Rosebud Ben-Oni

                                                                          Poet Wrestling with  ::   What Happens Now ::                
                                                                          Healing is not those who made me 
keep peace who. Said I must. Death. Often & squander. To convalesce, to reach 
a number. Called. Night. Slept. Bitter. Sweat. Swagger. Embedded. To be de. -tained 
in. FlashBacks. Calm. Catch. Muzzle. Ranged. & unspoiled. Match. Point. Wet. 
Ash, no longer just. Miss. Another. Bullet. Artful. Dodge when. No more crumbs, 
no more rape. No redress of fifty-fifty, one of which. Is flimsy, last. Dibs. On my 
beauty. Repelling good. Standing. The kind that de-. Rails the wicked before. Proven. 
Sound. Proof. Siren. Line. -up. &. Shrinking. Act. I. Must. Wipe off the red from 
natural. Groove like always. Ready. To lose— you. Have no idea. I’m a total blows-
come-to, a gravitational lens with. The end— no I. Won’t. Emit for a fast omit. 
Distort distant light & even feel. Are you. Cold yet. Since it’s time to strip 
paint & wheels off
                                   you, some evolutionary. 
                                   Glitch. Pitching. One.
                                   Last. Wish. Dim.



                                                                                         Poet Wrestling with  ≈  WonderWall  ≈
                                                                                                                       —after Solaris (1972)
Shall we take turns inventing each other.
Should we                                         perchance
                                       :: to death 
                          less ::
              this horse 
              & for all.
                                                               Shall it be         formal pleasure             {a stint
                                                  in dialectics} shall I ride           side-saddle       
                                     to prevent                    myself from coming 
                            first—                    it’s not 
a redress. A comfort, if you— please. 
             Harboring the negative
                          electricity :: in a silk stocking :: is identical
                                       for every teethtorn nylon & bare
                                       human skin & leather 
                                       restraint &                            
                                                      the state
                                                                              of shock remains         all-embracing.        
                                                                                          How lead can lay         up as much 
                                                                                                      static    as flyaways     fucking  
                                                                                                                  into your mouth. Or mine. 
                                                                                                                              Hats off
                                       to us for taking the time :: to bang
                                       &release— while on earth,
                                       they     are still
                                       through            :: open
                                                     double ::             doors &—       
                                                     my love  ::   I’m not   ::    was never, keeping 
                                                     the horses left behind             still jostle & brisk- 
                                                                   by-backbeat                        & whine      they are
                                                                                                                                              the very last 
                                                                   thing we see in a loop :: free ::
                                                                   before takeoff
Lock my legs—           & intenterror—
                       Spend a little more time

                                                    on me it’s not too late :: we are :: already staggering—
Lock my          legs.
Bytecode & embed: 

             survive new atmosphere
             & alight as virus or godhead 
                                                                           Love, you lead,
                                                                           is rooted in heuristics
                                    & will have no place
                                               in this new sublimity where
:: true level & zero gravity ::                    where
            {I LOVE YOU} is a single         gesture for              make testable predictions  ::              where
                        no vacuum catastrophes where  :: tableside consommé & cold-fusion::         where
                                                        {thereal real}  {thereal real}  {thereal real}  {thereal real}  {thereal real}  —you
                                                                                          load: “wreck”

                                                                               I emit :: ark :: you
                                                rip:      slackaxion&expanding  {I

                                      split} :: annex— &mimicry & derelict  ::                 is anyone did someone

                      {summon}:: crash without                            

                                                                                                    ever harbor{ing} ::
Here, things that aren’t real in the first place
come back                                              at you. 
I am one of them. Scrimmage, both sender
& receiverunsends.  Unbalance of neutrinos &  
                                                                             :: superheavies ::

                          Here my elements 
won’t break down no matter 
how far I text myself  
off space. Or poison 
my own isotopes.
                                                  I take pains
to slice a throat            ::  ignore          ::                     lock
              away.                Don’t worry, you crack & encrypt, 
                                                  don’t mind                yourselves, 
                                                               little equus trees.  Yours.
                                                                           Truly. Ibut—       Finger
-length seahorses with bony 
            forelocks & flying
                                                                You arrange a single genetic
                                                  mutation &  give
                                   me this soar & gait.      
                                   A whole zeal of identical
                                                  I & I & I & I— you
                                                                don’t like
                                                                only metamorphosis    
                                                  of {::  disarray ::}                       
                                                                                          into something               

You ask me to call you Fathertime.
You say here you could feed seven
worlds over, but there’s only
                         & a joyful                     
There will be no revolutions.
I’ll never die.
You try to anoint fear within once upon a time
where elsewhere they blanket me         with earth
             & I de
                         -compose. Tiny things eat me & I pass on 
                                                   & through &    ::so::      — 
Here, there’s only endless blur & billow. You say maybe one day I could

                                      disintegrate.        Break 
                        apart &. Desiccate. But how 
             unlikely. Here, no rot. No natural
predatory. No hate.        I wake 
                                                                           :: {up} :: 
                                                 a woman in your arms. 
                                       I am everywhere.
                         Hemmed to vicious mist
           over an ocean without shoreline
or skeleton.
You say: & we fuck like horsesTimes :: passes ::                            we 
think.                           You tell me each spell you complete
                       -ly forget about all those fucking horses
            in films & stories. Ensnared on temple
walls & in soft, padded garages. Snarling.         Next to us, 
                                      the last time you fucked :: around
                         before leaving

You mean THE real earth.
Where horses cry silently over the hill
as foals lay down their heads 
feeling full well
                                               they’re next.
No one could watch you burn all the photos 
because it made them                         :: real ::
                         My face as well.             Not mine, but to whom 
              else could it belong.       My known still remains inches 
from the purging, the               
                                         burning: the zero-point energy 
                         blueprints, the horsepower bootstraps
              & sunday evening        unease. 
                         Near extinct: the recipe 
              for cherry pits, casu marzu & puffer-
fish. You left the whole fold choking     on ash 
& lovers’ treatise in a locked metal box once next 
                         to hanging ivy & dappled 
              parakeets. Never asked. Don’t 
particularly want to be feeling
a way, those days thrown back
at {me}, colliding in body & body
for what, this little else,  
when I ask about         :: my     self ::                 Or 
                         rather: who I’ve been      being

there.                 You say it takes a different kind
           of wall & well.             You lie: first there must be

            but here,                         
                                  a crime.
You & I are each         :: locked inside ::          our own ::       private ::           languages.
I say the future is when we get them :: to speak :: to one
another.           I’d like to ride   
& dismount 
                                    nature             before interstellar
                                                              clouds              ::          cast                  
                                                                          their      final                            :: spells.
You will be wrong. 
I’ll get lost 
among my many renaissances 
& rebellions.         I’ll interference 
& mutant. Rid myself of mirrors
& absence. I won’t stay 
this, after all. I’ll overcome the speed of light 
& all limits. Sow oats for what you have no language so
to speak other worlds outside of this— & maybe you’ll be
                                        :: unproven ::
I’ll even bring you back from that.
Spar for every touch & isolation 
                                                   :: ys       & Y-us  ::          
                       in quirk & off-
                                                               center your great
I would like to say for the record that I arose & sprung a little human. I am.
Like-born & it’s enough.                      That today that I was a real child 
from the mouth of       :: spacehorses & horsebabes::        that once, 
             something really                        escaped
                                                   that changed.   Forever.                       Struck me 
                                                  this music. No more chorus            that I came
                                                  from your grave, 
                                                                                                                              when :: really :: 
                                                                                                             this world too  
                                                  :: unfolded ::       
                                                                            from my ungrace—

Shall I refrain from inventing another. 
Shall I make plain: There is. There’s something to 
                                     :: speaking not over but through ::
That we have loved.      & have lovedgreatly. Even {you}                   what
                                     last  :: great ::  adventure
where won’t we :: have {answer} to :: with doubt or dispute ::  y-s
            in spacehorse there’s no wonder          hidden 
                          behind             hindrance                     where   Y-us
                                     will begin & upend                                          every 
                          last looking
                                                glass & transmission
            :: every :: beast of 
                                                burden & stable 
                                                                                         choking on bridle, bits & laurels—
So little :: cache :: so {will} engorge only distance
& slippage.            So replay no more again. 
So without rein & swell,    so 

                         never try ydidn’t ::            & when our fire-foal dims,

                                                                                                    the very stars  they are  at  
                                                 :: last:: un


                                                                             ::          -hymned             ::


From the Author: “Poet Wrestling with.  ::   What Happens Now :: ” is an attempt to both reflect and contain the start-stop-start terror of being unable to escape the grips of a sexual assault flashback. While being caught in the throes of this “past continuous,” the speaker can respond and take some sort of action within the poem, redirecting her assailants as “some evolutionary./Glitch.”  The second poem, “Poet Wrestling with  ≈  WonderWall  ≈” is my love letter to the original 1972 Soviet film Solaris (not the remake); like director Andrei Tarkovsky, I too have a love for using horses in my work. Both poems were written in the pandemic, but it’s the second poem in which the speaker attempts to start over, particularly with relearning the geographical and stellar possibilities of her own body as much as the celestial bodies in the multiverse. In the end, the speaker considers that even if what we think are our progress and invention are not real at all but recycled forms of what we already know, no, she’s not giving up.

Rosebud Ben-Oni won 2019 Alice James Award for If This Is the Age We End Discovery (2021), which received a Starred Review in Booklist, and the author of turn around, BRXGHT XYXS (Get Fresh Books, 2019) and 20 Atomic Sonnets (Black Warrior Review, 2020). A recipient of the NYFA Fellowship in Poetry and a CantoMundo Fellowship, her work has been commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial in NYC.