THIS

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

Menu
November-December 2016

Two poems by Benjamin Hertwig

From our November-December 2016 issue

Benjamin Hertwig@benjaminhertwig

DESIRE IN SEVENS

i.
pace across city streets under the full light of moon
like the coyote in winter, coat the colour of dirty snow
not knowing one day beyond
the next, moving with unconscious,
habitual desire, carrying only
the fear of loud noises
and an intimate knowledge of the cold.

ii.
return to a time
when you thought about
something
other than pain
or the tapping of trees
on your window.

iii.
strain
for intinction
in the cry
of every magpie
and crow.

iv.
make love
to anyone
with a kind
face

v.
watch yourself
sleep
from a distance

vi.
lay your head on soft
skin

vii.
wait without speech—


A VISIT FROM THE PRIME MINISTER, KANDAHAR

you stand at attention.
he walks between the
soldiers, row by row,
stopping to ask the odd
woman or man where they
are from, how long
they have been away,
whether they have visited
the new tim horton’s
yet. you are surprised
by the way his belly
protrudes, like a swollen
dog’s stomach. pale winter
of his face swaying like
fishflesh on the bottom
of the ocean floor.
he wears a vest of many
pockets and as he passes
by you cannot imagine
whose lives     what life
the pockets contain.

Benjamin Hertwig's writing has recently appeared in the New York Times and the Literary Review of Canada. He won the 2015 Prairie Fire Non Fiction Contest, the 2015 Glass Buffalo Poetry Prize, and was longlisted for the 2016 CBC Short Story Award. His first book of poems, Slow War, is coming out in 2017.

Show Comments