p o e m s

b e n j a m i n  g a n t c h e r 

I. Snow

The wind trims the drifts up

the reveals like jibs

taut with glass, pounds up steps like breakers,

locks ice,

basements sink with freight.

We make the park and drop like ballast.

Backstroke on a shore.

The swell held,

the pelting uprush, smash and fleck.

Next day the wind’s subtraction

leaves cumuli

in the forged hawthorn.



Unmuffled, fanning in the startled air,

my nerves tune in to the plinking runoff.

The tree, the snagged tufts model the sky

while under the blanket

bunched homes kneel,

brown dress, black trim, repetitious like shells.

Evening seeps over the spire.

The foragers muscle up stoops,

plump with mineral binge,

clamp to sofas, produce

the flying geometries, the nacre,

the effluvial notes, the uncorked sea.

II. If, Then

Robins swarm the hawthorn pre-spring,

scarfing berries—

orange flags and blips

flash in the haywire clock.

The evacuated trees

stiffen in their sockets

like dried-out gills.

Tongues of salt,

residue of fever,

stain the road bed.

Cars huddle up head-to-tail

in the hurting light.


Tender-leather pre-green wrapped new leaves

prefurl on the hawthorn,

hazing its court script of nails

in a yellow—

tentative generation,

prompted by wary syntax,

murmurs and fuzzes points.

Robins strut around the trunk.






If I think

I’m like the swamp laurel,

slim pole in the bank

of the slip of a river,

barely hefting its spear heads

minted green

in the sun-dollop

and dropping a scrawny shade

in the larger rocking

tree splash. Split once

and twice and twinned

in muddy bronze,

sapling vouchsafes sapling—

despite the hundred bugs

puckering the skin,

the water-based laurel,

coherent like a slick

that bleeds into gleam and splotch,

blurring the bottom,

is (at a middle depth) certain

like a mind beside itself

growing in a dirt

it cannot touch,

anchored in motion.





The cedar shingle has kept the straw

and cornsilk even after seven winters.

Weatherproof, tight and sore, a skin

of sheared chips, the sea in the wood.

Chimney-brush pine scrub it and pitch

drips off like ink, painting the grass

and soaking into the sandy hill.

The glowing off the oiled maple

and ochre cement does flatter the moon

and bother the trees, which twist away.

The house moves in.

Pictures don’t punch open the ground floor

and nooks up the stair that repeat

and gather in the great room.

Wicker and fibre and clay collect on the horizontal

backs of built-in seats and sills and range.

The stepped bricks of the Aztec fireplace

become shelves. Up the south face live the antique

letter-type tribe. They guard the mini landscape

dabbed on a block. Even the unlettered

pots speak the code.





Gentle man, tied to the moon

and deer for coasting through brambles

caught by nothing there,

bur, burden, stirred lover who thinks Yes, lamped

in the happenstance glow

you bounce us, turn puddle eye to, ears alert

ahead because you’re passing

and the woods you know can scare you.

Cigarettes and tilting the chin

at weather don’t moor you, cradled on your back like a plea

or sacrifice to the not yet,

skiffing out on the wind of appetite you’re stuck looking into,

brain-plate absorbing our beam, shipping the dumb fact

we are to the question, like a wedge.

Watch us and forget,

come back and watch us.


©Benjamin Gantcher


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