10-04-2022

 

Benjamin Garcia

ODE TO THE PITCHER PLANT

 

In the Victorian language of fans // como se dice //come hither

I am the three-headed // head giver // Heather Heather and Heather

 

be my Veronica Sawyer // but you’ll have to dye // your virgin hair

let me make you over // a quien le importa if they say // she’s a man-

 

eater // they’re not wrong about the latter // I expect a booty call later

from my whereforeartthou Romeo // come use my trellis as a ladder // I am

 

pansexual // with omnivore vigor make you breakfast // the morning after

see me wavering // waving my spade impatiently // for any lad or lass

 

come shake that ass // booty-bump-a-bump // let me whet your appetite

with my siren waters // seamen // which is what a man’s come is called

 

I want a man // that comes when called // I want to have a better name

for when women climax // meanwhile my secret is vaginal // secretions

 

gender fluids and fluid genders // see how come can mean // collapse

of distance between objects // to the point of overlap // until two are one

 

as is the case with come // love // in Spanish those four letters mean come eat

they fold into each other // like a handfan // come you’re almost skin and bones

 

and meat and legs and wings and // carapace // cara mia come at your own pace

but come // down my throat follow your gut to my gut // come Narcissus come

 

to your sissy prissy boipussy pitcher // I’ll be your catcher too // the game is lost

my fans are in the stands // doing the wave they’re cheering you on // come on

 

roll your love into a ball // if we had but world enough and time // I would woo you

to kingdom come // but life’s a stuff will not endure // so gift me your endurance

 

damelo duro papi // forgo coquetry’s etiquette // I’ve got your ticket down here

where bodies float // traverse the manhole cover // draw the curtain and do

 

mind the man behind // I’m flashing my fan as hard as I can // ready for my close up

I am the Victor with a capital V // thank you for your participation here’s // a trophy

 

 

ANTI-ODE TO THE MAN-O-WAR

 

in the language of hormones // I want to say // I’m sorry

that you don’t know // the gulf between the words // venom

 

and poison // between // the father the son & the holy

crap I just got stung // let me explain myself // enzymes

 

are my hello // goodbye // I’ve been told I have a terminal case

of resting bitch face // the facts // there is a difference between

 

venom & poison // it’s all about who // is doing what to whom

bite me // and it’s called a poison // venom when I bite back

 

this is what wars have been // fought over // in the holy name of

whose key is unlocking // whose keyhole // another way to think

 

of them is venoms // are the tops // they’re active and push in

while poisons are the bottoms // the tubers the roots // the locks

 

of hemlock haired // fuck boys // the cads & the rent-to-owns

you know how I know // you’re a poison // it’s cause you’re lazy

 

daisy & docile // I lift my sail a while // and why not be

the Portuguese // armored war ship // that’s my namesake

 

I am small & still // I contain multitudes // I wonder if Whitman

might have meant // dudes he knew // husked & hulled & filled

 

his debonair // crowned with windswept hair so // devil-may-care

unlikely though it may seem // I’m not the jealous // kind of fish

 

even if I may not be // kind to you // pain’s the only way I know

flesh from friend // you know a relationship is extra // toxic when

 

one dolt is left stunned // defenselessly doting // no thanks I am

like the Iberian newt // that would rather push his ribs // through

 

his own skin // to deliver the venom than // let a man touch me

that’s really fucked // but I don’t know any other joke // except

 

how does one hug // a box jellyfish // the punchline is you don’t

I bet you didn’t // think this was love // poetry when it started

 

it isn’t // except I don’t know any other way // to love or to be

loved but for this // I want to be done with you & you // with me

 

do what the men of war do // to the ripped torso // of the surfer

I won’t let you suffer // alone & not for long // I want to do

 

with you what I’ve been told // human urine // does to the fists

of pink hydrangeas // in the spring // before the blue blooming

ODE TO THE TOUCH-ME-NOT

 

in the language of consent // I revoke // in the affirmative

but I’ll tender for you an enthusiastic // get bent // my body

 

isn’t up for debate // so you can go // shave your palms now

drop dead // bitch I might // take a page from female dragonflies

 

that fall on their backs // spread their legs // and wait for the man

to go the fuck away // but with my luck // he’d be a necrophiliac

 

creeps will touch you // and touch you // and touch you

and then // they’ll claim that it’s not true // movement

 

just your common // hydropump action // an easy trick

turgid and ready // and even came // loose with the swipe of a finger

 

they’ll call you beautiful // they’ll call you and call you // until

you relent or rebuff // their advances // claim they climbed into your pants

 

regardless // call you // coy cloister closet case cunt my mistake

if ever I made any // was not being carnivorous enough // nontoxic

 

or maybe not remaining my own // flowering clusterfuck // self-pollination

as self-suck // this is a man’s true fear // to be not needed

 

they’ll swing your head // by your hair // and call it snakes

the blood that drops // a new genus // of undiscovered poppies

 

named for some cis het white // halfwit // who would and should have died 

without pity from so-called savages // who had their own name for this // rape

 

so they call me // a touch-me-not // dormilona when I’m wide awake

holgazana // can you believe it // when I’m paying his goddamn light bill

 

it was a man // of course it was a man // who named forget-me-nots

forget-me-nots // who can remember his pathetic name now // not me

 

-from THROWN IN THE THROAT (Milkweed, 2022, Finalist for the 2022 Kate Tufts Discovery Award), selected by Fall 2022 Guest Editor, Michael Walsh 

Benjamin Garcia’s first collection, THROWN IN THE THROAT, won the National Poetry Series and the Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize, in addition to being a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He works as a sexual health and harm reduction educator in New York’s Finger Lakes region, where he received the Jill Gonzalez Health Educator Award recognizing contributions to HIV treatment and prevention. A CantoMundo and Lambda Literary fellow, he serves as core faculty at Alma College’s low-residency MFA program. His poems and essays have recently appeared or are forthcoming in: AGNI, American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, and New England Review. His video poem “Ode to the Peacok” is available for viewing at the Broad Museum’s website as part of El Poder de la Poesia: Latinx Voices in Response to HIV/AIDS.

04-13-2021

Victoria Chang

04-13-2021

Victoria Chang