Our featured publication for August is We Are All Lucky by Ben Banyard, published by Indigo Dreams Publishing.
We Are All Lucky is an uplifting collection which carefully examines the joys and sorrows of modern life, from the cradle to the grave and everything in between.
‘What strikes me most about Banyard’s poems is his affection for humanity, grounded by his wry humour. His imagination allows him to empathise with people he encounters. He has the gift of finding pleasure in the everyday, in all its seediness and tawdry beauty. He has the true poet’s gift of noticing details others miss.’ Angela Topping
‘Ben Banyard writes accessible poems about the real world, with its triumphs and disasters, tragedies and comedies. I like them for their humanity and warmth, for their sense of humour, and for the way Banyard often pins down just the right details to bring a piece vividly to life. This is an enjoyable collection.’ Geoff Hattersley
‘There is an impressive range here and, whether writing about childhood memories, being a father, cataracts, spit hoods or Birmingham, this poet displays a sureness of touch and an ability to precisely capture a vanished world or the exact tone of a voice. Ben Banyard is a poet with a sharp-eyed yet affectionate view of the world. I very much enjoyed this confident and varied collection.’ Carole Bromley
It started with tea bags left in the sink
which bobbed and swirled as the kettle filled.
They were eaten inside out with blue blooms.
Sometimes I would find the fruit bowl layered
with apples, pears, oranges, all on the turn,
sitting on top of a guilty banana’s mush.
There were loaves of bread kept unopened,
mouldy slices sweating inside the bag.
Feed it to the ducks, you said.
I wasn’t sure whether the fridge gave up in protest
or you broke it to advance your efforts.
You admired the chunks of milk.
The cat was the final straw.
You tried to explain once, as we walked
along the beach, but most of it was lost
in the roar of the wind. I heard:
Donʹt forget the ones who flinch
as you wave printouts of your scan at work.
They wouldnʹt want you to feel guilty
for broadcasting what seems as simple as A to B.
You can post snaps of family holidays on Facebook;
they donʹt mind, really, but wonʹt look too closely.
Sometimes they have photos of
freshly painted spare rooms,
smiles cradling their bumps,
might tend a small grave.
We mustnʹt moan too loudly about parenthood
when they long for allergies and tantrums.
They reconcile reasons to be cheerful,
stay away from catchment areas.
A deep and blameless longing
past greed or jealousy
to a place they know but canʹt reach.
This is a production line, in a good way;
every half‐hour a patient is prepared.
This is your new lens;
These eye drops have got an anaesthetic in them;
just a little swab of iodine… there, all done.
A Character in jazzy braces
broadcasts his life story in Bristolian burr:
I been a widower sixteen year now, mind;
it were the breast cancer what took her.
He puts on a papery blue theatre cap,
a rustling robe: welcome distractions.
Don’t I look bonny in this get‐up!
One by one they creep out on a nurse’s arm.
We look at our watches, sip at teacups,
remember we have a Bourbon left,
go to work on 17 across.
At least that rain’s held off, touch wood.
We’re surprised when they come back after 15 minutes.
Some look like they suspect a practical joke,
most stare around with wide open pupils.
Something catches in our throats each time
we see that part of them is reborn:
they’re so touched by this everyday miracle
they can barely concentrate on the nurse’s advice:
take one eye drop every four hours;
don’t bend over or go down on all fours;
total loss of vision definitely isn’t normal;
ring the helpline if anything worries you.
Cheery bell on the paint‐blistered door,
I find myself in a dark space made of ages:
chipped Charles and Diana mugs
bowl of tarnished medals
Welsh dresser crammed with
trinkets from Dawlish, Cromer, Tenby.
I want the framed sepia photographs
of a long‐forgotten family.
There are no price tags.
The owner’s propped behind the counter,
blowing into his cup‐a‐soup.
Tells me heʹs been here forty years.
Where did it all come from?
This was once a going concern
now itʹs a rock pool
restocked by the cityʹs tide.
He leaves the door open
for an hour each morning,
greets these damaged memories
with hands behind his back
as they tumble into his shop.
Ben Banyard lives in Portishead, near Bristol, with his wife and two young children. His
work has appeared in many journals, both in print and online, including Prole, Under the Radar, The Interpreter’s House, Atrium, And Other Poems and Proletarian Poetry. His debut pamphlet, Communing, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2016. Ben was formerly the editor of the popular online journal Clear Poetry, which he closed at the end of 2017 to devote more time to his writing.
Facebook page: https://facebook.com/benbanyardpoet
We Are All Lucky is available to buy from the Indigo Dreams website, here. Signed copies are available directly from the author, here.