Author Archives: benhenleysmith

Xmas present

Present is the layer
Above the ache that settled 
Without my permission  
With my knowledge 

I let it be  
Like a thorn in my hair it bedded 
A rot that 

This moment 
Light and crisp and open - time 
Green and wide 

It’s not like the thoughts stop 
They come say hello  
Off again 
Don’t stick 

A self is here 
The witness to it all 
Just not batted

Inserts into 
The act of 

My Imagination plays 

The river 
Runs clear water
I see 


could be 
make no difference

A mind is plastic 
I feel 
the top of it 
against my hairline 

Soft bits  
blood, love, out 
downwards into 
my frame full of it

Like some 
rude mix of 
fright and 

Not really doing much just
lying here 

Taking a breath 
see the dark 

Out of my 

out of my skull 
the night  

Missing green spikes

Purple pops from steel 
Colours of train and rain 
Bounce blue like my swollen 
Frostbitten sausage toes 

No tree this year 
It’s all I can think about 
As the numbness travels up the carriage 
Into my leg and consciousness 

Are we too late? Being slow?
Feels like I’ve left something 
Not sure whether to go home 
For the keys 

We used to play this game 
Finding the big tree 
So big  
The boot would hang open 

I’d watch the road underneath 
The hazy white lines
Green spikes 
In my pockets and shoes

I could fit a big tree 
In this train 
Then I’d see the tracks
Going by 


In this basin 

On this ledge 

When it clears 

It could be days 
Before weather breaks 
Open space

Before the wings 
That provoke me 
Do lift

In this basin 

On this ledge 

When it clears

White puffs

It was not until I saw
In my reflection something hard, blunt
I had not noticed, but had known 
Down in parts of me 
Buried but felt 
As my own tide turned 

It was not the water’s edge 
But clouds, those soft 
Open hearts, playing, dancing 
In space, with time, that I knew 
Parts of me had come to their 
It was no stretch to suspect
That I too 
Would age as those 
I watched and wished 
With youth 
I would not be 

Yet what is to really know
Other than the passing of 
Days and their heavy 
Weight on those parts of us 
That wish to fly in the 
White puffs up there 


A bellow comes from the distance.
I can’t make it out, a slow beat 
no end, humming, now drowning out
the cackle of crows I walk with
singing for a dinner by death.
The birds of blood hold their hover 
running rings around rings, something  
has pinned the sun still, to a point 
hanging from a spot it can’t break. 
Our boots find wet woodland that
by day is joy, by night that grows
to be void of love or any other shade 
than mud, no escape was, is, here.
But a man alone throws bread to
a corner of the river where a swan 
white as fire, guides for a feast  
and fill away from the cracks that;
echo between the plump bushes, 
from snaps that whip from hills, holly 
silenced like a child’s call for food
falling unanswered … as the moon 
hoists up to begin the coming night

Straight orange

December and you are still, quiet 
You have been and will be, here 
My feet tread on your open, toes 
All brown half covered by hard, slabs
Cut into squares that hold, without 
Intention but because of, weight 
Your spine firm to this single, place 

The standing will make you go, shoot
Orange sticks into the clear, air 
Above our homes to frequent, space 
The street knows has not been, kept
For you must not delay, instead
Rise past this beyond, away 
From steps below that will go, on

Seeds of the sky

Do you know this rain? When off white  
Clouds of light, birth seeds of the sky
Holding up high until they drop 
Burying down, wave after wave, like
Arrows sharpened to fall and slice 
Land hard as rock and road 
Making lines where water slips, cracks 
And molten dirt, clumped and black, runs
From the burnt crust of summer soil 
To it’s rest, calm flat and still
The old lake in the woods, that we 
Love, and will always love, to come 
To find the grey wandering sky 

The Broken Pine

Born to the autumn, in the beginning the young pine tree was alone and so it continued. Her bark was tough from loneliness and her trunk was thick.

She rose away from the ground and towards hope in the sky. She was starting to look like the other pines and that felt good.

But then the wind changed and the rain beat down. For months it came from one side like a wall of water. When it ended she was broken and leaning and hurt. 

The other pines laughed. Together they were ok so she cried and gave up. Everyday she’d wish she was like them with friends and straight trunks. Now she sank and all was lost, until a little girl saw her. 

Are you ok? She said 
I am broken, said the pine 
The little girl looked at her trunk now falling and she was confused. 

You are not broken, she said  
You are hurt and need help.

With her palm the little girl touched her trunk. 

You need a hand, said the girl  
And here you go, here is mine.

Something inside the pine was happy. This was a new feeling. 

Here is love, the girl said 
And you will grow now, if you want to.

Sure enough, the pine grew up and around 
and out. When she got bigger her leaves sprouted and the birds came. The birds loved her so they stayed and the squirrels loved her so they stayed. And when she looked around she was taller than any pine she could see.


When I was young
I would play with my brothers 
on the grass and my white socks 
would turn green 

We would be outside 
until the windows 
were yellow with light 
and the sky was black 

You couldn’t see the ball 
until it hit you 
in the mouth 
and you needed mum 

In the evening and night
you couldn’t see her flowers 
so there was no damage  
and that was just as well 

If we stay out
I will keep on throwing 
and my hand will hurt 
but I won’t mind