Ben Gucciardi

Ben Gucciardi

Benjamin Gucciardi’s poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2018, Forklift Ohio, Indiana Review, Orion Magazine, RHINO, Spillway, and other journals. He is a winner of Iron Horse Literary Review’s 2019 Trifecta Poetry prize, the Milton Kessler Memorial Prize from Harpur Palate, a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg prize and contests from The Maine Review and The Santa Ana River Review. He works with refugee and immigrant youth in Oakland, California through Soccer Without Borders, an organization he founded in 2006.

Type Two

Five times a day, I prick my finger
and ask my blood about its failure.

Out of its cage,
it wants to discuss its better cages:

How, before it was mine, it lived inside
a python near Varanasi—

the thrill of rushing
when muscle snaps a rabbit’s spine.

How it wants to paint a self-portrait
as the Ganges river—

in the foreground, a woman in a yellow sari
cleanses her son’s limp body, his skin

the color of the river, the river
the color of her eyes.

That’s how holy I am,
it says, as I turn the meter off,

trash the strip and choose a new tract
to stick the insulin in.

The python uncoils from its catch, slinks
beneath a rusty harrow.

The woman weaves marigolds
in her son’s wet hair,

climbs beside him
on the bamboo board.

The current ferries them off the canvas, stretched
over blue tile. Marigolds

spill into my hamper, crimson petals
on the bathroom floor.


From Ruminate Magazine and Best New Poets

The Hermitage at Laurel Dell

Of a life playing Bach for moss
on a swollen cello,

lying for days
in a field of milkmaids,

undressing in fog to translate Jeffers—
wolle, entfernung, stein, Wahrheit,

only six rotted railroad ties remain
and a few microfiche slides

of Emil Barth’s meticulous cursive
filling the page— A buck,

plus what’s foraged, feeds you well enough,
he wrote in his journal,

March eight, nineteen sixteen,
but a boar, salted and cured, is divine.

When the poets came to visit,
he didn’t tell them he was unhappy,

nearly always sick.
He toasted with plum mead,

laughed at stories of their trysts.
So what, touch haunts you,

he told himself when they’d gone,
drinking from the spring,

scrubbing his doubt with clear water,
the bombs would fall, anyway.


From Harpur Palate

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