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Tag: Rosebud Ben-Oni

The Songs We Know Not to Talk Over

After a funeral, something wrestles from the wind,

Flutters haphazardly close to your aching chest.

Most likely it will fall to the cracked sidewalk.

Stop walking. Consider it. You won’t understand

What you are looking at, this sort of green would-be

Katydid with dragonfly wings & limbs like a praying

Mantis. It’s incapable of anything

But beginning. It won’t sense your grief

For someone it has been. Walk away first.

You won’t see it again. Because now it’s a bird.

Not very scientific, but I have seen this. Not the transformation,

But how often have I asked the sky

What comes after death & then two birds

Pass over my head. I couldn’t tell you why

I awaken at times to a pecking

At my eyes. I don’t know why some birds return

To haunt us. I have felt thin, small talons

Dig into my wrist. We tangle in the darkness,

Porous as loess. No trail of marigolds & copal incense.

No falconers in the boot hills. Where we go, I feel still

But never remember. In the morning a sparrow steals

A half-eaten donut from a pack of feral cats,

& I promise to spare the life of all that is winged.

I watch where I step & still a wasp stings.

I’m sorry. The only promises I’ve kept are those

Scientifically proven. I have no ion-infrared

Evidence, no delicate microphones to catch

When I check the closets & drains

During a thunderstorm, when I’ve said,

Sitting at a deathbed, it’s gonna be okay.

I’ve told them not to pull the plug

Even if my body says when

Bury me standing, bury me

Three times. No one really drops dead from seeing

Your gaunt, flitting shape in the mirror.

Not mirror but grace. Forgive me for covering

My eyes, for cowering under the blanket, for swatting

At you when I passed a flower garden,

When I shut my windows & chased you

From park benches & fruit trees. I didn’t know

There are people I’m not willing to ever let go,

& I won’t. I haven’t.

from If This Is the Age We End DiscoveryFind more by Rosebud Ben-Oni at the library

Copyright © 2021 Rosebud Ben-Oni
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Poet Wrestling With the Possibility She’s Living in a Simulation

All my timelines lead to this poem.

Proof: what brought us here is all

the same horse. So I have some questions.

Which of us are the shallow wood.

What if blood is emptiness. I suspect

my own veins are rogue simulations

flitting with a new kind of heightened self-

awareness. Proof: the nurse says they are flighty

& hard to find. Drink more water, she sings,

pushing her own tin. What if what’s within

is simulated to keep every artery compliant.

You know.

That whole thing being

as being undead

dead creeks.

It’s also sad to think

the envy still filling us over some horse

we knew for less than a week

is simulated. Don’t you feel better at least? Well,

do I have news {for you}: I suspect the horse is

also false, bogus, feigned. Proof: he comes running

when we do not call for him. Proof: in one timeline,

he & I are doing a lot of simulated things.

Get your mind out of the gutter.

On holidays we openly bathe

in a {manmade}

heated spring

—or rather: he fears the water & balances

on edge. Half the time he slips. Falls in & blips. Holds me

responsible. Resets. Drink more water, tweets the anti-horse

threatening to annihilate another anti-

{horse}

come salt

winter, come stone

age. So place your bets

that advanced civilizations don’t always

not annihilate themselves. Woah.

Let’s try this again.

Reset.

*

Maybe our most real timeline resides in another verb tense.

Or is hiding in new irregular superlatives. Should we ask for

who

whom

whoest. Because why be skinned when you can be

skunned. Would you do the honors. My deliberateness says to trust you.

One simulation to another, am I wrong. Didn’t we see we through

fire, windmill, heated floors. Were we not a woman waving

a white handkerchief. One if by land. Skull

& bones. Ticks in the trees & mysterious

{reset}

nil & :: please.

*

If nothing else,

can we not all agree

hummingbirds win Most

Fabulous Simulations.

Even if they are the secret guards,

& their tears

the anti-virus software

injecting all those broken

1s & 0s into our hearts.

& surely in one timeline they are the gods themselves ::

the superlative whoest

of engineers

who’ve made mincemeat

of asteroids & atomic

timewears.

It’s too bad that all our timelines are inherently self-destructive.

Proof: we watch the same video of a hummingbird snoring for hours,

still sitting in the nurse’s chair & not a step closer to what life,

outside of human reach, desires. I’m okay with that.

The horse is calling.

& I’m running

my hands through his mane,

unable to explain.

Where & when this comfort,

this crisis,

took root.

How did we meet, was it two if by sea.

I can’t remember when we did not cheat

life with a horse

:: when all timelines were

a real

& :: even field

in which the humming

-bird drank our blood

straight from the creek.

from If This Is the Age We End DiscoveryFind more by Rosebud Ben-Oni at the library

Copyright © 2021 Rosebud Ben-Oni
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Poet Wrestling with Bunnicula in the Challenger Deep

Deep sea will be the last place without borders. If they

have their way. Will never find. Or name. Most life. Here

has no eyes or ears.

& no pleasures they

claim. More men have floated. Through outer space. Than

four leagues beneath. They claim. Everything. Is their death

-trap. Exclusively. & tense. & sinking.

But we know ways beyond. Our

tunnels aquatic. Coming. Undone.

Oh wet & sweet. Vampire bunny.

They’ll never grasp. Hold or sour

on little bunny-powered. Nautilus. Tearing through blue

& luminous. & vamping. In bunny darkness. How bare skin

thirsts through neoprene. Is how you breathe me.

& freely. Is it possible. To explode without

moving? The lovely spite

of nitrogen. For oxygen.

& what building

pressure does to chemistry.

Altering what a body. Can

take. Breaking my neck without even. Biting. How little

they know us, my salty. Vampire bunny. & our dwelling

breathless. & unseen.

Entwining on ocean floor

where they think all there’s to suck

are rotting whale bones. & molten

core. Unreached. Is what presses

my neck. To your teeth. Without taking. Further & deftly.

What I could give, tightly. & at such. Depths. How we get

each other. To come. For. & Against.

We come. Without moving. We come

as the only thing

unmoving

at the bottom of the sea.

Untouched.

&. Undiscovered.

from If This Is the Age We End DiscoveryFind more by Rosebud Ben-Oni at the library

Copyright © 2021 Rosebud Ben-Oni
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

All Palaces are Temporary Palaces

My niece calls with questions of asteroid mining.

At six she’s worried & can’t tell me why.

So we talk it out. I hear there is gold, silver, platinum

On spent comets. Who would say I do on a stony

Asteroid? People are already getting married underwater,

The very rich driving cars on coral reefs.

& if the newest frontiers require technology

Smaller than an atom, well, now there’s the pentaquark

Which is almost all quark save for one

Antiquark, & if not for the anti-

Quark, would anything, any-

Thing at all, be? What’s next is never

Enough. All left to chance shrinking. My dear, dear girl

Calling on this overcast day in the spring, where sky is one long cover

Of impassivity. Why are we here? She’s asking for the first time,

& I hear the anxiety of one who’s stumbled upon a burning

Temple in the fields. We listen to each other

Breathe. I miss my train, linger on a winding staircase

In Woodside, Queens. I remember the day I discovered

This small stretch of exposed track subverting the sky & knew

I’d come home. One more day, & I will tell her this.

One more day for life on asteroids without fences or fracking,

& dreams know no deep inelastic scattering. Let it be

Where silence is never summoned, where rays

Collide in charm & strange.

from If This Is the Age We End DiscoveryFind more by Rosebud Ben-Oni at the library

Copyright © 2021 Rosebud Ben-Oni
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Poet Wrestling with a Never-Ending Story

A horse sinks deep into a swamp of sadness

but {comes back from it}. We

didn’t. In open water,

altruism is a pod of orcas coming together

to separate baleen

calf from mother. Good faith

is the drowning {of that young whale}

for nearly six hours, for love

is exhaustion until she

has to swim away,

& commitment,

the first bite the first orca takes

while baby is still gasping.

Even non-true fish,

who lack jaws and swim blind at the bottom,

evolve by flesh. {The problem is}

you sink to the sea floor

until it crushes us.

Every day the wind steals

other wind from our sails & the horse

sinks deeper into a single grain of sand.

You say I have to keep my feet on the water.

That nothing can gift you flight,

that most ultra

-marine of belief,

no matter how unyielding

the nothingness might be.

& still the horse

breaks {through}. Because the horse has pinned me

alive & twisting

until we are winged

amulet. Call my

         name. There is no eternity

       where air is enough {to love

& commit}. Because grace is waiting

to pick the first fight & if we

are going to die anyway, wouldn’t you rather die giving

a new name. Speak now. You’ve already chosen it.

from Poetry Northwest Summer & Fall 2018 More by Rosebud Ben-Oni from the library

Copyright © Rosebud Ben-Oni
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.