LABA Alumni Respond to OTHER: Poems by Ben Gantcher

Ben Gantcher / Three Poems from Snow Farmer

Say I wrote these poems out of feeling furious, frustrated, frightened. I wrote them for both of us, you and me; like me, you need defenses against the zombie infection: you need nuance, blurred borders, food for the miniscule organs that effect identity exchange.

2014-2015 LABA alumnus Ben Gantcher’s new book of poems, Snow Farmer, is out now. Find it at bookstores and online.


So many things to be pissed about
so many serious ways to be a bottle of fumes
raveling through the heaping and sonorous rooms
traveling with all of it past the limit as one approaches the horizon
Stow the purse nets, Mr. X
and get below decks
Sitting in this cubicle
no sillier than death
the orange-brown printed soothing wood-grain laminate
the streaked and inked faintly off-gassing puppet-skin partitions
and outside the winter callery with abrupt-right upper branches
with scarecrow-cuff twigs that say Tuilleries
in the Gowanus mixed-use zone It just so happens
the white pea-gravel neat metal chairs the deep scraping
come with me out from the cubicle
to buy groceries Try
to find a market in the Gowanus
tugged at the while by croquet and flamingos
We might buy a condo on the Gowanus
and post flamingos along the embankment
but groceries maybe flamingo foie gras It’s a problem
the interlocking structures on the last buildable land
but is it math
I used to know where to get plastic farm geese stuffed with lightbulbs
but groceries


What’s  Bad

after GB

Not living in Mexico
and hearing about the new Mexican thriller
that’s banned in the U.S.

Leaving your phone in the kitchen
and not your friends or the gorgeous bartender being able to unglue

Having an idea
that you can’t support with reference to court decisions
the way the professors do

Having traded small caresses with your wife throughout the day
and making room in bed for your son who’s had a nightmare

Not thinking of yourself as part of a group
but the members insisting
that you have to belong to something

Seeing your dear departed father
in the mirror

Very bad: The auspicious pigeons
wheeling across the plaza
turning you round like a sunflower
and inner Tiresias saying they always do that

And worst of all:
The executive order committing you to adolescence
your store of twilight safran
drying out in the Cloud
without a pinch of irony


Pipilotti  Rist  Security  Cam

Faultless geraniums
art-noveau ivy
judgments on the Jamaican resorts
from the neighbor’s stoop
complaints about the Benz dealership
the loaner sports car’s too low
with lumbago You know
I arranged for Dr. Morris he’s up from Charleston to visit Riverside tomorrow

The striving, the preening
and the other cheek — complaint!
drowning out the gale of her solitude
But the respites she fits herself inside of —
the periwinkle and thin indigo slub silk video of the lumpen
his bovine pit bull’s frog stance — relief with orange marigolds