Ben Oost

temple walls
after cavafy’s ‘in despair’
for alan rosendale, victim of a gay bashing by undercover police sydney, 1989

portrayed on disparate planes          two fingers sign in another tongue
on the lips of each            i love the taste of cum, call
electrical impulse action potential          vowels of flesh
consonant skeleton          re-membered hole whispers glory glory
want young guys to fuck arse, call          this particular protein’s pore

is always open           amyl buzz fluorescent rapture
insert cock here          influx efflux either side of equilibrium
eyes full frontal—he said—         get off on my chest
charged particles          head in profile sum together
where has all the cock gone          peripheral nerve

diametric stance        hard as horn tyre under cover
fuck off faggots           ion pump voltage gated bathed in solution
liminal conception still time—         bone truncheon blood vulnerable blot
remains outlined in relief          unwholesome victim la petit mort

honey man it is recorded that, in tianfang, there was an old man willing to sacrifice his body for the people. please. consult the physicians. i have eaten life long enough, well enough, to let it come undone before it undoes me. so he stopped taking any food. he drank only honey. after a month, his stools & urine all turned to honey. don’t cry as i liquidate. don’t cry as i crystalise. for the term of my sugared vigil i will meditate on the moon. waxing while i wane, it will slink from shadow to gleam naked & full — always asunder, often obscure, perfectly predictable. i wonder how it spooked her. she so beautifully, beautifully written. so terribly, terribly sad. i see me, a pale crescent encircling hers, still thinking the making in making love outweighs the giving away. she was a simile. i made her a metaphor. i tried but couldn’t change her ending. after his death, the people kept him in a stone coffin filled with honey & buried in the ground. after one hundred years the body became a kind of honey-preserve. my feet are cold, o’ candied cadaver. i deserve to die for the thousandth time. ancestors, every one robed in silk, may be with me as ever but they cannot save me like you and yours. mine press their hands to their gaunt faces as if those faces still had flesh; beat their breasts as if their sinew still had substance; offer pitiful prayers that heaven might intervene as if their throats had not rotted many moons before i found myself on this stinking battlefield. bronze has yet again broken my bones. thoughts spool. the very awareness of my own existence surrenders to this siege. death drums an attack. when someone was suffering, a little of the honey man could be swallowed. it worked instantly. i smile as you and your line, every one clothed in the coarsest cloth, dissolve on my tongue. li shizhen, bencao gangmu or compendium of materia medica

Ben Oost was shortlisted for the 2015 Melbourne Poets Union International Poetry Prize; won the 2014 Words in Winter Modern Poetry Competition; runner-up in the inaugural Second Bite Poetry Competition and his short story ‘Mumtaz’ was highly commended in the 2017 Grace Marion Wilson Emerging Writers Competition. He has had poems published in Rabbit Poetry Journal, Unusual Work, Contrappasso, Have Your Chill, Frogpond, Failed Haiku and Paper Wasp. Ben was co-editor of the 2016 poetry anthology Shots from the Chamber.
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