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picture of John Williams

John Williams

The next Stoke Stanza session is at The Leopard pub, Burslem on Tuesday 18th August at 7.30pm. All welcome, admission free. Come and read and share your poems or simply listen and enjoy the discussion – as good as you’ll get anywhere!

John Williams will be the guest poet at Poems & Pints at The Lodge pub, Alsager on Tuesday 1st September at 8pm. Come and hear him read from his latest collection, On Lipstick Beach and his previous impressive publications.

Here’s one of his poems to be going on with:

US Frank

How much better old US postmarks looked,
big buttons, stamped with town and time.
Whatever you nudged across the counter
in a jiffy-bag, lizard pants, cheque or stash,
slipped with its story through the letterbox.
Now machines print wavy-lines on envelopes,
slash with a biro when the ink runs out.
The tiny space is real estate for promo marks,
a motivating graphic of the month:
Pop’s Rib Shack. Batman Day.
The zigzag pattern of first-class mail
rolls over letters in a tyre tread.
On this US letter, franked by the flag
and downloaded from a blog,
Old Glory, sans flagpole, flies like a god.

Steve Savage attended the last Stoke Stanza and here’s an impressive poem of his:

Old Glasses Knew

I put my old glasses on to remember
Edges blurred, softened like portrait pictures
Airbrushed to the max with love

I’d only had my new glasses for a week
Very sudden, nowhere near me
No chance for goodbyes

Old glasses saw her on holiday, in bikinis, tankinis,
heaven forbid topless. Saw her eat, drink, carouse,
caress, got themselves knocked off my head

New glasses haven’t had a chance to learn
what old glasses knew, the only place they share
is the bedside table, when the lights go out

Stanza regular, Jenny Hammond brought this haunting piece to the last session:


Bluebottle bodies desiccate in cobweb
shrouds, their final resting place.
Neglect survives in negatives when pride dies
in layers of dust upon unpolished wood.

Buddleia mingles with Rose Bay Willow Herb
in untamed borders. Bind weed strangles.
Rubbish stinks on an unkempt lawn
where a scraggy dog with hungry eyes

growls at a mangy ginger tom;
and a boy, in hand-me-downs, day-dreams
of school dinners as his stomach grumbles
inside his skinny frame.

Neglect spells sadness.
Like a door left hanging on one hinge,
a baby clings to life
while heroin smothers his mother;

or a worn-out horse starves
on next-to-nothing grass —
useless as a leaking roof,
a broken cup, an unwashed, undarned sock.

Malcolm McMinn brought this highly controlled and bitter-sweet love poem.

It’s Thrilling, Fad’s First Love

It’s thrilling, lad’s first love but bittersweet
As light of heart you feel you walk on air.
You’ve had your first French kiss, things are upbeat,
Then things go wrong, become your worst nightmare.

Sexy curves, big blue eyes and golden hair,
She’s got the lot and good enough to eat.
You’ve yet to learn that love can be unfair,
It’s thrilling, lad’s first love, yet bittersweet.

Before, your life seemed empty, incomplete
But now you feel there’s nothing can impair
Your fate the former gloom now obsolete
As light of heart you feel you walk on air.

You met her mum and that was quite a scare,
Creating fear and coldness of the feet
And although she criticises what you wear,
You’ve had your first French kiss things are upbeat.

At last you get the cloven hoofed deceit.
She’s found another with, she says, more flair.
‘Give me another chance,’ you dare entreat,
Then things go wrong, become your worst nightmare.

It’s thrilling, lad’s first love.


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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