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 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

Poem 162 – To Chris & Anna

I knew you once. At school.
We played, imagined worlds,
Rolled dice and conquered dragons.
We learnt. Shared desks. Since then
We’ve met just once. A brief
Collision, passing by.

We’ve kept in touch, sort of.
We’ve watched each other’s feeds.
Smiled and commented at
Feasts and family gatherings
Matched faces.

I’ve shivered at the sea,
From safe behind my screen.
Watched you crash right in.
Tell me, just how do you
Take your shots without
Sinking? And grin without
Taking in the ocean?

Then, this pattern was
Disturbed. A jolt of memory.
Another face unseen for years.
Decades. And yet, the name
Was waiting to be spoken.
I knew you once. At school.

Do you remember the gossip?
The playground pointing?
Classroom chatter?
‘So and so fancies so and so.’
Watching, that forgotten,
Adolescent urge returns.
I turn to tell my classmates
Only they’re not here.
Perhaps somewhere they do
The same behind their screens.

It’s been an odd few years.
For most, years to forget.
But not for you.
Your joy has brought us joy
Peeled back the passing years.
Your simple post, ‘One week
to go’ elicited
Our keyboard cheers, and so
I raise a virtual glass.

Perhaps one day we’ll meet
Again; for now, a toast.
I break this virtual wall
To type, ‘To Chris and Anna!’
I knew you once. At school.

This was written in celebration of two old school friends who I discovered via social media are imminently getting married. Chris enjoys swimming in the sea in all weathers, something I can barely imagine in the heat of summer! Poem posted with their permission.

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

Poem 137 – At Last

All rise to greet our blushing bride who floats
Along the aisle to meet her grinning groom
Who smiles with pleasure mixed perhaps with nerves
Whilst waiting patiently for her arrival
Meaning they at last can clasp each other
In celebration never to let go

Last Saturday I had the wonderful privilege of marrying my daughter (I was the minister!) The two of them didn’t stop smiling all day…

© Ben Quant 2022
Photo J. Pes 2022

Poem 134 – Held Tightly

It isn’t long until you tie the knot
Exchange your rings, say vows that bind you tightly
I hope you find them not constraining chains
But liberating promises, security
Like tape that holds a graft firmly together
Until the two infuse becoming one
Releasing you to look ahead not back
To check your knots have not become undone

In just a few week’s time I’m conducting a marriage. This is always a privilege, but even more so this time as it is my daughter’s! Not surprisingly, I’m mulling over the question of what to say and pass on.

© Ben Quant 2022
Photo by Jeremy Wong

Poem 132 – Shhhh….

Let’s all keep mum, keep schtum
‘Cause careless talk costs lives
So cross your heart and hope
To die, don’t let the cat
Out of its bag

Please keep it under wraps
Don’t tell a soul, just tap
Your nose with knowing look
A wink perhaps no more
I plea, than that

And if not wraps, perhaps
A hat will do the job
Along with poker face
To keep it in its place
Our secret, shhh….

Work has kept me occupied of late, diverting creative juices, but when my Dad announced the theme of his next poetry groups meeting, I couldn’t resist.

© Ben Quant 2022
Photo by Kat Smith: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-placing-her-finger-between-her-lips-568025/

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 121 – This Time

This morning’s prompt
A photo from this date
Taken a previous year

A smiling face looks out
I watch you past, eyes meeting
The younger you responds

This frozen moment lives
Superimposed on others
The album of our life

The weft and weave of time
The strands that cross the years
Entwining us together

Every morning my phone reminds me of photos taken this day in previous years. Today’s featured an arresting look at the camera as you walked past.

© 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 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