Monday, 19 September 2011

Poems from Sam Bentley-Toon

We met Sam as he was traveling in the Himalayas, and left him sleeping in a cave on a bed of bracken with just goats for company (we'd taken only tent). The goats would unfortunately attempt to eat the bracken when he wasn't looking. These vivid poems are from a selection written during his time in India and Australia. Enjoy!

1. Power-cut at dusk

Headlights falter
as cars
slalom daintily
down the black
board of the mountain.

Fireflies bridge the valley’s gap
trailing ticker tapes
of greenish stars.

With a gasp
power comes back.

The hills abruptly stage
the nested lights
of tiny settlements
and darkness is repealed
like a new struck seam
of diamonds or
like opening your eyes
to find the same darkness
awash with stars.

2. Dog

On a high mountain road
we hit a dog.
It flew beneath the wheel
like a pale bird.

It made two thuds like a
Pothole and was dead.

I looked back and saw another dog
standing in the wake of the event,
its lips pursed like a wolf
in a howl of grief.

The driver glanced at
the rear view mirror.
We continued alongside
the clear cool river.

3. Goat

Two of the drums
are the pure pulse
of the goat’s temples.

The third is the dirty mind
of the man with a knife.

Goat-skinned, hormonal,
the drums stack-up
their beats into the open
heart of the sky.

Building, building, bloody and reeling.
The goat screams from the root
of its held legs
and lengthens its stainless neck.

The scorpion-arch of the man’s arm falls
As the drum sticks kick back.
Three blows

and the head is cleanly separated from the animal.
The corpse bucks and bleeds a puddle.

A man smiles a human smile.
Crimson and opaque
it glints between the cobbles.

Lastly, in silence,
a dog bows its head and laps up the spillage,
gratefully and completely.

Sam Bentley-Toon

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