The Stoke Stanza next meets at The Leopard in Burslem on Tuesday 8th January 2013 at 7.30 pm. You are invited to discuss the current issue of ‘Poetry Review’ (Volume 102 number 3 Autumn 2012) and we’ll send feedback to the Poetry Society in London. Please bring your own copy. Single copies can be bought online from the Poetry Society Shop at £9 each. http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk
The next meeting when there’ll be an opportunity to read and discuss your own poetry will be on Tuesday January 29th at 7.30pm.
Don’t miss: Poems & Pints with a Christmas Theme, upstairs at The Lodge pub, Crewe Road, Alsager at 8pm on Thursday 13th December.
Two Pauls and a Steve
Meanwhile, here are some poems from the last session of 2012 which didn’t arrive on time for the November sample.
So they’re appearing here, along with a poem from Steve Savage from October. Let’s tie up all loose ends before Christmas and the New Year.
First up, Paul Fox with a ballad based on a true story.
OPEN AIR HAMLET
No, I was not Prince Hamlet
Nor was meant to be –
I hid behind the arras
Where Hamlet punctured me.
“Dead for a ducat,” he shouted,
“Oh! I’ve been killed,” I replied,
And grovelled on the gravelled ground
Prey to geronticide.
And as I lay there, being dead,
Hamlet had words with his mother
About the murder of the King,
And her marriage, to his brother.
But as the audience sat, amazed,
At Hamlet’s righteous rage
With casual ease, a careless cat
Stalked out upon the stage.
Now being dead I couldn’t move
But lay there silently –
The fickle feline fell in love
And came and stood on me.
He rubbed his body back and forth
Against my tousled head
And I, of course, was helpless
You are once you are dead.
And as I was molested
I slowly noticed that
No one was watching Hamlet now
But everyone watched the cat.
With Hamlet wringing Gertrude’s heart
The scene was fraught yet sad
The audience was giggling
No wonder he was mad!
That furry fussing feline
Would not leave me alone.
He raised his tail and shuffled
To mark me as his own.
The audience gasped; they were aghast –
No tension great as this –
The greatest fear they had was that
The cat was going to miss.
And knowing that I shouldn’t move
(The rules on death are strict)
I picked one piece of gravel and
One single finger flicked.
The cat, believing he’d been shot,
Responded with a cry
(A raucous wailing caterwaul)
And leapt towards the sky.
Before he fled in feline fear
He landed on four paws –
The audience responded with
Now Hamlet’s head was in his hands
And Gertrude was in tears,
The audience, oblivious,
Responded with loud cheers.
Thus Shakespeare’s art was torn apart;
The scene was ruined now
So I stood up and graciously
I took a final bow.
And so we could continue then
I gave a groan of pain
I firmly clasped my mortal wound
And promptly died again.
ME, YOU, US | Paul Freeman
In a Saturday cashpoint queue outside the Royal
Bank of Scotland, a father and boys striped in the royal
blue and white of their team’s home strip,
one in the yellow away kit holding a strip
of tickets, players’ names arched across their backs, the numbers
almost spelling out my PIN.
As I tap into the steel, I can just make out my face
in the screen defaced
with scratched initials and graffiti tags, as one hand shields
the other, the way a mother wraps her coat around a child.
Meeting your twin sister in Starbucks
or Nero’s, she tells me you’ve passed the buck
to her to do your dirty work
now familiarity has bred intent and things can no longer work
out between us. Your new girlfriend, she says, is part-Zara
Phillips, part-whatshername? That actress. So there’s zero
chance of us making up, she says, adding I was too independent,
not enough of a team player. When I look up from the i
at your sister tapping and pinching her iPhone,
I’m struck more than ever by how she’s gone
along with this. Maybe I was in two
minds after all. And maybe, out of the two…
ATTENBOROUGH WOULD UNDERSTAND | Steve Savage
I usually sleep through
Until the 4 a.m. break
Scenting the porcelain bowl
I heard two noises
One relatively close
A fox bark on the nearby car park
One in the distance
An owl hooting in the woods beyond
No security light came on
As I stood buck naked in the kitchen
Searching out any movement
Standing with arms akimbo
Like a giant silverback surveying his territory
Daring anything to set my halogen alight
Then I felt a sound
Through the floorboards
She was snoring contentedly
I could lollop my way
Up the ex-tree trunk
To the matrimonial leaf pit
Of freshly washed linen
I’m sure that I awoke
With my thumb in my mouth