To the Men I Have Loved or Said I Love You To
Even before you had a name, were only a strength. I, a soft matter of sound, slept in your chest and built my house.
In a celebration, which may have been forgotten, I placed my lips unabashed upon yours and pressed against your pressing. The first of all of my firsts.
High in the basement apartment of your parents’ mansion, where we were awful and so large, we began to notice the difference that would solve and end us.
For whom time was more raw and full because we all knew you’d be the first to die.
A tapestry is strongest when it is ended, but is patient and enormous when woven interminably, stretching from Tennessee to Switzerland and back again.
Some tapestries, once completed, are draped around monks and immolated.
Bigger than all trees. At once a stone, a swamp and a strange bird. Who would never let anyone down so much as to die before them.
Much of my life sad and solitary, and much of it with you, always on the third beer.
A sugar cube dissolving on a spoon. A fountain filing the room chartreuse. With the same knife took turns slashing the other open.
What is the point of any of this if not freedom brazenly curated from rooftops and soft rooms, from riverbeds and basements, from telephones of indistinguishable distance? The womb we both destroyed we share like an albatross.
To the Women I Have Loved or Said I Love You To
The night is not dark. In fact, it isn’t even night.
Where the flowers grow, I once spoke your name. Where they have died is where I was silent.
A poem is naked. That is all I have ever known to be true.
I am still in Portugal feeding honesty to the fishes.
Touching is never as real as speaking to stars.
In what forgotten world is our bald novel? By whose long hand do we disclose our final litany? My chest is tight with the words I carry.
We must have overlooked the asterisk and carried forth through blind pain and hallucination. There was a point I could reach through walls. There was a night you spoke of devils. There was a death in the bathroom. I cleaned the blood, naked, off the linoleum.
I could have called you anything but had forgotten most of the words I knew. I remember there being rain. I remember cleaning gravel from the pink meat of your knee. I remember the morning coming earlier than usual.
We never cut our palms open over dirt. We never played with the rosy pretense. There was always a list of empirical truths. We did what was right in a solemn promise, two fingers entangled, two birds on a bough. A gust of spring blowing through the window, we got in the car, we drove toward the river.
The grape still serves the wine long after it’s dead.
Eric Tyler Benick is the author of the chapbook, Fox Hunts (2015, Kitty Cat Stevens Press). He is co-founder and editor at Ursus Americanus Press, an online journal and chapbook publication. He is also the creator and curator of Life is Boring, a reading series. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Vassar Review, Reality Beach, Vanilla Sex, Birds Piled Loosely, decomP, Souvenir, Fruita Pulp, Keep This Bag Away From Children, and Gramma. He currently lives with his wife and their cat in Nashville, TN.