May Stanza

‘Sumer is a-comen in’ as they say, and it’ll soon be time for the May session of the Stoke Stanza at The Leopard pub, Burslem.

It’s at 7.30pm on Tuesday 19th May. We were hoping to have Harry Shent, the Young Poet Laureate for Staffordshire – but he’s revising for his A Levels. We’ll have Harry back another time, we hope, but in the meantime it’ll be a read-around with people bringing their own work for discussion. All welcome, admission free. Come and take part of simply listen in.

Meanwhile, here are some poems from the April session.

First up – John Williams with his Hansel and Gretel-ish ‘Barbecue Stoves’.


Like any cleaner, I rake it out deft and grumbly,
the fire that charmed us out with beer last night
in boozy coughs to weep with smoky sush-kebabs.
I clear the row of cans, a scattered glass,
dig through the ash of charcoal bricks
and a tacky garden post to the deeper stuff
where the poker jabbed and potatoes cooked
and the witch went up in a puff of smoke.

Sometimes the night revives a single gleam,
the orange end to a fire not dead.
Fat-dripped tinder comes alive
from one last burger prodded on the grill,
salted, peppered and gripped to the bone,
the witch’s test for plumpness for the stove.

NUCLEAR TRANSFER | Karen Schofield

My eyes opened to a flash of lights
and a scribble of pens.
I stood up, wobbled slowly
towards my mother, taking care
to avoid the tripod and the long zoom lens.

She may have sensed that I was different,
born a genetic stranger,
though she fed me just the same
as all the world tuned in
to view me in my hi-tech manger.

I am created from a single cell,
the first mammalian clone.
Famous from the first but never
recognised; everyone knows my name
but inside I feel alone.


In the darkest recess of the mind
Lie the secrets we’d rather not find.
So unwanted they lurk in our head;
All our faults and the tears that we’ve shed
And the ones that we caused, to our shame
Still denying that ours is the blame,
We’d rather things stayed just the same.

But a face in the crowd or a voice
Not so loud, without warning or choice,
Overcomes our amnesiac brain
And the memories haunt us again.
Our regrets never end nor decrease;
From the follies of youth there’s no peace
And heartaches for man never cease.

OFTEN | Geoff Sutton

The come to take us away
In vans to the country

The roofs are off the barns
Some say the French did it

Certainly we hear French
Spoken behind metal doors

This farm has pillars
Over one hundred feet high

I can see people
They walk about up there

We huddle in a cowshed
After a while a man comes

A pole with a pin at the end
As if a goad. Driven

To the farthest corner
We wait. From above

Red and white plastic cones
Home in on us like missiles

They want our breath
When we can breathe no more

They return us to the first place
And it all begins again

(1985 – revised 27 April 2015. Geoff’s poem is based on a vivid dream.)

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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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