offerings, protection, or something else entirely 

By Ben Clark (written with Whitney Seiler)

 
 

When I return, the hammer has been placed
again under my pillow, a buck knife
on the bedside table. The same fears
as eight years ago. One friend burns powder
pulls cards, lights candles. One fills mason jars
of daffodils and only wears black. One buys hats
made from Brazilian canvas and refuses to cut his hair.
You transcribe my journals before anyone wakes. I'm bound
to my own rituals, only writing friends I'm close to
forgetting. Cleaning the house and placing dishes
in the wrong drawers. When someone tries to break in
I'll hold the knife above my head, the hammer
at my waist. Kate, if you open the door I'll still
be standing shaking breathless naked.

 

5:09 with eucalyptus oil burns

By Ben Clark (written with Whitney Seiler)

Eventually we must accept each death for what is left: unspooling thread, orbs of color released from the body then unraveled into collapsed brick birds. Once thread now memory stacked heavy and oxblood red. Not stacked like unexplainable clearings in the woods or dusty attic rooms or a looming barn like the barn you grew alongside. This strange new act, this retrieval of string and stacking of stone we will call acceptance. Or we will name it faith.

But why allow life to become a frail bone you settle on until it snaps. Why not eat what you can and carry the rest in salt, paper, and twine. Why not walk with purpose through the undergrowth. It is only undergrowth. Toward the forest clearing you remember and trust to still exist.

 

Whitney Seiler is a California native, poet, and photographer currently living in Brooklyn, NY. More of her work can be found at whitneyseiler.com

Ben Clark grew up in rural Nebraska and now lives in Chicago, Illinois. His first book Reasons to Leave the Slaughter was released by Write Bloody Publishing in 2011. His second collection, if you turn around I will turn around is forthcoming from Thoughtcrime Press in early 2015. More of his work can be found at benclarkpoetry.com

© 2015