Poetry: I Guess We’ll Have to Be Secretly in Love by Rosebud Ben-oni

Rosebud Ben-Oni’s love poem curls into itself, thematically and visually—put the anaphoric “to” on your tongue and let her generosity of language and image carry you into equine affection. There’s so much given here, and where a lesser poem would end, “I Guess” merely picks up steam.


I Guess We’ll Have to Be Secretly in Love with Each Other & Leave It at That

To can’t do. To overly over-you,

++++++++to te amo [wrong name], to songs of wronged
++++++++++++++++I think we & planting boxwood & snowdrop

++++++++++++++++++++++++for not our winter
++++++++++++++++++++++++children, nor sweet box
++++++++++++++++++++++++or winterberry.

++++++++++++++++ To facetiming winter silence

for hours. To no camellias & christmas rose touching through a screen

++++++++++++++++++++++++& not still sorry

about “somehorse”
++++++++I knew

++++++++for less than a week in iceland

++++++++++++& some other life lurking
++++++++++++++++on black sand shores.

++++++++++++++++++++To my life, to yours,

++++++++++++++++to sulking

++++++++++++under half-sunken moons & oh the places we won’t go,

++++++++++++++++++++to not airbnbing
++++++++++++++++++++++++haciendas of airy
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++rooms & canopy beds
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++engraved with lions

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++To drug restaurants
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++that serve only cobra lilies

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++with a side of delicious blackbirds
++++++++++++++++++++++++who wield spiked hammers—

++++++++++++++++++++a kind of punishment

for that ]]horse[[ I still long for.
To splinters & spitting
the names I’ll never
curse you

++++++++in kitchen inferno [when burning certain animals]
++++++++without remorse. To your most exquisite
++++++++stews & fermented
++++++++cabbage jars
++++++++++++++++++++++++I won’t break

++++++++++++to catch a broken down train
++++++++++++++++++++++++To that first train we missed.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++To falling off & eroded hoofprint.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++To the city you saved
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++by sticking a scorched trainer
++++++++++++in sliding door &

++++++++++++++++++++++++what’s so wrong

++++++++++++with hell anyway. To

++as a betrayal of what is happening
++++to people we love
++++++++& to people not just waiting around to die.
++++++++++++++++To love as resistance but not always

++++++++the way back. To can’t I can’t I. To you

++++crashing into the bathroom
++++++++& fishing me out of the sink
++++++++++++& carrying me in your arms

++like that scene in the bodyguard
++++only the song I sing has no queen,
++++++++has no eyes
++++++++++++or dreams, there is only
++++++++++++++++dim & dog-eared
+++++++++++++++++++kaddish. To forgiving me

++++for all the plums I’d most certainly devour.
++++++++To the platypus & fisher king, to breaking
++++++++++++in case of emergency.
++++++++++++++++To reading adonis

++++++++++++++++++++in a crowded bar while televisions
++++++++++++++++++++++++signal flare amid a canopy
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++of crows.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++To having hope
++++++++++++++++++++in our pop-up whit of the world,
++++++++++++++++its edges sour & peeling.

++++++++++++To never having really left jerusalem
++++++++++++++++which is why I’m still busted stars
++++++++++++++++++++& throwing elbows.

++++++++To the hours we made horses between nightfall
++++++++++++& war. To should go home. To leaving it
++++++++++++++++the longest way
++++++++++++++++++++of derailed horsecry
++++++++++++++++++++++++& amaranthine bones.


Rosebud Ben-Oni

Born to a Mexican mother and Jewish father, Rosebud Ben-Oni is a recipient of the 2014 NYFA Fellowship in Poetry and a CantoMundo Fellow; her most recent collection of poems, turn around, BRXGHT XYXS, was selected as Agape Editions' EDITORS' CHOICE, and will be published in 2019.  She was a Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan, a Horace Goldsmith Scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is an Editorial Advisor for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Her work appears or is forthcoming in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, Tin House, Black Warrior Review, TriQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, Arts & Letters, among others; recently, her poem "Poet Wrestling with Angels in the Dark" was commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City. She writes weekly for The Kenyon Review blog, and teaches creative writing at UCLA Extension's Writers' Program. Find her at 7TrainLove.org

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