Darren J Beaney

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 

                      (after Turner)

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!

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