Here are some poems from the Stanza session on 22nd May.
THE SLEEP COUNCIL | John Williams
I admire those who can sleep on armchairs
leaving a small ruin of themselves behind,
a squashed cushion, the shape of the head,
a single earring slipped down the sofa:
it’s never enough just to disappear.
And those who prefer to sleep in blankets
to the soft ambush of the furniture,
elbows in, knees up to the chest, curling
the weak spots into fabric, leg, belt
and groin while the party dies around them.
Some sleep with the plough, hunters in the sky,
others, grace in awkwardness, discomfort,
disappearing on a mountain, pitons
stuck for ever, north face, a sling of chain.
Some wait within the ice until the spring.
There’s the one-pound-bed in the lodging house,
lost razor, the billycan, waking up
with items clanking in the brain’s tin cup;
the kip, the mat, a hammock on a ship,
the plank-bed that returns us to the sea.
In the east, they still feel sleep’s a casket,
loft arrangements, making yourself a yurt,
the frazz of the ancients like a lilo,
a bag for meditation filled with breath
that serves you during zazan at the dawn.
I’m holding out for power naps, forty winks,
the Sleep Council’s tips for anxiety
like pillow talk in Aphrodite’s den
whose mattress of foam remember you,
and bedtime tales about immortal men.
NEEDING ANSWERS | Jenny Hammond
Or the millstone grit of Brimham Rocks’
weirdly weathered sculpture
create an urge to scramble high?
What makes the lustre of sun on carrion’s wing,
swooping below the height of Sutton Bank,
raise neck-nape hairs?
And how can cloud shadows moving
across rape-field yellow
trigger a silent “wow”?
Or the roar of Aysgarth Falls in spate,
raging through ancient woodland,
humble us to silence?
LIFE SENTENCE | Jenny Hammond
Unlike her counterpart
who leaves eggs for other birds to rear,
then flies back home to Africa,
my tragic cuckoo stays
imprisoned in her wooden box,
soldered to a spring.
Controlled by pendulum and weights,
she waits for hands to move around a face
marking time, until
the hour arrives
when double doors open,
letting in the light
just long enough
for her to plead once more
to be set free.
CATARACTS | Geoff Sutton
came down off Creag Mhor
over tundra to Loch A’an
past the shelter for
the rescue gear fast
under Cairngorm on a good
path looking at my
watch rendezvous with
Bryan in the ski car park
at six not late so
happy but weary
a dangerous time didn’t
know how tired I was
even on a fine
day not a comfortable place
rough rocky high risky
in mist tourists have
strayed to their deaths and today
now not fine at all
scrambled to Coire
Raibert where a Canadian
lad was pitching camp
mist swirled over the
ridge into my eyes under
my feet frozen snow
now I knew I was
on the cascade you can see
even in Aviemore
eyes misted over
I could not find the staircase
of short steep kicked steps
slanted across right
a big mistake went down the
ice at thirty two
feet per second or
thereabouts arms and legs curled
in a ball in case
I broke them now off
the ice onto a granite
boulder head over
heeling glasses gone
winded bleeding sunhat torn
but conscious all the
time decided I must
stop and somehow did so that
was that for a while
until next day
at Vision Express they said
you should definitely have
something done about your cataracts