We’re Not Supposed To Live Here
I can fare robustly for you—pilgrims
of the exposed nail bed, busted radiator.
Give me a blanket to ensnare myself,
microwaveable slippers to dwell
Alarming how quickly this vanity’s shed.
The cycle of intention, habitual growth,
trading my time like playground pebbles
for an hour lost: screen time, vacuity, the opportunity
to linger my lips over your facial mole.
Warmth could draw us out like vain posies
experiencing, greedily, a country divided;
late summer legs tanned against chiffon.
Huddle and I’ll knit for you, I swear
I’ll try my teeth on you. Hoard layers
like we’ll never see the sun again. Turn
carnivorous. Live for that moment.
I write one poem and every nail is gone.
Shopping for Housewares at Dollarama
I encroached upon the last bastion of disdain
at Dollarama. I waned
significantly. Personality tired
of itself, regularity, the
steady trail of our sun over an arced earth.
I remember the way
you looked at me, took note of
the way all synonyms for continuity harbour
soft vowel sounds; disdain, hard.
The way you wrote unnecessarily
on index cards: The Facts.
They blew flesh from bone.
I took refuge with the shower curtains, considering
dandelions blowing their wishes
to the wind …
or generic geometry. There
I had the chance to define myself
to unsettle. Considering stability
in the form of a grommet—structurally.
how you were so in love you couldn’t even look
at me? How you wanted to tear the flesh
away and suck my perfect skull. Remember
how you still are.
I considered continuity, housewares
in the steady rhythm of primary/chrome
hand-safe can-openers, cheap, magnetic
adhesive burglar alarms. Now
I have the chance to sound just like everyone else.
At This Point
If I’m bitter, then
I’m bitter. That’s what I’ll be:
a young person approaching the nadir
of a penchant for optimism.
And you—the only boy at the check-out counter
with a full beard. At that point, I’d fallen
enamored with your hands, you, dwelling behind, or
the simple wooden prayer beads on your rough neck
rattling. Your milk crate philosophy, even poetry, Hemingway
and Churchill like the heart beating your chest.
I was eighteen. I was a puppy dog, or something
similarly cute and intrusive.
We filled communal beds with our bodies, hands
accidental on crotches. You filled me with bonfire
stories. Filled my boyfriend with too much Pomtini.
Later, on the porch, you filled me with your tongue
and commented glibly on my organ,
how it pulsed at varying rates.
That’s who I am now; noumenal.
A person who learns words:
nadir, noumenal, glib. I am self-reflexive.
Sometimes, I am even detached. Your hands
slick with oil, or dirt—your body, thick
with existing, unseen. Outside, you drew me in
with just your voice in the dark
soft and solid, our sounds curving around
spills of yellow light, pooling violet
I don’t remember what we said.
If that’s who I am, that’s what you are.
Jessica Bebenek is a Toronto poet and writer with work appearing in Prairie Fire, Grain, and Little Brother, among other places. She is the founder of the micro-press Grow & Grow and the author of three chapbooks, most recently Kettle Song. She is at work on her first full collection of poetry, tentatively titled No One Knows Us There. But mainly right now she knits.