Three Poems by Ben Macnair

These three poems by Ben Macnair explore the lines between happenstance and fate, and of fame and people being in the right place at the right time. They examine art, the passage of time, and how they both change how we all see the world, and our small part in it…

by: Ben Macnair

Robert De Niro’s Painting

Years before his son had uttered the immortal line
Are you looking at Me?’
Robert De Niro painted.

Whilst burning his legend into Celluloid,
Bobby Jnr would walk the Mean Streets,
become a Taxi Driver, play the charismatic thief,
the cantankerous Father in Law,
and act with a cartoon Moose.

Still, his Father would paint,
be spoken of with such names as 
Pollock, Rothko, Motherwell, Still.
His scenes would capture the eye,
before his audience’s attention
moved to the artist’s name.
Improvising scenes, like his son did,
carving their careers out of the air,
using their skills and talents to the best effect.
Mr Zapruder’s Family Film Night

Somewhere, in another Universe,
Abraham would sit down with his family,
and watch their glory days in the new fangled Kodachrome.
They would sit and delight in how the children had grown,
and be embarrassed by their choices in haircuts, clothes and partners.
They would sit and reminisce about the good old days,
and how the Sixties were a fine time to be alive.

In this universe, though Abraham Zapruder is known as the man
who caught a decisive time in World History,
one of only a few dozen people who saw the full horror of frame 313,
who was haunted by visions for the rest of his life,
who made money from selling his film,
but who gave a lot of it to the young widow who lost her husband,
the same day that the walls of Camelot came crashing down.

After that fateful November day, when old certainties were pushed aside,
Abraham Zapruder never touched another Camera,
His life forever marred by being the Cameraman whose life is remembered
for capturing the death of the President.
Closing Time

It all started, when buskers were learning Wonderwall,
and we would meet up, for a night.
Students, learning about our subjects, hoping to break hearts,
whilst protecting their own.
Individuals, who by twists of fate, of time and geography
knew each other when we were trying to be anyone else.
Over lager and pretentious drinks that only the young can get away with,
we will sit and remember all of the teachers that we tried to forget,
spreading Chinese whispers about other friends, knowing that the truth
was so much more boring..

The pub is decked in cheap tinsel,
the type that Woolworths used to sell,
and we realise that we no longer have that much in common,
except for the past,
and we all remember it differently.
The landlord rings the bell,
the old dog barks, and it is time to put another ritual to bed.
So, as we say goodbye, and walk out into our city,
the one that is so slowly dying,
because that is what happens when councils
put their ghosts ahead of their citizens,
knowing that some of us will be back next year,
and some of us won’t,
because that is what happens to friendships.
The Moon hangs thin in the air,
the darkness is dappled with diamonds,
and once more, all of my school-friends are strangers.

Ben Macnair is an award-winning poet and playwright from Staffordshire in the United Kingdom. Follow him on Twitter @ benmacnair.

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