Martin Bennett: ‘Home Economics’ and ‘So Much to Take In’

Home Economics

Counting down from blocked bancomat
to rent day, ambushing plain pluses
with minus, never getting their arithmetic
quite correct, the ghouls of money flit
round his bed all night, an orbit
that won’t let be. Now each side-walk
looms closer, they harry his route
to work; in a murk of digits
slap-up dinner and that rash evening
at the opera turn against him.
Prompt-eyed Alimony dispenses
its inflated penny’s worth. Time to stir in
a shaky exchange rate: Squinting black,
red, black, the sum restarts from scratch.

Martin Bennett


“So Much to Take In”
i.m. Martin Harrison, 1949–2014, England-Australia-Rome

Via their pre-set diagonals
train and jet-plane exchange rattle
with roar. The DIY fanatic next-door
is our Ginger Baker or Keith Moon
now, hooting its departure for Milan,
la Freccia Rossa, long as many a street,
joins in on horns. “Goodies versus villain,”
sirens squad-car beading distant flyover.
Ostia’s choristers, gulls gusted down-Tiber
mew their bit. Like some megasonic ninja,
helicopter beats up adjacent air-
space, then shrinks into one more twitter.

Courtesy of top-floor sensurround
such acrobatic statuary, underwear
and T-shirts’ floppy hieroglyphics.
“Tutta Roma” grandstanding prepositions,
Caput Mundi basks, twinkles, flickers.
Comings, goings. Swing and glide and drift.
Lift or climb: As far as rent permits,
without needing to shift an inch, I sit—
slight Cortes of my landlord’s terrace,
a peak in Darien’s snug surrogate,
chair negotiating shine and shade,
districts encompassed in a single blink.

Apprised by internet that you’ve since passed on
into the blue beyond, my own side
of the antipodes, one Martin
to another, I offer this: How in
carbon cursive across the sunset
chimney smoke has doodled who knows what,
red-white crane replicates an Alex Calder.
Rolling back the decades, I recall
your then preference for Frank O’Hara
over Ted Hughes’s primordial strife,
for cadences more relaxed yet in your case
per every minutia as precise.

Belated tribute to a friend lost trace
of yet never really absent merges
with “twilight’s happenings,” “underswell,
pressure, pulse,” “the glimmerings of things.”
“Chitter- chatter”, again to echo a phrase,
acoustics—your pigeon—prompting imagery,
like Larkin’s squeal of brakes becoming
arrow-fall becoming rain. “Humanness
itself flowering light,” where you remain.
“A balance quivers in mid-air, settles.”
Your last collection, all of a sudden
unfinished, was titled “Happiness”:

Already some of it is being passed on …

Martin Bennett

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