More from The Leopard

The Stoke Stanza group at The Leopard Hotel, Burslem, has welcomed some very fine poets in recent months – including Peter Branson, Angela Topping and Mary King – and there’re a lot more to come!

On Tuesday 22nd November, Oliver Leech will join us to read from his first, eagerly anticipated collection, Threads and Patches. All welcome. Please bring 15 copies of a poem to share with the group or feel free to listen.

Mary King was with us back in the summer reading from her Smith-Doorstep prize-winning pamphlet, Homing – judged by no less a figure than former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins. Here is what he had to say about Mary’s pamphlet:

“Here is a collection controlled deftly by the poet as savvy ornithologist. Precisely focused observations bring these birds alive, notably when a flock of godwits suddenly fills a page. A bonus is the best poem about a hen you can hope ever to encounter.”

So, here is Mary’s hen poem which follows the format of the famous 18th century poem by the eccentric Christopher Smart, I shall consider my cat Jeoffrey.

Hen Carrie (after Christopher Smart)

I shall consider my hen Carrie.

For first, she runs at me when I walk in the gate.

For second, she raises a dust bath under the hedge.

For third, she only has one eye.

For fourth, she leads the others into mischief into the road.

For fifth, she follows me in the garden to help with the hoeing, by scratching.

For sixth, she takes bacon rind out of my hand without greed.

For seventh, she spends an hour arranging new straw.

For eighth, she makes pleasant noises when the straw is right.

For ninth, she grooms each feather before sleeping.

For tenth, she takes water, and gives thanks for it.

Also on an ornithological theme, Peter Branson was recently guest poet at The Leopard with readings from his latest collection, Hawk Rising.

Numenius Arquata: The Curlew
The latest research suggests this species is under threat of extinction

Your smallpipe wails of liquid glass draw out
to high-pitched trills, soap bubbles bursting in
mid-air to oscillate like lighthouse beams
or babble from some ancient spinning star.

Reserved, you blow hot-cold, play hide an’ seek
in rushy grass, your coat buff browns, pale greens,
soft greys like tweed, curved bill a scalpel blade,
the azure curtained sky in satin shreds.

From dark to light, extra-dimensional,
you come and go to echo voices out
of time, new born in limbo, ghosts of poor
tormented souls who scraped a living, mines
and hovels long since disappeared beneath
this boggy, unforgiving, curt high moor?

Commended poem – The poetry Kit Spring Comp, 2016
First pub: ‘Crannog’, Ireland

Hawk Light
‘Hawk-light’ – when there is enough morning light for the hawk to begin to hunt.
Three quarter’s day, watch jackdaws drift
crow-high like ashes from a pyre.
Light rationing, what is dissolved
in mistle-morning air to might-
have-beens beyond the kissing gate,
the magpie’s rattled afterthought
resolves pipe dream to motherlode,
the slipstream of a silver ghost.

Sheer featherweight, a sickle blade
scything turf-high, last second writhe,
shape-shifting, curves space-time to shave
the hedge-top, element surprise,
pure guile, to mantle living flesh
and thrive, fierce yellow eyes on fire.

Highly commended,  Dermot Healy International Poetry Comp, 2016

Finally, a song on a sadly topical note:

The Ballad of Jo Cox
(Tune adapted from  ‘The rambling Royal’ traditional)

The good die young, the saying goes,
cruel sticks and stones of Fate,
her cause to heal the world she knew
of prejudice and hate.
She’s killed because she spoke her mind,
a senseless, violent death.
Some zealous bigot fuelled by lies
has robbed her of her breath.

A stranger armed with knife and gun
assails her in the street.
‘Put Britain First’ he’s heard to cry;
Jo’s bleeding at his feet.
A man who’s passing goes to help
but he gets stabbed as well.
While ambulance and police arrive,
Jo’s fading where she fell.

She sided with the underdog
where fairness was at stake.
Now freedom and democracy
are stumbling in her wake.
Injustice and small-mindedness
were suits she wouldn’t wear.
Expose the liars and damn the cost
the cross she chose to bear.

The good die young, the saying goes,
cruel sticks and stones of Fate,
her cause to heal the world she knew
of prejudice and hate.
The Queen of Heart’s her epitaph,
so ardent, loyal, kind,
true daughter, sister, mother, wife
to loved ones left behind.

(First pub: Birmingham Song Pamphlets, 2016)


Do join us at The Leopard for a future Stoke Stanza session. We meet upstairs.

Dates for 2017 (confirmed so far)
January 17th with Bo Crowder as guest poet

February 7th, March 14th, April 11th, May 23rd,
June 20th, July 18th.

Leopard sig (small)


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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One Response to More from The Leopard

  1. mfuller810 says:


    Telegraph poles hang their wires from head to head along lonely roads.
    Absolutely vast fields of corn sigh heavily in the warm breeze.
    Large metal barns can be seen for miles and miles, each similar, each different.
    Roadside cafes gaze out onto the day with shaded windows, sad, neglected.

    Truckers yarn and cough at service stops like lads hanging out together after school,
    not encroaching on the other clientele, as if they know their place and their difference.
    The distance wearily wears the mood of long highways, in-keeping with the tired mind.
    There is an unfamiliarity with glossy America, it is a typical foreign landscape.

    Mike Fuller 5 November, 2016

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