River I Dream About
Moon river, swollen river, river of starholeand bright, harness river, lichen river,river we velvet with our filth.River of butter and river of witches, rivercracked open careful like egg, or burstapart, unleashing its violet load.River mouths, river beds, every backforty creek, every crick, made oftrickles, made of synth, river of soundas vibration, river where we all get free.River that curve down a backbone.River through which I particle heat.Feathery and wet, lemony and loud,river that still smells skin, brownedaround a neck, softened with sweat.River you wear tight on your hips,given in private, or out in the open.River I dream about. River from the inside.River where we shouts the feeling.Septum river, bundle river, river of mercy, sometimes edging so far into night the moon goes (whoosh) dark.Yes, all night river, burnt sugar river.We pull the river into our bellies, wego out walking. We river in darknessas entire paw prints of color and light.Everything rivers in motion. Riverof holy, river of freaks, river wheremy fur belong to me. Softer thanit seem river. Honey and Vaseline river.Brown river, black river, off the map river.I will be there, printing textures of rockon the skin of me, belly down, face down.My god, it is good to be home.
Copyright © 2019 by Oliver Baez Bendorf
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Oliver Baez Bendorf is the author of a previous collection, The Spectral Wilderness, and a chapbook, The Gospel According to X. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, BOMB, Poem-a-Day, Poetry, Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, and elsewhere. Born and raised in Iowa, he is an assistant professor of poetry at Kalamazoo College in Michigan.
"Equal part prayer and potion and survival guide, Oliver Baez Bendorf’s remarkable Advantages of Being Evergreen is an essential book for our time and for all time… Baez Bendorf is making a future grammar for the moment all of our vessels are free and held. I am living for the world these poems anticipate…This is a book of the earth’s abiding wonder. And the body’s unbreakable ability to bloom."
"This book…offers a topography of the body—each poem, a dropped pin, locating across a broad intricate landscape: memory, hunger, tenderness, grief, and fear. To read these poems is to trust the momentum of tributaries or the distance traveled when the trail is full of switchbacks. This work is an exercise of faith."
—Amaud Jamaul Johnson
"Written from and with death, the poems in Advantages of Being Evergreen offer elegies; they utter prayers that ask our dead to stay; they come as breath constrained and animated by a form that narrates an excess of natures, an excess of rivers that interrupt this book as the poet ponders the impossible question of what it means to be home. Here the body is a shared condition. The body is language. It changes. It resists. It mourns. It reincarnates with the 'teeth of our dead around our neck.'"