Prowling into 2016

We are delighted to welcome Jeffrey Wainwright back to The Leopard pub for our Stoke Stanza session on Tuesday 16th February. It’ll be upstairs in that historic Burslem pub at 7.30pm.

Jeffrey Wainwright

Jeffrey’s been a great friend of The Leopard and has read and discussed his verse with us before. He’s even submitted a poem for us to comment on and here it is in all its glory, a recent work on a local theme. Jeffrey Wainwright is one of The Potteries’ leading living literary figures and his poem deals with the famous revivalist movement which started on the slopes of Mow Cop.


Here the helpless, hapless, feckless commonage
in congregation on a May week-end at Mow Cop
to hear Hugh Bourne, who, even when speaking to thousands,
could not help but hold a shy hand before his face.

He carts the gospel from place to place, the word
of some god who is not Mammon and who likes the meek.
Who shall inherit.   Inherit what?  This show below?
potbanks, coal-smoke, salt-fogs, pit-heaps, saffrucks, soot?

These ‘dear peculiar people’ are not that daft.
They do not expect owt builded here to go up quick.
All they ask, free and familiar, is how to be
a worthy soul, and that their works shall follow them.

Thus Hon Treas., always in his best on Sundays,
rattles year by year his tin of co-operation.
It will add up, even though only copper, into a benefit,
a grand word and a grand thing: all do give so all may live.

Thus Hon Sec. reads the notices for the week, the rotas
and the tasks of patience.  She knows that ‘e’en the smallest thing
can do some good and comfort bring’ and will keep at it,
entering in the minute-book the measures of their joy.

They gave their mite, these ranting Primitives,
a-shivering and a-shaking (agitating!) all through Sunday night.
Filled from the loving-cup, they descend lit-up into the dark.
May those who mock thee learn the dignity of love.
There will be a prize – a very un-Primitive pint perhaps – for the first person to identify what ‘saffrucks’ are.

Come and hear Jeffrey on 16th February – all welcome, admission free.

JENNY HAMMOND, a Leopard regular, brought the following poem to the Stanza session on 19th January.


A gypsy came to my front door.
She knuckle-knocked, ignored the bell.
Her jet black hair was streaked with white
and “headphone plaits” adorned each ear.
A weathered face with gap-toothed smile,
and “crow’s feet” round each hazel eye,
spoke of a rugged outdoor life.

“Clothes pegs for sale, my deary-oh? “
Her lilting voice bewitched my mind.
And so I picked and paid her for a
home-made handful from her wicker
basket. In return she dug
into the pocket of her coat
and pulled out a polished blue glass stone
which seemed to shimmer in the light.

“This will bring you luck” she said
as she pressed the object in my palm.
Since then the years have multiplied
and still it sits with hagstones, flints,
an old clay pipe, a fossil fin,
an antique ink pot, ammonites,
guarding all my memories.

MALCOLM McMINN brought a well-crafted poem with a regular metrical and rhyme scheme.


Of all mankind I am the most well blessed,
With silver spoon and Midas touch: the best!
For me, all things fall into place; the apple
Of loving parents’ eyes, no need to grapple
For my share. Socially, I am the soul
Of charm and wit, always my chosen role;
The golden boy, the man who’s got the lot.
Slight swings of mood are just a minor blot;
When told, it caused me such hilarity,
“You’ve got depressive bipolarity.”
That spell in hospital was just a blip;
My God, depressive types give me the pip!
But that was yesterday. Today my mood
Has changed, and now become much darker hued.
I realize my life is but a sham
And this sad Judas world’s not worth a damn.
Unloved, unwanted, mocked behind my back,
No wonder that my mood is turning black.
My Janus headed friends all gone, I think;
For solace now there’s just the demon drink.
The whisky that I sup is bad enough;
So what? Who cares? I’m done with life, I’ll snuff
It out. Death is the cure for all my ills
So now I’m reaching for the sleeping pills.

Meanwhile, JOHN WILLIAMS is sitting rather uncomfortably …


Tugged out of true until the stitches burst,
the chairs we kept for pub talk:
the Blair wars, our young friends
debunking freedom’s many enemies
that plonked themselves in every argument
like the smell of cracked leather.
We wriggled till the horsehair came adrift,
a fire risk no-one had the heart to dump
but saggy by the time the Wall fell down
and the soul turned out to be DNA.
We found the worst way to acquire our stuff,
inheritance, time’s chromosome.
These chairs, coming down to us for years,
one death, another, room to room,
the smell of fresh paint in the dark,
ecology, novels, Mongolian
overtone chanting, sky mums,
the scuffs and stains that make up memory.
Our son pitched each chair upside down to learn
commando skills, a ski run, a bunker
against the Blast in upholstery foam,
listening for the warning crash, thunderclap
then black. What’s freedom anyway,
but ringing on the door till the bell-wire burns?
Leopard logo
Hope to spot you at a Stanza Session soon!
The Stoke Stanza is affiliated to The Poetry Society and meets once a month at The Leopard Hotel, 21 Market Street, Burslem, Stoke on Trent. All welcome, admission free.

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.

2 Responses to Prowling into 2016

  1. mfuller810 says:

    Lol! I read the photo that said ‘Leopard Poetry Stanza – July 2011 – John Williams centre. For about 2 or 3 seconds I thought John Williams must be a GREAT poet if this is the ‘John Williams Centre’ then it dawned on me it was saying that he was at the centre of the photograph.

    For 2 or 3 seconds I was truly impressed! He is a very fine poem anyway though!

  2. soloneili says:

    Wonderful poems. I am sorry I still cannot make the stanzas. I have just had two complete knee replacements and stuck at home for now am I, says Neil in a sort of Yoda speak. It is brilliant to receive these updates and admire the obvious crafting to be seen through my pain killer smog. One day I hope to climb those stairs. Best wishes. Neil.

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