about the author

Benjamin Clark spent his formative years in rural Nebraska, and now lives in Chicago, Illinois. He will be attending the School of the Art Institute this fall (2010) as a Creative Writing MFA student. He also regularly attends the Vox Ferus writing workshops, acts as an assistant editor for Muzzle Magazine, and will have his first full-length collection of poetry released by Write Bloody Publishing in early 2011.

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Benjamin Clark

When you leap from the hay-
loft again, Brother,
please land this time
on your feet.

Death will always be the wrong fort
for an eight-year-old
to hide within.

When you leap from the hay-
loft again, Brother,
please assume

a party must have been,
a bottle must have broken,

that bottle must have been buried
beneath the hay you fell into
on all fours, that afternoon.

When you rose from the hay
wrists out, Brother, your
skin opened like a piano
lid, strings and levers

exposed. When your fingers pressed
on keys, we both waited for a sound.

The last time we raced the living
room your right big toe swallowed
a sewing needle hidden in the shag

carpet. In the backseat, your foot
propped up, brown thread trembled
out of your skin like the tail
of a rat just eaten. When the doctor

explained the needle was bent,
he would need to slice your toe
in two to remove it,
I wondered if the rodent
he was sure to find
would still be breathing.

When you leapt from the hay-
loft, did my hands wait
to basket your fall, my fingers
woven brambles,

or did I attempt to build death
out of my hands releasing
your hands too soon?

When you tumble from the hay-
loft again please
forgive me, Brother.

I must have broken,
I must have been

buried beneath too
many layers of my own skin
to stop myself.

When you rose from the hay,
wrists out, my
skin opened like an emergency
room, doctors and nurses

exposed. When your fingers pressed
on me, I did not dare make a sound.

The day before we raced the living
room the last time I nearly swallowed
a sewing needle, held it in my mouth

and called it a key, a trembling finger
propped against the back of my throat,
let it penetrate my skin, brown thread
curling on my tongue. When mother

entered the room I spit the needle
out quickly into the brambles
of carpet, explained with eyes
bent what needed to be said
to remove her from the room,
but still could not catch my breath.

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