The next Stoke Stanza session is on Tuesday 23rd April at 7.30pm. All welcome. We meet upstairs in The Leopard pub. Admission free.
It’d be great to see you there. Meanwhile, we are delighted to present Bo Crowder as our featured Leopard poet.
Bo is a founder member of the Stoke on Trent Stanza group.
He lives on a smallholding in the Staffordshire Moorlands with a few disgruntled cows, an unruly flock of sheep, several disobedient chickens, a couple of extremely greedy fat pigs, and a patient wife, Sue.
Sue calls him Bert, his Grand Children call him Granddad Bob.
And his friends call him Bo.
He cannot account for this but he is fond of a little alliteration.
‘The letter S she reflected, is the serpent in the poet’s Eden. Do what she would there were still too many of these reptiles…But S was nothing, in her opinion, compared with the termination -ing.
The present participle is the Devil himself, she thought…To evade such temptations is the first duty of the poet…for as the ear is the antechamber to the soul, poetry can adulterate and destroy more surely than lust or gunpowder.’
Orlando, Virginia Woolf
The Wind of Change or ‘A Waste of Howling Wilderness.’ (Daniel Defoe)
(Warning! This poem may contain …ings.)
Imagine when they drew a line
From the Wirral to the wash
Near its middle named in time
Consall, King’s hall, Kuneshalla
Imagine woody hills and valleys
Flooding rivers rain and snow
Crags of Gritstone, Limestone towers
Blasted, baked, scoured, windblown
Imagine feet come trampling, treading
For the first time, slow and fast
Hunters killing, seekers gathering
Some are settling others pass
Imagine hands that scrape and cut
Gouging out the fields from rock
Stone walls built and boundaries set
Trees felled for fuel, space for a crop
Imagine houses raised in oak,
When oak fails then brick and block
Half-starved hearths are brought to blaze
On coal and coke all belching smoke
Imagine factories smelting copper
Zinc and bronze shot hot with ash
Hills are broken ores are quarried
Presses groan and grinders smash
Imagine navvies puddling
Then laying tracks and metalled roads
To carry tractors cars and trucks
To work, on holiday, to stores
Imagine pylons marching over
Every Why? Not yet and No
Bringing light and heat and power
To each business, farm and home…
Imagine as it falls to rust
The factories closed, the mines are sapped
The shop is shut the school is lost
The only pub there is, is crap
The Nimbys nag, the townies grunt
The kids have left the place for good
‘Cos ‘ouses ‘ere cost way too much
And Manchester is way too cool
Where spoil fields lay the golfers play
And Cobs and Hunters trot and hack
And walkers plod disused tramways
And mountain bikes fly down the tracks
The odd jet scrapes across the sky
And lonely climbers shock the birds
And windmills gently turn on hillsides
Harvesting the breath of earth…
But windmills? They disturb the view
Anger’s what they generate,
‘Houses here must hold their value:
Let’s not disturb the real estate.’
Fossil, nuclear, solar, wind
Imagine where they drew the line
Few would argue which is greener
Most don’t give a Fukushima.
Before Cox, when the kids were young
They asked me everything.
Why is the Sun so hot?
Why does the Moon change shape?
Is there life on Mars?
Then, along comes this extinction event,
This alliterative showman
With a fantastic feel for the phrase of the future,
Gnawing on Adams’ funny bone,
Betelgeuse becomes Beetlejuice.
Look Sagan’s son rises,
No pipe and cardigan,
But a Fat Face sweater Gap pants and,
Worn out by wonder at the stars,
A smile the size of Andromeda.
And the one eyed fat bloke,
Jabberwock the monocle,
What of him? Forget it Granddad,
No one wants to know
About the rings around Uranus.
USEFUL THINGS I LEARNED THIS WEEK
And you should never start a sentence with
And you should never explain yourself because it is a sign of weakness
And you should commit to a cat if you contemplate suicide
And small people are the most dangerous
And red heads’ reputation is well deserved
And the highbrow do not have all the answers
And the lowbrow do not have all the fun
And the middlebrow do not have to be mundane
Sixpence buys a loaf of bread
A chocolate bar
A half a pint
Five park drive and a light,
A tanner fits inside my palm
So snug and safe and
Walking to the shops it slips
Inside my pocket
Jingles with the pennies,
‘Let’s play hide the keys’ says mum
We hide them well
The key ring is so small
The same size as a sixpence,
‘Whoever finds the key’ says mum
Can open up this box,
She holds it out
‘Inside sweet treasure locked away’ she smiles
It’s my turn
I hide the key so well
It can’t be found
My pockets, socks
Inside my curly hair
Behind my ear
Clenched in my hand
Under my arm pit
I laugh ‘It’s so well hid’ I shout
‘You’ll never find it’
‘We give up’ they say
‘Where is it?’
I drop my pants
And there’s the key
Hanging from my sixpence.
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
Black and white they were
Squares on a chess board
Touching yet opposed
In the beginning
Equal in area
But black ink scribbles 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
And flew through the window
She traced them with a finger
Over his dead form.
The empty house waits
Wanting the return of the flat capped hero
Whose mask never slips
And his side kick Tonto,
You hobnail down the entry
And I skip to the door.
With chairs drawn up
Chapped knees cry out
Seams hiss steam
And black sweet tea,
Saucered past parched lips,
Loosens your tongue
And wets my appetite.
Then grand words
Fall like the pennies
From your pockets,
When you walked on your hands
Down the yard,
And I can keep
All I can catch.
On meeting Miss America
What first seduced me?
Those Rocky Mountains in the north?
That narrow isthmus?
The sultry southern Amazon?
‘Oh poor backpacker-
To get into Nicaragua-
You need a visa.’
‘One night’s Tierra Del Fuego?’
‘That’ll do nicely.’
Next day she joined the disappeared
In love with a dream I missed her company,
I had her replaced by China.
Yet, echoing Sweet Baby James,
I’m going to Carolina-
In my mind.