Walking with Benen

He is telling you about the turtles, how there were seven of them, no, actually seven frogs, but lots of turtles too, and a large snapping turtle who was this big, and they caught them and held them, but no, they didn’t keep them, they put them back in the water and none of them were hurt and they were really happy, the frogs and the turtles, of which there were many, tons of them, and the urgent joy in his eyes and his motioning hands and the little skipping walk, as if forward is not enough motion but up and down too, and his hoarse bright voice rising, rising above even the generations-old trees with their low swooshing of leaves, because the turtles and frogs, with their legs and beaks and beady eyes, are the whole world, and you want to take this world and tuck it in your pocket and carry it always, like a bright jewel or a stone smoothed by many waters.

(first published in The Lake http://www.thelakepoetry.co.uk/poetry-archive/nov15a/)


What a Poem Is

Both wound and consolation
the wound being truth
the consolation also.
Not truth as a scalpel
cold, precise
but more as a silken net cast wide over the world
and gathered back full
of living things.

Worded desire
or a loss unfurled like a towel shaken out
before you lay it to rest on the sand.

The rope thrown over the edge of the cliff
and the someone on the other end
to pull you up.

The pluck that sets you thrumming.

Little torn off corners of eternity you can stuff
in your pocket.

The old man inching his way through the evening air,
the metallic plink of his walker marking his steady progress.

(first published in The Lake http://www.thelakepoetry.co.uk/poetry-archive/nov15a/)


The Headline Reads Processed Meat Causes Cancer, Says WHO

and again I hear my mother’s voice, Says who?
challenging some claim asserted
by an expert on the radio or the President
in his State of the Union address—Says who?
she would throw back, wearing her flowered apron,
her arms akimbo, the roll in her eye visible
even when we couldn’t see her face.
No authority save God was safe from her
Says who?

Says the World Health Organization, Mom, that’s WHO,
I’d tell her if I could.  If she hadn’t died fourteen years ago
of a cancer no one had heard of, not even the specialists,
even though she disdained processed meat and ate more fruits
and vegetables than anyone I know.  Because whatever we eat
or drink or smoke or think, we’re all going to die someday.
Says who? A little patch of green under an arching tree,
the bronze letters on a plaque spotted with rain.

(first published in Rattle  http://www.rattle.com/poetry/the-headline-reads-processed-meat-causes-cancer-says-who-by-katherine-lo/)