Two Poems

Rachel J. Bennett




Some say play dead, some say tourniquet.


I say childhood. Remember lying so still beneath the tree you chose, the birds came back?

Wondering whether you’d be forgotten?


To be forgotten is the object here. Not just to think an ordinary sentence but to become one. For instance, this sentence is about tourniquets. Defined as a cord or tight bandage, from the Old French for coat of mail.


The hero is out of place here.


The fabric might be nylon or wool, but leaves won’t work here, and water cannot be tied tight enough to stop the blood. Because it’s about tightness here: the beat, your stomach before the kiss, your universe after, a stranger’s perfect fabric. This is about you. You won’t need your t-shirt anymore.


We are waiting for your name.


Some say fight, some say laws. I say stasis. Defined as little evolutionary change. Defined as civil strife. Defined as a state in which the normal flow of a bodily liquid stops.


So I say river. Remember floating? The sun gilding your face and the water’s body holding your own? Your new body heartbreaking?


We’ve come to the end.


You cannot survive gunfire without luck and a hero’s thought bubble blown just so against the edges of the frame:


What is this place? I thought I’d left all my defeats behind.



I was consigned to darkness, they said, because


darkness is safest. Look at what happened to the moon,

they said, flying her light in all directions with no thought

of the consequences. It’s difficult to argue in darkness, easy

to disappear, & invisibility is part of safety, they said, to be


silent is to be indistinguishable from a pile of wood, a pair

of boots, the curve of a piano in a country where no one

remembers to play. I asked, What happened to the moon?

We killed her, they said, & I had no choice but to believe


them, though I had seen light rowing on a real river days

before. We killed that, too, they said, we erase bloodline

after bloodline, we laugh & eat enormous lunches, &


suddenly I knew it was safest to call safety however they

called it, and life as any words I could keep from falling,

in such small feathers, from my past vocabulary & mouth.


 About the Writer
Split Lip Magazine

Rachel J. Bennett is the author of On Rand McNally's World, from dancing girl press. Her poems have appeared in journals including Big Lucks, BOAAT, Bodega, Five Quarterly, inter|rupture, Pith, Really System, Salt Hill Journal, Rattle, Sixth Finch, and Vinyl Poetry. She grew up on the Illinois-Iowa border, loves forests, and lives in New York City. Read more at