July/Aug 2019 • Vol. XLI No. 4 Poetry |

Trash

All the men I loved were dead -beats by birthright or so the legend went. The ledger said three out of every four of us was destined for a cell or lead shells flitting like comets through our heads. As a boy, my mother made me write & sign contracts to express the worthlessness of a man’s word. Just like your father, she said, whenever I would lie or otherwise warp the historical record to get my way. Even then, I knew the link between me & the old man was pure negation, bad habits, some awful hyphen filled with blood. I have half my father’s face & not a measure of his flair for the dramatic. Never once have I prayed & had another man’s wife wail in return. Both burden & blessing alike, it seemed, this beauty he carried like a dead doe. No one called him Father of the year. But come winter time, he would wash & cocoa butter us until our curls shone like lodestone, bodies wrapped in three layers of cloth just to keep December’s iron bite at bay. And who would

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Dr. Joshua Bennett is the author of The Sobbing School (Penguin, 2016), a National Poetry Series selection. He holds a Ph.D. in English from Princeton University, and an M.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Warwick, where he was a Marshall Scholar. Dr. Bennett has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, Cave Canem, and the Ford Foundation. His writing has been published or is forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Boston Review, The New York Times, Poetry and elsewhere. He is currently a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University.

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By Joshua Bennett

All the men I loved were dead -beats by birthright or so the legend went. The ledger said three out of every four of us was destined for a cell […]

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