No more branches, no more moon, no more
clouds, light glinting on
no more water. Refuse to sing because
the song is stuffed and birds
they lilt and carol wordlessly of what, of whose
turn it is to bird and bird and bird
the same translations as assigned.
Whose turn is it to open-throated sing?
And what world’s turn is it
to be sung of, a thing made noticed
that isn’t, its beauty insisted. Who called again
to say what’s ugly? Who pointed
from the other side of town, and which
frayed hem of a chainlink fence
did they mean. Did they mean
to suggest or outright say
is distinctly unbeautiful. This face?
The hand that cups it
or refuses to? The bodies
we inherited and tried to slip out of by pressing
pressing them together
together into finest dust? In which these little
dun intelligences do chip and flit. Do we, ought we
to care? For one another, yes.
Come here and crouch with me
at the unremarkable front stoop
of this medium-sized aspen tree
on an unnamed side of town.
Listen to their chattering or shrill world-songs
about our plastics and forgetfulness and bombs,
bombs of much unnumbered rubble, bombs of the reasonable
fear of bombs, dividing the living
from the living, towns from towns, constant speaking
or lip-synching with feathers
over the sound of the erosion of
whose turn it is to listen. Listen,
time to quiet down, beauty. Time to world.
"No More Birds" from Anybody: Poems by Ari Banias. Copyright © 2016 by Ari Banias. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company.
People, far too many people here—
drinking, leaning on the furniture,
congratulating my father
on his new life. Here’s
his young wife, young enough
to be my older sister.
She—if you can’t tell
the whole truth—is nice.
But he slams his glass
onto the table, yells
more now than ever. Unless
I remember wrong. I know
I was afraid. Of him. And so.
I know I played alone
with dolls and that
we roughhoused, hard,
like brothers. What is a father
is a question like what
is home, or love. In the middle of the room
guests on the arms of the awful floral sofa
Mom wouldn’t get up from
when she heard. In the grey bathrobe
for a week, horrid splotches
of pink and purple flowers with green
for stems. Or leaves. I can’t
look at it. There’s something hot
behind my eyes another glass of wine
should take care of.
There are people I should say hello to.
“Wedding” from Anybody: Poems by Ari Banias. Copyright © 2016 by Ari Banias. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company.
boxes taped up and up then tied with twine | addressed on every side | in that careful longhand taught on other continents | they looked like mail bombs | going round and round the carousel | in a regional anxiety | stinking barrel of sheep’s cheese beaded in sweat | olive oil tin wrapped in much plastic | each printed letter a rounded separate bundle | standing on its own | the sore thumbs of my parents’ immigrant luggage at the United terminal | a friend who doesn’t speak at airports | except when spoken to | word for home that could also mean journey | or never-arrived | at the baggage claim | a person waits in a t-shirt printed with English words | whose arrangement is nonsensical | and it doesn’t matter | that what matters is far | while right here at any moment— | no one need remind anyone | tether that | suitcases duffels packages | taped and bound so emphatically they look like total crap| what matters is the words are undeniably English | anyone can tell you this | is why the shirt exists | tether that to this | anyone whose intimate particular knowledge lives | with a line drawn through it | “they were a simple people” | my mother often said | from whom she untethers | and bundles into packages | all taut with twine and sends away | at the carousel on which they circulate | printed with her surname | she could | and might refuse them | that “they were a simple—” | was the sort of thing that sparked in me a rage | which I am only now beginning to draw a line through | line I wish to repeople myself | on the other side of | with a friend | a dear friend | who | doesn’t speak at airports unless spoken to
“Villagers” from Anybody: Poems by Ari Banias. Copyright © 2016 by Ari Banias. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company.