Chance Meetings – new poems

Roger ElkinRoger Elkin was guest poet at The Leopard on 24th February, reading from his latest collection, Chance Meetings

It’s Roger’s 11th collection and deals largely with travel – Greece, South Africa, Cambodia – and issues of language and understanding. Here’s the opening poem:

HIGH FLYER | Roger Elkin

Thirty-eight thousand feet
above ground level. Clouds so near
I could lean out to touch them.
Would they be wet, and cold?

From above there’s archipelagos and atolls
shining like sunlit polar landscapes;
or vaster plateaus mirroring the rhythms of the land
miles below with valleys, hills, rolling forests, dales:

either way, a massive landscape
carved in shades of white and folding away
beneath vastnesses of clear skies.

Suddenly, there’s a cloud-gash
revealing thousands of feet underneath
fields patchworking like my son’s camouflaged pants
and rivers glistening their snail-trails in silver sunlight

and I’m overawed with the birdness of things …

And, as suddenly, the play of light
casts a cloud-shadow like a palm-stain louring over the land

and I understand the retraction of antlers
the pillings of skin
the shivering fear of stabbing beak
squelching step
slashing knife

the snailness of things …

Geoff Sutton brought two poems:


Gentes and laitymen
On bass guitar
Mr Paul Muldoon

On the rocky road to fame

You had the cut
I had the cut
On the rock’n roll road to fame

You don’t need to know
How to build a guitar

You play a few chords
A few simple chords
And that’s the road to fame



sat cross-legged sewing
a German tailor nineteen
fifteen changed his name

when the London mob
smashed the shops with names like his
Ledermann two n’s

Laddermann close but
different he was my grandad
said Ladderman one n

JENNY HAMMOND has a well-observed horticultural poem …

GROUND ELDER | Jenny Hammond

You crept like couch grass through the hedge next door.
Your damage had been done. I’d lost the fight
before my battle with you had begun.
The Romans brought you here — a useful herb.
Became a cure for old men’s gouty joints,
and unaware of your pernicious ways
our Mediaeval forbears chose to find
a place for you in cottage gardens filled
with scarlet poppies, daisies, hollyhocks.
Your apple-green lobed leaves and creamy flowers
enhanced their borders, filled the gaps. But — oh —
they never thought to check your roots and how
they spread like cancer underneath the soil.
Each broken piece alive and set to grow,
to sprout, to infiltrate, regenerate.
Until you’d reached the confines of my garden,
a bold invader of my private space,
when I began to wage my futile war
with grim determination on my face.

BILL HARPER is also writing about the natural world with a poem he has accompanied with a quotation from Paradise Lost.


I came into this garden
to see the flowers grow
in the dawn time and the even
to see sun’s light make rain’s bow

the iris tall and slender
blue-flagged beside the lake
and the rose-red oleander
massed upon the rising break

to hear the song of breezes
in the rustled leaves of trees
breath cloy-laden scents of roses
see magpies chatter-dances

* * *
I gathered in the flowers
a mass a vibrant colours
to fashion a work of art
high middle and low
contrast curve and straight
leaves broad and leaves narrow
flowers in spiral harmony
a vase of crystal glass

but Nature’s art is living
while the arts of man will die
when Gaia’s worlds’ despoiled
and the likes of man gone by


Mammon led them on –
Mammon, the least erected spirit that fell
From Heaven: for even in heaven his looks and thoughts
Were always downward bent; admiring more
The riches of Heaven’s pavement, trodden gold
Than ought divine or holy else enjoyed
In beatific vision …

MILTON: Paradise Lost i (1667)

You can lift your vision too by joining us at the Stoke Stanza at The Leopard pub in Burslem.

The next session is at 7.30pm on Tuesday 17th March 2015 and will be led by Phil Williams. All welcome.

Leopard poetry logo


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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