Featured Poet – Paul Fox

The next Stoke Stanza session at The Leopard will be at 8pm on Tuesday 27th November. Admission free. All welcome.

Meanwhile, Paul Fox is our featured poet this month. You can read some of his work below and below that, some of the poems from the previous Stanza on 23rd October.

Paul Fox was born in Stoke on Trent a very long time ago. He went to Madeley College where he trained as a teacher of Physical Education and French. It was natural then that he should become an English teacher. His work is mainly comic verse. He has published four books so far and no one has been able to stop him. You can find out more at http://www.paulfoxpoetry.com or on You Tube at PaulFoxPoetry. http://youtu.be/05Fwn_LzD8A


On this damned spot, Polonius
Was killed at Elsinore
He was only a nosy Parquet
But this was his tragic floor.


How shall I know, when I’m dead?
That I’m not unconscious instead?
Shall I get a certificate or a diploma
To say I’m not sleeping or just in a coma?
For death should be more than a simple misnomer.
But how shall I know if I’m dead?

Will angels come down to my side
And whisper, “Excuse me – you’ve died.”?
Will they sing angel promises into my ear
And say, “You’re for heaven, there’s nothing to fear.”?
And if I am dead how the hell will I hear?
So how shall I know when I’m dead?

How shall I know I’m deceased,
When all cerebral functions have ceased?
I shall not know pleasure, I shall not know pain
You can’t know a lot when you haven’t a brain
And I’m sure that I don’t want to be born again
But how shall I know if I’m dead?


She had said, “YES!”
Deep inside a fountain sprang up
To sparkle only in my eyes.
No-one knew why.

But now I was a man.
Rushing, early,
I thought I heard a skylark –
But it was November.

Drizzle dulled the day
And I waited alone.
Shadows walked out of the mist to become –
Not her.

Minutes dripped into hours
The rain trickled inside my collar,
And no-one came.

My soul sang the pain.
Dark inside, it welled up
To sparkle only in my eyes,
No oNe knew why.

But now I was a man.


My brain keeps starting sentences
My mouth cannot complete;
They used to work together once
But lately they compete.

Sometimes the words that I pronounce
Aren’t those inside my head,
I have to listen carefully
To check on what I’ve said.

I’ll talk about a movie star
Or writer of great fame,
And then just at the crucial bit
I can’t recall his name.

I can’t remember lots of things,
I don’t know what to do;
It’s hard to sort what I’ve forgot
From what I never knew.

So now I sit and plan for hours,
Before I start to speak
And though I’m doing well today,
I thought of this last week.

Memo 29851887b

Re: Consultation

Please let me use this little note
To ease a situation
For those who don’t quite understand
What’s meant by “consultation”.
It means we form a seminar
Where people can discuss,
How wonderful their lives would be
If they could be the boss.
Feel free to mention anything
And even have a vote
And when you’ve shown me how you feel
I’ll simply make a note.
You may discuss my policies
And think up new ones too
Until I send a memo out
To tell you what to do.

In times of trouble, such as these,
We cannot stand divided –
So anything important
Has already been decided.
The consultations held tonight
Will only last an hour;
It doesn’t matter what you say
Since I keep all the power.

So come and please agree with me
Or else you’ll make me cross
Remember who controls your life
Yours faithfully,
The Boss.


We’ve walked through golden sunsets
Together side by side,
And watched our footprints washed away
Beneath the rolling tide.

What we have had is special
And should it ever end
I know I’ll always think of you
As being my best friend.

But one thing I must mention,
I feel you ought to note,
I hate the way you push your tongue
Into my mouth and throat.

Though in the power of faithful love
I am a great believer
You must remember I’m a man
And you are a Retriever.


Karen Schofield attended the Stoke Stanza for the first time on 23rd October and shared this poem:


Pale and diminished you lie there as crimson blood
Drips into a pale blue vein.
On your too white skin lies a purple bruise,
Yellow in parts like a ripening plum,
A halo around the needle site.
Gradually colours take on another meaning.
Whereas once they defined a bright new dress, lipstick
And the right shade of hair,
Now they adorn you in a different way
And have become the accessories of disease.
You fight back bravely painting your lips like scarlet petals,
Your eyes like silver stars and place a scarf of bright blue
Over your smooth white head.
These familiar rituals restore you to life,
Masking the unwanted hues for a while.

HAGSTONE | Jenny Hammond

At first I missed the gossamer,
threaded in the gap
between the fireplace tiles,
behind the propped up hag stone
flanked by parlour palms.

As my duster flicked
she darted out.
So minuscule, I could not
see her eyes, her spinnerets,
her angled legs.

Yet I knew, when magnified
she would appear like
some monster from a horror movie.
Was she expecting a tasty
house dust mite? I wondered.

Or was she on the offensive?
“Squash her!
“No, she’s harmless.
Why destroy her?
No one will notice if I leave her.”

So now we have an understanding.
She lives undisturbed,
protected by my hagstone
and, while I dust around it,
I whisper one way conversations.

SHE | Jenny Hammond

She’s tattered polythene
snagged on rusted barbs,
wired to a threadbare existence.
Begging for handouts,
she sneaks into stairwells,
dosses in doorways,
a tarnished drop-out craving
the tourniquet, the needle,
the brief escape
before the final fix.



the limestone ridge lies frozen in the sun
on Pit Lane the heifer shippon stands empty

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 words 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
become fossils
Gragareth   Ghru


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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