Illegible Cloud

Chad Bennett

[Cy Twombly Gallery, the Menil Collection, Houston, Texas]

Illegible cloud
in the wind's stammer
where your breath crossed me out

in the lake's spent ash
where the sky's blot bore
the leaves' fast float

and your leg against mine
in the little boat's gasp
where each letter would begin

I have tried to speak clearly

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Chad Bennett’s poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Fence, Gulf Coast, jubilat, The Offing, Verse Daily, The Volta, and elsewhere. He is the author of Word of Mouth: Gossip and American Poetry, a study of twentieth century poetry and the queer art of gossip. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he is an associate professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin.

Louisville, Kentucky

"The sensual, vulnerable debut by Bennett reckons with queer history and identity through short prose pieces and lyric poems '[S]et adrift on history’s inch.'"
Publishers Weekly

"Bennett’s songs of longing are clever and carefully rendered―smooth control over lines being only one defining element of this welcome debut collection."
—"Must-Read Poetry: January 2020" by Nick Ripatrazone, The Millions

“It is rare for a book of poems to be both rooted in a consistent thematics while also existing, and therefore thriving, as a place where these themes can live and think on the page and in the world. They declare their own truths without reducing themselves to definitives. Their metaphors act as epicenters, where queerness is not a category or subgenre, as it’s often expected to be, but is the only bones―irreducible and undeniable―in which these poems stand. The manuscript haunted me in searing and challenging ways―the best ways―and I returned to it through the weeks, as a traveler returns to new terrain, all the while reminded that, in the end, regardless of who we are to each other, ‘what we have is small / and strange. But true.'” 
—Ocean Vuong, Judge 2018

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