Latest poems | November 2012

phil_williams12Phil Williams has had a number of poems accepted for publication recently. Six have appeared in the latest edition of Iota (91) and another has been published in Planet, the Welsh Internationalist Magazine. There are links to these poems on Phil’s blog.

And here’s one:

THE GAS FRIDGE                             

What else in 1980s bedsit land
but 1960s furniture? Earlier even.
Items I had not seen since pre-fab
parlours, great aunts’ kitchens.
Then, unexpectedly,
where I prepared for finals
and for unemployment, a gas fridge.

Half the height of ours at home,
it fed, like cooker and gas fire,
on the 50p coins I pressed and turned
into the meter every second day.
It showed its life by a pilot-light,
blue and awkward behind its back.

To ignite it I would stoop and drop
match after lighted match
down its fissured tube, hope
that they would reach and catch
before they fizzled out.
I could waste half a precious box
before I found the knack.

Who would have thought
that Einstein patented the spell
that drove ammonia around
those cooling pipes without a sound?
A pity then no patent way
to keep the pilot light from going out
in Mrs Hossey’s redbrick bedsits.
‘No blacks, lovey, no coloureds.’

Just two pints of Stones
in The Little Park on my 21st
birthday. The Sheffield drifting
in the South Atlantic, charred
and stricken. Boys my own age
between her decks, burning.


Staying with a war theme, but from an earlier conflict, here is Geoff Sutton’s much re-worked poem about his father’s WW1 experiences.

THE LAST FIRST WORLD WAR POEMS

I

pains in his arms and chest
bald wrinkled old man
still he would not die

they injected him
he relaxed
under the sheet

the phone rang
a long drive
there he lay

it’s over

II

thirty five years before
he fathered me

hardly spoke
about puttees lice trench feet
or how his lungs were poisoned

a comrade
came up a slope
caught a burst in the stomach

a pair of scissors
bought in Bapaume
which I lost

III

in a briefcase with metal locks
leather in leather
his holster his belt

his Luger legal
surrendered

his bullets
illicit
buried in a sack

he never saw
Steven and Gemma
Finlay Aisha
Ella and Layla
try on his khaki beret
finger his ribbons

his cross won
aged twenty one
six weeks before the Armistice
exactly eighteen years
before my birth day

IV

now when I hear the bugles blow
in lurid wet Novembers
watch the poppies bloom again
petals fall and die

feel the cold ferocious steel
finger on the trigger
release the safety catch
hear the bullet fly

eyes closed until the thump
acrid whiff of powder
compel my eyes to open wide
stare at where the body lies

(1983) 11 Nov 2012

Bo Crowder brought along a very interesting and innovative poem, Palimpsest, laid out in a chess-board pattern and overwritten across background text which read, ‘I will not be overwritten. The effect is difficult to reproduce here but you can gain an impression from the image below:

palimpsestjpeg

The poem itself (without the background text and, unfortunately, the layout) runs as follows:

PALIMPEST

Broken in on a gravestone
By a Beery breathed rough hewer of coal,
Grinding her into a white dust
Like the clay that settled on her face
From the pots she carried to the kiln.

Squares on a chess board
Touching yet opposed
In the beginning
Equal in area

But black ink writes on white paper
Black hands stain white sheets
Black boots stamp on white feet
So she washed the feet
Shredded the sheets for rags
And screwed the paper up for kindling

She learned to creep,
Snore silently, lie impassive
Without a whimper, count the money
In the wallet while he slept
The only thing they did together
Was grow old

Until the day he heaved his last
With a final wheeze the shafts collapsed
And she bent to listen as
Words whispered from his lips

They blew on the breeze
Flew through the open window.
Picking up a pen
She wrote them over his dead form.

If anyone knows how to lay out tables in WordPress and hide the lines then please let us know! – The Leopard.

PICKING PLUMS | Karen Schofield

We met under the branches
One late summer afternoon,
Blue skies above and
Below a carpet of pink and purple
Patterned with the pulp of ripe flesh.

Climbing a small ladder against a trunk
We were adrift in a sea of plums.
Greedy for bounty we picked too many,
Ate some, kissing the velvet
As we bit through skin.

One year on and we meet again.
This time you pick more slowly
With one hand only
And stay unsteadily on the ground.

The crushed purple underfoot, the bruise inside your head.

IVY | Jenny Hammond

Old fashioned, but a pretty name.
Three letters hiding the free-loader that she is.

Hedera Helix – the Latin label she uses to impress,
to wheedle in, to sap the best.

Sponging on others, she’ll cling on tight,
climb higher than the rest.

Let her and she’ll destroy you,
leech you dry, determined to succeed.

Then move on to another
and discard you like an empty shell.

BUBBLE WRAP | Jenny Hammond

Impossible to bundle up
a flimsy sphere
enclosing air
beneath its iridescence.

This quirk of language
works thoughts
of overcoated Bubble Cars
or fizz trapped in a can;.

half-chewed gum,
still good for blowing,
enclosed within its foil,
stuffed into the pocket

of a Duffle coat;
Moet et Chandon muffled
against its chill,
hidden effervescence.

All this, more fanciful
than vesicled polythene,
perfect for packaging –
synthetic Bladder Wrack,
ready for popping.

VENETIAN LABYRINTH | Maurice Leyland

The Grand Canal shines as beacon for architects to note.
The random greatness of each palace jostles for prominence
With each neighbour tight packed.
Buildings built to last but fighting  daily
To survive the next high tide.

The giant cranes,  praying mantis ready to mate.
They swing and gesticulate as they pluck from the boats
Loads of stone for the builders below.
Their job to repair and enhance
Damp and vunerable walls.

Waterborne traffic gyrates and weaves,
Seeking safe passage and mastery over others.
Vaporetti, taxis, gondolas grand,
Deliverers of mail, vegetable boats,
Uholders of the law, fire fighters,
All struggle for space in the maze which is Venice.

We’ll add some more poems shortly – watch this space and keep following The Leopard!

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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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