Poem 122 – London Calling

A pigeon coo accompanies the cries,
Of urgent sirens wrestling for attention.
Although distant, their wail reaches across,
To where I sit in Euston’s Tolmers Square.
This serendipity, this place of peace,
A patch of green, affords some small respite.
Chairs rattle as a barman sets his tables,
Outside in preparation for midday.
I catch snatches of conversation from,
Engrossed commuters passing quickly by.
The Tube rumbles below my weary feet,
Whilst up above the whine of hybrid cabs.
No more the peel of oranges and lemons,
But still distinct the cry of London calling.

Today I headed into the capital to meet with colleagues. I arrived early. Exploring the local area, I found one of London’s many peaceful squares to spend a few minutes before heading in.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 121 – This Time

This morning’s prompt
A photo from this date
Taken a previous year

A smiling face looks out
I watch you past, eyes meeting
The younger you responds

This frozen moment lives
Superimposed on others
The album of our life

The weft and weave of time
The strands that cross the years
Entwining us together

Every morning my phone reminds me of photos taken this day in previous years. Today’s featured an arresting look at the camera as you walked past.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 120 – Memories of Salone*

I carry memories of this land,
It’s fingerprints impress upon me,
And looking back it springs to life,
With speed and vivid recollection.
Oppressive dense humidity,
Immediately dampens both my palms.
Salone’s sweet earthy scent invades,
My nostrils, dust my garment lines.
A grimy vulture perched nearby,
Awaits upon a skip hopefully.
It makes me nervous, is it me
It waits for? Shooing it away,
I hear across the rusty roofs,
The sounds of hustling street vendors,
And traffic, loud with horns forming,
Customary queues down Kissy Road.
Elsewhere a coastal paradise,
Untarnished white and vacant sands,
Where fishermen haul in their catch,
Dragging bright painted boats to land.
Enthusiastic introductions,
Their welcome offered up in song,
Loud ululations, fast drum beats,
With laughter loud and handshakes long.
Despite Ebola’s touch and times
Of bitter strife, this is a land
Where riches can be found but not
In stones, the people are its diamonds.

Sierra Leone is a special country for me. Despite its many struggles and traumas, it is also a country full of life. The latest Marillion album caught me by surprise with a track about it, bringing back all sorts of memories (listen below).

© Ben Quant 2022

*The affectionate abbreviation often used for Sierra Leone

Poem 119 – Changes

A jellied blob hangs in suspended spew.
Within, a dot becomes a growing eye,
That stares continually with many colleagues.
This froth, a stew of rich ingredients,
Together with the spark divine provides,
Impulse to life, wriggling in expansion.
A heart is born that beats the blood along,
The forming tail that from its cell propels,
The tadpole into water’s liberty.
This state is not its end, however, but,
A transitory phase. Before our eyes,
Impossibly it strains beyond, fingers,
Outstretched, extending from new reaching limbs.
New features grow as old ones fade, along,
With its truncating tail as with a croak,
The frog appears and fully free leaps skywards;
Yes, even greater than Bowie’s, this is
The miracle of metamorphosis.

Over the long Easter weekend we went looking around local ponds on the lookout for frogspawn. The journey from dot to frog never ceases to amaze me.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 118 – Queen of the Lake

In regal array the swan
Drifts serenely across the lake
With proud neck she stakes her claim
Outstretched wings proclaim her place
She rules all that she surveys
Usurpers swiftly subdued

In a bank holiday walk in Lea Valley we stopped to spend time with this majestic creature

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 117 – The Heron

The heron lumbers on
This prehistoric throwback
Envelopes with its wings
Turning the world to shades
Of grey forboding shadows
When passing overhead

Aloft it struggles to
Maintain its altitude
But on the river bank
Transformed and elegant
It perches, patient, wise
With poised anticipation

Its stillness is unmatched
The clock hand paused
The moment of decision
The throwing of the dart
A single precise strike
Efficient in its catch

Walking home from our Easter service a heron flew over, its struggles a clear contrast to its normal elegance.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 116 – Mistaken Identity

The bold headline nailed to the billboard shouts
The executioner’s next victim’s name
It reads, ‘Jesus, King of the Jews’, that’s who
Identified, betrayed through a guilty kiss

The leaders rant and rave, ‘This cannot be
Pilate, this is mistaken identity
This man is not our King he doesn’t speak
For us, rewrite your sign once more we plead!’

Mistaken identity, how could that be?
Recall the many things he’s said and done
The signs are there for all to see that this
Is no mere man. He’s the Chosen One

The blind can see, the lame can walk, and those
With leprosy are healed, and deaf ears opened
The dead are raised, the poor receive good news
…Tell me, what else might you expect to see?

Pilate’s response, ‘What I have written, I
Have written, and my sign will not be changed!’
But is this undermined by his cruel nails
That pin it there along with hands and feet?

The sky turns black as up above a final sigh
The one who hangs there drops lifeless and still
And with him hangs the question, were they right?
There surely is no way
That at our hand our God
Could die and find his end
Could we been mistaken?

I’ve been asked to write a poem reflecting on John 19:16-22 from the Bible for today’s Good Friday service. It struck me that in these few verses that like the religious leaders and Pilate we’re being asked the question, just who is this man.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 114 – Fading

Here lies the stone that stood above my grave
Declaring this to be my resting place
But sadly it no longer has the strength
To stand and lies prostrate in peace like me

The lichen spreads rash-like across its face
Obliterating with the green ivy
My life, my wife, my children and my work
The final thoughts of those who paid the bill

Now who I was is legible no longer
As gradually the elements erode
The once clear words that hold me so
I slip from view and slowly pass from memory

We’ve been away for a few days, exploring my wife’s family tree. This involves visiting graveyards and poking around ancient churches. Straining to read old gravestones I wondered how we’re remembered when the writing’s finally gone.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 113 – The Ghost

I am alone, the metaphorical
Candle is glowing by my HD screen
Old fashioned? Perhaps, but I wonder if
My laptop is that which is out of place
For in the darkness every noise is old
The creaking of the building’s settling bones
The patient clock counting upon the wall
Imagined scratching of nocturnal mice
(I know they’re there although they’re rarely seen)
And in the dark our modern trappings fade
Am I the ghost that haunts this bygone night?
Is it my tapping that is out of place?
During the night’s progression I find that
Time wraps around itself until this now
Is all there is, and space constricts upon
The room until finally, I vanish

I’m writing this in the small hours of the night, downstairs, alone. A spooky time to write a poem.

© Ben Quant 2022