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Laurel Benjamin

Laurel Benjamin is a San Francisco Bay Area native, where she invented a secret language with her brother. She has work published in Lily Poetry Review, Burningword, Eunoia, South Florida Poetry Journal, Fourth River, Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down: An Anthology of Women’s Poetry, among others. Affiliated with the Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon and Ekphrastic Writers, she is a reader for Common Ground Review and has been featured in the Lily Poetry Review Salon. She was nominated for Best of the Net by Flapper Press in fall 2022.


I thirst for the paper, ask the artist
to tear and perforate me, turn
me sideways. I long to be cradled
into the hung shuddering pieces.
Wish my mother were here to sing
its praises, she who calligraphied paper,
origamied paper, marbled paper.
She would have created an ode
to this beast. People walk through
the tunnel’s length while chatting,
then gasps—from them or the paper—
as they disappear. I question polarity,
the way we depend on clouds’ ability
to meditate with sonorous space
around them, magic-trick box suspended
with the assistant inside, the magician
demonstrating. No strings. No gravity.
And I think, as I enter the paper tunnel,
this is my journey without my mother. My own
crescendo as I elbow the soft torn edges,
like the homemade paper sheets she made,
uneven and imperfect with nubs and whispers
of plant matter. The inside resonates
with air, in sync with thunderous shifts
on all sides, as I make my way through.

They’ll never name a hurricane after me

It’s true, my hair reddens to the war
of air, my arms curl, eyes close
to the rising. I pass by homes, pierce through

glass where a woman measures out
the wrong ingredient in lemon bars,
got it wrong like a novice, her downfall

as the bowl breaks, roiling my lust
over flooding rivers. I pour myself

into the surge, drop trees. Batter
and trap people on roofs until
dogs howl with eyebrows curved,

yellow tiger lily streaks running
through green stems. And the cat, she bears
music from gnashing jaws, mortality built

into ears. I head for a neatly laid out
highway lined with palm trees, a beach
thick with golden granules. I perjure

umbrellas, knots blood tied, doubled
and doubled. In plans for a full scale
storm I only name myself for the fallen,

though it’s not so much. Plastic chairs blown
onto a hillside, cups with straws
who bent their heads like flamingos

who’ve finished their dance.

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