As 2018 lopes on and gets into its stride, here’s some more poetry from The Potteries.
The next Stoke Stanza session at The Leopard Hotel, Burslem, is on Tuesday March 20th at 7.30pm. All welcome. Join us upstairs for the kind of chat, close-reading and analysis that has made us such a distinctive group for nearly a decade.
Bring 15 copies of a poem to share and discuss, or simply sit back and listen.
Meanwhile, here are some poems from the previous Stanza meetings – and one of Geoff Sutton’s that goes back further than that.
First up, it’s John Williams.
Every Bite Is Joy
Fry guy wipes the range down, scoop,
pan and splattered fat from last night’s batch.
Bag man flicks the packs apart
and counts clunky hisses in the drinks machine.
EBIJ as ventilators whirr:
new batch fuss, peel and chop,
no-salt order holds production up.
Runner steps out of the steam,
creates your order, shakes it dry
and scoops your bag along the trough.
As McJob infiltrates the lexicon,
Trash man tuts at Washer up
and someone counts the cash.
Geoff Sutton is in allusive mood:
oh grand-daughter missing so much and so much
did not see smoke of books burning ashes
from planes on fire all at a safe distance
done by a small man with a small moustache
what you felt was of little consequence
you did not smell the bonfires of witches
heretics plotters toasted bones torched hair
you were not at home during the blitzes
the rest of your family perished there
mute protester sadly with a conscience
never one of the Greenham Common throng
born uncomfortable with that one sense
not to support a country right or wrong
that’s why she walks through the fields wearing gloves
protects her fingers from the blood of doves
If any one knows Frances Cornford’s To A Fat Lady Seen From A Train, 1910
this is whose grand-daughter she is.
You can read the poem that inspired it here.
Geoff hopes the poem stands on its own too.
Geoff isn’t fond of notes to accompany poems, but he breaks with tradition to supply us with some for this next poem.
waterlogged in the garbage of language
flotsam plastic jetsam plastic plastic
floats aswirling in the Pacific
Sundance Owen could turn out fantastic
DeBris’ fashion dresses look terrific
like plastic language poisons in decay
babble or clam up either way we die
true or false does it matter anyway
even presidents cannot tell a lie
from a fact purify intensity
a dead albatross washed up on the sand
spewed out by the vortex’s immensity
bloated exclamation marks colons and
thrown overboard by some damn Rockefeller
three stereoptic two-handled umbrellas
In the Horse Latitudes floats the North Pacific Gyre, a vast swirl of decomposing polystyrene. It is so large no-one can measure it. It accounts for perhaps 1%, perhaps even 8% of the ocean surface.
Richard Sundance Owen formed the Environment Cleanup Coalition in 2008.
Marina DeBris, born Detroit, makes fashion clothes out of the stuff.
Also breaking with tradition is Malcolm McMinn who supplies a non-rhyming poem, but one which is as well-observed as his regular rhyming offerings.
We have Harthill, Sandbach and Norton Canes,
Or Keele perhaps, then Hilton Park,
Oases on our arid motorways
Where cars pull in and drivers dash
To pay a welcome visit to the loo.
They might pick up some sort of snack;
A ham baguette at four pounds sixty five?
Bizarrely, no one seems to mind.
Some seem to have a quite poetic ring;
Maidstone and Medway, Michaelwood,
Yet are prosaic like all the rest,
All brash and bright and overpriced.
Outside the ladies’ loo men hang about
For wives who always have to queue,
The atmosphere there nervously frenetic;
Not a place you’d choose to loiter long.
Pease Pottage, Taunton Dean and Clacket Lane
Are all quite soulless, lacking charm
Despite romantic, classy sounding names,
Which don’t excuse their petrol prices.
It hardly matters then which one you pick,
They serve a function and that’s it;
Pee, tea, coffee, cake, hit the road again.
Repeat every one hundred miles.
For more Poems from The Potteries and avid discussion, join us at the next Stoke Stanza on 20th March.