Lies Hanging from the Ceiling in my Third Grade Classroom
‘Knowledge is power’
hung from the drop ceiling
on a ribbon and spun
like a piñata
asking to be broken open
Knowledge is not power
only a lens to recognize it
a tool to help you find
the longest broomstick
and the angle to swing it from
It is hard to know who you are
when you’re trying to be someone else
or, in other words, ‘be yourself’
except for the bruises, or the hunger
no one wants to know about that
or how your grandmother loved you
in an unconditional way
but you were too afraid to stand
at her bedside when she passed
how at nine years old you’re already
except for that
There are no stupid questions
except if you can be anything you want
you’ll realize how stupid that question is
when you take statistics
To Pry a Nail Loose
Worked the janitorial shift all summer.
There was nothing clean about it.
They drew guns. Sweat fell sour.
They pulled triggers. No one won.
He spoke up. No one listened.
So he nailed his mouth shut.
Their tongues cocooned. Butterflies emerged
with words on their wings and flew.
There was a great relief in being known
truly known—by another person.
Rain Over the Niagara River
A cigarette rolls between my fingers
as if holding onto things
is the same as doing something with them
Out over the Niagara River I can see rain falling
and I'm going to drive into it even though I see it coming
I can't help it -
I didn't make the highways
It dances in the distance
and I can picture it up close on the windshield
How much messier beautiful things can get
the closer you are to them
My fingers find the lighter among pennies and Burger King receipts
My knee takes the wheel
I'm begging life to show up and prove me wrong
The rest of the morning is too pretty
like Bob Ross was commissioned to paint it
but a pipe burst in the middle of the night in his studio
and the rain in the distance is the result
Perfect things have always cut my eyes
their corners too sharp to exist
in a world of curved lines
and crooked backs
A boat heads out from under the clouds
I press the gas and push forward
Light the cigarette and add smoke to the air
Bio: Benjamin Brindise is the author of Rotten Kid (Ghost City Press, 2017) and co-author of Those Who Favor Fire, Those Who Pray to Fire (EMP 2018). He is a Teaching Artist at the Just Buffalo Literary Center and facilitates after school poetry programming for Buffalo’s Public Schools. He has represented Buffalo twice in the 2015 and 2016 National Poetry Slams and has recently been published in Maudlin House, Foundlings, and The Magnitizdat Literary among others.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.