Meltdown Man – Daniel Bennett

Meltdown Man

Like the name of some poor bog body
curled up into leather and bone
or a shlocky B-movie monster
that’s what I called him
whenever he boarded the train.
He’d sway to the rails’ curves
popping lager cans like grenades,
his mouth warped into a sickle,
his jaw always primed for a punch.
I invented stories of regret
at every sight of him, poured
whole histories of lucklessness
into his pitiable frame,
so when I saw him around town
it only added to the joke. His face
mooning up over sandwiches
in my favourite cafe, or out
after work, when I would spy him
patrolling the evening streets.
Oh that jaw, those furious eyes!
Perhaps, I should have stopped him
even once, taken him in my arms
holding tightly as he struggled
against the squeeze of healthy reality.
Who knows? I might have saved him,
and through such benevolence
found a way to redeem the world,
but I wasn’t doing so well myself.

 

Daniel Bennett was born in Shropshire and lives and works in London. His poems have been widely published, most recently in The Best New British and Irish Poets 2017 from Eyewear Books. He’s also the author of the novel, All the Dogs.

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Prayer for Italian Restaurants – Daniel Bennett

Prayer for Italian Restaurants

What happens to the ancient bottles
of Chianti and Barbaresco
congealing into stalagmites of wax?
Where shall we congregate
after the blackboards are repainted
and red sauce rusts
on discarded whites?
These portals have greeted us
beyond that regular dream
of an indifferent city. Puttanesca,
pesto, focaccia, let us count
a well-seasoned Bolognese
as a universal welcome home.
Allow us inside the glass counters
lined with cheese and salami,
bedding beside plastic onions
tomatoes and parsley sprigs,
wrapped forever in tablecloths
of red oil cloth. In Soho,
Camden and Holloway, throughout
the subtle lanes of Highbury,
leave us to the easy choices
of our younger days,
when they waited around us,
regular as sonnets on our streets.

 

Daniel Bennett was born in Shropshire and lives and works in London. His poems have been widely published, most recently in The Best New British and Irish Poets 2017 from Eyewear Books. He’s also the author of the novel, All the Dogs.