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.
MOUNTAINS OF FIRE | Jenny Hammond
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,
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.
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