sporklet 11
Ben Gantcher

On Reading Shelley’s Defence of Poetry

I can’t stay in my seat but wander o’er bracken into a cabin

with cardinal windows and static air, I’m the mink on display

and the dusty gleam, and the ticket I bought to my mom’s

kidney transplant, mixing self with self, like the quelled

fever on the B103 at the mannequin hour,

assembled and separate, in that way home, and so you part


with me and repair, like the accordion I sing a little

let my daughter out the door to visit

the store kitten as I reclaim

the ice house like a toy chapel

and the tidy battering abdomen and wings like separate

thinking at the sugar pane and the water sound of the central linen


it frames the mixing greens and past

them saplings and the pasture of raw paint

and sky as apparent as wrong

for these days ice house is store of kidnapped children

but she makes it home with the tail of a candy bar

and fare thee well to the urban heath

What Keyhole of Instructive Light

strokes Benjamin of the tunnels o son shake off

the jealous platform on the up-

schlep at Utica and lick the bottles of gossiping

syrups the so what cloth on the forehead of ice

shake it with the pullet acacias that shimmy in carnival dusters

and the cop in stirrups unhooked up trouble in the landscape stamp

the whispering of pillars that clings

You say seaside light on the blufflike projects

the same ocean open notebook I wonder of

your poem of this sore agora what doors o son

you spin away from what keyholes draw you back


Ask why nude apples

are standing in raw circles

in the snow of whom?

The wooden laughter

seizes the wood

and leaves it, seizes

it but could

you chase down

the mooning

spirit in the well

spots of the forest?

In the meantime

no one comes out

the otherwise ample


to smooth my hair.

A pair of finches,

pudgy and

contrapuntal, is ornament

on the electrical

lines like

rosettes I’m forgetting

on the hem of

whose gown?

Ben 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 math and Language Structures at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn, where he lives with his family.