Carnegie Hill

The owners of this small town hear tell of hope in self-immolation, even go so far as to imagine a slim face growing slimmer and the laughing tip of a cigarette against a blueprint of bodies like basement plumbing, like a human-scale refinery as seen from the turnpike, blue-white stage lights in place of the orange-gray throb. But they’re decided in their preference for a light that doesn’t harken, just lays there, late morning, some time after the little girls have been paraded up Madison like feather amulets, the little boys a formulating excuse. Visiting up here’s like picking up shells in the eye of a storm. At first, every shell’s a chip of god, but as you’re poured inside the peaceful horn, the biological rock nudges you, peristalsis. Somehow the border’s unmarked, and I suspect the elderly on their goat tracks are decoy as from elsewhere I sense a kind of Pinkerton. The pause smells like the glands of an artist. In the secret galleries terra cotta panthers and jade tokens wait for the next age of belief that we’ll take to the stars or the roaches oversee, though I wish for the bees in gardens of floral abundance that oxygenate the planet just the way we like it long after we’re gone. The best of us, you might have heard, will carry on in such an apiary, but for me the flower shop is plenty, if I remember correctly. Words like touche and davos are scarcely audible as though already the lopped sacs of the lungs, unpacked from mud, flopped onto a tray, had exhaled. Friends, I also wonder about the flashback, the dive into the nights of the cities in the age of the mechanism, the human form posed against wood and sprockets. Those days are like a pheromone, glory and penumbra, and the answer is chicken empanada with Peruvian green sauce and a blistering-cold IPA.


Benjamin Gantcher’s first book of poems, Snow Farmer (CW Books, 2017), was a finalist in several book contests. His work appears in many journals, including Tin HouseGuernica and The Brooklyn Rail, and he was Poet of the Week at Brooklyn Poets. His chapbook Strings of Math and Custom was published by Beard of Bees Press, and his first poetry manuscript, If a Lettuce, earned finalist honors in the National Poetry Series and Bright Hill Press contests. A recipient of a LABA fellowship as well as residencies from the UCross Foundation and the Omi International Arts Center, Gantcher is a Pushcart Prize nominee and a former poetry editor of failbetter. He teaches English in Manhattan and lives in Brooklyn with his family.  


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