Nik De Dominic

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.

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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, Vermont

Bennington College

Michael Dumanis

Managing Editor
Katrina Turner

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.

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