Poem 82 – The Magic Word

You’re wrong to say magic does not exist
How do I know? I’ve seen it for myself
I’ve seen it in the power of verse to change
An outlook with a skillful choice of words
A clever phrase or metaphor provokes
New meaning formerly concealed, unknown
Whilst written symbols move knowledge across
Invisible mind bridges out of view
Bold stories pluck our eyes, transplanting them
Imagination thus breeds empathy
Whilst in the theatre players exercise
Surgery, switching hearts and souls
So hesitate before inscribing views
Articulate your words aloud with caution
They’re incantations not just spoken sounds
True magic not fantastic fabrication


© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 81 – The Freedom of Flatness

Some say these dark drained lands are empty, dull,
Vast, boring landscapes stripped of growth except
Unnatural poplar lines which interrupt
The fields proudly, a giant picket fence

The rest is flat, a murky flat, devoid
That stretches on for miles and miles and miles
Even its drains seem still and slowly flow
Found wanting under gravity’s strong trial

Depressing, black the peat which forms this ground
Can ground the unfamiliar down and bring them low
Our vision though is not confined like others
By contours, trees or other upward growth

Cast off the blinkers raise your eyes and see
Forget the pull of earth’s deep prejudice
Don’t be constrained to two dimensions only
Lift up your weary eyes find evidence

This land makes space for that which downwards fills
The mist which hangs in early morning dim
Fen blows that sharply tear across the flats
Unfettered sky set free to have its fun

The clouds can play and nighttime stars shine bright
And awesome Moon around the Lantern* glow
This land’s not bare but full and overflowing
This canvas primed for heavens’ masterstrokes

* The octagonal tower which rises from Ely Cathedral, which dominates the skyline of the Cambridgeshire Fens.

I grew up in the Cambridgeshire Fens, a vast stretch of drained peat devoted mainly to farming. It’s a stark landscape; absent are the usual features gloried in by lovers of the countryside. Once you learn how to see it, though, it has its own majestic beauty which lingers in the memory.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 80 – The Job

And did those feet in ancient time walk here?
Of course not! But I wonder if he came
What would he think about his legacy
Entrusted to the care of those he called?
Would it be recognisable to him
Whose name it bore? I hope so but I fear
That it might leave him flummoxed as to how
It came from what it was to what is now
But this should come as no surprise, as he
Has always lived outside, skirting around
The edge, living with those we overlook
Whilst we who he invited to come in
Our natural tendency is closing doors
To make ourselves feel safe and in contrast
Alas, to what we were before we met
And so, forgive us Father and moving
From Blake’s Jerusalem to Italy
Switching between establishment and heist
We pray, come blow those bloody doors away!

A counterpoint to Poem 79…


© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 79 – We, The Echo

Across the valley’s sides
The sound is mimicked as
A bird repeats its owner
Rehearsing copied phrases

These sounds, whilst not the same
As imperfections intrude
Decaying patterns fade,
Are recognisable
The second valve follows
The beating heart’s first drum

Tonight your people meet
Inspired by their God
The Father, Spirit, Son
Living in unity
Bound by their common love
That reaches outwardly

Our simple prayer remains
That as your love echoes
Across this valley’s sides
It’s found reflected here
Repurposed in our lives

Although we smudge your image
The paint is smeared as printed
We hope as we live out
Our lives amongst our neighbours
That they might recognise
The fumbled love we offer
Originally has
It’s source in you, the start
The Word in the beginning
Who set the echo off
And like an avalanche
May the cascade begin


Last night our church family gathered. We talked about who we are and the people we want to be and overnight this conversation became a prayer.
© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 78 – Close Encounter

First of all I sense it coming
Growing tension in the air
Building pressure ominous, the
Beast approaches drawing near

Then I hear a snarling note with
Pitch increasing, Doppler lift
Whining of four spinning wheels
Aggressive, through the gears it shifts

Body tensing, past experience
Muscle memory plays its part
Instinctively I know what’s coming
Snapping heels, approaching fast

Swift, it steals manoeuvre room by
Leaping, yapping, at my side
Adrenaline floods through the system
Now its time for flight or fight

Finally it cuts inside, a
Reckless swerve inches away
Pounding heart within my chest, I’m
Left exclaiming, all in vain

News of impending changes brought a cheer in our household. As a cyclist, I have experienced too many occasions where drivers have aggressively overtaken me, passing far too closely and cutting in dangerously, even turning left across my path (please note, I’m not saying all drivers are villains, or cyclists good road users).


© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 77 – WWW.

They say you can be lonely in a crowd
Feel isolated, solitary even, in
A throng of others densely gathered round
The tree, perhaps, resides in this position
Bearing so tall, so mighty and so proud
Aloof, and self-sufficient, self-assured
Possessive, owning its own patch of ground
The tree’s an isolated individual
Yes, even in a wood this seems the case
They congregate but each stands on their own
There’s no society found in this place
Where every trunk extends skyward alone
But this estrangement’s our misapprehension
Their interaction’s taking place elsewhere
As down beneath our feet there’s conversation
Within the soil a constant silent prayer
Communing in earth’s cold and damp, dark bed
Along pale fibres intercessions flow
Their whispers spread through mediating threads
Ubiquitous networks of fungal growth
No tree in isolation stands but each
By every other in the wood is cared
No one in need finds it is out of reach
As warnings, news and nutrients are shared
We celebrate the world wide web’s creation
Enabling arms to reach around its girth
But nature could have been our inspiration
Its wood wide web first stretched throughout the earth

I was first properly introduced to the concept of the wood-wide-web when reading Underworld by Robert Macfarlane (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40643657-underland). He writes of the infectious enthusiasm of Merlin Sheldrake (https://www.merlinsheldrake.com/), one of the leading researchers into this symbiotic relationship between trees and fungus, which allows communication across vast areas in ways which until very recently we were unaware of. Absolutely fascinating. His ‘Entangled Life’ is next on my reading list…

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 76 – Red Lines

This morning drew a thin red line
Delineating night from day
Thus separating what has been
From what has yet to come our way
Meanwhile another thin red line
Emerged upon my plastic stick
Announcing I could play my part
In all this new day might yet bring

Another quick one today, after a full day of work and college. Brain full of toddlers, practical theology and commuter trains for anything more imaginative or deep!

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 74 – Perfectly Formed

We stroll along the muddy banks
Mid-January Sunday afternoon
Opposing the New River’s waters
Breath catching in the growing gloom
Peripheral vision glimpses movement
A twitch descending accompanied by
A plop, the sound of water applauding
I turn but did my vision lie?
Scanning the water I seek the cause
But only ripples linger on
Alluding to that past disturbance
The water bare, the culprit’s gone
Look over there five metres past!
Its long beak piercing through the surface
And bobbing on the waters cold
A speckled cormorant emerges
It briefly turns acknowledging
Our passing presence, two chilly guests
Before descending once again
An artful dive into the depths
I marvel at its perfect form
So naturally adapted to
The river life when mud hinders
The ease by which we pass on through

Yesterday afternoon we managed a brief walk along the New River as it leaves Cheshunt before it got dark and were delighted to see a juvenile cormorant fisher in the water alongside us, something we haven’t seen before.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 73 – Maintenance Illumination

The manual makes it sound so easy,
‘Loosen the clip, unscrew, replace.’
Experience shows it rarely goes,
As smoothly as this might suggest.
Where does the boot release switch hide?
Should the clasp casing hang like this?
How can I get my hand round there?
Which way is it supposed to twist?
In light of this, there’s no surprise,
That when our headlight faded fast,
I did not fix it on my own,
But asked the garage, I’ve learned at last!

I think this one speaks for itself! Car maintenance is never as straightforward as the manuals make it out to be…

© Ben Quant 2022