Ben Seanor: I Don't Say a Word

The Old Silence


These beetles come to die

on my kitchen tiles, in my colander,

under the coffee table;

into my apartment

with its bare white walls

and ceiling, they burrow

into the carpet, crawl up

to the windows,

try to continue the work

of making the earth

the earth.




My heart wasn’t done

when it got snapped into place,

a valve got warped.


Now the whole heart,

a dud, mutters to itself, works

itself into fits. Then, while I’m


driving or reading or testing

avocados in the store, I feel a jerk in

the deep of my chest.




After my father’s heart went small and ivory,


I cut out pork, coffee, veal. I started exercising,


moved a thousand miles from his grave.




The tiny blister

beetle in my bathroom sink

does not feel

what it wants, what it wants exists

in every cell; it is this drive

to move across the unknown

that we should’ve named,

not the thing that crawls

around the drain:


the dream of this apartment

building alive, covered

in plants, filled with insects

and the animals they bring.




My father wanted me to love fishing

so I would love fishing with him.


We would go and sit

away from everything.


The wobbling ocean, the haze

of salt and light.


The horizon rolling over itself.


I hated it I wasn’t a child I stopped going.




He couldn’t tell me (not with his stage voice, his laugh that filled

the entire house and our bodies) about being mute with someone you love.


How he’d learned men were allowed to be





I hear my father’s voice

and its opposite


as I throw away the empty

sclerite that held my house


guests, move the last live one outside,

get ready for bed. Turn off the lights.


How can I tell them the party’s over?




The fish back home make

two descents:


the first to the bottom

of the water, the second past

the ground; this last journey:

a slide that shrinks

their bones to dolomite,



so the aquifer can clean the worry

from the rain, drain our poisons

through its little white deaths.




Falling asleep, my faulty valve trips:


fifteen, on my knees

with a wet towel, scrubbing

dried blood from where

my father fell in a way

that both broke his nose and made it

the least of his problems.


I don’t say a word. I don’t tell anyone. I bury the towel in the trash.




They will come, with their soft

shined black bodies,


their unknowable engines

of desire, in the hours


after I accept the dark

slide of the dirt-night;


I will be ready then.


They will join me,

a final meal with the only friends


who have always sought me out.




It takes so long to learn to be alone.


How full this silence becomes


when the world finally gets us to sleep, touches


our foreheads one last time.

Ben Seanor is in America.