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non-sight seeing

in the dream the horizon line was vertical

god was an understandable urge

real religion was beside her body

tendernesss re-enacting solitude


a few simple facts counteract desolation

restlessness is essential

manufactured debates are art-less

the joke depends on its delivery

a text can fail

“goodbye” works


the hypothesis is that under capitalism influencers are suspect

I am tired of your face on the internet


Antonio tells Carol and me that Michael is HIV positive and homeless

sometimes poetry is a reminder of helplessness

the graffiti reads “RIP 80’s revolution”


she won’t put the baby down or cut his hair or let him have anything plastic

she will teach him the difference between art and vandalism


          A man from Texas leaves me voice mail. He never says his name, he just launches into what he explains is an original poem he has written especially for me. He shouts a few lines about daffodils and buzzing bees. Then he tries to guess my age and makes comments about my appearance. Abruptly, he hangs up.

I want to be friends with more women.


the silence underneath everything you’re saying

the inaccessible source showing

your consideration of landscape

and opaque truth

the literary form of your legs

“open and affirming”

a poem that looks out not at


Jen Benka

JEN BENKA is the author of Pinko (Hanging Loose) and A Box of Longing With Fifty Drawers (Soft Skull). She serves as the executive director of the Academy of American Poets. Find her on Twitter @jenbenka.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2014

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