Oliver Bendorf is a teaching artist and writer. His book of poems, The Spectral Wilderness (Kent State UP), won the 2013 Wick Poetry Prize. His poetry, comics, and essays can be found in Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets, Buzzfeed, Indiana Review, Original Plumbing, The Rumpus, Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, and elsewhere, and he has received fellowships from the Lambda Literary Foundation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin, where he teaches, reads about, and makes animation, poetry, color, comics, gender, ghosts, and zines.
Sometimes I mistake the sound of my voice
for a rubber tire on the shoulder of the road.
I mistake my shoulder for an angle formed
by two lines coming together in geometry.
I mistake my geometry for the way mothers
are the holy holy holiest of holes in the heart
and I mistake my holy for a dried up plant
rolled into the pages of someone else's vision.
I am just as full of shit as everyone, including you.
And I mistake my fullness for abeyance,
mistake suspension for an early spring
rabbit hiding frozen in the road—I am
not the spring rabbit, I know, but it's easy
to mistake my ears for tambourines; I am
good at them without expending any effort.
Once I mistook the tart infatuation of a
kumquat for another seedless calamity.
I mistake seeds for nothing all the time.
I mistake time for space, space for freedom,
sparkles in the alley for a sign that our
universe is sentient after all, and loving,
and will take care of those of us who pray
however mistakenly, not on our knees
exactly, but with our hands clasped
that we may be mistaken for believers.
I mistake my hands for belief all the time.
I keep waking up expecting them to be
someone else's, but so far they're only
mine, and when I mistake distance for
absence I tend to go astray. Like when
I can't tell if someone is walking away
from me or toward me until it's too late
in either direction. I wonder whether coroners
mistake knees for elbows the way my love
loses track of left and right. There are times,
or should I say spaces, in which I mistake
fire for work gloves, which is almost always
a mistake and vice versa. I want a compass.
I need deliverance. Good god, take me,
mistake me back to the soft shoulder,
which I mistake so often for the road itself.
I dadaist. Youthfully I a woman. O hello, it's justified. I thicker thawed, I worry.
How we invent arenas of alternative myth-makeups, telegraphing each hello.
Sense me to the sledges. I'd likelihood a criticism of scissoring imaginary. I
have theorem. XO etching. Sometimes in early session, X sayings why he
abodes a monster. "Whelp I've always washes, I'd takings theoretic apace just
to surplus. I kneecap, I howling worshipful." Dear butterfat, I am intrinsic. Ares
we operate in a modify of quenches, or in a modesto of answering? Since I'm
nothing on T, I thought it be hardworking, be intrinsically transfer, butchery
thermodynamic I waste in it, fuschia it, I'm justice does it. I do not frighten
lover wholeheartedly. My compliments generator does not call me "failure"
anymore. Fellatio readjusted. Playmates panicking. We mate in transgression.
We travel aloha curiousest. People be silently or considerably diehard,
differently kindled and roundly erotic. Telegraphic me it's OK. You everyday
survivor. Thankless and thirsty. How to be holy is centaur to thermostat of
lovers. We aloft, we cannonball. Saintly I sail our makeup sadder. When we got
homemade, youngly dreamt a onetime light. Sagittarius, can you hearing me.
Let's not Oliver Bendorf our futuristic dogtown. Lettings do a photocopy
proximate of our own self bounced. Lasted nightcaps I dreams somewhat
predominantly about you. I was evicted for howling. They transcribed of my life
and I wordy "hope" 8 times. My bin beckons. Want a braves lesson, a neater
quiver, makeshift me therapeutic. That rocket on theoretical leftover. Thereafter
drafty. Thereabouts snowy. Then rain. We narrate our almanacs. Welcome,
youngly tappers, be haphazard and un(h)armed. Here is my selfsame-porridge.
The Gospel According To X
Shiny red girl drives around with a shriveled goat testicle in the cup-holder of
the car. Make me a shepherd, lord. Give me a delicate crook. On my back in the
clearing, I listen for rustling in the timothy next to the creek but hear nothing. X
gets stronger in an invisible way. Hungry, out of money, but less afraid, et
cetera. Are we all less afraid? X's shoulders grow in a way that feels like wings.
Some days a ghost and others a dragon. Some days the shepherd and some
days the sheep. But always a boy, and never ever ever ever ever ever a man,
for as long as he is able to cry or until some other things change around here.