Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Musicians jamming in The Stag


By Tony Frost

In pools of light and shade, beneath

Bent beams, a jostle of elbows, arms,

The sandpaper hands of ruddy-faced men

Slap out the beat on goatskin drums.

The gadfly fingers of the girl

Cajole the tune from catgut strings.

When the Devil jigs, who knows what dreams

The frenzy of the night will bring?


They play to defy December’s bite,

Bone china brittle and north wind chill,

With a desperate joviality

But shout of crowd and flute’s mad trill

And spit of log and spike of flame

Cannot quite coddle the bar’s far side,

For something else is lurking here

Which in the ancient fabric hides.


Away from the hearth and the copper lamp,

There’s memory in the misshaped walls

Of ill-starred plans and heinous deeds

And pain from a time beyond recall.

It clings to the old warped boards and danks

The corner snug where the mood’s all wrong.

It groans aloud between the throat

Of the bass guitar and the fiddle’s song.


A curtain wrenched by the Excise man,

Shifting of kegs, in the guttering light

A door revealed, a woman’s sob,

Breadwinners led into the night.

But the mummified cat looks down unmoved

As ever, resigned in its wooden case

To another century’s idle stare,

No hint of horrors on its face.














Tony is a prolific writer, with stories, songs and a lot of poetry to his credit – much of it comic and satirical and some more serious, he says. Having lived in Hastings/St Leonards for 14 years, he loves the area and has written a lot about the sea and the quirky inhabitants. Several of his poems appeared in Stories of St Leonards in 2012.


Posted 14:32 Monday, Dec 22, 2014 In: Poetry

Also in: Poetry

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