Three Poems by Lauren Bender

Misdirection

Snow comes, heavy distraction. We snipe
at each other in the mid-afternoon dark because
there is no time for distractions.

(i think?)

no one is focused
on a single wrong anymore     or the wrong wrong.
There is an itchy place for every injury

we’ve built into our brain/keep building/keep
listening when we’re told we are not
building fast enough/resent how insignificant

construction. Bridges. Best laid plans.

We [the bigots] are still bigots if we didn’t mean to.
We [the bigots] are still bigots if we are sick, dying.
We [the bigots] are still bigots if we [again, still, the bigots]
are such. Nice. People. Surely
we can admit this much, no?     Oh.

If we need to make lists of how
specifically
relatable
other humans can be, insist on the isolation of
friendship          warmth          love   love   love
this is the definition of desperation
& we have reopened the hollow wounds
scabbed up inside hundreds of stomachs

aggressively healing in the hopes of having
another purpose today     that sort of practical
daily personhood some have lucked into.

We can see the enemy is celebrating
& we have seen it all our lives
in the confused faces of our loved ones

as they hurt us/we hurt them     not knowing why
it is unavoidable.

 

Problematic

how you hold me (another dream) with your mouth
close to my ear and murmur so long about our president
elect and your hands firm against my back all

I can feel. yes it hurts (did you vote for him) to hear
you say you understand when I don’t think you do or
you know what it means for me to speak and to wake up

thinking of how I spoke and will have to speak again and
to speak again (to remember how overnight this screaming
felt necessary) and you wish more people were listening

because you love me but it hurts more that you love me
(you never have before) and that is typical (both the part
where I invent kindness and the part where kindness

is agony and your imaginary palms burn and scar down
through me) and I take it (and I take slow breaths in
out over your shoulder in and out) until you’re gone

 

Facebook? (draft)

If legalization of same-sex marriage decreases suicide rates in teens (not surprised at all),

When the society you live in treats you like you’re less than human,

1) the society you live in treats you like you’re less than human

Why does legalization of same-sex marriage decrease suicide rates in teens? Because

3) you feel very wrong 4) research shows same-sex

When society treats you like you’re less than human, 2) people you know follow suit

Is anyone actually surprised by this?

3) Our government has publicly withdrawn support

It snowballs. It gets to the point where little things hurt more than you could possibly have imagined.

It gets to the point where you’re holding your breath around anyone who means anything to you, who might be about to say something fucked up, who might not know how fucked up it will be

5?) it matters

Why does this matter? Because

If you can figure out how to say it the perfect way, then surely

 

***

Lauren Bender lives in Burlington, Vermont, and is editor in chief of Mud Season Review. Her poetry has appeared in IDK MagazineTulane ReviewThe CollapsarGyroscope ReviewPittsburgh Poetry ReviewYes Poetry, and others. You can find her on twitter @benderpoet.

What’s HFR up to? Read our current issuesubmit, or write for Heavy Feather.

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