Padding towards the winter

There will be a final Stoke Stanza session for 2016 at The Leopard pub, Burslem on Tuesday 17th November at 7.30pm. All welcome. Admission is free. Please bring 15 copies of a poem – yours or someone else’s – that you’d like to discuss. The feedback is friendly, positive and insightful.

Here are some poems aired at the previous Stanza session on Tuesday 13th October.


Montanas del Fuego, ripped apart
by forces from their deepest, hidden heart.
With gaseous heat the grumbling earth controls
through rocky cracks and open fumaroles,
while scalding rivers swallow up the land —
recontoured by a firm, magmatic hand,
to barren fields and spent volcanic cones,
to craters, lava tubes and pumice stones.

This lunar landscape, smoothed with blackened sand,
defines the Timanfayan hinterland.
Yet diverse lichens cling to rocks like snow
and in the crevices euphorbias grow,
to soften and enhance this barren scene
from black to grey to amber, pink and green.
Kaleidoscopic colours, never still,
in tune with shadows moving round until
the sun is quenched and night begins to fall;
when blackness like a blanket covers all.

There were a number of strong rhyming poems this month and Paul Fox was on form with some musings on biological science.


With little grace and no decorum,
Demodex Folliculorum,
Make your face their home and forum.
(They can’t be seen, so best ignore’em).

Meandering upon your skin –
Your eyelash, temple, cheek and chin,
They entertain their kith and kin:
(And when you wash they burrow in).

In follicles they hold on tight,
With all their microscopic mite,
They’ll watch TV with you at night –
The BBC should be alright.

Sometimes they copulate in pairs
They have more sons than you have hairs;
Run! Climb a mountain! Climb the stairs!
You can’t escape – you’ll still be theirs.

Please don’t panic. Please stay calm,
Don’t look for them, they’ll cause alarm.
They’re ugly and they do lack charm,
But rest assured: they do no harm.


The strangest beast God ever made
Is the Water Bear or Tardigrade.
It isn’t like a bear at all
Because it is so very small,
(But can be seen by any dope
Who purchases a microscope).
He lives in rivers or deep seas,
On mountain tops or woodland trees –
In clumps of moss or any place:
They even live in outer space.
Ubiquitous, omniverous,
Hermaphrodite, oviparous.
He has a brain but no neurosis,
And practising cryptobiosis –
Lives, (although he didn’t oughtta)
Ten years without food or water.
Crushed, boiled or frozen, they’ve not died
They never think of suicide.
Their lack of worry and of fears
Helps them live a hundred years.
They even lived – I’d have you know,
Five hundred million years ago,
And when the might of Man has gone
The tardigrade will still go on.



Malcolm McMinn was also in cosmic territory, with a well-crafted Petrarchan sonnet.

The clockwork cosmos spins for evermore
In preordained deterministic ways,
Proceeding thus until the end of days,
Each part obeying Isaac Newton’s law.
All elegance and perfect symmetry,
There seemed few mysteries for man to solve,
Small need for physicists to dig and delve:
All things behaved as Newton’s laws decreed.

No more! Now chaos rears its ugly head,
Destroying like some parasitic beast.
It seems the clockwork universe has ceased,
The perfect laws of motion all but dead.
But still we wait for Nature’s final word
And maybe Newton’s voice will still be heard.

John Williams was in more belligerent mood with a swipe at violent computer games.


No longer thrilled with Ludo scores,
we fell in love with screens where people die.
More than alarm bells, the Fun House folded
and board games cluttered up the charity shops.
Who plays Race the Robots now
and shakes a double-six to start?

We swapped the dice for poker apps,
the marketing plus of click-to-kill,
dropping barrel-bombs from a sun bed.
I hear shirts burn off, a hero die
and choose a range of screams in Gamer Gear,
the throwback packs from Apple Store.

But connoisseurs, the keepers of the shrine,
play blow-football with a drinking straw,
collect old dice and make Meccano men.
They like a scream in a balloon, and give
in friendship Swap and Go or Earthquake
and games that kill quite safely with a flick.

Steve Savage dealt with real warfare in his poem.

(From Sonnet – To My Friend (with an identity disc))

Let my inscription be these discs
Until my name grows blurred and fade away
My number etched only inside my bones

I did a little, took that silver coin
Wrote a blank cheque for my life
To be given should my brother need it

One day there will be no need to train
No flying, sailing or digging in for death
One day we will all be stood down

Remember that the disc at the end is for
your toe. Sometimes the only means of
identity, due to the rigours of battle

With so many shattered limbs these days
we may need a new way to tage our dead.
World take note, how good we’ve become at war

Leopard 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.
This entry was posted in Recent Poems. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Padding towards the winter

  1. mfuller810 says:

    Mike Fuller has been in sentimental mood!

    Gas Tower

    There was a gas tower in the town;
    Sixty feet and painted sickly blue;
    I wasn’t its friend at first
    But it lingered in the view.

    Then one day, aged five,
    With my curiosity on fire,
    I made my way to it,
    To simply enquire.

    Are you happy dear tower?
    There was no reply,
    But a shaft of sun on a beam
    And a bird flying by.

    My father met me as I went
    Across the fields back home
    But secretly I wondered
    If that tower was happy all alone.

    Then one august morning
    My dad casually did say,
    “They’re to bring that gas tower down,
    The one our Mike walked to that day”.

    Mike Fuller ( 2008 )

    Mike achieved a D in GCE English!

  2. mfuller810 says:

    Norman Nicholson has being honest by expressing his liking for his favourite plants.


    Some people are flower lovers.
    I’m a weed lover.

    Weeds don’t need planting in well drained soil;
    They don’t ask for fertilizer or bits of rags to scare away birds.
    They come without invitation;
    And they don’t take the hint when you want them to go.
    Weeds are nobody’s guests:
    More like squatters.

    Coltsfoot laying claim to every new-dug lump of clay;
    Pearlwort scraping up a living between bricks from a ha’porth of mortar;
    Dandelions you daren’t pick or you know what will happen;
    Sour docks that make a first rate poultice for nettle-stings;
    And flat-foot plantain in the back street, gathering more dust than the dustmen.

    Even the names are a folk song:
    Fat hen, rat’s tail, cat’s ear, old men’s baccy and Stinking Billy
    Ring a prettier chime for me than honeysuckle or jasmine,
    And Sweet Cicely smells cleaner than Sweet William though she’s barred from the garden.

    And they have their uses weeds.
    Think of the old, worked-out mines:
    Quarries and tunnels, earth scorched and scruffy, torn up railways, splintered sleepers,
    And a whole Sahara of grit and smother and cinders.

    But go in summer and where is the clutter?
    For a new town has risen of a thousand towers,
    Every spiky belfry humming with a peal of bees.
    Rosebay willow-herb:
    Only a weed!

    Flowers are for wrapping in cellophane to present as a bouquet;
    Flowers are for prize arrangements in vases and silver tea-pots;
    Flowers are for plaiting into funeral wreaths.
    You can keep your flowers.
    Give me weeds.

    From ‘Sea To The West’ ( 1981 )
    Norman Nicholson ( 1914 – 1987 )

    • theleopard66 says:

      Thanks for the Norman Nicholson poem, Mike.

      • Mike Fuller says:

        Thank You!
        It will soon be 30 years since his death! Although people have already celebrated 100 years since his birth! I like the latter celebration best! Although time is a man made concept that is blind to celebrations itself. Only human’s celebrate time, not time itself! The German writer, Thomas Mann said this but I have always thought the same thing!

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