Issue 5: Ben Wilkinson


December – the sun so low and effortful

as to make morning feel as it

does to knackered, school-bound teenagers;

ice chipped from car windscreens.

The post dropping onto mats while moggies

scrap near shrubs and bushes,

breath like the wheeze of a just-boiled kettle.

Something about this is almost cinematic:

the way a chandelier of icicles

is twisted beneath a single hanging basket,

how the white van across

the road ticks over, though no one’s inside it.

Next door, the phone is ringing

as the paperboy slings his bulk of deliveries.

From office blocks to the M1’s trailing pile-ups

a million-and-one things are getting

done as each day gets up, works and nods off

in front of Newsnight or some novel.

This once, I think of the way I watched light

complicate the nearby brook,

winding out, as it does, through parks and woods

to a dust trail stalked by stags and wilderness.

Sat in a field that loomed beyond

Greystones I swear I felt the closest to alone,

witness to the sort of silence

that clears the mind as sheets of snow on grass;

a brief world of glass that came

apart at the mobile’s ringtone, a jet’s sudden thundering.


Buried in the four-storeys

of market-playing geniuses

or more often than not

in the mansions of the famous,

the panic room sits tight

till shadows grace the cameras.

Then its door’s swung shut,

with no way in and the fear

of climbing out; the heist

televised on its grainy monitor

as the landline clicks dead

and the lights begin to flicker.

Ben Wilkinson’s poems have appeared in publications including Poetry Review, Poetry London, The Spectator, The Manhattan Review (USA) and the TLS. He works as a bookseller, reviewer, and as an editor for the Poetry Archive. His pamphlet of poems, The Sparks (tall lighthouse, 2008) was long-listed for the 2009 Eric Gregory Award.