Eric Tyler Benick

Love song in which I am ceremoniously flogged by a high and sassy abbot

Once again I am stuck

in someone else’s version

of retribution, my cassock lifted

for the whole village to delight in.

I never know how I get into

these predicaments.

Once could say

I’m predisposed, eager to take a beating.

It must be my heretical ass—

my friend tells me they’re sure

that I’m a satyr, always prancing

around the abyss with my fiasco

of wine. I feel certain mythology

is out to get me,

just look at how lyrical all of this is,

like the tragedy of troubadours,

an allegory that goes the distance.

Why else would my legs

be so strong? With each strike

I am more resilient

and ready for the next.

When I hobble away

it will be with knowing

that I loved both because and despite.

There is no punishment for the wicked.

Just watch how easily I reason with pain.

Just watch me shed this body like a wet robe.

Love song as neuroses

Because when I enter another’s body

I do not leave my own.

Because all information seems a testimony

of inscrutable conclusion.

Because even the red light on the brownstones

is dispiriting.

Because the obsession with eternity

is obnoxious.

Because this used to be

a river.

Because it turns out

imagination is limited.

Because a monk’s holy sepulcher

is also a soldier’s latrine.

Because, don’t look at me, I’ve just awoken,

my eyes like marigolds

my thoughts in spondees,

my breath like durian.

I leverage my body for all of its capital.

I load my moribund bounty

into my backpack and walk

the railing of the FDR.

Because I am my sexiest

between chasms.

Because I love you even though

I don’t know you.

Because I would ruin my life

for so much less.

Eric Tyler Benick is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection, The Fox Hunts (PANK, 2023), the chapbooks I Don't Know What an Oboe Can Do (No Rest Press, 2020) and The George Oppen Memorial BBQ (The Operating System, 2019), as well as a founding editor at Ursus Americanus Press, a chapbook publisher. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Hobart, Oyez Review, Southeast Review, Bat City Review, Washington Square Review, and elsewhere. He is based in Brooklyn, NY.