Poem 170 – To Those Tempted to Censor

Don’t steal my words,
make me say what I did not say.
If I’m offensive either
be offended or do not listen.
Let people see me as I am,
judge me on my words.
Shun me, shame me,
even expose me,
laugh with or even at me
but do not steal my_____.

I feel uneasy about the reported changes to Roald Dahl’s books, made in order to align them with contemporary attitudes (I suspect they weren’t even in line with the attitudes of his day!) Whilst I appreciate the sentiment behind this, I’m unsettled by the idea of changing an author’s words because we don’t like them.

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

Poem 169 – I Collect People

I collect people.
Not in an album like
a stamp collector, or
macabre jars like some
demented serial killer,
but in my memories.

Childhood friends stand by
eccentric teachers that
inspire and shape my path.
Loved relatives are filed
with heroes of the stage
and teenage heartbreakers.

Congregation members,
that walked with us awhile,
together with neighbours
who passed our window daily,
their names undiscovered.
Did they know each other?

Time to time I take
them out and dust them down,
revisit, reminisce.
These familiar faces,
both intimate and distant,
make up my life’s matrix.
I am in reference to them,
embedded and defined.
There is no island life.

A conversation at church about personalities who have been part of our family over time prompted the phrase ‘we collect people’. This stuck in my head and eventually prompted this poem.

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Raj Rana on Unsplash (Original in colour)

Poem 168 – The Week’s Weft & Warp

The Ayatollah screams, in ’89,
his cruel fatwa over Rushdi, judgement
upon his blasphemous work. In contrast,
proud fist raised in 90, Mandela stands
defiant, tasting freedom. His smile disarms.

Go back. In ’83 bold scoundrels snatch
Shergar from underneath our noses, boldly
driving their horsebox to his door. Go further.
In ’52, the King is dead. A princess
is lost in Kenya, long live our new found Queen.

This week winds back and forth, its tapestry
an intertwining web. Created by
its stitches, we’re not free but bound and shaped,
informed and influenced, held by its threads.
However, choice exists; we choose which strands
to trace and which to weave for those to come.

Inspired by the BBC’s ‘This Week in History’ earlier this week (8-14th February).

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by hp koch on Unsplash

Poem 167 – The Futility of the Fenland Cyclist

‘It’s just a short climb,’ they said,
‘A little rise, a quick kick.
It’s nothing that will trouble you.’
But they forgot I grew up in
The Fens; a horizontal line
Of land that’s paper thin, all sky.
To me it was Mount Everest.
I set off from my base camp with
Adventure in my heart, but soon
I needed oxygen and Sherpas.
The final straw? A lycra clad
Illusion, laughing as it passed…

I’m currently training to ride the London-Essex 100 in May for Parkinson’s UK. Encountering slopes, my legs reminded me of a fleeting encounter just outside Sidmouth when I was on my first major ride… (Ps. If you want to sponsor me you can do so here: https://events.parkinsons.org.uk/fundraisers/benquant)

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Sebastian Graser on Unsplash

Poem 166 – Embrace

I circumnavigate you
Enfold, encapsulate you.
Not to subsume, consume,
Devour or dominate you,
But to be one with you.

Oh, to be one with you,
Align my life to you,
Try not to assume, presume, but
Embrace this life with you,
Breathing as one.

Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor said,
‘Never trust a hug. It’s just a way to hide your face.’
I disagree.

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Marcel Ardivan on Unsplash