for Cassie Smith
Some rare bug I tell a couple of friends the bacteria that causes acne’s been found on my brand-new bioprosthetic pulmonary valve. The old real one failed in a department meeting on attendance policy. I made it back to my office before crumbling to the floor and keep it in my back pocket that I showedup. The new valve is half pig half plastic. I tell a friend I have acne of the heart and he says there’s a poem! He doesn’t know what a poem is. Okay, fine. But I don’t want to write it.At almost forty, I’ve moved back in with my mother. Dogs don’t sweat. Well, they do, but not like we do. It’s through the follicle and paw: that’s the smell, the dog smell. Janna tells me when she told my mother about my most recent hospital admit the third in twelve months they both began to well up before my mother oh-welled and grabbed the crossword. She’s just not good with her feelings Janna says. Me and my mother’s lover argue about Trumpand whether COVID is a hoax. He doesn’t know anyone who’s died of it, so it can’t be real. Same I say about a heart failing at thirty-eight. He’s scared of socialism but can’t define it. Says he loves his Medicare like poets love death. I Google why honey won’t go bad: mostly sugar and things need water to rot. This new medication makes everything orange. Everything orange. No, like everything. No, but really, everything. Yeah, I get it.No. My ejaculate is orange. Oh, wow. Really? That friend. Dinah knows to push her nose into my hand and whine when I’m on Zoom. The remote spin instructor reminds me with each wheel’s rotation I am closer to the end. We keep threatening to bathe the dog but— Janna and I decide to go to dinner because it’s been a hard week. A poet I loved forever drifted forever off to sleep forever.Forever. We argue whether it was purposeful like it matters. Was it like a beer and a pill or like a beer and a pill? You knew her, would she do that? Bobcat Goldthwait says he and Robin Williams talked about suicide every day. That’s just what comedians do. Same. This fancy Italian restaurant is packed with children six feet away six feet away. They babble about their birthdays. I want to shake hands and complimenteach parent’s strength to have these fuckers in the face of climate change knowing each one will die. But I am too scared of touch. Two kids argue about space. What year were you born? May 15th she says. Another says there are clouds filled with gold and black holes that bend light. I want to tell her over my ravioli and across the roomwhat I heard on Sunday Christian radio: that grace is grace and like a bloom things give and give until they can’t and nothing is left. I don’t.
Copyright © 2021 by Nik De Dominic.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Nik De Dominic is a poet and essayist. He is the author of the collection Goodbye Wolf (The Operating System, 2020). Work appears in Guernica, DIAGRAM, Bennington Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. He is the Poetry Editor of the New Orleans Review and a founding editor of the digital poetry chapbook publisher The Offending Adam. De Dominic is an Associate Professor of Writing at the University of Southern California, where he co-directs the Dornsife Prison Education Project. He has taught in prisons since 2008. He looks forward to a future where prisons do not exist and he’s out of the job.
Bennington Review is a national biannual print journal of innovative, intelligent, and moving poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and film writing, housed at Bennington College.
Fifty years after its original founding and thirty years after its last issue, in 1985, Bennington Review has resumed publication, with poet Michael Dumanis as Editor.
We intend to reinforce the value of the bound print journal as an intimate, curated cultural space in which a reader can encounter and experience new work with a degree of immersion not wholly possible through other media. We hope to bring together writing that is as playful as it is probing, that simultaneously makes lasting intellectual and emotional connections with a reader. Bennington Review aims to contribute distinctive style and substance to the national literary conversation through publishing sharp, unexpected, original poetry and prose from a geographically broad and culturally rich spectrum of prominent, up-and-coming, and new voices.