By Benjamin Schmitt

Track 18

Sophie bears me to ill will
she cannot bare
the weight of her own heart
she-bears have robbed her
with their raw fish breath
and den scents
of the inquisitive breeze
that once scattered
organized leaf piles of religion

But maybe she just kept running
from everyone until
there was no one left to ask
the inquisitive breeze
lost in mind’s hurricane

Then she was handed
the wreckage of the mundane
shards of a house
unaware of its own boundaries

Now she can’t see us
because she’s looking for Jesus
she calls a plumber
for fear he’s stuck in the drain
she swears she hears him crawling in there
and no one can ridicule
the kind of religious eccentricity
that can expand into an empire

Track 31

In one of my first jobs
I used to stare out
the long windows of the Osiris Theater
at the girls passing by
the windows were so long
my love affairs
would begin at the first window
and end at the last
the bosses would always call me away
from these libidinous silent vigils
their punishment for these daydreams
was to make me change the marquee
a blistering swirl
of lights and personalities
as I stood with a pole
spelling movie names in the street
I stole so many Reese’s
Peanut Butter Cups from that place
hiding in the dark
as silver bullets struck dying fires
bleeding exposure on the screen
but I liked the bosses
an interracial gay couple
somehow living in Idaho
my favorite was John
whose father had moved
his family from Chicago
and abandoned them out west
John was kind like an island
breaking a river
just to feel surrounded
his husband Richard
was some sort of mad projectionist
body stooped from
handling too many reels
nobody liked him because of the way
he awkwardly rubbed his hands
and licked his lips
as if he were planning
to smother us with butter and salt
for a movie snack
but oddly I think he saw all the kids
that hated him as his children
sometimes at the end of the night
they would gather us together
and accuse us all
of taking money from the register
later I found out the bosses
had been embezzling
money from the theater all along
all the workers stole candy so
I suppose it’s funny that all of us
were stealing from each other
while ushering patrons
to their separate fantasies

Track 35

They say it rains here in Seattle,
but all I’ve ever felt are dreams dropped by clouds
as they decided to stop wandering the skies,
entering military academies in attempts at practicality.
Body builder sidewalks pump irons and people,
laughing at soaked shoes. A few hundred tourists
collectively embrace these discarded dreams, forgiving them
by calling them rain. But a voice proclaims,

“I need an umbrella to stop the demons.
We’re all dead. The show Home Improvement
was real. The Democrats are really donkeys
and the Republicans are really elephants
and we are trapped in Roman times watching these beasts
fight it out in the Coliseum.” I move towards the voice.
Standing there is a well-dressed woman,
and I know she is a cloud with a degree in business.

Track 51

The porch light reflected on the concrete
is a skeleton
that only comes alive in the rain
flexing its fingers, grimacing,
haunting our hypocrisies.

The whole wild horror begins with this,
faces of the undead pressed against windows

dripping cloud gore. A million banshees crash
and wail through headlights. The streetlamp
phantom gnaws at the black abyss.
Goblins eat raw cat in the bushes.

Ghoulish rain death gives life.
In six months,
green will come again.
We will forget the terrors
of foggy werewolves pouncing on cars
and vampires falling from dying leaves
in hunger. And those nights

will be still, with no
surreptitious slitherings. But first
we must survive our warmth inside
cold reaches of isolation
as dry carpets murder us one by one.
It is elementals we fear
yet we lose our souls in hiding.

About the Author:

Benjamin Schmitt is the Best Book Award and Pushcart nominated author of two books, Dinner Table Refuge (PunksWritePoemsPress, 2015) and The global conspiracy to get you in bed (Kelsay Books, 2013). His new poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Antioch Review, The Columbia Review, The Summerset Review, and elsewhere. You can read his scary stories for kids in the Amazon Rapids app. He lives with his wife and daughter in Seattle where he also reviews books, curates a reading series, and teaches workshops to people of all ages.