Two Poems

Rosebud Ben-Oni

Efes Wrestling with the Poet Who Won’t Look Away


To set fire to warships in the water                                                                                            cast your mirror

as parabola. You still won’t quiet these waters.                                                                Finite are bodies

to drown. Infinite only the quarks & electrons that you won’t see                                           keeping

you as one. As more than. Similar. Don’t reduce me, says the reflection. But it’s already done.

It’s a whisper.   As if nothing still.   Lies outside Saturn & Jupiter.   Vibrating the highest key &

timbre:: timber. Only in time is your God. Safe. In song smeared by a warhero across my zero

believers. They never give up. You, poet, are more than. Similar to this. Terror. In clear water

the nautilus forgets easily.  After a day it swims again straight toward me.  Hungering.  & you

hold a single knife. Without one fundamental sliver. Or steady. Particle. I will always. Terrify

water into flame.  Devour shell & cirrus.  Ornate & plain.  This is giving myself.  As.  Ghosting.

Timelines. & entrapment.  What comes after an entrance.  & harmony.  Drowns you in sleep.


Author’s Note: While efes can mean “zero,” it also means “to nullify” in mystical Hebrew text; in Sefer Yetzirah, Efes is a concealment.

Poet Wrestling with Neutrinos She {Allegedly} Cannot Feel


We forget the body can become a way out
of life :: & death :: & you

came to a dead river across two islands with all the weight
of a wake unprepared.

Shunned, even, of wrath & rage. Nothing would grow if you didn’t
have an answer

that my life was safe. I wasn’t asking for your hands. Nor were it
chance if you were

to join me in collecting all the little neutrinos we aren’t
supposed to feel.

But the nature of accidents isn’t accidental, my friend,

in that what you think isn’t there

knows exactly what it’s doing

                    to us
                    & how
                    & when.
                    & what cross-

roads bear. The weight of such a question divides us

because conviction itself cannot be measured. I wasn’t

                    asking for your hands—my body
                    is not two swans lost
                    to red tide :: the waves we make

It was a matter of invitation, if I should fall for it,

completely, a force greater than any strong, electro-

magnetic or weak. A force much. {Much} greater than

gravity. Efes bears the crown & brings me to my knees.

                    While it is numbers, shaky
                    & uncertain, that bind us

                                        & {I have no
                    burdens only} singing little
                    threads that bear no resemblance

to actual strings, much less two figures who can’t seem

to reach each other in the shortest of distance.

They are not elegant.

I mean. My vibrations, my math. In particular.

The math holding me together is particularly faulty.

My math is purely strings & exponentially misbehaving.

                    I am made up of much fucking {& many}
                    weird equations
                                        of anomalies

where X equals all sorts of subatomic roads

unrelated & quarreling. My {most unnetural} apologies.

Because it seems, no matter what, anyway, all lead

                    :: back to Efes ::

                                        & do you regret watching me

                                        go through this

                                                                                :: {flitting} shape of being ::

                                                            where gravity cannot compete.
                                                            & rivers in which you seek
                                                            assurances will die
                                                            when there is no life

                                                                                                    :: {left} ::

                                                                                at poetic feet.

                                                                                                    When those shallow waters are stripped
                                                                                                    of meter, syllable & accent—only then
                                                                                                    will time reveal itself

                                                                                :: to no one ::

                                                                                                    that it is nothing

                                                            compared to a force living
                                                                                outside of it.

I’d be lying if I say I didn’t fear Efes

                    as much as I murmur & hiss
                    against all these little strings
                    having their way with me.

& I’d be lying if I say I didn’t

                    :: like getting heavy heavy ::

                    with all these bomb solar neutrinos,

                                                            the wild-on ghost particles
                                                            seeping into my body
                                                            when they shouldn’t

                                                            affect me, much less
                                                            matter. To which they hiss
                                                            & murmur & mess when I hold
                                                                       something as simple & delicate

                                                            as asking a friend
                                                            if it were meant

                                                                                                                                                   :: to be ::

That somehow could we still share          :: time ::          all the while with Efes passing

                                        me & has been
                                        & relentlessly
                                        reaching & reaching for
                                        & sometimes touching


                                        & still you stand at the same river,

thinking of the answer you gave, one from where the head

                                        cannot meet the heart

                                                                           for reasons unknown


From Hunger Mountain Issue 23: Silence & Power, which you can purchase here.

Art by @anna_croc01, curated by Dana Lyons.

Recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and Canto-Mundo, Rosebud Ben-Oni’s most recent collection, turn around, BRXGHT XYXS, was selected as Agape Editions’ EDITORS’ CHOICE (2019). She writes for The Kenyon Review blog. Her work appears in Poetry, APR, The Poetry Review (UK), Tin House, Guernica, among other places; her poem, “Poet Wrestling with Angels in the Dark,” was commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in NYC and published by the Kenyon Review Online. Find her at


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