New Poems From The Leopard

The next Stoke Stanza meeting will take place at The Leopard, Burslem on Tuesday 19th March. All welcome, admission free.

Also – watch out and watch this space for Stanza happenings at the Endon Well Dressing in May. We’re planning ‘soap-box’ poetry reading to commemorate Endon’s best known poetic son, the ‘proto-modernist’ T E Hulme.

Meanwhile, here are some poems from the Stanza on 26th February.

AND GHOSTS RUN FREE (Trevose Head Lighthouse) | Chris Phillips

There is a place that you know bestphoto (2)
So take my hand and lead me on
Far beyond some delirious sea
To where we know we both belong

So take my hand and lead me on
Through purple fields and swirling light
To where we know we both belong
On cliffs where we can be whatever that we want

Through purple fields and swirling light
Where kestrels float and ghosts run free
On cliffs where we can be whatever that we want
Remembering all that was to be and was

So hand in hand, come, let us go
Far beyond some delirious sea
Where silver flying fish soar beneath
There, at the place that you know best

Haiku*54 (Trevose Head where Kestrels hunt) | Chris Phillips

After the nightshiftCartoon of Chris Phillips
The lighthouse sits down to rest
A kestrel hovers

Haiku*56 (Birdwatching at the Lifeboat Station near Merope Rocks) | Chris Phillips

It is no fool’s gold
In which Merope’s jewels are set
Lichen filigree

THE PARTICLE ZOO | Paul Fox
An esoteric poem. (pretentious)

Particle physicists call the range of subatomic particles they deal with “The Particle Zoo”. (This is patronising)

Tomorrow, at daybreak, we’re going to viewPaul Fox
The creatures that dwell in the Particle Zoo.
It’s smaller than most zoological parks
With photons and protons electrons and quarks.
You’ll notice tomorrow is Sunday, alas,
So Father Higgs Boson is giving us mass
But once this is over, we’ll jump on the bus
And drive through neutrinos, as they drive through us.
We may see an antiquark, meson or gluon –
If we see a tau, we’ll be over the muon
We’ll search for the tachyons, racing away
So fast we won’t see them until yesterday.
Now all these are creatures you’ve probably missed
Since if you’re not looking – they may not exist.
So no-one can tell us just how it can be
Such particles make up our reality
Thus particle physics deceives us to flatter –
But what does the fact that we’re in the dark matter?

SIREN | Paul Fox

Upon a warm and windless shore
Beside an oil-dark sea
A solitary woman stands
Alone and waits for me.
A velvet cowl across her brow –
Her clothes are dark samite
And she is sad and sensuous
And sultry as the night.
But I have known her gentle voice:
The soft touch of her hand –
At night in dreams she calls to me
Across the white sea sand.
One night, I pray, that I shall face
Oblivion in her embrace.

OCTOBER 1987 | Maurice Leyland

The wind was not a playful zephyr
Caressing the trees.
No, a swirling whirling monster
Ravaging first the storm-scattered clouds
then flattening and compressing the sea
into mountainous, monumental spray-spattered peaks;
scouring the waves into troughs and cavernous voids.
Reversed cataracts fought towards the ebony sky
Thrusting the torrent ever higher like a heaven-bent
Battle-tossed weapon of destruction.

The storm struck the coast as if Big Bertha was alive –
St.Vitus tremors caused houses to cling together for comfort.
Slender trees wildly conducted their branches;
Semaphoring a crazy symphonic climax.
Medieval oaks were shocked from their roots,
Hammering flat, dwellings, cars, people.
Young forests were severed, leaving Somme-style remnants
Surrendering with jagged trunks pointing high.
The hurricane finally abated, leaving devastated homes,
Blocked roads and an eerie silence awaiting the all-clear.

THE WATCHER | Jenny Hammond Jenny Hammond
White hair wisping from black headscarf,
she peers through faded curtains.
Without emotion, she sees
the men in the taverna.
Knows them all by name.
Watched them grow,
observed their highs and lows.

Imagines their talk —
always loud, crescendoing
to a shout, worry beads
worrying, cigarettes smoking.
They’re playing cards today,
their glasses filled
with home-made raki.

A facet of her world has disappeared.
No sounds to make her jump, stop, turn around.
No music to lift her spirits
or raise a wistful tear.
To lose something you had
is worse than never knowing it —
and knowing it is worse than ignorance.

A child skips in pink shoes
holding her father’s hand.
Her ponytail swings
as she sucks a lollipop
treat from the supermarket.
The watcher’s eyes glisten
as a sepia smile brushes her face.

She opens the window,
inhales the air,
remembers the sounds,
feels the ambience.
Watches the teenager
tap on his mobile
as he waits for the next bus home.

CROSSED OUT CONCERTOS | Jenny Hammond

Beethoven, Mozart, Debussy, The Beatles,
Folk music, jazz, skiffle, pop, rock ‘n’ roll —
The beating of rhythm, with phrases and pauses,
Combining together to nourish the soul.

Minims and semibreves, crotchets and quavers,
In major or minor keys, written with care —
A collection of notes, not jumbled together,
But in the right order, the magic is there.

The language of music to sculpt the emotions —
Allegro, andante, a simple étude —
Crescendo of violins, lifting the spirits —
A sad song, a glad song, to tailor the mood.

So imagine the world spinning round without music,
No trumpets, no trombones to “strike up the band,”
No tenors, sopranos, contraltos or altos,
No bow-tied conductor with baton in hand.

But a dumping ground piled up with crossed-out concertos,
A bottomless pit filled with unwritten scores,
An uninspired place for an unhappy race,
This world without musical sound would be yours.

TRIPTYCH | Dean Wright

Elegy
I tell of the failures for whom the man has no use
The willing and strong step forward
The sifted and rejected remain
Their childhood photographs show smiles
Could you keep your countenance?

‘Is this serious?’ the commercial manager said, in the glass side office. In Paris
It’s a long way from Longton to Parnassus. He came home. Years ago
‘I don’t know’, he said, ‘They are too clever. With words. We can’t win. People like us.’

That bridge. In Belgium. The machine gun. Towards it?
His father had said something about that at the end
I can’t remember what it was now

We met on King Street that last time, I came down, he ascending
Heading for the Victoria Theatre. The better things at the end
Away from the drink and the inert damned in Wetherspoon’s
‘There’s nothing they can do’, he said
And straightened his jacket

He’d died struggling upstairs in his terrace
I Googled it. Cancer of the liver is rare. On its own. In the West
Like rusty metal covered in the fluff from the dryer filter
I couldn’t find his grave when I came back. At Carmountside
You don’t get a stone in the woods. That’s the idea
I realised after a while and stood in the right place. I think

Commandments
x²+2x-15 = 0 was a sound
Amy could read it and say it
Her eyes searched the room to escape the shifting
To find a steady image on the wall
Miss Thomas knew how to stop the shifting
She told Amy what to do
Miss Thomas saw the steadiness direct
‘Just do what I told you and you’ll get there.’
Amy had a mind for rules. She was a good girl
The sounds became meaning
‘Can I go now miss? We’ve done the last one’
The open door framed the shifting street
As Amy turned, Miss Brown saw her face
Drawn by something
Out there

Corner Stone
I met Bob Marley on my way to Dresden
He was standing a little way off
On the path between the cemetery, the brook and the bowls club
Near where the Lord John used to be, before they knocked it down
I ran towards him. With a feeling I can’t describe
‘All my lot are in there’, I said, for want of anything better
‘I had a vision too, in those days. I miss it now
‘I know’, he said, ‘my feet are my only carriage
Let them judge. The wave will break over you and pass
This is Bab Maarley taakin to ya, laarge as liife!’

LIGNE QUATRE | Geoff Sutton

he’s a pro sings old
songs in Spanish his way new
SIEMPRE QUE TE PREGUNTO
QUE,CUANDO,COMO Y DONDE
TU SIEMPRE ME RESPONDES
QUIZAS QUIZAS QUIZ A A S

plucks the strings stretched
taut along the glittering hourglass
of his instrument

blond in black not young
her eyes meet mine she half smiles

a silent mix of
city folk and visitors
just come on Eurostar

we guard our bags on
little wheels spaces wallets

so he moves to the next
carriage she stays they get out
at Etienne Marcel

stand ten metres apart
wait for other listeners
more open than us

we give nothing away

they do not solicit

(Quizas, Osvaldo Farres,Cuba,1947)

(I am always asking you
When, how and where
You always tell me
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.)

Leopard sig (small)

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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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