Benjamin Haas lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was recently published in The New Delta Review.
You are the universe.
You are the universe. In boundless and infinite flesh I feel your sunshine and can still hear your thunder fuzz. Though these are only pictures, I think that you may be upstairs with library books, arrowheads, a broken rifle, and a promise. Time is slow, and artificial so do not get too hung up in all the hands. In this world you left big marks, I have a scar you didn’t think needed stitches. Treasure the artist’s signature, like a seagull sky notation and lake edge leaves. I read you a Kaddish from atop a new generation’s ottoman altar. You liked oatmeal with lots of milk; I could never bring myself to it, though I tried for years to make it a habit of mine. There is no wrong way to be: sad or happy or angry or exalted, Bud. I was in Georgia when I started writing my song to you with the background of airplane hum and the thoughts of your laughter and bellies. And now I find myself behind your desk wandering the French Quarter of my mind for jazz, vegan food, and the memory of your walking off of curbs. There is an old picture from a day in which we went to see a play; I remember it mostly as a sweaty palm of petals ending. And I think I ended up here simply because of a poem smile and long night stories about distance travel. I don’t want to get it all confused, in the silly little way I have put out a river into the dark earth stuff, but I also know that no window reflection or sign can show us all the things we are looking for. So let me just say something and let that something be about you and about love. I am not sure what prayer you would ask me to say, nor what prayer I can really offer but an Om.
Key lime pie
I awoke to the sounds of a garbage truck on the first morning after I deleted your number from my cell phone. Dennis Brown was playing on the radio, as I drove and missed the cat we had once been unable to avoid. And I felt you disappear again, like a pot of coffee. My skin is not transparent, neither is the edge of a stage. Try to take off the blindfold, and you will find a bright light, but that is not reality either. Those are only formalities. The ones holding the mirrors most often make our definitions, but perhaps magnified fire ants understand this a little better than I. It’s also not true that our last meal together ended with a shared slice of key lime pie, but that’s what I choose to remember. Saying too much is easy, perhaps I would do better to stop now, and stay behind. They always feel like shadows, but mistake this not for a pop art puppet show. I know I did not reply, that was on purpose, whereas this just seems to be happening. The texture of this gown has grown rough, like kissing a beard cut too short. Licorice dipped in powdered sugar, all dolled-up in straps and far away. I promised that myself I would not talk about any more rivers. But maybe another bridge with a broken truss and a fever or maybe it’s just bad dreams. All the worst parts come from the movies, or the absolute. The stars don’t cover all our scars and neither will a blanket. It’s not over till it is, maybe that’s now or maybe it was yesterday.
a conversation with my consciousness
(for jackson pollock)
it began in the long dash of sitting and staring, hanging on and out until the lightning strikes. it is a funny word because it questions the authenticity of everything. a coffee circled page marks thought deep enough to forget a context like paint splits and splats on a windshield or a pair of shoes. living is hard, but so too is dying. i’m not trying to be cryptic. stop trying. what is it that you wanted to know? if paint flecks mean that i get to be a part of it, then i will leave plastic flowers by your grave, so that we both have horizontal jokes about impermanence. perhaps sunflowers. they will always worry too much about how it is titled, tilted, and framed. he just sat there looking, perhaps @ the end of the universe. it comes in from the silent room in an arc of twos, high/low & traffic. i think life might just be in between… ellipses… “and i told you to be patient and i told you to be fine…” iphone paint by number seem, just write, a complex intervention of populist violence. i drew a coyote. it doesn’t always make shadows. he’s there too, holding the same can. not a question of loss, but ask one of presents. random happy little don’t call it a car denied the accident chance. i read the book after i saw the motion picture.