Issue 22: Daniel Bennett

Kiss Kiss

Like the director shouting ‘Cut’

and the cast and crew erupt

into applause and coffee orders

only your coffee has grown cold

and there never was a coffee

or even a director. Or the scene

of the climactic explosion

after the timer zeroes out,

and rather than negating you

into a million sticky pieces

the film ends before you gasp.

Like the objective constant

of the establishing shot only

you're not in the theatre

or in the bar, you haven't

dawdled outside for a cigarette

are not reflected in the glass

of the exterior, your shadows

will never lick the bland walls

of the new conference centre,

and never to spend a night

in the three star travel lodge,

or marry, forge copper coins

chase pigeons across motorways.

Or like being a passenger

on a stricken plane, washing up

alone on a desert island

to learn spearfishing, foraging,

the principles of tannery

and shelter building, reserving

one shotgun pellet for the orca

which keeps you penned in the bay.

Roaming pirates offer liberation

and after weeks of high adventure

you appear at your graveside,

to hugs, disbelief, muted horror

at this zombie version of yourself,

struggling with brain functions

and limited vocabulary, the stubborn

and atrophied muscles of the jaw.

The Archive

Rain had split the roof,

the way water will always

revel in its violence,

the accumulated drops

achieving disaster.

We dared each other

beyond the fire door,

trespassing into the heart

of rust and damage.

Graffiti beckoned us

beyond the whip towns

we kept at our backs,

and we were animated

by tropes of horror films,

their angles and wrack.

The concrete glimmered

with knives of water,

the crockery of damage.

Boxes lay split and bowed,

dirt-flecked in their collapse,

their contents offered up

to elements and pigeon shit.

Inside them we learned

of sticky tape applied

as a monastic code, the buff

of files blotted with memos,

incomprehensible marginalia.

Here were the remains

of lives lived through paper.

Copy film toughened up

crisp as carapace, ink

fading to spoiled blood,

a sense of ditched time.

We understood the power

of things left not deleted

and we edged back outside

through white wisteria,

scared to look back, in case

we had left a record of ourselves.


Sunday Evening 

Winter breaks, and a cruel-faced child

I once helped to read navigates

this first dry evening in weeks.

She is done with her interior life,

and no books or board games or even

the bright machinations of TV

will distract her. She is out

to scooter where the vans approach

bringing tools and aluminum

or sandbags to the stricken, she rides

the cambers of this street to the limits

of her sense of vertigo. This space

pulling her along into its inevitability

is the only plot she needs, and like her,

tonight, I am prepared to defend

even these most commonplace sights

against anyone's definition of excellence.

Beyond the flat roof of Delme Court

the sky is salmon and rose, and accurate with it,

a gently scudding cloud diffusing

over its magnificent definition. I keep

a kiss from my daughter with me, while

under the evening sun, river silt

lies exposed and molten. At the centre

of a playing field water glimmers

like corrupting silver, and this feeling

of rightness and balance seems

like it will never be defeated,

not by rain, or transport, or the inevitable

exigencies of work. Not by pure life

which ticks along beyond my ability

to influence it. Not even by the woman, who

later on the train, will look up

from a library copy of ‘Ball Pythons

In Captivity’ to chastise two children

who act out family values with naked dolls.

Daniel Bennett was born in Shropshire and lives and works in London. His poems have appeared in a variety of places, both in print and online, including The Stinging Fly, The Manchester Review, and Caught By The River. His first collection West South North, North South East, will be published this year. He’s also the author of the novel, All The Dogs. You can read more of his work online at:

Copyright © 2019 by Daniel Bennett, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.