The next session at The Leopard, Burslem, will be on Tuesday 12th February at 7.30pm. We’ll be discussing the Winter 2012 edition of Poetry Review and sending feedback to The Poetry Society.
The next Stanza session for readings and discussion of poets’ own work will be on Tuesday 26th February at 7.30pm. All welcome. Admission free.
Meanwhile, here are some poems from the session on 29th January. We will add more shortly. Why not contact us and tell us what you think?
SO THAT MR OWEN KNOWS | Steve Savage
The bombs still crump, or blossom now
No longer the boche, older enemies
And we’ve moved on from just ‘tommies’
But the futility is still the same
No chance of a ‘peg’ these days
Though it would be welcome in this dryness
Decorum is as decorum does, but
It’s certainly not sweet, any more than it was
The tactics may have changed
Going out on our daily patrols
Akin to going over the top
We hope, like you, the enemy sleep
Our weapons have progressed
Wouldn’t you know it?
But the drills are still the same
GAS! GAS! GAS! – nine seconds to death
My life expectancy is greater than yours
Not a full on conflict this one
They call it peace-keeping
But dreams recall our choking horrors
(‘peg’ – usually brandy and soda water)
LOVE BY SATELLITE | Jenny Hammond
I think I’m in love with the SAT.NAV girl,
my senses are spinning, my heart’s in a whirl,
I’d drive thousands of miles to tune in to her voice,
my obsession’s so strong that I don’t have a choice.
I wanted to know if the girl has a name,
so I scrolled up and down and discovered she’s Jane,
and though I can’t see her, she wouldn’t be plain,
moreover, I’ll never be lonely again.
My life has been changed by my satellite chick,
who’s quite unaware that I’m not in good nick,
that my acne has spread and my glasses are thick,
and my body’s not something that most girls would pick.
She’s got under my skin, if you know what I mean,
and the state that I’m in hides a passion unseen,
a love that’s enduring, enslaving and keen,
and although she’s unreal — well, at least I can dream.
Each morning at nine I sneak into my van,
I switch on my SAT.NAV to see where I am,
then follow directions from fabulous Jane,
wherever she leads me, I never complain.
I could have had Tracey, a shop girl from Stoke,
I could have had Sharon, or even a bloke,
but Jane cheers me up as she shows me the way,
a voice from the ether to brighten my day.
A pleasant companion has entered my life,
devoid of the hassles of having a wife,
no nagging, no arguments, no p.m.t.,
just Jane and my SAT.NAV, my white van and me.
DUNLIN | Jenny Hammond
This is no foreshore
where dunes guard
and waves invade.
This is no estuary
of tidal runnels,
marine worm tunnels —
a mollusc-laden larder.
Here, trees guard a patch
of clipped hedges,
where you forage alone,
aloof, alert, an alien
to robin, wren and dunnock.
You should be sand-piping
by the sea,
or joining a flock to
skim, sweep up, spill out,
change course, dive down
in a dunlin spectacular.
CATS CAN SEE GHOSTS | Phil Williams
They are what they look at
when their ears pivot and flatten;
sniff at as their deft noses sift
a thawed scent for hints of frost;
when they pause in their padding
and their disc-eyes widen.
They neither bristle nor howl
but drink ghosts in or whisker them,
as they weigh all else that leaks or looms
from a world they’ve mastered:
The screen that flickers and chatters
from the corner, rolling monsters,
our milky box of light.
They steal through back bins
and darkness, mark all shades and traces
that tease our goosed arms and napes of neck.
Watch them invert the alchemies of night,
nuzzle down to a dream of mice.
You can read another, longer animal poem – and a ‘bit of fun’ – on Phil’s blog.
A WHOLE LOTTA LOVE | Phil Williams
On 2nd December 2012, Led Zeppelin received a Kennedy Award from President Obama. A fortnight later, he made a speech in sadder circumstances – the Sandy Hook shootings.
He jokes about their wild reputation,
the hotel rooms trashed,
their need for toughened glass
It will prove light relief from the sirens,
recriminations, the circling lights
at stripe-taped crime-scenes.
Within weeks of his podium tears,
Obama presents a Kennedy Award
to Paul-Jones, Plant, Page,
sashed and bow-tied in their penguin suits.
For your poor, your tired,
your huddled masses
there’s a Stairway to Heaven –
you’ll trade a clip or two of magazines
to fend you from yourselves.
And once you’ve sown some doubts
of Darwin throughout your schools,
we’ll weave tears and prayers into one long,
slow riff to rock you on your way.
SIEGBERG | Mark Asquith
The Stadtbahn swept swiftly in from Bonn.
The stop, modern, dropped deftly, deep down
In modern Germany, the Deutsches Verwaltung.
Glazed German ticket hall, small German town.
People primed to purpose. Each phrase
Wisely, palpably German, neue Europa,
A fine, clean phase all border posts raised
The sermon, the praise – Beethoven, Goethe
Karl-Heinz Stockhausen. The same currency given
In Siegburg, called the hill of victory, or in
Bad Godesberg, the cheap pill, the placebo
Of history. In Siegburg the Marktplatz sloping
Steeply to keeps of two castles although
The Martinkirche asks the vesper for
The town’s dead. The Castellan, Argus to
Siegburg rests, a town of languor,
The votive quiet – Sehnsucht – through
From hill crest to Rathaus to Stadtbahn.
A café serves a cake not found in England.
Reserved here, an appetite denied in memory
Of Hitlerzeit, a time too corrupt to withstand
The abrupt evocation of crimes, choking history.
In this market place, graced by a rich floral
Gown, stone and bronze alone, revered by the town
And facing me, a mark of severe loss. A memorial.
No cross, Victoria placed high looks down.
It says, God was with us. He had honour.
And many names, German names, their
Names, the town’s names, denied remembrance
Drowned by the remembering of total warfare.
Life’s dance, death’s crown, death’s assonance.
One other superscription on the column,
Is that the dead bestow on me their greetings.
Sehnsucht? A fleeting, half decrypted solemn
Insistence that they lie alone, the fallen sons
Of new old Siegburg, from the war of 1871.
Another newcomer, Chris Phillips, read several finely crafted poems and has submitted those and a number of haiku for The Leopard blog.
In ruddy boots in rocky pools,
Mottle-coated turnstones comb
The low tide reach of mussel-beds.
To and fro they skirt the sea-foam
On a wild-eyed beach. Their pebbles lofted
As bereted Bretons playing boule.
IN A LONELY FOG
Raised beds shrouded in a lonely fog
Slung low in the twilight.
Harvest ripe, standing in rows
Like soldiers’ headstones in Belgian fields.
Copper shielded sentries standing on woodstacks,
Their clattering wings explode to the canopy
Echoing the muzzle of a trigger-happy gunner.
(on remembering Mabel, Constantine and Booby’s Bay)
We sit on the beach
Where she had ran forever
Paw prints on water
(on seeing a kingfisher and likening it to the jewelled sword)
The fisher king reigns
Through the cut of the river
The Sword of Jaipur
And last, but by no means least, two new poems by William Harper.
LETTER TO LOST LOVE
I know now I cannot recover
the love you had for me
but being together then was right
so deeply beautiful and precious
each time I see you is the first time
besides you other women pale shades
some moments cannot be forgotten
just sitting together quietly enamoured
hand-holding on a seat in the sun
looking over reservoir’s high round hills
each time I see you is the first time
beside you other women pale shades
now you are not near me
I will look out for you
everywhere and in everything
hoping there to find you
each time I see you is the first time
wherever you may now be I am forever lost
If people lost their souls
what would religions do
they could not send a person
to lofty heaven’s bliss
a purgatory indecisive
or down to hell below
their carrot they would lose
and then their stick as well
archaic hierarchies just collapse
and become their earthly hell
so that is why they have them the souls
and inquisitions too