Three Poems – The Feminist Wire

Three Poems

 By Ari Banias


Some Kind of We


These churchbells bong out

one to another in easy conversation

a pattern, a deep ringing that wants to say

things are okay,

things are okay –

but things are

the compromised gesture,

the mind divorcing

from the eye as it sees, and I can’t

trust a churchbell, though I would like to

the way I can trust

that in this country, in houses,

apartments, there somewhere is a cabinet or drawer

where it’s stashed, the large plastic bag

with slightly smaller mashed together

plastic bags inside it; it is overflowing, and we keep adding,

bringing home more than we need, we should have

to weave a three piece suit of plastic bags

a rug, a quilt, a bed of bags even, anything

more useful than this collection this excess

why am I writing about plastic bags, because

it is this year in this country and I am this person

with this set of meanings on my body and the majority of what I have,

I mean, what I literally

have the most of in my apartment, more

than plants, more than forks and spoons and knives combined, or chairs

or jars or pens or socks, is plastic bags, and I

am trying to write, generally and specifically,

through what I see and what I know,

about my life (about our lives?),

if in all this there can still be—tarnished,

problematic, and certainly uneven—a we.





It was strange but now it’s normal:

the day ended, then in wolf-light

                      hair sprouted where previously was none –


Now the days are shorter. We learn to do in the dark, we get used to it.


And now I’m a fake man I’m talking moving but

I never learned how.  I’m faking and not-faking it, making it

up as I go which so far means

I’m not sure what’s expected and I’m probably not doing it right

hell, I might not even care –

a handshake can be awkward.              a hug is too


The choices:   cheating husband, vapid fag

checked-out corporate guy, self-centered evolved guy, predator, sensitive

yet inarticulate, messiah, martyr, angry man, father

these are godawful

and I would like ethics to play a role but

is good fashion too much to ask for?


I’m not sure I want to do this but here goes

drop my pants and the needle sinks in. Is it weird I feel it surge

powerfully through me? OK maybe that’s imaginary


but not the question of what it means to be a white dude

                                                          after having been a white girl –

How much is learned how much given how much taken on voluntarily?


I know I’d prefer to misbehave

continuously. Any squirrel would get what I mean – anarchic revelry,

refusing to ever be still, such keenness.

They own no tree so they all own all of them. I’d like to flick my tail too

whenever I want as if to say WHAT.


But at any moment I’m wherever someone puts me

then I change my mind. I’ll pick a side

when I need to


.                     handshake: OK;.   backslap-chortle: hell no.


Sometimes we’re engulfed by sides.


Granted this is no place to air-kiss or shake hands

but I’m pleased to meet you however I can.


This page another frame like any       you look through & are


invited to step into

And though I’ve never

met your body before and you’ve never met mine I am sure

they are spinning out someplace past where anyone could reach

I am sure now

there is no true body


our cells are always still freaking out.


When I went on vacation with my dad

it was awkward. Were we two men sharing a bed. Were we father

and daughter. We fought

as we always have, like brothers.


At dusk we took a walk into town. You know what we call this he said?

Wolf-light. Just after sundown the sky a deep bruise

the air anticipates.




Still Here


When you’re in love the world appears more beautiful is something

people like to say. For me it’s this: the heart’s throat

is choked. Someone went in & scrawled a moustache on the upper lip and then

one under each eye.


There’s the flood, the dam you have to keep

rebuilding. Who was driving? I didn’t remember being

the passenger; we switched?   – it’s understandable;

                                                           I almost drove us off the bridge.


As if rotating on an axis and thrust into light

it’s like this: I want us to be alone

but here’s the world again that glows and strikes. I admit

I do want love to swallow us whole

and have us stay alive somehow in the being-swallowed and then not be

swallowed forever; we can come up for air, and then we come up new and wise.


But it’s true, his arm is so heavy sometimes

I can’t breathe. The difference is

I’m not bothered, some other place breathes for me:.   I become

light and fast as music.  And now I don’t want to ever live

without that. (The mind always goes to without that.

Then the other thought: You’ll be fine.)


But these days I’m not fine: love takes its big sharpie

and draws moustaches on everything

which is to say it is everywhere reminding me of it and

laughing at me and sometimes I’m laughing too but mostly

stuttering a longing a doubting is a very difficult feeling

to maintain with the moustaches

like little dancing birds everywhere and my eyes so tired


.                                   And no balm exists or it does but it never

.                                   lasts long enough because then morning –


The only thing that stops the moustaches is the original moustache

belonging to the one shot through with this my stuttering my stumble


Except one thing. I did see the disco ball, two beefed up guys on Bowery

lifted out of the truckbed carefully.

One of them held it up waist-high and every

surface around them trembled with flecks of light.

The corrugated metal of the storefront gate, clutch of red

plastic grocery bags

in a woman’s hands,

the austere stone entrance to the bank. Little white

ripplings, the world mirroring itself back. Saying Hello. Here we are

we’re still here. And I walked through.



“Some Kind of We” first appeared in Portable Boog Reader 3 and was reprinted in Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion, and Spirituality, ed. Kevin Simmonds (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2011)

“Wolf-Light” first appeared in What’s Personal is Being Here With All of You (Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs, 2012)


ari banias photoAri Banias is the author of a chapbook, What’s Personal is Being Here With All of You (Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs, 2012). Recent work has appeared in Subtropics, DIAGRAM, Gulf Coast, and Evening Will Come. Currently the Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing in Madison, he was a 2011-12 Writing Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.