Two Poems by Alyse Bensel


Broken Sonnet

I want to reach inside of him. I’m tired
of his lack of sleep, the need to build worlds
in his head all night. He’s tried to burn all
the pictures I’ve kept. A silent bird makes
trees hush.
He always wants me sleeping.
So I combed the moths out of my hair, wanting
my head to ring like a cathedral bell.

Is he still in Oklahoma going
blind or has Pennsylvania returned him
to his wife’s cross-covered walls. She showed
me how to eat a bowl of chocolate ice
cream, a plateful of spaghetti. She’s still
so hungry, her pregnancy a whole year
after her, where its taste is rimmed with salt.

Her Mother on Snapdragons

She will bury her grief or let it grow
over to mapping out the genome,

following these conclusions to the word,
unresolved taxonomy. First, trowel

in hand, her mother’s early
wedding vows. A garden made easy untended.

She finds her grief believing
in sharper weapons. Her yard’s weeded

with snapdragons spilling onto the walk,
stepping stones. When she compares maps

she knows this memorial lacking.
One day, they will not return, unable

to generate, dragon faces lost
senses too numb for breath.

Alyse Bensel’s recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Pleiades, New SouthPuerto del SolSouth Dakota ReviewPoetry International, and elsewhere. Her nonfiction has been featured at Entropy and Pithead Chapel. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks: Not of Their Own Making(dancing girl press, 2014) and Shift (Plan B Press, 2012). She serves as the Book Reviews Editor at The Los Angeles Review, a literary journal from Red Hen Press. Her reviews have appeared in Colorado ReviewPrairie SchoonerLiterary MamaNewpages, and many other journals.


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