Poem 174 – Fusion Cooking

blend together
two unrelated
cuisines or musical

a fusion dish
of novel taste
an auditory

two particles
at speed into
a forced collision

explosive wave
of energy
reveals sub-
atomic secrets

grab unrelated
ideas and hurl
together hard
to see what happens

conceives surprising
ideas and insights

a man, a woman
heat up their hormones
stir DNA
and leave to sit

new life erupts
through pain and joy
familiar yet
distinctly different

But still…
we build
our walls
close down
the channels
shut down
take cover
our slogans
of what
might be
and be

This started life as a poem about poems and metaphors for World Poetry Day, but finished up as something quite different as I combined not just this and other interests of mine whilst reflecting on a local hotel housing asylum seekers.

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by John Legrand on Unsplash

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 164 – Flights of Fantasy

With flick of fanned out tail, the Kite flies deftly,
    With dancer’s grace, descends through applauding sky,
    Performs a pirouette, majestic dive,
Then swoops and thus commits audacious theft.
Through avian guile she artfully steals my breath
    And gripping firm, takes flight, and rises high.
    Leaving my standing ovation behind, she flies
Into the distance, fading. I’m bereft.
Sometimes I wish that I possessed her freedom.
    Perhaps I do! I have no wings but in
Their place imagination’s feathers thrust
    Me upwards seeking visions of what could be.
Their range is more than hers has ever been,
    Could dreaming meet this reaching wanderlust?

Red kites have recently established themselves in our neighbourhood. One regularly frequents the air above our garden. Watching it’s effortless flight inspired this sonnet, although it’s taken most of the week to knock it into some sort of shape.

© Ben Quant 2023
Image: Tim Felce (Airwolfhound), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Poem 159 – A Sonnet for Jeff Beck

The news of Jeff Beck’s passing was a shock.
    Disciple, six string warrior, he played
    Uniquely. He was peerless to this day.
We cry. The king is dead, the king of rock.
It’s true, perhaps, that thousands did not flock
    To catch him on the stage, perform the way
    He could, making it speak and wail and spray
The air with song-like notes; an ease that mocked.
Despite this, his guitar will always stand
    Unique, unmatched by those within his wake,
Pale copies of this effortless control.
    Unrivalled, fusing different sonic lands,
So few attain the sounds that he could make
    That reach inside and pluck our very souls.

Last night I was stopped by the news of Jeff Beck’s death. Another guitar hero of mine gone, joining the likes of Garry Moore and George Harrison. Very much a guitarist’s guitarist, uniquely blending jazz, soul and rock, along with inventive tremolo and bending techniques he was one of a kind. Continuing to grapple with rhyme, I fancied trying a petrarchan sonnet today. He seemed a fitting object.

© Ben Quant 2023

Photo by Mandy Hall – originally posted to Flickr as Jeff Beck, CC BY 2.0

Poem 142 – An Ode to Greenbelt ’22

Black ants process along the guide rope of
Our holy canopy, where angels throng
Joint pilgrimage, a quest for nourishment
Of souls and stomachs, set forth in hope and prayer

A lazy dragonfly flies by, whilst up
Above the sun beats down and walks amongst
Visiting us in chance relationships
Forged over camping gas and mugs of tea

A poet finds his voice once more, relieved
As with a T-Rex roar the crowd roars back
Priestly connections made between two worlds
In flesh upon the lawns, presence restored

Debating democracy and climate change
Reversing alarms sound out. Ironic
But can the church evolve, and should it?
Wake up! Jerusalem can be renewed

Advice is given, go and goof around with
Dead poets, the deader the better
Forgive and be compassionate to yourself
And don’t forget it’s not all about us

The mic is muted, accidental silence
The air is filled, its tense anticipa…
…tion breaks with cheers, the crew
Thrust unexpectant on the stage, our heroes

We sit and listen to those we disagree with
In hope that we might learn something we’d missed
By existing only in our echo chambers
And from this dissonance we reach for more

And then to end the boundaries blur, the stage
Dismantled means as one we lift our song
And bid farewell ’till next time when we gather
‘Cause, this field never fails or disappoints

Greenbelt Festival is an annual gathering centred around artistry, activism and belief, currently in the lawns of Boughton House, Kettering. For me it’s an regular retreat, a place I go to be refreshed, provoked and encouraged. It’s part of my punctuation and I’ve missed it the last two summers. In these verses I’ve tried to capture something of this year’s experience. Naturally, it will make most sense if you were there with me, as it references a variety of incidents and highpoints, and maybe the odd in joke. If you were there, you might spot some of them. Confession, some of the lines have been nicked…

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 141 – In the Red Corner…

A bloody fight transpires
My rumble in the jungle
Or at least the study

We skip around the ring
Sizing each other up
My fingers on the keys

We huddle close and grapple
Before I’m thrown against
The ropes, punch drunk and reeling

I persevere like Jacob
Refusing to let go
Until I find a blessing

Grunting we slug it out
Two combat weary veterans
Down vocab cul-de-sacs

I seek the combination
Of phrases, killer blows
Incisive turns of words

Finally inspiration
An Archimedes moment
That charts the path ahead

At last! Wounded I rise
And cast the Muses down
Upon the page and stagger

Struggle, the constant companion in my study, work and play. Are we best friends or enemies? Both I think, often at the same time.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 131 – Soul Music

The needle drops, its solid clunk,
Precipitates familiar crackles,
Vinyl’s weakness? Perhaps, or character,
But compensating with more soul.
The sax begins, transporting us,
To smokey bars where bourbon’s poured,
In black and white, and couples sway,
And nodding men are lost in jazz.
The snare’s shuffle entrances as,
Crisp cymbal strikes entice and take,
Our arms to stroll with walking bass,
And trumpets dance their singing scales.
Too soon the groove reaches its climax,
The side completed but not ended,
Repeated coda, beating on,
Until the arm is lifted home.

A discussion on Twitter about jazz recommendations led to acquiring some new records, and in turn to this verse.

© 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 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