Rose & Thorn Journal  -  Fall 2011
Ben Parker was born in 1982 and completed a creative writing MA at UEA in 2008. His writing has been published in a number of places, including Staple, Iota, Eyewear and Neon. Visit him at benparkerpoetry.
Ben Parker

Description of Some Early Experiments

Stage-left, silver-stomached, jacketed alike,
a battery of oak-plinthed Leyden Jars
30-inches high, cask their static. Brass rod
to copper chain conveys the charge.
Stage-centre, leather-wrapped, fixed
to the floor, the stool resists the volts,
its occupant sits safely in her splendour.
A rack of candles light her costume’s folds.
Enter, stage-right, striding to the challenge,
the first of the queuing men. The temptress
waits the attempt. Lips touch. The circuit
is complete. Sparks glint from the Venus Kiss.

For anxious unrevealing weeks he has watched
the obstinate knuckle of Vesuvian pumice,
acid-soused and surfeited, as copper, brine and zinc
bleed their current from the stacked Voltaic Pile.
His dark hermetic study drones. He notes
the progress:  the polyps form and rise,
black heads break from the grey, as small
as the dust they shuck in their escape. It is,
he will pronounce, as if the mountain
kept the life it took, as if he had begun
to bargain its release. The rock
is breached; the mites explore their genesis.

Sharing the Task


You told me once that hearing decreases
in tragic, sympathetic unison
with failing vision. One sense pitying
the gradual departure of the other.
I disagreed. The fading of one sense
caused the remaining to split the difference
as though energy not used by the eyes
could be redirected to power the ears.
Now that you are dead and I am going blind,
I find I can no longer make my way
through sound’s insistent daily clamour.
Without eyes, the ears are muffled.
And this, I suppose, is a lot like love.
Not that it shrinks with the loss of its source,
but that the world is a little too full
to comprehend without sharing the task.