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 146 – In Our Forefathers’ Steps

The first to step these steps stepped forward cautiously
Warily they trod not knowing what they might find
But those who followed drew faith from those who crossed before
Their hesitant tracks became a guide to confidence
And soon a path carved deep was etched into the land
Markers were placed identifying its location
Presently stones were laid to make the tread secure
And along the avenue buildings began to spring
The bustle grew, the noise of thoroughfare, as traffic
Started to flow along the freshly tarmacked road
Past houses, shops, and families at play and war
Suburban sprawl, sprawled out, the belt loosened as when
Our Sunday lunch digested we kick back replete
And sit silently wondering how we came to be
There in the first place, ignorant of those cautious pioneers

Over the last year I’ve discover the fantastic writing of Robert MacFarlane. His poetic prose musing on the nature of walking, the landscape and language has captivated me – if you’ve not discovered him yet go now and go find him! His book, ‘The Old Ways’, was the first I found, which led me to this verse.

© 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 92 – On Their Shoulders

The patient scrape
Reveals slowly
What lies below

Intrepid travellers
Descend in time
To days long gone

Attentive eyes
Remain focused
Creative vision

Forgotten hints
Slowly produce
A growing picture

Forensic care
Our ancestors

Now resurrected
Before us those
On whom we stand

At the age of four I proudly announces that I wanted to be a professor of archeology! The nearest I got was enjoying Time Team.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 91 – Thin Places

In this place, borders smudge allowing seepage
Between our ancient fathers and ourselves
History collapses to a single point
Connections forged through timeless stones and paths
Peripheral vision glimpses walkers who
Accompany us as we follow their parade
Across symbolic landscapes forged by hand
Our feet superimposed upon their prints
The air is heavy, tingling static charge
Compelling boulders, dense with gravity
We may not understand their meaning yet
Somehow they bind us with a common bond

A couple of years ago we visited Avebury. As with visits to other ancient site such as Stonehenge, I was struck by the sense of the immediacy of the place, a connection across the millennia with many who had trodden the same paths.

© Ben Quant 2022