Guest Poem by Seán Street

Seán Street’s most recent collection is Running Out of Time (Shoestring Press, March 2024). Prose includes works on Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Dymock Poets, and several studies of sound poetics, the latest being Wild Track: Sound, Text and the Idea of Birdsong, published in July 2023 by Bloomsbury Academic. This poem is from Acumen 109.

On Hearing of the Death of Benjamin Zephaniah


Because they told me in the neutral grey of an ordinary day when the
      sun neither shone nor
when the rain could do no more than drizzle, when all I was doing
      was something I’ve
      forgotten, I remember the moment.

Nothing rolled on a drum, no thunder clapped, nothing prepared me,
      let me tense muscles
      against the punch.
And because I had no one to tell I told myself they must be mistaken,
(that happens you know – urban myths, misheard rumours – it

But as minutes he was torn from ticked on through the unshockable
      clock, time told me to tell me it was true after all.
And because it has to be true, the gathering dust moment – nothing
and normal till then –
freezes forever, and because there is less of me now, there is more of
here in what’s left, alive and everywhere always

in black and white.