Issue > Poetry
Rosebud Ben-Oni

Rosebud Ben-Oni

Rosebud Ben-Oni is the winner of the 2019 Alice James Award for If This Is the Age We End Discovery, forthcoming in 2021. She has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and CantoMundo. Her poem "Poet Wrestling with Angels in the Dark" was commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial in NYC. She writes for The Kenyon Review blog.

Poet Wrestling with the First & Foremost of Fundamental Forces


What is a force without interaction? Is it like love without
having felt loneliness? Cure a single mosquito by catching

her on a net spiked with anti-

malaria medicine & reduce the risk
of your own fever. Does this prove

self-preservation as an act
of compassion? Because

you'll still be bitten
& cursing as you itch

under a ceiling fan,
which becomes nothing

more than an echo
of other inconveniences.

I'm sorry you still can't sleep. I'm sorry
I'm still on the wrong side of things.

It probably runs blood-deep.
Only the female bites

& how I admire the strong
will of a pest & her parasite.

How a virus expends
as much energy interacting

as it does staying hidden.
Usually a clock starts ticking

the moment of discovery,
but the clock exists

just a little differently
for some pathogens,

who have fooled us for so long
they might as well come back

unproven. The ceiling fan whirls.
Your body is exposed even when

it's covered. Again, you slap your skin.
Again, you say I should want more than this,

a life rich, a future
in which the body

will sustain enough energy

that we have complete immunity.
The human as its own infectious

agent. Like caressing a whistle of wind
through a closed window. This too

is contagious: how to transform a virus
into a planet, with atmosphere & cold

season. I admit
I'm drifting,

openly, from damp bed,
whirling on my own hum

& wince
when you say

maybe love keeps us
from discovering future

children, who will still be
stuck on this world & casting

future nets over a pothole not too far
from where traffic never ceased. Still

all those future toes
peeking over sandals

melting into summer concrete. & future
ears still attuned to faint buzzing over grid-

lock where maybe, yes, future cars hover just a little further
from the ground. & some kind of future mother, helicopting

& well-bitten, as she yawns openly  
over little ones who count to ten

& release their nets,
singing even, offering

up their welt-covered
hands in silent prayer.

Poetry

Kelle Groom

Kelle Groom
Mary Rohan's Mother

Poetry

Mag Gabbert

Mag Gabbert
Gum

Poetry

Noah Warren

Noah Warren
Coffee