The Poetry Kit

 

Competitions

Courses

Events

Funding

How-to Books

Magazines

Organisations

Poets

Publishers

Who's Who

Workshops

Home

Search

 

 

Jim Bennett

from 56; a life in pieces - download the full text here  56; A LIFE IN PIECES  (2008)

 

 

 

 

 

Growing up

___________________________________________

 

1      1952     The fall of Empire

2      1953     The Broken Vase       

3      1954     Enforced emigration

4      1955     Skylon

5      1956     Mothers Union

6      1957     Aunty May

7      1958     The lion in Chester Zoo

8      1959     Secret signs

9      1960     Watching

10    1961     The funeral

11    1962     Cuban Misile Crisis

12    1963     The bomb crater

13    1964     The sound of splashing water

 

 

1

 

autumn

arthritic branches

reach down

into the river

 

fish refract

lying safe in the

quiet shallows

 

out in the white water

is the flotsam

of Empire

 

the Union Flag

driven by the wind

churns into rags

 

 

2

 

in a gray world

an abandond

broken vase

is mended

 

afterwards

it will not hold water

but it is kept

and loved

 

in this way

it has a purpose

and brings colour

into the world.

 

 

 

3

 

 

the servents

rose up

came at night

took the children

and sent them

packed with lies

to Australia

 

“Your parents are dead”

“They don’t want you

any more”

“it’s a great life”

 

the children

thought it was

a bus ride away

a trip on the ferry

but it wasn’t

 

pinned with paper labels

a cardboard

suitcase

carried their hopes

to a continent

a world away

 

 

4

 

anchored to the table top

the red metal sheet

twisted into a cylinder

held together by nuts

and bolts

 

the Mechano skylon

from a distance

looked something like

the real thing

 

after a while

it was taken apart

the bits used

in other things

the sheet

that was bent

out of shape

is disguarded

 

the Mechano skylon

becomes a memory

just like the real thing

 

 

5

 

the Mothers Union

picknicks

and nitpicks

black hills

golden fields

and questions

“Is he your son?”

“is this the one you adopted?.”

but she

clung to her membership

like a badge

and often whispered

“you are so special

because we picked you.”

 

so they went

mother and son on

sandcastle afternoons

train trips to New Brighton

in summers that went

on and on and on

 

 

6

 

a forgotten aunt

turned up one day

pushing a handcart

with all her possessions

 

for nights she sat crying

talking in an adult

whispered voice

sleeping in her sisters bed

 

then she stopped crying

started laughing

and smiling

populating the house

with holy pictures

and statues

of grim faced saints

 

dark shadows that

stood guard over her

at night

 

after she died they were

given to a church

a few days later

they were seen in a skip

in the church car park

 

 

7

 

in Chester Zoo

the lion paces

round its enclosure

wearing a path

through the grass

close to the fence

 

its eyes hunt

across a thousand miles

its heart races in the chase

its fur feels the fire

of the sun

as its feet wears a path

through the grass

as it turns

round and round

close to the fence

 

people watch

subdued greatness

captive in a cage

they walk off

their feet following

a path close to

a fence

 

 

8

 

the curl of cloud

like whisp of smoke

from a far off bonfire

 

secret signs

around each corner

 

the world

that everyone

seems to understand

as they talk in code

 

mysterious

complex

terrifying

it is misunderstood

when so many

parts are missing

 

writing now starts

to push open a door

as the words seek to

make sense of it

 

9

 

birds flock

over the sycamores

swoop and drill

through clouds of

insects

 

high in the branches

in a world of

their own

other dirds nest

and call

 

watched by

a football team reject

left standing on the

sideline

to daydream

 

10

 

in the green vase

yellow and white

silk flower heads droop

cast a shadow

across the dining table

 

the dust shows in the light

obvious when you know

hanging like forgoten words

as bright as anger

 

parachuting onto the

polished oak

dulling it coating it

in dead skin

 

the undertaker arrives

shoes polished

you can see your face

in the toecap

handkerchief folded

into tiny red mountain peaks

protrudes from his breast pocket

the long black coat

sweeps down the hall

leaving the air behind him

smelling like

a flower shop

 

 

11

 

encircled world

choked and breathless

as if the next breath

or heart beat

will not come

 

this is it

the final act of foolishness

the warmongers

knock their arrows into place

fingers twiching

eyes locked

waiting for someone

to blink

 

the rest waiting to be

boiled burned or fried alive

the best advice

whitewash the windows

to reflect the flash

and sit under a stout table

to stop being crushed

when the roof falls in

 

 12  

 

long wings stretch

grasp the air

risiing

 

but here

the slap of tyre on tarmac

the smell of chips

shouts and bellows

 

broken bottles

wall splattered

blood and graffiti

 

children

play football

in a crater

 

around them

gulls clamour

looking for the thermal

 

 

13

 

Why not? Why not follow?

down to the valley

beside the deep still water

 

strip swim drinking in the coolness

the noise of children

the sounds of splashing water

why not follow?

why not?

 

"It's not for you."

a voice says

sit listen gather up

the sounds

and later write about

the furious pleasure

of youth

 

 


Back

 

Next