Poem 99 – 21 Goals

One arched iconic stadium
Welcomes two rivals to the pitch
With many in supporting roles
Holding up the thirty-two who play
The eighty thousand roaring on
Their hearts racing the ninety endless
Thrilling minutes then thirty more
Joyful, relentless and exhausting
And then as one they pause…
                                                      …breath held
As players line up one by one
In legal torture to decide
(this was always bound to be)
But surely none saw this ending
That after all those goalless minutes
The game would end with twenty scored
Leaving the goalies to decide
The outcome with a shot apiece
With trusted youngster shooting sure
And wily veteran striking high

It’s always tense being a Liverpool fan following a final, we never do it the easy way, but that was ridiculous(ly wonderful)!

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 98 – Innocence

Do you recall those hazy childhood days,
Those lazy endless freedom days outside?
The den we made together in the hedge,
Found at the bottom of our road, our world?
Behind it stood a farmer’s field in which,
We used to scatter, hide within the grain.
I wonder if he ever saw us there,
And turned a blind eye to our escapades?
The pylons, alien, stood tall and strong,
Tempting investigation but warnings,
Upon ‘the box’ made us fearful. Likewise,
We never played with matches, afraid of death.
This was our kingdom, on our bikes we reigned.
The rules were ours, no adults interfered,
Until exhausted, dinner called us home,
Across the border full of tales to tell.

Was it really as I remember it, with blue skies all year and endless hours to play? Probably not, but the sense of that is strong.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 97 – Incomprehension

Today the sky is blue, a robin chirps
Flitting, his red breast skips into my view
And all is calm. Except it’s not. Somewhere
The tanks rumble forward. Missiles fire. Red stains.
How can this be? How can our world encompass
This contradiction? Why should I enjoy the sun
When members of my family unmet
Know only fear, uncertainty and try
To conjure up the bravery required?
To pour out verse cannot compare with what
Is asked of them, but what else can
I offer? I have no gun. Only prayer.
And so I call upon another who
Was subjected to unfair violence.
I cannot comprehend, but maybe he
Whose blood was also shed might understand?

The tanks rumble into Kyiv whilst here the sun shines.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 96 – Futility (or Breakfast with Putin)

I woke to hear of bombs
Rumours of war but not
Here. Elsewhere. Far away.
Eating my breakfast I’m safe
I think. I only hear
Vicariously. However
It still disturbs my meal.
I think how awful it
Would be to be woken
By such a bomb in person.
I tweet denouncing this
Then doom-scroll for a while
Thinking someone must do
Something. When finished I
Rise, hunger satisfied.

Sometimes, hearing the news feels a futile affair, desperate situations meet our inability to comprehend them or respond in a meaningful way.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 95 – The Scandal of Spring

Without our noticing, the velvet bud
Protrudes. This act of annual resurrection
From naked branch to clothed, a strip tease in
Reverse, so tantalising in modesty.
Before long, it will be scandalously dressed.

The bite of winter receding, our fruit trees are coming back to life once more.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 94 – Mercury’s Lament

Remember Freddie’s rhapsody
Nine classic minutes long to bring
Bombastic rock, triumphant pomp
The opera to the masses, darling

Before the storm a solo voice
With purity, soaring lament
In contrast with the bitterness
Contained within words of regret

Then crashing thunder interrupts
Violent vocals kaleidoscope
Inner turmoil, chaotic nonsense
Soundscape immense and intricate

Before Beelzebub attacks
The stargazer magnificent
Looks out beyond this racous gale
As finally the man repents

Be still cries out the axe wielder
And thus the storm is brought down low
Priorities fall into place
And whisper
…anyway the wind blows

This was going to be a poem about Storm Eunice, but slipped into something quite different.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 93 – Culinary Treasure

A fish ingot golden not brown
Alongside a portion of chips
Not fries but thickly cut and bagged

Salt sprinkled, paired perfectly with
A bite of vinegar splashed over
All wrapped in sweating paper, warm

Carefully rolled, corners tucked tight
And popped into a plastic bag
To take home quick, this British treasure

I drove the long straight drive to Bristol this evening. On arrival, I felt a portion of fish and chips had been earnt.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 92 – On Their Shoulders

The patient scrape
Reveals slowly
What lies below

Intrepid travellers
Descend in time
To days long gone

Attentive eyes
Remain focused
Creative vision

Forgotten hints
Slowly produce
A growing picture

Forensic care
Our ancestors

Now resurrected
Before us those
On whom we stand

At the age of four I proudly announces that I wanted to be a professor of archeology! The nearest I got was enjoying Time Team.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 91 – Thin Places

In this place, borders smudge allowing seepage
Between our ancient fathers and ourselves
History collapses to a single point
Connections forged through timeless stones and paths
Peripheral vision glimpses walkers who
Accompany us as we follow their parade
Across symbolic landscapes forged by hand
Our feet superimposed upon their prints
The air is heavy, tingling static charge
Compelling boulders, dense with gravity
We may not understand their meaning yet
Somehow they bind us with a common bond

A couple of years ago we visited Avebury. As with visits to other ancient site such as Stonehenge, I was struck by the sense of the immediacy of the place, a connection across the millennia with many who had trodden the same paths.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 90 – The River

It was cold that night
Was there snow?
Or was it frost?
I don’t recall
We walked along the river
You wore many layers
To keep out the chill
I laughed as later
You unpeeled them
Defrosting in the pub
We went out
Starting as friends
But by the time
We’d reached the end
An unspoken change
Had occurred
We paused. I spoke it
Should we add
Another couple
To the list?
You said yes
We held hands
You couldn’t see but
I was smiling
It’s funny how walks
Can be so significant
A sideways step
Into a space
To reflect
To be and to grow
Soon after that
We went on another
Again you said yes
Or at least
I think you did
You certainly
Smothered me
Down on my knees
By the Thames
Again we emerged
Once more transformed
There have been many
More walks since then
As now we explore
Life’s bubbling stream
Of chaotic rapids
And lazy eddies
And I still enjoy
Unpeeling the layers
That make up you

A poem for Valentine’s day.

© Ben Quant 2022