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 135 – Dimensionally Challenged

This blue police box
Appeared upon
My step
Where did it come from?
Who put it there?
I do not know
But whilst it seems
So small compared
To its surrounds
They say, don’t they,
It’s bigger on the inside
I wonder what
I’d find within
If only I
Could find a way
To open up
Its doors

It’s true, I opened up my fits to find the TARDIS on my doorstep. Quite surreal.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 126 – Man of a Thousand Faces

I possess a thousand faces
That’s one for every relationship
One for each time and mood and place
The one you know me by is not
The one recognised by my wife
Or friends or even enemies
The one I wear today is not
The same as yesterday, not quite
Experience has shaped, eroded,
And flexed it, making something new
But which of these is really me?
Are they all? Or none at all?
Is there throughout an essential core
Coded within, like human rock?
Or am I simply jetsam, washed
About by random tides of life

The announcement of the new Doctor got me thinking about the different faces we all wear.

© Ben Quant 2022

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 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

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 89 – Death in Paradise

In an exotic isle he lies
A holiday conundrum, dead
Face down beside a nagging doubt
Beneath heaven’s blue skies overhead

The case confined to just four friends
An isolated situation
But none of them could be the murderer
An alibi by others given

Around in circles twisted knots
Until, eureka! Clarity comes
A strange coincidence occurs
Connections made, the puzzle done

They gathered in a tense circle
To hear the verdict boldly laid
Before them by the canny sluth
Who by deduction owns this stage

He walks them through it step by step
By paradise’s swaying palms
Revealing method, means and motive
Our Caribbean Sherlock Holmes

A family guilty pleasure, the murderer mystery set on St. Marie might be formulaic, but we love it.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 88 – Box Set Binge

Remember when you had to wait
A week to catch the next part of
Your favourite show upon the box?

Now things have changed, diversified
There’s streaming, on demand, catch-up
And channels multiply, what choice!

The trouble is like a black hole
It pulls you in with the promise
That cliff hangers need not hang on

But now it’s late I ought to stop
As the alarm is primed to ring
But first, perhaps, another one!

We’d only meant to watch a single episode of Drop the Dead Donkey tonight, but somehow a while series had passed us by…

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 72 – Collateral Damage

To me this feels familiar and strange
Conflicting feelings jostle dissonant
It’s a relief to finally be back
Albeit we’re masked and social distant

Somehow, however, we’re now out of phase
Alternative dimensions are our homes
Like Schrödinger’s famous experiment
We’re both together and it seems alone

We watch each other from the corners of
Our eyes avoiding contact if we can
A living photograph doubly exposed
Collateral damage from Covid’s bans

Last night we went to see an episode of a sitcom being filmed (Andy Hamilton’s ‘Kate and Koji’). We watched a number pre-lockdown and it was lovely to be back, but noticeably the interaction in the queue and set was lacking, as if everyone else wasn’t really there.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 66 – The Cardboard Prometheus

The lid slides off with satisfying heft,
Revealed within an array of precious parts.
Opened, the board becomes the table’s heart,
The pulsing centre round which we congregate.
The rules its brain which regulates carefully,
Instructing every thoughtful turn we take.
The tokens, hormones, eliciting response,
Conducting celebration, dealing pain.
But on their own these parts remain mere props,
Empty, devoid of life, like clay awaiting,
Prometheus to spark them into life.
So what impulse provokes initiation?
It’s those who in anticipation play,
Whose mutual endeavour generates.

I’ve tried solo boardgames and computer games, but nothing beats playing with others. For me, at least, it is the social aspect that brings them to life and makes them a life giving activity.

© Ben Quant 2022