Sunday Poem – slightly delayed – Ben Willems

You may (or may not) have noticed that no Sunday Poem appeared this week. 

I have a very good excuse in that I was swanning around London, reading at the ‘New Poet’s Festival’ organised by Roddy Lumsden and Emily Hasler.  I had a great time, but I didn’t get back to Barrow till midnight, so I physically couldn’t update the blog.

Anyway, this weekend I’m away again at the Poetry Parnassus – I’m going to blog more about this on Thursday night, my one free night this week but for now, here is your slightly delayed Sunday poem by the fabulous Ben Willems. 

I met Ben on the MA at Manchester Met, and when I read at Manky Poets in Chorlton a couple of weeks ago, he read this on the open mic.  I thought it was a fantastic poem  and he reads really well.  He’s been writing for about ten years and is based in Manchester and he describes his poetry as ‘performance-based’.  As you can see from this poem though, it holds its own on the page as well and has a vitality and freshness about it.  Ben should definately be more widely known and published than he is.  He says his poetry  ‘makes a spirited attempt to disobey the rampant consumer society we live in but is often caught out binging on Toblerones and going on about brands of trainers.’

Another reason Ben is great is that he sang Dolly Parton on the kareoke with me after the Manky Poets event and still managed to look cool. 

MAKING UP TIME – Ben Willems

After Galway Kinnell


Here I heard the midnight train speeding towards the west.
Here I came off my bike, attempting a wheelie at the age of 57.
Here I was told to stop drinking on medical grounds.
Here I reread Marcel Proust, three pages in late afternoon
overlooking Stockport.
Here I abandoned Marcel Proust for the second time.
Here I lived off chip barms, not butties or batches.
Here a plain clothes cop pulled up alongside and started asking me my business.
Here I voted Lib Dem – never again.
Here I realised how easy it was to fraud the system,
tell them exactly what they need to know and the rest is yours.
Here I brought up on You Tube John Cage’s 4’33, which Sarah played to me the first time,
and wanted to pass on ‘getting it’ to someone new.
Here I watched the video of “All Coming Back To Me” by Celine Dion
and quite enjoyed it actually!
Here I forgot to tell them exactly what they needed to know
and had to pay back £2,274 over 36 months.
Here the local pub sold Harvey’s Sussex bitter so I started drinking again.
Here I am on the midnight train speeding towards the east, four sets of reflections kaleidoscoping round me, the end of the first life’s lies and thwarted desires,
the germination of the second’s in the blackness beyond the window.

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