/eric tyler benick

fox hunt

even in death
it’s about having
the biggest obelisk

fox beneath the sourwoods
of south brooklyn questions
cemetery meanings

the stones of dead mayors
a vile conglomerate
still scheming in rot

fox feels offended
where can one go
to watch the scarlet tanagers

without the strong-armed intersection
of bureaucracy            most of us can’t afford
a mausoleum

many of us will be wrapped in gauze
and tossed into the communal pit
the rest ash-subjugated

or banefully boxed
even in death there’s nary a place
to lay one’s head

maybe fox is merely a pathos
and if truth resides in darkness
we must feel our way there

remember a catacombs
is also a document
so many indelible scoundrels

and only now have we begun
to punish their effigies
even in death

fox thinks
even in death
they displace me

fox hunt

a fox friday
is more like tuesday
morning when all the rifles
are locked up in westchester

there’s no crowd
at the met so fox
surreptitious by nature
can sidle by the egyptian wing

up to the second floor
enormous room of rooms
where  he encounters the oil
massacre of his many bodies

it’s the only time fox can loosen
his tongue enough to wail openly
his cries echoed by the empty chamber
and returned to him charged and contrapuntal

foxes don’t know a lot
about history but neither do painters
which makes for a dramatic exchange
with very little subtext

there are no fox memories
only instincts and so fox doesn’t stress
for significance but threads his tapestry
of behaviors which does the meaning for him

it looks a lot like learning
but corporeal like altering blood
flow or optimizing digestion
with only the intimations of stillness

by the time the crowd arrives
fox is long gone besides it’s friday
the eagles are high on the hunt
their nests left empty and ample with eggs

fox hunt

fox does not strive to be indelible
but impresses himself briefly
against the signals[1] of his passing

stein may have been slick
with her rose tautology
but the rose has never considered stein

and has kept rosing and unrosing
through time’s exhaustive shadow
despite attempts to reify its roseness

a fox language is like a rose
language except hungrier[2]
the stakes much higher in his plucking

he knows everything is meaningless
that cannot sustain the day and how pretentious
to die empty like a signifier

no one has written a poem in a fox language
spicer was maybe closest when he said
(as if there were nothing on the mountains but

what nobody wanted to escape from)
which is the best we can hope for fox
with no reason to tell us anything

[1] a fox language is not a gibberish or a glossolalia
not a marker of meaning
but an instinctual taxonomy

[2] for what use is a word that doesn’t fill you up
nomenclature is a breadless winter
fox could never survive the dictionary

Eric Tyler Benick  is the author of 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 publisher of chapbooks. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Washington Square Review, Vassar Review, Entropy, Mount Island, No, Dear, Reality Beach, Ghost Proposal, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Brooklyn.