The shorthand test.

Dark energy requires that the speed at which the universe expands is not a constant


The female human foetus
is born carrying three million eggs
says the leaflet I find it hard to read
as we wait on the soft lip of a blue sofa
for your twelve-week scan.
And why not? Suns spawn planetary cells.
Futures pack into each other like Russian dolls.

The ultrasound suite smells of lemon drops and thyme.
A bright afternoon peaks under lowered blinds
like an over-excited relative relegated to the car park.
Egg production ends at birth
and by puberty half of them have died.
As if it were ketchup or a scream
the sonographer smacks gel out of a bottle.
From the corridor a surprise of male voices
and jangling of keys. As the screen comes to life
the ice-cold pulse of fear
that where we expect to find you will be dark space,
a star supposed before the advent of light. 




A couple kissing 


on the corner of Woburn Place and Russell Square
meet with such force
that each kiss 
                       cuts a piece of them away

a lobe
           his blue eye
her hand

still stroking as it slaps
onto the pavement between Café Nero
and the red post box

                                 a knee rolls out
from his trouser leg like a
                                                                  hubcap

with her remaining fingers
she soothes a single hair from his collapsing face
 
the crowd of pedestrians at the traffic lights
don’t seem to notice as they topple
                                                 on
                                              to
                                                  their 
          own parts

but the pigeons do. 




The shorthand test



at the stroke of one
I want you to burn your writing wrists
against my spoken word
evaporate the vowels
crush consonants to the raw pigment of idea
shrink your favourite film to a single line
your childhood to the fizzing smell of grass
a continent the pinch of spice
or the way a fly moves up a baby’s face
the incomprehensible to God
ourselves this exercise

Ben Verinder

Ben Verinder lives in rural Hertfordshire. His work has featured in Brittle Star, South, Obsessed with Pipework, Lighthouse, Ink Sweat and Tears, among others and he was recently shortlisted for the international Plough Prize (short poem). He runs a reputation research agency and is the biographer of the adventurer and writer Mary Burkett.

About the contributor

Ben Verinder lives in rural Hertfordshire. His work has featured in Brittle Star, South, Obsessed with Pipework, Lighthouse, Ink Sweat and Tears, among others and he was recently shortlisted for the international Plough Prize (short poem). He runs a reputation research agency and is the biographer of the adventurer and writer Mary Burkett.

Related Articles

Isis at the Christmas Do. Poem by Francis O’Hare

Isis at the Christmas Do The usual forced festive yuletide scene of Staff Welfare day. Beauty and Health are both on the menu. A...

Poetry- Mark Tarren

In Memoriam Here lies his naked body, like a baroque Christ. Long pale arms at his side, it is not Shakespeare’s Adonis. Nor is it the carved strength of Achilles that...

Clara Burghelea’s featured poet, Elliott Freeman

Elliott Freeman is a poet, educator, and game designer living in the mountainous hinterlands of Southwest Virginia.

More Like This

Poetry from David Bankson

  Chartreuse I regret, like coiled flowers I burst when loosed, but the loosing is part of who I am. I could never stop that sort of liquid: a river...

Les Dernières Heures: The Last Hours – Anne Pia

Les Dernières Heures: The Last Hours Nails in your head  at the hammering that went on for days, as if you didn’t...

Poetry- Bob Beagrie

Chiromancy ‘The great Sage as high as Heaven visited here.’ Wu Cheng'en – Journey to the West, 1592 High staggered moorland crossroads too few trees, the big wide...

Caron Freeborn- New Poetry

Caron Freeborn 1966 - 2020 Arrhythmia When I was a little girl I worried about infinity –there’s a galaxy beyond this one and then beyond that...

Hurly-Burly – Kathleen Holliday

A haunting poem recalling the shared delight of childhood by Kathleen Holliday