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 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 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 110 – Adam’s Drums

That old drum beat begins to sound once more
A pounding that propels the soldiers feet
Forward despite their tightly tied blindfolds
Momentum that once built is slow to stop

Is this an echo of a former rhythm?
A conflict of two dominant worldviews
Or is it deeper, hidden, our hardwired
Propensity to tend to selfish interest?

Across Ukraine the battle blunders on
And protests rise against the perpetrators
But when I look inside I sadly see
Those same old seeds do germinate in me

Whilst some may cite our finite human nature
Others the doctrine of original sin
Which one of us has never wanted to
Snatch what we could or lash out in our fury

So whilst I pray for peace in Putin’s war
And angry ask for his just punishment
I also seek forgiveness for myself
A hope that’s hypocritical I’m sure

I caught Jeremy Bowen saying something about the drum beat of the cold war in the current conflict in Ukraine. Got me thinking about the different drums we respond to

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 105 – Marina

The camera never lies
Except today it does in
Disinformation wars
Where truth is weaponised
With claims and counterclaims
Creating foul confusion
A new curtain descends
Dividing East from West
But now and then a spark
Will permeate this wall
The brave speaking despite
The risk of consequences
Ovsyannikova chants
‘They’re lying to you here’
Ovsyannikova chants
‘They’re lying to you here’

This morning I hear about Marina Ovsyannikova, editor on the state-controlled Russian TV Channel 1, who bravely held up a placard in protest during the Monday evening news. It read, “No war, stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here.”

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 101 – Putin’s ’84

Is Poem 101
The verse where fears are found?
It feels appropriate
To write that at a time
When doublespeak is heard
I never thought that I
Would see Orwell’s nightmare
Realised, but ‘war is peace’
Is spoken now abroad
Does two and two make five?
Of course not but Putin
Pedals his lies as truth
Portraying tanks as sheep
Their ignorance his strength

They say truth is stranger than fiction. Today we see fiction beginning truth.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 97 – Incomprehension

Today the sky is blue, a robin chirps
Flitting, his red breast skips into my view
And all is calm. Except it’s not. Somewhere
The tanks rumble forward. Missiles fire. Red stains.
How can this be? How can our world encompass
This contradiction? Why should I enjoy the sun
When members of my family unmet
Know only fear, uncertainty and try
To conjure up the bravery required?
To pour out verse cannot compare with what
Is asked of them, but what else can
I offer? I have no gun. Only prayer.
And so I call upon another who
Was subjected to unfair violence.
I cannot comprehend, but maybe he
Whose blood was also shed might understand?

The tanks rumble into Kyiv whilst here the sun shines.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 96 – Futility (or Breakfast with Putin)

I woke to hear of bombs
Rumours of war but not
Here. Elsewhere. Far away.
Eating my breakfast I’m safe
I think. I only hear
Vicariously. However
It still disturbs my meal.
I think how awful it
Would be to be woken
By such a bomb in person.
I tweet denouncing this
Then doom-scroll for a while
Thinking someone must do
Something. When finished I
Rise, hunger satisfied.

Sometimes, hearing the news feels a futile affair, desperate situations meet our inability to comprehend them or respond in a meaningful way.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 87 – Risk Averse

In Africa I once saw boys
Suspended from the back of
A speeding truck ahead of us
My heart was beating in my mouth
My hand firmly clutching the seat belt
Afraid for their safety, but they
Just laughed and waved, content, at ease

Now looking back it seemed like fun

Today I wrote a risk assessment
It made me wonder if we’ve got
Our sense of risk confused because
It seemed to me there was more chance
Of my getting repetitive strain
From typing it up than any
Disaster striking those who come
To stand outside to sing a song….

Today I sent off a risk assessment for an outdoor church service. The form was extensive and not really suited to what we are planning. I can understand the need to be careful, especially in public events, but sometimes…

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 70 – A Modern Conversion

It started with a closure, then
Hot on its heels windows were shut,
Boarded up and scaffolding raised.
Before we knew it hammers rang
Fashion arcade transformed to the
Domain of clipboards and hi-viz.
Its fate seemed unclear, perhaps
Decay had snared our flagging shops
But no! At last all is revealed,
The veil is finally removed
Exposing what has secretly
Transpired beneath. Like hermit crabs
Into its former shell have crept
New occupants served and worshipped
By our national obsession
Consumerism’s gods installed
Our arcade transformed to match those
Found up and down the land, our own
Monotheistic religion

Our local shopping ‘centre’ has been revamped. I’m torn, guiltily excited to see new stores, including a bike shop, but a little disappointed that in so many ways it looks like so many centres today.


© Ben Quant 2022