Issue 14

Poetry: Brian Bender

Out There

My bedroom window sits open-mouthed,
yawning deep into the nervous dark,
deep into the naked girth of the night.
There are times the trees out past
the house stiffen their backs to keep still.

Out there, something is enjoying this.
There are times I lean in the windowsill
and watch the world turn off and on—
and sometimes the breeze simply blows
through, rattling every painful thing.


You’ve outgrown me
like I’ve outgrown you,
the way children
turn from their fishbowls
to something entirely different,
entirely new from age—
away from every pet parakeet
who lay her tiny eggs
balled up in that terrible corner
where we smiled at her struggle
to keep life going:
I’m out of your life like that.
I’m out of your life
just the way I wanted to—
as both entrance and exit—
where love was like the tiny animal
that kept our eyes bright for awhile,
then died off simply because it had to. . .
And the memory still hangs
somewhere in the clouds, pleasant,
but without a face.

Burying the Dead

He’s back in my dreams:
a brother hiding behind the door

too wired to keep still.
Can’t you feel him there?

Face pressed up against the wood
and the beads of vapor

in a neat little haze


A church sits in the window,
small with silent bells.
Fluorescent and white,
sharp and clean and careful—
pillar after pillar of cold air
toting birds quietly along the roof.
Point Pelee at the arrowhead,
those birds in dad’s diary:
Blackpoll Warbler, Canada, 2008—
then gone.

I bought a tent for three, just in case.
A mosquito zipped in my ear
because that’s just the way things is,
because the dim flashlight yanked
the heat of the world back inside,
back to us, heavy on the grass.
Tall rooms, fences, a drainage basin,
a corner of Van Buren county. . .
Childhood is the kingdom
where nobody dies
the book reads,
pointing boldly to Millay.
The birds unhook from the gable.
They fly only up.