Poetry by John Bennett
| Pumpkin Carving |
Such small biology
guts and seed dump
dangling stem membrane
levied corpus callosum
lobotomy left autumn
drooling at our doorstep.
Do not disturb
my angry haunt
on queue. Do not
demand I make
the face I want
| Heirloom China at Thanksgiving |
There they sit, a porcelain armada tasked
to keep the in-law’s harsh words at bay,
beacon flaws of my cousin’s new fling.
Helmed by the gravy boat (brute faering),
backed by orbiting saucers, a platoon of shallow
salad bowls. Their muscle is in fragility:
soft hands grasp teacups like emptied eggs,
children’s elbows are off the table without being
asked. These seasoned soldiers are older
than the tradition of argument. Ask the creamer
about our ancestor’s first gathering, a time when
things were far from dishwasher safe.
They’re my mother’s mercenaries now,
charged to protect the cargo of Grammy’s
yam recipe. Proud of their history
of successful missions, they sit pompous off-
season in the glass cupboard for all to see;
tease untimely guests with their splendor.
Slam the door and they rattle in their courage;
chatter of the time they lost the brave dinner
plate when Great Uncle Ernie admitted to the
affair in front of your family congress. It was
an ill-timed comeback to his tempered second
wife. It was the only time they lost a man in battle.
It shattered their record of perfect execution like
a splintered dish against drywall just left of Ernie’s
head—honored this day by Father’s paper plate.
| Absentee |
Our ballots arrived in the mail
today, three weeks before election.
Since you won’t be coming overseas
anymore, I take it you’ll get to the polls.
Don’t forget that as leader
of the House he compromised
on finance reform and left you alone
with that wiggling deficit. How many
sessions need he oppose party lines,
shift platforms, cross constituents
before you realize he hasn’t at heart
yours, but the general welfare?
Take this time to make a statement
about the state of our union: lingering
recession, stale labor and stalled
congress. After all, there’s always
the other guy: a blank slate whose
lack of record seems rewarding,
somehow posh when partaking in
an arousing, new movement.
What better than the promise to push
policies you love and — assures within
the first term — he will propose?
Reach deep in early November.
Ignore the low-hum of the PA in the
gymnasium, where you wait in line,
collect that card and scribble-test
a pen that others have handled
with confidence. Think to whom
I must have selected when I asked
our ballots find us safely at home
then left the rest to choice.
John Bennett is in his second year at the University of Montana MFA program for poetry. He is a poetry editor for CutBank. John is the recipient of the 2013 Greta Wrolstad Travel Award and the runner-up for the Academy of American Poets University Prize. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Stand Magazine, Concho River Review and The Manila Envelope. He has worked forPloughshares and was the Fall 2011 writer-in-residence at the Inn At The Oaks in Eastham, MA.
Featured Image photograph by E.B. Bartels, www.ebbartels.com.