Darren J Beaney has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Brighton. He is one half of Flight of the Dragonfly a regular spoken word night based in Brighton and on Zoom. He also co-edits Flights an e-journal of poetry, prose and flash fiction. He cuts his own hair. He enjoys music, predominantly punk rock. His favourite author is Orwell and he enjoys the work of numerous poets. He loves Marmite and appreciates a good pint of craft IPA. He lives in sunny East Preston on the West Sussex coast, with his lovely family, Their rescue dog Woody and rescue cats Annie and Eddie.
He has had poems published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press, Indigo Dreams Publishing, Parthian Books, Dempsey & Windle, Poetry NI, The Four Parts Press, The Angry Manifesto, The Journal and City Limits Publishing. His debut pamphlet Honey Dew (a collection of 21 love poems) was published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press in December 2020. The follow up to Honey Dew – The Machinery of Life – will be published The Hedgehog Poetry Press in the summer of 2021.
He tries to blog – www.djbeaney.wordpress.com
Rain, steam and speed
It is a marvel of modernity, emblem of empire, but it can’t out hurry rain manufactured by industrial standard smog. It steamed full speed, dashing out of London. Evading factory nippers, escaping Dickensian woes. Hurtling toward ragged schools, associations of young men and distant cooperatives. It rapidly approaches the point of no return. Overcrowding, pollution. On track to tear up green and pleasant, stifle old Father Thames. It races a harmless hare, blurred against the backdrop of an unblemished scene yet to be smudged.
The very special teacher
The atmosphere is barren. Nervous energy scorches the air. My mouth is occupied by anxiety. An anonymous smell hangs heavy. My breath cartwheels. A croak squeezes through apprehension as the cover is drawn back. The big reveal. This corpse looks curious, remarkable. The manifestation of death peculiar. Physique unusual, prone. Exposed. The carcass dynamic! Remains active even after expiry. Working as a teacher. Truly exceptional pedagogue. I look down at the cadaver, curious. I observe a tranquil face, determined by cold skin. I inquire of late eyes ‘Can I repay you?’
Instructions for the portrait artist
Dear esteemed artist, before you begin let me demand of you - are you certain? I mean really, really convinced you desire this oddball commission. Indecision is the parent of a hanging parliament. Get this wrong and it could be life changing, like a Tuesday night bingo win or backfired peasants’ revolt. Be warned I like a grudge. I collect them. The seams of my coat pockets strain against the mass. I have a pandemic of them. So many I am obliged to carry a few in suitcases made of complaint, with others stuffed into the pitch of sacks of resentment. I nurture them, savour them like fine vintage wine (obviously made from sour grapes). I have one deep-rooted grudge that is so ancient its grizzled white whiskers tickle my toes, and I hate it! If you are sure, please read these straightforward guidelines as I offer no kind of disclaimer. I believe all the bits and various pieces are there, just about where I think they should perhaps be at. Step one: Get my big head right, it is a lover of the limelight with a fraudulent ego. It is a traveller’s map of undone road repairs, overgrown branch lines, trampled bridle ways, no-trespass poacher estates and lazy common land. Step two: Take a good long look at my hair. It is chic-less yet trusting. Let’s me run amuck, never feeling the shock. It remains faithful and thick. Determined, lingering & looking for some sort of style to come into fashion, waiting ever so patiently like Lord Lucan’s faithful Labrador. Step three: Observe how my ears tip the scales, soundly built but small gauge, off balance. Can your brush strokes trap the crinkle, yes that little bit of genetic pixie, a minor family trait. You can ignore the new and emerging stray fuzz of stubborn hair. Step four: Can you sketch the breadth of my brow? Using the range of your palette to paint my forehead to the stretch of its height. Note it hauls the weight of a ploughed, forever fallow field. Try to capture the colour of caution in my eyes - constantly busy blue without knowing it. Step five: Do what you can with my nose, I will not press it against you. Seriously, I am not clowning around. Step six: Can you make me smile? Etching my teeth that are as crooked as a line of petty thieves. As chipped as the varnish on a redundant sideboard that waits to be cleared. Can you mix the correct shade of under the weather white? Aim to replicate old musty book pages or coffee stained no longer clinical Formica. Step seven: Just go with the flow. That’s the flow of my chins. Just take it where it needs to go. The lines of my expression always appear to find their way here in time in the end. Step eight: By your hand connect the dots. Decide if this face can launch a fancy flotilla or scupper a modern-day taskforce. And when you finally hang me, you decide if you should stay, making an exhibition, or should retreat and vamoose. Finally, good luck!