Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

Three poems by Daniel Bennett

Photo by Krišjānis Kazaks on Unsplash


    Chris’s Room


When Auden bought his first home-
a farmhouse in Kirchstetten-
he wept tears of happiness
for the days of impermanence
he was able to relinquish,
the simple anticipation of place.
And I have never been far
from the routine of cheap rentals,
jerry-built basements, corners,
floors and sofas, beds borrowed
from friends long gone. That year,
home was a one-roomed studio,
across from the hospital
which said something for my state
of perpetual helplessness
and most nights, lonely and bored
I would cycle across the city,
to visit Chris in his room,
while butchers chopped loins
in mournful night abattoirs
and postal workers sorted
the dead letters of our ambition.
The bare walls of faded magnolia
called across the city, the bleepy
somnolence of night radio.
The dying geranium and a table
of loose carpet tiles. Early mornings
of weird TV. A time comfortably dead.
I will always understand aspiration
by my longing for that room,
how I would have been deprived
of transience by its space,
with that view of the cathedral
and a pub drowning in ivy
from the lowly galley kitchen
in which we never ate a meal.


    The Epicureans


Maybe because they lived
on two-year work visas,
sou-cheffing through Soho
or mixing their Last Words
for city boys in high-rise bars,
comfortable in the starch
of their denim aprons,
as they navigated the balance
of maraschino and bitters,
quoting Saki on green chartreuse.
Or out and adrift in cellars
of Lamb’s Conduit Street,
or the river smeared walls
of London Bridge, where they
trawled for New Zealand Pinot
to remind them of parties
on the volcanic sands of home,
or Californian Zinfandel,
and outsider Cabernets,
and long summers in Oregon
cooled by pacific winds
and by renegade ice cream
of cherry and bone marrow.
In their bare house-shares
on the edges of Dalston,
they brewed excellent coffee
tasting of cocoa and lemon
and spent their evenings,
fuelled by Fleurie and quail
blowing the gas bill on Petrus,
Gewurtztraminer, Armagnac,
coasting on their knowledge
of viticulture, like the ancestors
who brought the old world
in fragile Syrah vines,
the way their grandchildren
made the return journey,
hauling along civilisation
in the bottom of a rucksack.


    G in London


He prefers the scrappy areas of the north,
the stretch beyond Camden Town tube,
Blackstock Road, Kentish Town, these high streets
which are nibbled at by decay. Free-sheets

are there to be filleted. Each day presents
new opportunities for a quest. Charity shops,
the perfect greasy spoon. A leather maker crossed him
with inflated prices. A Ukrainian beauty sold him

the perfect Panama. A brass duck, a book of quizzes
are the latest trophies. He finds that passers-by
approach him unbidden, drawn by the white beard
the stiffened gait. He will tell them of the vagaries

of fortune. I’ve had a full life by any kind of measure.
The first man in Russia, witness to a beheading
in Chop-Chop square, the late, dry years
kicking around the desert of Bahrain,

hungry for the buck he always chased. A case
holding a million dollars, the tale of Acker Bilk’s toupee.
These fables of grandeur and invention
prove that memory is only a sliver from imagination,

about the width of fate. He walks with his hands clasped
behind his back. His wrists are strong, still
but his voice will tremble when he mentions
his late discovered fragility, a wound not healed.