Trish Bennett

Exams

I’m an exhibit,

pinned,

at the far wall of a draughty gym.

 

The floor’s lined out for balls.

The double doors of escape

lie hours away.

 

With the last person in,

they clap,

and the silent prayers begin.

 


 

Lost it

Fixated on my quest

I chase the elusive fiend,

along beige carpets

and magnolia walls.

Images of destruction

smear across my mind.

When the toddler speeds,

that sausage swings,

before launching missile-like,

to land onto biscuit coloured pile.

My hand in autopilot dives,

lifts Hell’s play doh,

body-warm,

a fumed thing

that moulds to my palm

in semi-solid form.

Disinfectant flows

in a post-traumatic stream

while I wonder,

am I the only parent

to have lost their shit?

Probably not.

 


 

Recycling

 

In the noughties,

the Russians recycled an old spacesuit,

launched Mr Smith,

the suit-satellite.

 

SuitSat Smith

circled the earth for a year or two,

his signal grew weaker and weaker

‘till his battery died.

 

On the day they declared him dead,

you entered my world,

to orbit my life, morning, noon and night,

your batteries charged by boobs and naps.

 

Before your words came,

you cried to be lifted,

gyrated on my hip

to signal what you wanted.

 

As the seasons turn,

your signal grows strong.

My charge doesn’t hold like it once did,

my signal slowly fades.

 

I’m not afraid,

for I know

on the day my suit is declared dead,

another new cycle begins.

 


 

Hot Stuff

 

I was started well with twigs

and a few balls of last weeks’ papers,

then banked with shedded turf,

and lined with dry logs.

It’s great to catch the draw.

The people come, stare into me,

the cats fight to preen and purr and lie

on the black and mustard mat nearby

— the one I’ve signed with sparks.

 

I long to lick that wall around my breast,

and the books in the case by the door,

spread myself out like those fires on tv,

put my stamp on this room in charcoal.

I can’t reach, confined as I am, in my place.

 

I try to keep the room warm,

when a mob comes along,

to hang out in front,

look down on me from their high horse.

I can’t see a thing with the steam.

Well, knickers to them with their socks falling down,

and the cheek of those Levi jeans,

legs swinging all cool — a tease.

His floozy t-shirt friend says, ‘Kiss Me’.

 

The guard’s not on tonight.

I’m always watched

so, I wait ’til the people leave.

When the slack kicks in,

the polyester bra slips off,

falls into my heart.

I roar as it burns — free.

On the way past, I pause,

to kiss Levi’s ass.

 


 

Moving On

 

Canon and Bishop compete

with a cackle of priests,

to dictate high mass

for their pious deceased.

 

The altar boy swings his thurible.

Clouds of incense release

to spaced out family,

flooding front seats.

 

A scrum of nuns sit

a few pews below,

rattling beads

in a mahogany row.

 

A toddler runs wild

when free from her leash.

Her Mother’s on her knees,

praying for peace.

 

Cousins speckle throughout,

shades of black into grey,

depending on what could be got

for the day.

 

Tissues and tears

when the sermon begins.

Priests remember the good,

never the sins.

 

Boiled sweets do the rounds

between musty old coats,

as upstanding men

have the craic telling jokes.

 

Laughs turn to coughs

to sober the mood,

because there at the front

boxed in, between pews,

 

lies their friend,

a man who once laughed too.

In stitches now,

as he awaits the final move.

 


 

Jesus In a Van

 

I met Jesus today,

driving a van that said Joiner by Trade.

He looks the same

— that haunted look,

the hippy hair.

He’s chunkier now,

than he was,

before the work dried up.

His black dog sat beside,

fattened by News

and the fabulous lives of online friends

— Fake-booked.

 

I met Jesus today,

and wondered

will he go outside to the back of his van,

to find a nail gun,

to pin himself to some two by fours,

that he was going to use to make some doors,

to replace those taken by desperate folk,

stripping their home of worth,

before the banks came?

 

I met Jesus today and wondered,

will he crucify himself to get away?

 


Photography credit ©R.Sigel. “The Odessy”, Venice. Used with permission.


 

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