Weekend Poetry: St John's Plan and Other Poems

 St John’s plan

While this week’s coach rolls down

Black Country lanes to the sea,

St John takes his hour and strolls out

to the bowling green.

 

Here, the two kitchen uproars that sandwich

his days of misplaced spectacles, where to buy

a pac a mac, wanting a late chemist for

Harold’s cream. All his summer’s noise.

Silenced.

 

Here, games are played at a leisurely pace

set by men just ten years ahead of him.

 

And St John feels just right.

 

This peace, this camaraderie – a promise

to be kept. His retirement lived each summer

season in reverie by the dumb waiter.

The quiet between 50 minestrones

and 50 gammon plates.

 

And in snatched kips behind reception,

when his pensioners from Dudley

and Solihull vanish into the fleeting sun,

with their hats, sticks and cardigans,

rolling loved ones in wheelchairs

along the prom.

 

The bay

I passed the kids of boys and girls I went to school with,

in shirt sleeves in December, walking from the bay.

 

In the summer, taking coins at the castle, washing plates,

or in a box in the muzies, changing £10 notes.

 

Some migrate through the tech,

day release and learn a trade.

 

Some get tangled, running beach slides, donkey rides,

serving gins on the ferry here to St Malo,

 

to pass, some day, the kids of boys and girls

they went to school with, walking from the bay.

 

MCMXXXIX

The bomber’s moon

cast a path to

touch the stump

of a lost pier.

A thousand lovers

on August tea dance

afternoons –

the big band’s

swing

still tingling

in the bay.

 

  • Benedict is a journalist and lives in London. His poems have been published in Ambit, Magma, Orbis, Acumen, Other Poetry, Prole, Borderlines, Morning Star and South Bank Poetry. He’s a member of the King’s Poets, and makes poetry films – The Royal Oak was commissioned for Channel 4’s Random Acts. Benedict has recently been awarded three time and space residencies with METAL Southend. For more information, visit benedictnewbery.com

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