Poem 112 – The Award Goes To…

One cracks a joke
And in response
It gets slapped down

To rein us in
It used to be
Your eye for mine

But violence met
With more violence
Is twice the pain

A better way
Must surely be
To turn the cheek

This act of strength
Defies the bully
Without becoming one

Is violence the best response? An eye for an eye was only meant to stop us from escalating levels of revenge in the name of justice, but does it make things right? I’m not sure it does.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 111 – Circular Identity

Remember childhood years that stretched
Where nothing seemed to change at all
Except our teeth. Remember how
They used to hang on fragile threads
Forever, wiggled by the tongue
Until one day they disappeared?

Eventually a switch was flicked
New genes asserted influence
A sudden surge, the teenage kick
With child and adult overlaid
Doubly exposed awhile before
The hormone shock shook out the child
A whiskey burn that makes us wince

A newborn person stands before
A mirror wondering ‘Who am I?
Where is the manual that informs
Us how to be a grown-up in
This strange and unfamiliar world?’
Until one day a match is made
Where each completes the other’s question

A few years on the subject shifts
A babe becomes its object as
We ask who it might take after
Ironic really as our process
Of metamorphosis has ended
The circle finally has closed
And we’ve become our parents and
The children’s teeth are getting loose

Nature or nurture?

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 110 – Adam’s Drums

That old drum beat begins to sound once more
A pounding that propels the soldiers feet
Forward despite their tightly tied blindfolds
Momentum that once built is slow to stop

Is this an echo of a former rhythm?
A conflict of two dominant worldviews
Or is it deeper, hidden, our hardwired
Propensity to tend to selfish interest?

Across Ukraine the battle blunders on
And protests rise against the perpetrators
But when I look inside I sadly see
Those same old seeds do germinate in me

Whilst some may cite our finite human nature
Others the doctrine of original sin
Which one of us has never wanted to
Snatch what we could or lash out in our fury

So whilst I pray for peace in Putin’s war
And angry ask for his just punishment
I also seek forgiveness for myself
A hope that’s hypocritical I’m sure

I caught Jeremy Bowen saying something about the drum beat of the cold war in the current conflict in Ukraine. Got me thinking about the different drums we respond to

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 109 – A Sea of Life

The doors open and in they flood
Like waves some crash with confidence
Relentless tide displacing toys

Whilst others, human barnacles
Cling to their carers’ legs constrained
Fearful of blundering bulldozers

Finally in the flotsam drifts
Worn down by lack of precious sleep
And full of care and caffeine highs

Every Wednesday our church holds its toddler group and I get to play and call it work. Its amazing how within moments a carefully set up room can look as if it has been hit by a tidal wave.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 108 – Reunion

Bathing South Down hills
The sun accompanies us
Smiling while we reminisce
A stroll across the years

Faithful orb that shines on us
Before at night retreating
Only to return again
Its loyalty unwavering

Nothing is required of us
No need for filling gaps
Simply being is enough
Silence is not amiss

Finally descending with
Its gentle amber kiss
Waves farewell as we depart
This friendship that persists

Managed to snatch a couple of days walking with old friends from Imperial this weekend. The intervening decades meant nothing.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 107 – An Angry Embrace

The storm did rage throughout that hateful night
Roiling, possessed by evil spirits’ anger
Tossing our ship about with frightful might

We prayed, the crew, in fear about our plight
Hoping our god might rouse from his deep slumber
The storm did rage throughout that hateful night

Naive, a cry, ‘I see a shining light!’
Giddy despite the gale becoming grimmer
Tossing our ship about with frightful might

Alas, this hope it seems was simply spite
The taunting glimmer just St. Elmo’s fire
The storm did rage throughout that hateful night

And those who climbed towards it felt its bite
The storm shredding once glorious sails to tatters
Tossing our ship about with frightful might

So I, the priest, read out our ship’s last rites
As to the deep, dark, depths it did surrender
The storm did rage throughout that hateful night
Tossing our ship about with frightful might

My son is doing a writing course at university and has been given the task of writing a ‘villanelle’. Thought I’d have a go. Villanelles have a formal structure of three line stanzas, where the first and third lines of the first take it in turns to be the last line of those that follow. The final stanza has four lines, with this alternating pair becoming the third and fourth lines here. The first, third and in the last stanza’s case, fourth lines rhyme, as do all the second lines. Got that?

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 106 – Memory

Not all bridges are forged in sweat and steel
Nor do they all traverse the globe but some
Convey us by our dreams and thoughts
Down secret passages unique to us

A scent transports us back to musty classrooms
Or changing rooms, slick with rowdy teenage bodies
Forgotten fragrances summon unbidden the past
Awakening lost relationships with force

The taste of lamb and fresh mint sauce steals me
To Sunday lunches at my grandparents’
The sound of knives chopping the herb just picked
With acid tang of vinegar poured over

Opening the photo album I’m once again
Surrounded by the Austrian Alps of Mayrhofen
I see you smiling at me from the lake
And savour afresh our early wedded life

These bridges are not solid in construction
As their physical counterparts may be
But shift as tidal waves flow on the sand
Capricious and yet precious in their rarity

My earlier poem about Brunel’s suspension bridge originally had other bridges in view. The discounted concept reappeared today.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 105 – Marina

The camera never lies
Except today it does in
Disinformation wars
Where truth is weaponised
With claims and counterclaims
Creating foul confusion
A new curtain descends
Dividing East from West
But now and then a spark
Will permeate this wall
The brave speaking despite
The risk of consequences
Ovsyannikova chants
‘They’re lying to you here’
Ovsyannikova chants
‘They’re lying to you here’

This morning I hear about Marina Ovsyannikova, editor on the state-controlled Russian TV Channel 1, who bravely held up a placard in protest during the Monday evening news. It read, “No war, stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here.”

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 104 – The Bridge

Spanning the Avon, Brunel’s triumphant feat
Stands proud above the watery cleft below
Industrial muscles clenched it takes the strain
Delivering passengers safety across

Stone feet stand firm upon opposing banks
But this world in between belongs to neither
In this suspended realm we stand apart
A liminal existence ruled by none

This dreamy space is transient despite
His mighty toil in sweat and steel to hold
This is the place for wistful lovers’ strolls
Where free, hot air balloons do ride the sun

Studies have occupied my time this week, but promoted by WordPress’ wordpromt ‘bridge’, here’s an ode to one I’ve got to know over the last few years.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 103 – True Time Lord Science

It’s bigger on the inside
Each visitor exclaims
When entering the Tardis
That Time Lord miracle

Too quickly we dismiss this
As simply science fiction
The stuff of story not
Real life as we know it

But sorry, that’s nonsense
Just stop and think a while
Someone created all
Within that universe

This universe of wonders
They held within their mind
Compressed, proving the point
It’s bigger on the inside

The creative capacity of the human brain will never cease to marvel me. How can something so small be at the same time so vast.

© Ben Quant 2022