Exodus 20:6


In this freckled dark I confide

to sending moon to arch your tide.

I am not bothered if my light

is only one in constellation’s night.

So long as mine is the one

that to the stars, is the Sun.


Joseph Byron Bennett

For J.B.


Catalpa leaves are gone.

Found worms in the piled dirt because

Cold wasn’t enough for the lake to freeze

It was morning and I did not catch a thing.


His hounds know and bray as it comes:


It is night now and I do not sleep a wink.

Night isn’t enough for train whistles to stop

Around the hole in the earth where

Black geese huddle.


Joseph Byron Bennett



How my ears are vexed by the ticking clock;

That two-faced smiling toll a wind-up trick.

Face the first which all human deeds does mock,

Face the second: heavenly hope turned sick.


Once around His hands offer every gift;

Again around His hands demand the cost:

For eager Spring that seed to fruit does lift,

Winter plucks blossoms with fingers of frost.


And His stiffest drink He serves to sip

From a cup ever filling to the top,

As an ejected tire’s rounding trip,

Till I am stomach sick and beg it stop.


Yet I confess on still, dark nights I fear

The climax of the clocks will someday near.


Joseph Byron Bennett

Barnacled hulls passing that clouded night


Barnacled hulls passing that clouded night

Illuminated only in the passing fire of broadsides;

The incoherenced barks of men;

The wet solidarity of our drowned.


In the yards, coarse stevedores remake us

Board by board, wounded and weathered alike replaced:

The captain as well as the cooper,

The surgeon as well as the cook.


If we mates spied each other again today

It would be as fellow admirers of admirals’ monuments;

As port-bound whalers rowing to a gam;

As a squadron in the commodore’s harbor parade.


Joseph Byron Bennett

Summer Rain


The wood murmurs

receives forceful kisses

and her bashful moans are the river in

Absentia. Afterwards,

they speak of Rain.


Sky’s prolonged rend.

Burning Manzanita:

“Some supersonic machine come to gift

us our Bomb,” knowingly

to Cotton-tail.


The striking of

the towhees, the wild sage,

the quail hen hurrying her brood, furtive

Coyote, black bugs; All

us tiny drums.


Joseph Byron Bennett

Upon the bank of a trail coils she


Upon the bank of a trail coils she

In the rising light gleaming bronze and white.

She betrays no warning; A compass her,

Attuned to knowings pulling point to pole.

All aligned into astrolabe angles,

Her tongue tastes what the scrub whispers hotly,

And her head turns east; approaching are



Joseph Byron Bennett

“Six more weeks of winter still”


“Six more weeks of winter still”

Sighs Grandpa Groundhog

As he does





My, he must be warm in his hidey-hole

While we shiver in the blizzard of his proclamations


But Spring’s trembling light strikes yet

And the first green shoot pierces

His house.


Joseph Byron Bennett