A new year with The Leopard

The Stoke Stanza at The Leopard pub, Burslem got 2015 off to a cracking start on 20th January. You can read some of the poems shared that evening below.

Meanwhile, you may wish to make a note of the following dates for Stanza sessions in 2015.

All sessions run on Tuesday evenings and start at 7.30pm upstairs at The Leopard.

Cover of Roger Elkin's new poetry collection

Roger’s new collection

February 24th Roger Elkin, former Editor of “Envoi” magazine, launches his new collection ‘Chance Meetings’

Check out the Slipstream Poetry competition that Roger’s adjudicating.

March 17th Poetry Stanza led by Phil Williams. Members bring their poems to share and discuss.

April 28th Richard Swigg former senior lecturer at Keele University, talks on the poetry of Charles Tomlinson who was born in Stoke-on-Trent and achieved international acclaim as a poet and critic.

 

May 19th our guest poet, Harry Shent, Young Poet Laureate for Stoke-On-Trent and Staffordshire, reads from his work.

June 16th, July 14th, August 18th. Members bring their poems to share and discuss.

September 22nd, Our guest poet, Caroline Hawkridge, leader of the Silverdale Poets, reads from her work.

October – date to be arranged.

November 17th. Poetry Stanza. Members bring their poem to share and discuss.

Until then, why not check out poetry and spoken-word events in Stoke and up in Manchester on our Forthcoming Events page?

It’s always a good night at The Leopard, and the last Stanza was no exception. Here are some of the poems read and discussed.

AT PERFECT PANCAKES | John Williams

Once more he blocks the pavement with a van
and sidesteps by-laws with a kiosk, sexual pink.
Sometimes he’s Mr Yum the burger man
but today the smell of Perfect Pancakes
wafts round the fair to woo the crowd
from the goldfish and coconuts. Six gas rings burn;
frothers whizz; flames flare from his four-foot pan
pumped by a propane tank. Spooned from a jug,
a frothed-up yolk bubbles and browns,
flash-fried, overcooked and splashed in fat.
The taste of fairground food; swallowing the moon.
Scraps of dreams return, a holiday, lost friends.
The saggy awning flaps above my head.
No parking signs, rusted sharp, sing in the wind.

GANGREL | Geoff Sutton

I trek through the brain’s
landfill over toxic swamps
where gas bubbles up

out onto the sunlit
braes unvisited for years
dry verges of roads

once travelled now closed.
A ragamuffin gangrel
dirty gabardine

waisted with binder
twine crosses me at blue dusk.
Next morning I find

where he spent the night
rough bracken hut green uprights
interwoven with

dead horizontals.
He had gone down tracks scribbled
with muddy tyre prints

toward the white stars
among the rocks. I can’t stay
always I must be

stravaiging. Many
days I have smelt the mushroom
fresh dawn when I must

climb the ben. Think with
the body as Nan Shepherd said
not with the sick brain.

The sharp-eyed among you may have noticed that each stanza in Geoff’s evocative poem is a haiku. Well done Geoff!

A ‘gangrel’ is a Scottish name for a tramp. Here are some more itinerants from another part of the country, way down in South Wales.

ITINERANTS | Phil Williams

They held hot shovels over fires
to cook snails at field edges,
spoke Welsh, even Gaelic,

did odd jobs,
stirred tar, soldered pans,
swore on street corners
as mothers with prams
scurried past them.

They vanished each autumn,
left nothing behind
but specks of shell,
like those the thrushes pecked
and hollowed, an echo of brawls.

MR JENKINS | Phil Williams

Mr Jenkins, Two Doors Down,
always wrapped in coat and frown,
he did not cry, he did not thrash,
but slowly sank onto the path,
lay still beside the blackberry bush.

I saw him sink, I saw him drop,
wondered was it all my fault?
Somehow thought I’d get the blame,
when I called Mr Jenkins’s name,
him lying on the ash-tip slope.

For all of that, I turned and ran,
too far to go back for my Mam,
knocked upon the first house door,
told how I’d seen Mr Jenkin’s fall,
and how he was not moving.

Police arrived in their blue vans,
we waited for the ambulance,
they said I’d done the proper thing,
asked the lady give them a ring,
to tell them where he’d fallen.

Mam and dad never said a word,
at school, mind, they all knew and heard
how I’d followed Jenkins up the field,
how he’d fallen, hard and cold
and all the neighbours talking.

‘If he looks at you, you’ll fall down dead,
best keep from him,’ the big boys said.
New people in now Two Doors Down,
but Mr Jenkins’s still around,
stretched beside the blackberry bush,
wrapped in muffler, cap and coat.

Last, but by no means least, a warning from Malcolm McMinn.

JOHN EVERYMAN’S BALLADE

If to the altar rail you would be led
Pause and reflect. You must be very clear
That what you do might fill you full of dread
Because there’s nothing on this earthly sphere
That’s quite as capable of causing fear.
Don’t act in haste lest you become misled;
The awful consequence might soon appear.
Think hard, John Everyman before you wed.

But yet another point of view I’ve read.
True love endures, so says the balladeer,
Two hearts that beat as one, or so it’s said,
Like Jack and Jill, who through life’s problems steer
Contentedly a course of love and cheer.
Yet fools rush in where angels fear to tread,
So says the song, to which you might give ear.
Think hard, John Everyman before you wed.

Although this comely virgin you would bed
Alas, there’s more to life than sex and beer
And once the maiden’s loving smile has fled,
Becoming now a cold, reproachful sneer
With memories your only souvenir,
You’re stuck, my lad, with disillusion fed,
And though it’s not my place to interfere,
Think hard, John Everyman before you wed.

Envoi
Not so! O Prince, you need not shed a tear.
The fate of lovers hangs not by a thread
But by strong bonds which make it ever dear.
Think hard, John Everyman before you wed.

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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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