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Ode to the Poems of Ross Gay

by Benjamin Bartu

forgive me; friends, Ross Gay, unsolicited

attentions, lovers of chocolate, great god but please

stop whatever it is you are doing

cartwheeling down the street

tangling in the reeds with love

staining your lips with the juice of birdshit wine

let me offer instead chocolate which

is to say, please

pay me attention! I have news

from front of house, i bear

fruit, have watched myself

striptease off my vinyl gloves

to press my palms against

the steely vats of

melted chocolate

that radiate with a heat which coats

your hands impossible

to repeat alone, I mean to say

never have I ever felt so warm,

in any summer or superior flush

of steam from the grate keeping me

above the metro and the petals

and it is

and i do not

say this lightly

the best. Even better

when the thirty-something customer

wearing his i love unicorns tee

waltzes in and takes me

from my burning fingers

to the cases where we keep

the truffles and as i

assemble his 24-piece

box asking if the food will be a gift and if

he needs a ribbon

he mumbles beneath his breath, something

to the tune of archery

and when i ask

could he repeat himself

he says orgy, i am going

to an orgy, and that he’s signed up

to bring chocolate and no,

a ribbon wouldn’t be appropriate. What

to do but laugh

all the walk home,

knowing that evening i would put

myself to bed and fall into sleep imagining

the partygoers

stuffing their faces

full with truffles

knees weak before the holiday feast.

It’s one more feeling

without a name, using your hands

to feed the people

who will feed each other.

So thank you, too

to the heat that allows me, and hearths,

and free association, and why not to you,

love, whose drifting off beside me

while i lie awake chuckling to myself

will be my most likely refuge:

i can win the small victory of who can remain

conscious longest, i can find

a way to spin staying

conscious longest

into a victory. And there your thigh

resting against the apricot

of my knee, and now i

think of next week’s dinner,

and that span of years in which

my family would repeat almost

to exactness the same ritual, much as you

and i do now dear, with my rest always

more a struggle to come to than

yours at least

that’s what i keep telling myself here

in total dark

it becomes possible to realize that everything

i mean to say of ross gay’s poems i mean

of you, as well. to demonstrate

if i say i’d like

to wake up, pivot, and find myself

gazing upon the countenance of Ross Gay’s catalog

of unabashed gratitude i’m liable to privately

be referring to yours.

But also if Ross Gay were to hear this

it would be worth explaining

that i say such a thing knowing affection,

at least, to be more trench than sinkhole.

which, written a second time, keeps coming out to

maybe it wouldn’t be so bad

to admit i too love unicorns. And when the holidays arrived

we would carry the lamb out

of the oven and rub it sticky

sweet with chutney, pile golden

orange fruit around it, halve them,

let them open so not like a wound. I’ve done this

with the few i love, and more than once, dug

into sweetness, on some

night prior to but not unlike this one, and

with the lights on surely you must

have seen the scar, some injury sustained in youth

carried like a sack of rock across a

quarry of holidays, little bird, but you’re asleep now,

it’s certain, I can hear the snores pick up

like wind-chimes beside me

my favorite part of america has shut

itself inside that commune known as

dreaming, goodnight my lovely, my sleep

must find its way, gratitude outside the gate.

Benjamin Bartu is a writer and multi-citizen. He graduated from Linfield College with a BA in Political Science and Creative Writing. His work has been featured in The Mekong Review and The Albion Review, among others.

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January 2019

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