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Rosebud Ben-Oni

Rosebud Ben-Oni is the author of turn around, BRXGHT XYXS (Agape Editions), which was selected as Agape Editions’ Editors’ Choice and is forthcoming in 2019; and Solecism (Virtual Artists Collective, 2013). Ben-Oni writes for The Kenyon Review blog and teaches at UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program and The Speakeasy Project. She is the recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and CantoMundo.

By This Poet


Poet Wrestling with Atonement

So I turn you into a horse but you are jealous of that horse.

& so you’ve chosen to die.

                                                      Or rather: the horse will not
not be skinned. There. {There.} Feel better. Next year
I’ll teach you to swim & you’ll carry us north
for wintertime.

                                            So I turn you into
a horse, a water horse, with sealskin & steely
fins that never tire, but still you are jealous
of some distant & parched mire
                 wanting to bury me
                              in a rusted flask.

                                  Wanting all my bare skin
                                                   skunned in wineflesh.

                                                                                      As proof

                       of first horse-&-human debt,
                                                                           unborn seed
                                       far away from smokeless winter
                                                      chimney & singed


                                                to the curb.

                                                                               & even if we’d return
                                                   {minutes} before the world’s end, still

I’d turn you into a horse who would die
             dying for the music.

                                    Underneath ivory
                        tabernacle, under holy child.

                                                      & still you lament the tusk
                                             warped into wings,

                       the horns hammered for organ keys.

& now you’re a songless thing tearing through
the middle of this horse, who(m) if I don’t finish,
will be left swimming
            in loose folds of ocean
                         for eternity

                              —so I turn you into a horse

& you say the ice is not a place for sacrifice.

So I turn you into {a horse} & you say: turn me

into a drop of rain & I swear by the skun

of our sins you& I

           will never see land again.