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 165 – At the Edge

The nip of winter tarries
But spring has tentatively
Emerged to test the waters
One toe at first, before
It casts aside its towel
And joyously commits to
An eruption of colour and life
One glorious bellyflop!

The days are beginning to stretch. Bulbs are putting out their feelers. The car didn’t need scraping this morning…

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Oliver Sjöström on Unsplash

Poem 164 – Flights of Fantasy

With flick of fanned out tail, the Kite flies deftly,
    With dancer’s grace, descends through applauding sky,
    Performs a pirouette, majestic dive,
Then swoops and thus commits audacious theft.
Through avian guile she artfully steals my breath
    And gripping firm, takes flight, and rises high.
    Leaving my standing ovation behind, she flies
Into the distance, fading. I’m bereft.
Sometimes I wish that I possessed her freedom.
    Perhaps I do! I have no wings but in
Their place imagination’s feathers thrust
    Me upwards seeking visions of what could be.
Their range is more than hers has ever been,
    Could dreaming meet this reaching wanderlust?

Red kites have recently established themselves in our neighbourhood. One regularly frequents the air above our garden. Watching it’s effortless flight inspired this sonnet, although it’s taken most of the week to knock it into some sort of shape.

© Ben Quant 2023
Image: Tim Felce (Airwolfhound), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Poem 163 – Morning Migration

Somewhere a switch is flicked, a catch released.
Eager luminescent salmon shoot
nocturnal traps, migrate the lofty spray,
a duvet stretched, inviting pillow plump.
Chasing behind, our newborn day.

A glorious pink sunrise picked out the teased out clouds this morning. Could have captured it with my phone, instead used words.

© Ben Quant 2023

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 161 – After the Rain


A Sunday afternoon stroll around the New River, Top Field and Baas Hill Common. Although the sky was blue and the sun was out, the waterlogged paths definitely required boots.

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Robert Zunikoff on Unsplash: https://unsplash.com/photos/ko7Tp_LyAt4

Poem 160 – Four Faced

A pool of many personalities.
    Its winter water takes a earthy shade
    Of darkened substance, solid, birds can wade
Upon its surface, under weary trees.
Last month it shivered, sharp, began to freeze
    And whilst the shrieking scarf-wrapped children played,
    Across it’s face an ice-white mask was laid,
Its morgue-like stillness made us ill at ease.
But soon the hope of life will bud and spring,
    The water turn, aping the light’ning skies,
And nests constructed, frisky foul will play.
    Look, summer migrants come on tired wings!
Descend, this paradise their temporary prize,
    For now, its Janus face, a place to stay.
Today, as is often our practice, we went for a stroll around Lea Valley’s lakes. These water filled pits are constantly fluid, their faces changing with the season. Today they were dark and moody, matching their muddy banks. Another sonnet.

© Ben Quant 2023

Poem 159 – A Sonnet for Jeff Beck

The news of Jeff Beck’s passing was a shock.
    Disciple, six string warrior, he played
    Uniquely. He was peerless to this day.
We cry. The king is dead, the king of rock.
It’s true, perhaps, that thousands did not flock
    To catch him on the stage, perform the way
    He could, making it speak and wail and spray
The air with song-like notes; an ease that mocked.
Despite this, his guitar will always stand
    Unique, unmatched by those within his wake,
Pale copies of this effortless control.
    Unrivalled, fusing different sonic lands,
So few attain the sounds that he could make
    That reach inside and pluck our very souls.

Last night I was stopped by the news of Jeff Beck’s death. Another guitar hero of mine gone, joining the likes of Garry Moore and George Harrison. Very much a guitarist’s guitarist, uniquely blending jazz, soul and rock, along with inventive tremolo and bending techniques he was one of a kind. Continuing to grapple with rhyme, I fancied trying a petrarchan sonnet today. He seemed a fitting object.

© Ben Quant 2023

Photo by Mandy Hall – originally posted to Flickr as Jeff Beck, CC BY 2.0

Poem 158 – Le Vélo Villanelle

I pedal steadily, wheels go round and round
The mercury rises, up and up it goes
And booming in my head, my heart pounds loud

My eyes are vacant, focussed on the ground
I find my rhythm, legs begin to flow
I pedal steadily, wheels go round and round

Though station’ry, the passing miles confound
Monotony grasps and drags, the grinding grows
And booming in my head, my heart pounds loud

The tension hangs, a dark’ning electric cloud
My will is draining, boredom bites alone
I pedal steadily, wheels go round and round

Obsessing over every wayward sound
Mechanical stutters grating down below
And booming in my head, my heart pounds loud

No winner in this race, no victor crowned
All energy gone, I’m spent, yet no one knows
I pedal steadily, wheels go round and round
And booming in my head, my heart pounds loud

I’ve recently started training for the London-Essex 100, a 100 mile bike ride, to raise funds for Parkinson’s UK (you can sponsor me here), but the weather’s grim right now, and so I’ve been using an indoor turbo trainer. It’s really not the same… I finished this villanelle (no, not the assassin in Killing Eve) last night as another stab at rhyming in a formal form, but didn’t get around to uploading it. I’m pretty pleased with it.

© Ben Quant 2023

Poem 157 – Was George Lying?

I wake to find the sun still hid away,
    And wonder where. Begin to search it out.
It’s simultaneously both night and day.
    Question: how are the laws of physics flouted?
    It surely must be somewhere hereabouts!
This darkness grips me, makes me feel entombed,
And isolated, life sucked from the room.

My shrill alarm sounds like a countdown’s end,
    Is this some childish game of hide and seek?
This daily madness drives me round the bend,
    ‘I’m coming!’ I cry, as if I now compete,
    And bleary eyed I stumble, weary feet,
Into the bathroom where I pull the light.
Insipid! This won’t set the night to flight…

Still adrift I sit behind the wheel.
    Ignition turned then mirrors checked and drive,
Into the line of mo(u)rning cars that feel
    Deadened, numb, yes anything but alive,
    Striving to find some way we might survive.
Grumbling that our work is never done, we
Feel the lie that’s sung, ‘here comes the sun’.

I’ve been dipping into Stephen Fry’s ‘The Ode Less Travelled‘ again, a great introduction to the nature of poetry, particularly metre, form and rhyme. Rhyme is something I have generally avoided, in my hands it becomes something twee and distracting, but he’s persuaded me to give it another go. Here’s an offering in rhyme royal form. It was dark this morning when my wife went to work…

© Ben Quant 2023