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 122 – London Calling

A pigeon coo accompanies the cries,
Of urgent sirens wrestling for attention.
Although distant, their wail reaches across,
To where I sit in Euston’s Tolmers Square.
This serendipity, this place of peace,
A patch of green, affords some small respite.
Chairs rattle as a barman sets his tables,
Outside in preparation for midday.
I catch snatches of conversation from,
Engrossed commuters passing quickly by.
The Tube rumbles below my weary feet,
Whilst up above the whine of hybrid cabs.
No more the peel of oranges and lemons,
But still distinct the cry of London calling.

Today I headed into the capital to meet with colleagues. I arrived early. Exploring the local area, I found one of London’s many peaceful squares to spend a few minutes before heading in.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 120 – Memories of Salone*

I carry memories of this land,
It’s fingerprints impress upon me,
And looking back it springs to life,
With speed and vivid recollection.
Oppressive dense humidity,
Immediately dampens both my palms.
Salone’s sweet earthy scent invades,
My nostrils, dust my garment lines.
A grimy vulture perched nearby,
Awaits upon a skip hopefully.
It makes me nervous, is it me
It waits for? Shooing it away,
I hear across the rusty roofs,
The sounds of hustling street vendors,
And traffic, loud with horns forming,
Customary queues down Kissy Road.
Elsewhere a coastal paradise,
Untarnished white and vacant sands,
Where fishermen haul in their catch,
Dragging bright painted boats to land.
Enthusiastic introductions,
Their welcome offered up in song,
Loud ululations, fast drum beats,
With laughter loud and handshakes long.
Despite Ebola’s touch and times
Of bitter strife, this is a land
Where riches can be found but not
In stones, the people are its diamonds.

Sierra Leone is a special country for me. Despite its many struggles and traumas, it is also a country full of life. The latest Marillion album caught me by surprise with a track about it, bringing back all sorts of memories (listen below).

© Ben Quant 2022

*The affectionate abbreviation often used for Sierra Leone

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 104 – The Bridge

Spanning the Avon, Brunel’s triumphant feat
Stands proud above the watery cleft below
Industrial muscles clenched it takes the strain
Delivering passengers safety across

Stone feet stand firm upon opposing banks
But this world in between belongs to neither
In this suspended realm we stand apart
A liminal existence ruled by none

This dreamy space is transient despite
His mighty toil in sweat and steel to hold
This is the place for wistful lovers’ strolls
Where free, hot air balloons do ride the sun

Studies have occupied my time this week, but promoted by WordPress’ wordpromt ‘bridge’, here’s an ode to one I’ve got to know over the last few years.

© 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 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 78 – Close Encounter

First of all I sense it coming
Growing tension in the air
Building pressure ominous, the
Beast approaches drawing near

Then I hear a snarling note with
Pitch increasing, Doppler lift
Whining of four spinning wheels
Aggressive, through the gears it shifts

Body tensing, past experience
Muscle memory plays its part
Instinctively I know what’s coming
Snapping heels, approaching fast

Swift, it steals manoeuvre room by
Leaping, yapping, at my side
Adrenaline floods through the system
Now its time for flight or fight

Finally it cuts inside, a
Reckless swerve inches away
Pounding heart within my chest, I’m
Left exclaiming, all in vain

News of impending changes brought a cheer in our household. As a cyclist, I have experienced too many occasions where drivers have aggressively overtaken me, passing far too closely and cutting in dangerously, even turning left across my path (please note, I’m not saying all drivers are villains, or cyclists good road users).


© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 73 – Maintenance Illumination

The manual makes it sound so easy,
‘Loosen the clip, unscrew, replace.’
Experience shows it rarely goes,
As smoothly as this might suggest.
Where does the boot release switch hide?
Should the clasp casing hang like this?
How can I get my hand round there?
Which way is it supposed to twist?
In light of this, there’s no surprise,
That when our headlight faded fast,
I did not fix it on my own,
But asked the garage, I’ve learned at last!

I think this one speaks for itself! Car maintenance is never as straightforward as the manuals make it out to be…

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 47 – A Winter Crime

Clear skies allowed a freezing night’s trespass,
A trail of frosty tracks hard evidence.
The dawn’s spotlight reveals its icy prints,
Deep etched forensics cross our car’s windscreen.
So armed with scraper in my gloved numb hand,
I set to gustily restore the scene,
And clear the way to safely drive, whilst not
Breathing, in case the mist offends my view.

Storm Arwen has departed leaving in its wake dropped temperatures, adding a extra step before my wife’s morning commute.


© Ben Quant 2021