by John Mills

(a cornucopia of this and that)

is a man’s world
not of testosterone but of mystery.

The walls ooze an air of cozy familiarity in
stark contrast to the clinical orderliness of
axe, drill, mattock and saws that,
like all good men,

Worn with age a bent wood chair,
that no one can recall being sat on,
sits patiently by the counter

behind which, amongst the
jubilee clips and taps and dies,
a smile has taken residence.

“A dozen one and a quarter crosshead tens, please”
draws an instant response and
a knowing finger taps the side of a nose
acknowledging a request for half inch sixes,
“Missus wants more shelves, does she?”
These sorcerers divine your house from your ironmongery.

Flustered by the embarrassment of ignorance
a young mother, sent by her husband no doubt,
buys a, “one of these,” for three pence and
scurries off to the comfort of Costa.

Keys are cut,
wisdom and drain unblocker dispensed,
Stoke’s frailties discussed,
parliament hinges provoke debate over
the relative strengths of
flush, butt and butterfly and
the joys of astro turf celebrated
in this Pandora’s box of
turpentine, roof-felt and rat poison.


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For me Mountford’s is the heart of Stone. Forget your Hovis, your canals, your restaurants; it is this little hardware shop that keeps us going. There is hardly a house in Stone that doesn’t have a screw, a nail, copper piping, a coat hook, a one-of- them- things- that- connect- the-washer- to-the- drains,  a something, from Mountford’s, all supplied with friendliness and charm. So when given the opportunity to write about my town, what else could I choose?

I am extremely proud my poem has been included in the Staffordshire Poetry Collection but I am equally proud of going into Mountford’s and being asked, “Have you got any more copies of our poem I could have?” – John