Table of Contents



Benjamin Gantcher



I'm listening to the gossip in the lightly
rippling awning like sea lips, the small water lappings
like topographical lapstrake in the low-tide sand
the frivolous lips of the sea that die flapping.
It's the seaside on 3rd, flags and crates of pears
in paper izods, the rare car like a bear
in the shallows. I'm plucking at straws
from the word nest, you might say,
up the fourth of seven
false peaks, next class in ten on 5th,
when it's not that you appear in the gloom of the condo smokestack
that holds in its lap a meager plaza
that holds in its lap a doeskin glove
like one of the green-tan pair you throbbed for in
New Paltz and repented of and yes purchased
not that there and then I remember your fondling the fat
Mont Blanc fountain pen that you frowned at and yes purchased
not that there and then I remember your dreamed-of
waspy pen-name, not that I remember
you said about the Yiddish fellow of whose theater
you were champion his accent embarrassed you
and certainly not that I see a glove on the bricks like the dregs of a pile 
and think death-camp de Chirico
or that patted by the tentacles of the trees
I'm wrestling this rant about the phony plaza
in the lee of shelves of meat and back and back more stacks of meat
and my strength-sapping dourness.
Not that straws and sparrows slip through the app
when the kiss of a pindrop invites you in guises
with attendant shades to guide my visit
in the present that gets deleted by the map
or that the inviolable blank photorealist sheen of Madison
offers on a pillow in a Genie's bottle an Ativan and gin
smoothie. But it's not not these things.




It was hard to leave you in the bed
but I slipped out when the clouds slid in

snuck up on the shore
between a gleam and a glint

and with the last green leaf
skimmed a cup of lake

spread it across my questions like a web
and tuned the concept well past moonlight

then put it to the scoop of your hip
to listen for the qualia of your skin.

Something like the sibilant wisdom
we grant to photons on their headlong chase

clarified the blunders of the human race —
in the probable joy of strings and branes

I scraped the bottomlessness of the fiction
of person in which roadhouse a nowhere sax

convinced me again of the gutbucket basis
of the perfection of your faces.




Those times you turn to me like the moon
in her secret lake, it's lucky I can think,
my deft tongue stiff as hoof: Can she tell I'm stuck
on the shaft of her light? Plus I'm on the brink,
hefting the former heavy-weight through the maze of the Loom
Shops where croissant mingles with Febreeze and dander.
We commune with the sweetest loaf of a cat who instructs
us in dignity and pleasure.
The kitchen's raucous in this phase of your grief —
like a pregnant hunter,
you're ample with sorrow and laughter;
I taste the silver and furl it at your feet,
amplify the feedback so that void
is all. On my knees and eat.




Last year, several times a day I walked by a stark, imposing block that maybe seemed futuristic when it was built. The public spaces and shops were empty, mostly because of the pandemic, but the eeriness felt like a harbinger. I composed "you were champion his accent embarrassed you" on some of these walks. "A Little Euthanasia" was spurred by the first line of Don Patterson's sonnet "Sentinel," in which the wife (I imagine) is figured as an allegorical statue; I think I turned up the heat by using Artemis and innuendo together to invoke a wife who's not just impressive but sexy. "It was hard to leave you in the bed" came up after listening to a few Mindscape podcasts about quantum mechanics.