Three Poems

By Ben Hartridge

Bless The Utility

On each Sunday morning
a thin congregation
gathers in the park
to make their own recreation

to start off the day
hold salute to the sun
to clear sleep from their heads
and go for a run
to keep the fitness regime
tracked onto target
or discuss skincare routines
with your dear old friend Margaret

to get out in the fresh air
at leisure’s escape
to get out of the flat
to escape, to escape
the room that you share
with your brothers’ bodies
overcrowding the night
to walk with the doggies

to ponder the crossword’s
weekend encryptions
to follow your therapist’s
holistic prescription
to phone your son in New Zealand
at a reasonable hour
to smell in the morning
the rosebeds in flower

to make of the public park
a personal feeling
and bless the utility
with real life and meaning.

Notes From A Masked Social Worker

The doctor comes running down
The rain wearing a long coat
And a mask. And I mask up too.
And we call the doorbell and
Hope that you will let us in.

You were a mask anyway before
All of us. Set in a groove
Deep as a river’s course.
Your eyes hid in the form
Of smooth pebbles glistening.

At the doorway I always flash
The killer half of my face–
Teeth, chin, jawline, beard–
Then I tuck it back away
With my poison and my germs.

We’re both chuckling behind our
Masks. Something to look forward to.
That would be a fine thing. Doing
Something sociable to kick this
Groove is a joke between me and you.

I have developed a special under
The mask smile. So wide it pulls
My eartips so far back they touch
Behind my head. I really make
Sure it flows over my eyes.

Lockdown Lullaby

The sound of you breathing, or
the static on the line,
gives substance to the dark, the silence
audible between us.

Your silence weighs a curve in bed where
breathing claims existence,
but when I reach to touch your hair
I’m only touching distance.

Ben Hartridge lives and writes in London where he is training to be a mental health social worker. He grew up in Devon and misses it.

During the pandemic I have returned to writing like I never have before. I think I had more time. Then, in August 2020, I started to train as a social worker in community mental health. A bit less time after that. It’s been a tough year to train, but a group of fellow writers among my student cohort have been sharing our challenges and our writing as we have been going along. Writing has been an invaluable way of bringing us together while we are all training in different parts of the country – and the group has kept me writing too. We’ve just started sharing our work at

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