About this poet

In 1973, Ben Doller (previously Doyle) was born in Warsaw, New York. He completed his undergraduate education at the State University of New York at Oswego and West Virginia University.

His first collection of poetry, Radio, Radio, (Louisiana State University Press, 2001) was selected by Susan Howe for the 2000 Walt Whitman Award. He received his MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he was awarded a Teaching-Writing Fellowship. His second collection of poems, FAQ, was published in 2009 by Ahsahta Press. His third collection, Dead Ahead, was published by Fence Books in 2010.

Doller has taught at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, West Virginia University, Denison University, and was Distinguished Visiting Professor at Boise State University in 2007.

He is co-editor of the Kuhl House Contemporary Poetry Series at the University of Iowa Press, and is vice editor and designer of 1913 a journal of forms and 1913 Press.

He lives in San Diego with his wife, the poet Sandra Doller (formerly Miller).

Tug

Ben Doller
The tug on my arm but soon spread
Perhaps now they could prove me there.

I've been watching the sky closely & for some time,
My hands in it, making crude, beautiful doves.

Sometimes a sprinkler spits
An arc of silver water over me,

Hissing, bisecting. Half of a thing
As much of a thing as ever can be.

If they have to water it, it's not a real field.
It's a yard, connected to a white building.

Once, I was inside a building.
Tooth, your shadow the color of the hour.

                    *

There was a smell of some spice,
I don't know what it was called.
I wanted to take a bath, change my gravity;
Feel my skin loose & leave a ring.
The man said they only had shower stalls. 
Those were the days everyone lived
In fear of a fierce spouse,
Paddling through the steam,
Something in her hand:
Hair-dryer, toaster, leaf-blower,
Plugged-in & zinging.
And you there, stewing in your own 
Sauce, whistling an oldie.

                   *

Deaf by dawn & if dawn comes
Day may break--bellowing
Below thing, be low, sing,
Slinging blows, blowing slang
Songs, bowing. Bring out the big
Amp, vinyl torn, plywood exposed,
I think the tubes are ready, sir,
The dew I flicked on them leapt & left

                    *

Steelsleet, the weather from the recycle tower
Less yellow as it lowers, a film of its tinting
The buildings, tinning the yards with first light.

I've seen the hours of train from above on the bridge,
Each car brimmed with rusty blades, broken bayonets,
Naked bent frames of things. . . .I can't tell. . . . 

Can you smell the crimson? And the cars behind me,
Metal mixed at the proper ratio, careen dying to be there,
Gasoline hemorrhaging, pistons punching themselves out.

The barge gravid with metal took its miles to pass as I stood
On the bank not saluting, thinking now, now what am I going to do.

The first blast of the opening ore-oven decays all decay.
The scraps shine. The smelting starts seamless, top down, bottom up.
Hollowing. Hello, thing. Hell, lathing. Howlingly singing holes.

                    *

So what are you going to be?
--A ghost.
I stole a white sheet from a line.
Leaves were stuck to it, I'll 
Punch some holes in it, I'll
Jump from the balconies
Of bleached buildings

From Radio, Radio by Ben Doyle, published by Louisiana State University Press in 2001. Copyright © 2000 by Ben Doyle. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

From Radio, Radio by Ben Doyle, published by Louisiana State University Press in 2001. Copyright © 2000 by Ben Doyle. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Ben Doller

Ben Doller

The author of several collections of poetry, Ben Doller's first collection Radio, Radio was selected for the Walt Whitman Award

by this poet

poem
In the middle of every field,
obscured from the side by grass
or cornhusks, is a clearing where
she works burying swans alive
into the black earth. She only
buries their bodies, their wings.
She packs the dirt tight around
their noodle necks & they shake
like long eyelashes in a hurricane.
She makes me feed
poem

whiter I make it when walking right in
unswerved, sweating fluorescent bleach,
preaching a moon page that says its welts:
learn this by heart is empty but do it
to do it. I make it somehow whiter, zombied
and I opified allover the absolutely
whitest room. I say keep your lines in line

poem
Lick the lights. Everyone 
says that here. Sometimes 
they'll call a spade a shovel, 
hollowing half a hole, 
which is all I have to sleep inside.


There's one


arboretum running 
underground from near here 
to Verisimilitude City. 
I measure the macrocosm 
with miles of mint string. Flossing


the dunning