Oak

Kim Bennett. <em>1</em>, 2007, ink on paper, 5 x 7 in. From <em>Oak</em>, a collaboration with poet Chris Hosea. Courtesy of the artist.

Kim Bennett. 1, 2007, ink on paper, 5 x 7 in. From Oak, a collaboration with poet Chris Hosea. Courtesy of the artist.

1.
I want to throw myself under the train, he told me.
It was hard to establish exactly when he boarded the T
the night before the police used one of the house’s rooms
to conduct interviews. He told he sometimes shut his eyes
on platforms, rocked his heels, feeling
the way the subway pushed ahead a warm breeze
sweet as mildewed bread. Actually, he said nothing
about the breeze or smell, but he did mention the comfort
of thinking he could bring the end with a quick move.
To my memory, we held these talks after dark,
after drinks and slipshod hilarity. I told him to see someone
qualified. I said I would make an appointment.
He changed to a different subject, and I did not persist.
There are generations of suicide in my family,
proud men who with precision blew open their own skulls,
yet I was as ready as anyone to believe he had improved
with the first melting of the snows. The detective asked me
when I had seen him last. I remembered the final time
I heard him. There was a party at the house,
and the guests had filtered home. Lights out,
I was naked in bed with a girl and he came knocking,
whispering, then shouting about his gloves.
To my shame, I snuggled and stifled giggles
until the pleading and pounding ended
and with his footsteps he faded from our thoughts.
Did I know if he had any enemies?
(The police were ruling out a murder theory.)
It was March madness, and though I was no fan
my room got the best reception. Some kids brought their set
and a case of beer. I was too near-sighted to make out the score,
much less follow the elaborate dance of passes and jumps.
The boys were howling at the screen as if electrocuted, all except him.
I slouched on the futon like a punctured balloon.
Where did you get that knife? he asked me.
(It was a large Swiss jackknife, bright red.)
Oh, I don’t know, in Paris, I think.
Where can I get one like it?
I have no idea.
I didn’t ask him why or what for.
I felt a mild irritation, as though stuck in traffic,
and looked up at the blurry tube.

Kim Bennett. <em>36</em>, 2007, ink on paper, 5 x 7 in. From <em>Oak</em>, a collaboration with poet Chris Hosea. Courtesy of the artist.

Kim Bennett. 36, 2007, ink on paper, 5 x 7 in. From Oak, a collaboration with poet Chris Hosea. Courtesy of the artist.

36.
Where you buy your clothes
people are probably wondering.
Wrapped in the flag of the country
from whence no man returns,
here we sit
at a community center
and watch cartoon horses
gallop into burning barns.
Orange flames on kelly green trees.
The air is starched with boredom.
In the coffee can
a coin with its dead head
buys a stale cookie.
Men and women visit and read your dreams
back to you in pig:
a nonsense barrage of squeals and snorts.
Fluorescence holds us like a cell
when night’s hood falls
over neighboring alleys,
and the ashtray was once a suggestion box.

Kim Bennett. <em>38</em>, 2007, ink on paper, 5 x 7 in. From <em>Oak</em>, a collaboration with poet Chris Hosea. Courtesy of the artist.

Kim Bennett. 38, 2007, ink on paper, 5 x 7 in. From Oak, a collaboration with poet Chris Hosea. Courtesy of the artist.

38.
An unhinged door partway down the alley
stopped me. It leaned chipped and blue
by a pile of warped records and seemed to wonder
why I couldn’t make less abstract sense
of its veins and scars, gouges and stains, its mute knob.
Low clouds pressed down the rooftops
and so dampened my reflections that
they swelled and crowded in my skull.
I saw you in my hand like carbon, dark gems
beading a microscopic lattice.
I felt your voice clinging as grit to the anchor
of memory I kept hauling.
I had been out walking for a long time,
eyes on my feet, ignoring entries and porch
lights burning through the dusk for loved ones
or pets or an idea of the street
where strangers could approach and recognize
and accompany each other,
where they might allow each other
into each other forever.

This entry was posted in ISSUE #4 WINTER 2008 Tagged: , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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