Benjamin Renne
Excerpt from Nostos

close your eyes and see the movement

beginning like the rest, it shuffles, binary and momentous

a step back

even in inaction there is movement

but those of us who lacked a certain precognition for the rules of the game puttered out before too long

tired and hungry

it moves always toward rebirth

to ensure it becomes habitual

I walk so that the arches of my feet overlap the cement cracks in the sidewalk

to know that even in the obscured longing of shadows there exists definitive boundaries beneath us

remember the July day when the summer stretched out in either direction?

the pear tree in the front yard never bore fruit, but the mulberry trees bulged with purple

there was a point where we met, bodies collided

this coming together in the past

one toward Spring, the other a spiral arm

the practiced syllogisms

I’ve already forgotten

we walked in tandem as if to occupy the same place at the same time

remember Heraclitus?

secret hero of these poems

we stretched out our legs on the bed to overcome the complications of sex

two bodies occupied the same place at the same time

synaptic reversals

we stepped into the river together

an impossibility

an amalgam of distortions

I reverberate the present

likewise, you’ve forgotten where to begin

a look, a break, disjunctions

shapes fill out in lines

excerpts and contrasts

the red and white colonies shorn by the familiar stench of disease

starvation is our methodology of choice

remember Blake?

I see thee in thick clouds and darkness on America’s shore

America assumes your body as its modus operandi

devourer of thy parent

America bleats

tired and hungry

America groans under the pressure

it culminates in erotic dialogues

Aristophanes understood sex as a circle

resolution only in the unsure perfection of our bodies

as if to be diminished

the past was recollected in moments which we only later discerned as present

or in other words, the American dream is one continuous orgy and the politics of it are only recalled on waking

in that same moment the Hellenic spirit overwhelmed the Mediterranean

close your eyes and see the movement

the struggle of the Aegean accumulating via fisheries and alphabets, turbulent oral mythologies

the polis, a worn vestment of those Ionian shores

politics appeared as that which contains a moving forward into discrete energies, ranges, multitudes, etc.

likewise your body is a commodity

likewise I reverberate the present

remember Helen?

after all that confusion you never trusted my poetry again

we remembered summer because otherwise it made no sense to remember winter

that place which contained us and our multisyllabic emanations

it was then we expressed movement as a cautious kind of stagnation

our bodies can be expressed in only so many terms

naked and shriveled, writhing and wispy

I sometimes remember stories differently

you practiced calculating the speed of light as it pierced through various substances

we knew the end points before we began

so the numbers came easy to us

equidistant politics of motion

and plugged the rest into Excel sheets, which we cataloged according to the Library of Congress Classification System

we followed the trajectory which took us the least time

but to arrive home again involved some shedding of light envisioned as one turbulent motion

close your eyes and see the movement, the crust undulating in waves

one tectonic motion, one great thrust forward

into this sense of homecoming

America is that same shadow of Albion

so we accumulated hegemonies like trinkets sunk in moonlight

and the stars we navigated by made distorted specters on the water

so that the structure of the problem was in the coming-forth-out-of

the system was this purposeful movement

ideal and constructed

remember that bodies are always political

and movement can be thought of as a kind of dance

it was Nietzsche who first envisioned a dancing God, who made way for Stravinsky

The Firebird is not rebirth in the Modernist sense, but rather a containment of forms, a dissolution of enchantments, etc.

here at last the volta

here at last the rhetorical climax of your body

our bodies, American

I welcome the movement, the transcendence of the moment

alive and throbbing, the third axiom arrives with the [relative] dynamics subito forte

the movement of a landmass is contained within its own political boundaries







so by the time we remembered what the crossing-over entailed we had already forgotten it

an accretion of forms

a building up of dissatisfied bodies

the trip stretched outward from your eyes in all directions, streamed in simultaneity

while your hands clutched at the oily ground, cramped with the weight of visions

we explored innumerable corridors of the imagination

and began to collide historically

when finally the French flags appeared at the mouth of the York River the system began its long stuttering hiccup forward

remember that all bodies, even water, are political

and what is more American than a river?

you seem always to be changing

the force felt here is didactic

yet there is even more to be learned from the syncopation

we sat beside each other on the couch and played back the recordings we had made, failing at first to properly take account of certain ineluctable blemishes

the distortion in our voices

the tilt and swoop of pitch

echoes in the faint feedback loop

it reminded us of the conversions we juggled in our heads, analog to digital and back again

of solipsism and the conservation of matter, which is of course energy

of the sloppy arithmetic that had gotten us this far, the algebra we avoided

it reminded us of marijuana and the little black flakes of sage which tore apart the universe

it reminded us of bodies

of glass frameworks whose only purpose was to refract light in prismatic streaks

and it reminded us of the aching we used to listen for in our music, when the records became too digital to play properly

the vinyl scratching muted in the crispness of the perfect audio file

out of which poured our hunger

the sudden awakening as if from a long desired hibernal ontology

it pushed itself out of the confused mist

America revolted, is always revolting

to see at last a divination of historical variables

an algebra of politics

a certain lateral movement which can be expressed only in the unexpected surge of spirit

that movement deceived us, made us into confused half-entities

it de-boned our rough limbs and split our bodies along the unending sidewalk, cracks in the cement

Benjamin Renne lives and teaches in the Washington, D.C. area. In 2017, he earned his MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University. Concerned with vision, elegy, and prophecy, Renne explores the ways in which the Poet navigates transcendent landscapes as the cataloger and primary witness of the prophetic. His poetry and short fiction has appeared in SLAB, The RavensPerch, and GFT Presents: One in Four.