Ben Purkert

introduced by Eric Weinstein

Ben Purkert's poetry is the poetry of the interstitial. His poems live between the immediate language of media and advertising ("What's Coming Up Next!") and more elliptical allusions to the natural world and the poet's place in it ("even the ocean // now is nodding never / once being asked"), occupying the small spaces between the everyday and the extraordinary. This dual attention to the infinite and infinitesimal appears not only in the poems' subject matter, which ranges from television shows and stock markets to far-flung planets, but in the text itself: physical spaces, if not lacunae, of varying sizes perforate the work, calling for the reader to inhabit them. Purkert's poems are alive and to be lived in, and the invitations they offer us are simultaneously wide-ranging and intimate.

—Eric Weinstein



TATTOO OF A BUTTERFLY ON A BUTTERFLY                                 

the TV's so loud I start
squinting     I start at
the corner of each eye

bringing it shut just
barely enough to ruffle
a bed sheet     the TV cries

What's Coming Up Next! 
but this is far from 
the future     each day

the tough skin on a fruit 
I always chew I even 
leave some light

marks on it     once
on a date a butterfly
lifted her wings to me

she was revealing
some pattern




one day the world
snowballs into a far
darker memory

not even pigeon hawks
not even a snapped

branch can fly
back where it began




every inch of me is
microbes but I'm growing ok
with this, they remind me  

who's the boss, who's
the sum of whose
parts & on my block earlier

there was a sudden side
impact, a two-door
smashed open & one

witness kept recounting
who ran the light,
using her two hands

for each blindsiding
the other, clapping them
so the sound rips through

the streets & the city's
still a grid, everyone agrees                                         
on this, even the ocean

now is nodding never
once being asked




far-flung across
the lip of a sphere
we cling to 
some future:

one mountain
in front of
the other

we elbow our
way into the sun

then in a flash
the markets dive
the banks lay off
floors in waves

fearing collapse
the city walls
itself in