Poem 189 – Who Am I?

Who am I?
I am how others see and shape me, friends
and colleagues, neighbours, enemies. I shift expression, slide to meet whoever stands
before me now. I am your husband, friend
and lover, sharing lives, and tears and dreams.
You’ve had my best and worst. I wonder what
you see, you who knows me best, who am I?
I am my work, my nine to five and more;
it’s how we catalogue and frame the other.
I am the teacher’s son, the scientist’s too,
designed by nature, nurture, chicken, egg.
Does anybody know the essential me,
the one beneath these morphing layers?
                                                                                I don’t.
He is not there, he doesn’t exist. I am
only because this web creates, remakes me.
I am I and you and him and we.

Who is the real me? A counterpoint to my previous poem (Poem 188 – Exposed). Those of faith might spot another allusion and contrast.

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Hermann Wittekopf on Unsplash

Poem 188 – Exposed

I shed my face,
the one I placed
upon my face
this morning. Here,
with you,
                    it lies
discarded it’s

The truth beneath
revealed, my veins,
and flesh displayed
to you. No need
to pause,
stripped back, you stand
naked before me.

Watching the ease shared between Paul Whitehouse and Bob Mortimer in ‘Gone Fishing’ I found myself reflecting on the nature of friendship.

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash

Poem 187 – The Zone

The zone.
Eyes fixed, focussed yet absent,
two metres from the pedals.
All else excluded.

Legs spin.
Driving mechanical motion,
mental metronomes
propelling forwards.

Time ceases.
Suspended, gathered for
one purpose; moment, man
and bike united.

one splintering thought invades.
Awareness shatters in
momentum broken.

Occasionally I discover the zone when cycling, a joyful but fragile place.

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Florian Kurrasch on Unsplash

Poem 186 – And Relax…

It’s finally done
The never-ending
task has reached
its end, full stop.
Conclusion signed,
sealed and delivered.
One question left,
that’s all. Tonight?
Just celebration.
Celebration and sleep.
Celebration, sleep,
and joyful emptiness.

This morning was viva day take two. Last chance saloon. This time I passed!

© Ben Quant 2023

Poem 185 – Tomorrow

Today’s a day for not looking,
for refusing to see. A day
of pretence, for living in distraction.
A day of denial, refusing to
acknowledge what waits. A toddler
holding its hands over its eyes so
it can’t be seen. Today,
I shall not feel the weight
upon my back. Today,
I dam the dike with a finger,
adrenaline stoppered for now.
Today, I write verse. Tomorrow?
Tomorrow doesn’t exist.
Not yet. Tomorrow must wait.

Tomorrow I sit my doctoral viva retake. I should be revising.

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Gabor Koszegi on Unsplash

Poem 184 – The Adventures Of Evel Knievel on a Road Bike

A life of neglect,
has wrinkled this skin
compounded by COVID
and war in Ukraine.

Shaken and stirred,
my body is bounced
from boulder to boulder,
more rumble than strip.

More crater than pothole,
Neil Armstrong’s at home here.
My limbs are disjointed,
my wheels are untrue.

How deep is that puddle?
How firm is that footing? Can
my padding take pummeling
much longer like this?

A crack in the cranks,
a snap of the shins,
I clasp on my cape
of the stars and stripes
and on the cusp of loud cursing
leap into the abyss…

As my training for the Ride London-Essex 100 continues, I’m becoming a little tired of the impact of the state of the roads on body and bike…

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Docob5 at English WikipediaW, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Poem 183 – Barn Dance

Two couples, groups of four,
arrange themselves upon
the floor to dance. Caller’s

instructions given, they walk
it through, counting their steps,
fierce thought performs on faces.

The music starts and now
they charge whooping; tonight’s
for plowing on regardless!

We were at a family barn dance this weekend. Happy Birthday Emeyle and Jade, thanks for a highly enjoyable evening!

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Joel Wyncott on Unsplash

Poem 182 – Scarred

Our scars are pinned upon us,
a transcript of past hurts
inscribed upon our flesh
so that we don’t forget.
This catalogue of incident,
like DNA, describes us.

Below, a deeper inventory:
the scars torn in our hearts,
witnesses to past pains,
which also carved our character,
etching personality.

Easter morn and scars
still marked the risen Christ.
Incongruous wounds? Not these.
Without them he’s reduced,
Messiah undone, no victory won,
a shadow of a saviour.
They’re how we know it’s him.

One day we’ll also rise,
but will our grave-born bodies
enjoy disfigurement,
stigmata of past battles
displayed in celebration?
Or will our newborn skin
be left bereft and clean?
If so, I have to ask,
will we be recognisable?

An Easter poem. Will the life to come render our current experiences irrelevant, or do they count, even the tough ones. A sequel of sorts to Poem 181. I might come back to this; it’s not quite there, but close enough to express my thoughts.

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Tom Jur on Unsplash

Poem 181 – Good Friday

What does it mean, this scene so strange?
Darkness descends to shroud the skies
Creator enters creation to die
The pregnant earth gives birth once more
A way from heaven to earth is torn
Centurion spies the Son and mourns
In death, it seems, a kingdom’s born

A short verse inspired by Matthew 27:45-54.

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Dylan McLeod on Unsplash

Poem 180 – Riverbank Sketches: The Great Crested Grebe

With oriental flare,
the grebe attracts attention.
Her sublime looks and slender
lines are carefully honed.
Exotic, not like other birds,
she owns her stage.
Checking all eyes are on
her, paparazzi ready,
she poses
                to applause.

I don’t get to see these so often as other birds, but always appreciate them when I do. So distinct, they demand attention.

© Ben Quant 2023
Bengt Nyman, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons