Saturday, 16 May 2009

Two Poems by Ben Stainton


“How would you describe Peter Holborn?”
His chin was the size of a watermelon.
“Like a wound that's never scabbed over.”
“Hmm,” I nodded. “Truly heartrending.”

Taunting the vulnerable was a cherished hobby.
“There's no shame in displaying emotion,” young Peter minced.
“No, there's only blame. And a bitter taste.
How would you describe waste?”

“A small beige room filled with silent people.”
“Oh change the record! Love?”
“A flat-iron against my cheek.”
“Have you ever actually owned a flat-iron?”

“Once. She tied a length of rope to her handle and jumped.”
“You're speaking... allegorically?”
“No. From the top of a tall building, obviously.”
(Note to self: Love = Suicide.)

“Very well, Holborn. My conclusion is this:
You have ISSUES. Deep-seated, irreversible ISSUES.
Take a prolonged course of enthusiasm and try to sleep
with no less than 5 human beings per year.”

He slowly turned to me with one red eye:

Ah yes. The bike wheel stuffed with roses.
We infused, like teabags in boiling water.

Day of the Coffeehouse Recital

Once I notice it, the shadow caves in.
I hope I don't cave in.
But then, everyone wants to be noticed.

If you feign confidence, people listen.
“I am the most confident person in the world.”
“Go to sleep” she withers,
warming herself on my talent.

My talent shrivels like a dry lima bean.
I dream contentedly, of waterfalls.
Then the phone rings. Coldly,
I cradle my leather-bound poetry book.


We drink coffee in a coffeehouse
with coffee people discussing coffee.
“There's nothing better
than a great cup of coffee”, we all agree.

The waitress' hair looks like a tuba.
She blames her tuba for everything.
It's probably hereditary, but her mother's
tuba was, perhaps, more subtle.

I wish it would snow. It starts snowing.
A large crow hops, unsentimentally
killing again. I wish I were a crow.


Readings begin at half past ten.
Bags of complimentary pretension
are passed around on trays.

“I’ll scrape the lichen from her thigh...”,
regales the house poet.
Sage nods from the croissant tables.
“But what does it mean?” pipes the dullard.

Everyone else is clapping, falling asleep,
safe in the knowledge they were there.


My turn.
I am the most confident person in the world.
My voice is progressive, electric.
I conclude a masterful sonnet about lima beans.

The room silently throbs.
I wish a pig would fall on my head.

Only the aural confusion of dropped china
and a waiter being publicly fired
rekindles my dignity.

I hand out fliers for my next appearance -
FREE SALT for each attendee!
We buy way too much salt in our house.


Chin on hand, legs crossed uncomfortably
in the traditional poetic stance, I ponder.
“Hey, look at the waitress! Her hair
slightly resembles a tuba!"

Elizabeth digs her heel into my moccasin
and comments on the coffee.
Unspoken hysteria is the worst kind.


In the coffee-coloured restroom,
I rehearse breaking the un-coffee-related news
that my father died last night.

“If only death were an oversight,
on his part”, I quietly begin.


Ben Stainton's poems have appeared in Poetry Salzburg Review, Blackbox Manifold, Great Works and Stride. His first collection, The Jealousies, was published in 2008. More poetry, reviews and mild plagiarism, here.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Good stuff.. enjoyed this!