!

    That was very thick of me!!! Scurr Alasdiar, is of course a Munro on Skye. I knew I had heard of the mountain!!! You’ve been on the Cullins have you?!?!? There of Alpine severity!!! And of a sublimity beyond belief!!! I used to walk on mountains, but now as you may know if you were at the Leopard in June, 2013, I am now unbelievably fat, due to medication, laziness, and perhaps being a big marred arse!!! I think the mountain I was thinking of is Scurr Chan……. ? It is about 3, 480 ft I think, but of course Stob Binian and Ben More are both about 350 ft higher, as they are the highest mountains south of the Tay!!! I spoke to a woman when I took a train to Crainlarich, who said to me “You could do Ben More in trainers.” I thought “I don’t think so!!!” I’ve only gone up Ben Nevis in Scotland when I was a slip of a lad, with my parents at 15. Now I can only admire the majesty of mountains from my dad’s car window!!! Still, it does no harm looking!!!
    I have had a poem I’ve written called ‘Mountains’ published in the ”2009 Fireside Book’, but I think that poem of mine is crap!!! I don’t like mountains as I did, but sometimes the old romance of their sublime majesty comes back, and then I just think WOW!!!

    All The Best over Christmas and New Year!!!
    Keep Truckin’
    Cheers – Mike ( Fuller )

  5. Mike Fuller says:

    Here’s a song lyric for you to look at Geoff.

    It was written by Paul McCartney but as was the case, the credits are Lennon / McCartney.

    Mother Nature’s Son

    Born a poor young country boy
    Mother Nature’s son
    All day long I’m sitting singing songs for everyone

    Sit beside a mountain stream – See her waters rise
    Listen to the pretty sound of music as she flies

    Find me in my field of grass
    Mother Nature’s son
    Swaying daises sing a lazy song beneath the sun

    Mother Nature’s sun

    Lennon / McCartney ( 1968 )
    From ‘The Beatles’ ( White Album )

    On the sit-com ‘Faith In The Future’, which was another of those middle-class stereotype sit-coms, Faith qoutes to James Bolan character the lines “The wild and winter’s night, as left a pool of tears waiting for the day, don’t leave me standing here, let me know the way.” He said “Let me think.” “Sad with a touch of irony.” “Is it Byron.” She said “Close – Paul McCartney.’ It just goes to show how good poetry is found everywhere!!! That line by McCartney was from ‘The Long And Winding Road’ – Lennon / McCartney ( Written 1969, Published 1970 ).

    When I was in Oxford, I was pleased to see in a large book shop there, not the famous one
    ( so famous I’ve forgotten the name of it!!! ), but another large book shop, among the poetry books, was placed the song lyrics of Bob Dylan. I thought great!!!, that’s so refreshing!!! To place a popular song lyricist among the likes of Byron, Tennyson, and Keats etc, etc. Paul Simon and a few others to could be there as well I think!!!

    The song lyric ‘Mother Nature’s Son’ may not be a paticularly good poem in many respects but something about it I like, and think others may to. I like the relaxed, almost sloopy way it’s written. The beauty of every type of art, Music, Poetry, Writing, and Art is that there is no right or wrong!!! You don’t have to tear you hair out as to why you like something!!! You just like it!!! I got that qoute from a film about Jackson Pollock. I think there should be some intrest of the majority to define the substance to which we value art by, but people tend to agree more than disagree. Obviously all art shouldn’t be too easy, otherwise the subject wouldn’t exist!!!

    With Best Wishes over Christmas!!! And for the New Year!!!
    Keep Truckin’
    Cheers – Mike ( Fuller )

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