Author Archives: Benjamin Norris

About Benjamin Norris

Published writer of short stories, long stories, poems. Well received art critic and cultural commentator for Berlin magazines. Collaborator with operatic societies. Co-writer of fictional historic psycholinguistic journals. Lecturer of architecture and art history at a Budapest University.

Galvanise

A lover’s shape carved in your bed,

the silence after songs.

We only know what to hold on to

after they have gone.


For Her (Dowson Day Poem)

At times like this, my mind aches back

The burst-banked evenings of that year;

Where long and brittle shadows

Divided silence, split the skies –

I watch, crossed here, the days flow past

And marvelled at the pace

.

Of how we met, quite by chance

And negotiated trickery.

The old language of those hearts

Somehow survived the journey –

Fibre-optically, tossed down lines,

And shot from screen to screen

.

As was the habit of the time,

We spurted lines from fingertips

And pulled ourselves in poses.

As in vain I stammered from afar

And found myself, in real lives

Self-aware on strange train lines.

.

That time, as distant as your old home,

Bright eyes, red lips, a bed, that drink –

Things changed, somehow.

We glanced downcast and tried to think

Of how to talk to those we knew

And deliver us from news.

.

Yet somehow here, in retrospect

It barely changed, the day’s the same.

Back then, my daughter’s eyes were inconceivable.

Back then, someone else lived in our home.

You stop the boat and turn to me

“All too soon we may well tread

The bitter pastures of the dead –

Let’s do it all,

Let’s do it all again.”


The Things

It could be almost anything; the crackling layers of pastry

greasing up your paper bags, the smell of that air before the rains

which drenched those early, angry kisses.

A way of reading Freud, the endless, hanging scent of dye,

the tapestry maybe worth a fortune

hammered to the white backside

of your kitchen wall.

 

It could just as well be footsteps mutely humming

on some concrete stairs outside, the fizz of tramlines,

Miles Davis, the sound of distant dogs, that child;

I’ll spend my remaining days out hunting

for ways to take me back, and

for ways to leave again.


Bristol Festival of Nature

I have been invited to read some poems from the collection I am working on at the Bristol Festival of Nature 2014, 14th and 15th of June.Image


Kids II

Parenthood was the night terror

that spoiled those times I didn’t come home.

A prospective grimy window, left unshattered,

between myself and many others. More than

 

once I held that vigil – forty days and awful nights

willing a drop of blood to flow, as if

I’d thrust myself into a dull lunar ritual

pre-dating even the oldest stains

 

on this bed we watch unseen hands and

malformed feet, we dream up names

nicked from old books. An exhalation, a fragile limb

writhes daily, there, beneath your skin.


ZYMBOL

ImageI’m again honoured and delighted to have my poetry featured in Zymbol III – the third publication from those Salem Surrealists across the pond. They allowed me to grace their second issue with The Hothouse Remains, and invited me back for more with Waves and Schooling – surely a sign of dangerous living.

Seriously though, go and check out their anthologies. All three are utterly superb. http://www.zymbol.org


Schooling

Schooling 2014 Benjamin Norris read for Zymbol Magazine

Thinking back, I couldn’t see

how God shaped England – he was

just a character on a screen somewhere,

barely even watched by me.

Something foreign,

for the birds,

certainly too far away.

.

Those days, I paced

in smaller shoes, kicking up hours,

kicking off at school –

.

hesitantly praying some early developer

would be nudged my way

by unseen hands, slipping beneath

lock-tight waistbands that guarded the gap

between what I knew, and that

which I mapped out nightly, kneeling.

.

Much later I developed feelings,

and as my hands were not yet ruined

I wrote with pen and ink –

yet, no deity delivered

though somehow I still sought

a tossed-off thought I’d had at seven

.

Perfection awaits,

all jelly-smudged lenses, belief in heaven

brought via rings and playground glances

that somehow develop into

a slow-panning glossed eternity.

.

We bury disappointment beneath abandonment of faith –

after all, we grow out of countries

and shoes

painfully fast.


Kids

Your genes; an unseen set

of countless mannerisms, the friends

you’ll choose, the bow of your

mother’s lips, all you’ll become –

.

an accumulated ocean of poses

with which to hold yourself in sleep –

seasickness, a way with words,

reactions to a thief

.

who may or may not come

on the night you can’t drift off because

of the same sad dreams your father had –

.

all tightly wrapped in tiny fists

and held before the day your mouth will move,

and our music will pour forth and plenty.


Coasting

When we’re together, I’m trailing in the surf,

my eyes picking away where the waves pull in

and out, following the hollows left by your feet –

 

always a minute or two behind, trying to find

something half-buried and dragged in to my toes,

a memory to wash off, pocket, and bring back home.

 

Perhaps I call, my voice fighting with the wind,

but you’re eager for the dunes, you’ve seen something

disappearing up ahead. Away you go, inland, inland.


Waves II

In much the same way the sea can touch

both sides of the Pacific’s edge at once, whilst

coughing up great huffs of cloud that soak

down on English towns, and wheel around

some distant Himalaya –

 

Or just like how it batters coasts and carves

continents new shapes, whilst leaving salts

on my chilled-stiff flesh, as we hobble

over sand which is not sand but sludge, and

yet still gallop back and back for more –

 

Our time is better spent not seeing

ourselves as fragments, floating on other shores.


Waves

Every seven seconds, we collide on the sand

we gathered when we drifted here – all old cups and papers,

residue, coasters, things to help quit smoking,

a marriage contract pulling back and forth,

ourselves from ourselves.

We lie, buffeted

by the flotsam of our years.

.

Outside, spring passes,

and we find with some amazement

that the moon still has a pull. The bath tub’s caked

and gummed with days. The window’s started splitting,

letting in more rain.

Somewhere, great tails

dash the seas, and we barely face each other.


In progress, for progress

I’m working on a website. 

It has been a good year for me, in regards to my poetry. I feel as though my work has continued to improve, and the number of acceptances I’ve received from publications has helped my confidence and willingness to continue.

In light of this, I’ve been trying to put together a simple website to act as something of a portfolio. It can be found here, for now: http://bnorris12345.wix.com/benjaminnorrispoetry although this obviously isn’t the finished site.

Yours, Benjamin.


In Protest: 150 Poems for Human Rights

Image

I’m delighted and honoured to be included in this important and ambitious project, organised by the Human Rights Commission and including work by leading poets from around the world.

The collection is available to purchase at http://www.amazon.co.uk/In-Protest-Poems-Human-Rights/dp/0957521030/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382433376&sr=8-1&keywords=in+protest+150+poems


The Hothouse Remains

Written for Zymbol Magazine, read by Benjamin Norris (and Anthoine).

First video.

 

1.

The heat in here stays constant, netted

kept unmoving, billowed down.

Down all, all the leaves to

lethargic rubbered limbs – I can only

ascertain who comes or goes by read-

-ing the peaks in this dim but varied

show of slanting white-wet lights

2.

wrought iron corridors
this swelling, lead crystal-
-ised sweat rises and
congregates in old fields

obese lungs, panting.
A stamen paralyzes the

hacking of mists. Some-
where, damp leaves
a shattering.

3.

We grow inside houses.

It may be easier
to find us – look inside
there’s a space where you can see
a battle with the urge
to simply orbit one another
swinging around a larger mass
we haven’t found a word for
yet. The days drop off,
we spend one moment
seeking ways to wound,
the next lost in grasses with
blades splitting skies, and these
useless links are what birth us
to ensure we never really move

4.

You spoke of long-gloved hands: you claim to not
see where the climbers stretch to, only spaces:
the leaves are powder. Distance swells, unorganic

a beating through the lead-lined frames: afterthoughts
assume your shape: you remember that before we burst
husks, there was a minute when we were not

5.

What happened here?
the window lining pulled away – just
an inch, a curve allowing
different airs

to penetrate
the sticky mass, the bulb
heaving with humidity

so all clamour to the splitting
shock grows out from the glass –
the vapour’s fit for breathing

the vapour’s fit for breathing
though fast closed up again:

enthusiasm soon resembles
panic: grassy hysteria gums
and tramples underfoot while

spring passes by outside
as we knew it would.


For the year

Springs

 

Here returns a sky of broken clay pots clamouring
for my attention amid the memories of snow.
Our prayers for a crack in the clouds above answer
me in realisations that all of these are moving south,
and soon you will see them too. A new bird breaks my sight.

 

Summers

 

A pause chased my lip: it seems you
weigh your heat with consequence when
all has bloomed, and starts to dry:

you said something else too: you chose
to remove the sunlight on your tongue, that thing
which formed a family, you pulled us close:

still life streams and we become you:
an image, too: there were once days like this –
our mouths moved and music came:

 

Autumns

 

these feet, bridging

something gone and something not so –

all roots return. The trees do their trick,

pretending to die.

Days to come, unseen,
we get on our knees and curl

before the mists descend
with all their clatter.

 

Winters

 

January slid through her fingers, weeks ago. Soon there was

nothing left of it – they said „it is happen-

-ing to me too” they said „don’t even panic” but

for one; the days are not lengthening, not

springing up sooner. For her; quite

the opposite occurs.