c o n v e r g e n c e:
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EDITOR'S CHOICE: cynthia linville's

James Benton

Photograph by Myles Boisen
Photograph by Myles Boisen


by James Benton

                              per il mio antenato da Lucca, Abdanego

It came down to the trees' twisted hands
that pulled their sinews up
from the land's thin crust. Hands
that cut timbers shaped with gouge
and mallet, stained with oil
and sage, heavy-scented, torn slabs
thick with scar, straightened with eye and rasp.

He worked alone, this happy genuflection.
Steel and branch yielded to some
crossed mimic of his want,
to his hint of da Vinci straining
to the music of spheres,
toward a wonderment of generations
pressing through the gnarl of his olive
hands at work. He asked what lodestone brought him
to this soil to show the sun
his teeth yellow from olive pressing, his eyes
raised like ascension

legs bowed by the strain of
timbers hauled and mitered to a pure
precision, thankful for toil, grateful
for endurance, eager for release. His legacy
a stout cross standing before pews jointed square
as the hands that built them—his
vanishing in the seams of my father’s face.


by James Benton

All the dust between your limbless birth
And the marketplace has settled in your weave,
A bundle of rags left
On the street    near a door    You
Bowl of coins: you
Loose-wrapped wad, you
Cotton shard. You
Kicked from the road, the sweat
On a donkey’s hide, you
Burnt bed of woven rope lit by
Amber ropes of light.
The dye bakes from bright red to gray,
Yellow brocade bleeds to burnt gray.
The husk of the sun rouses even this
Living bag of laundry someone
Carries daily to the street when
Morning is coolest and foot traffic highest
Past the chipped bowl. We
Leave you to your verbless life,
Those flint eyes blinking
From behind their mask of rags, you torso—
Collecting the day beside a bowl of coins.


by James Benton

hair at first a ring of light
the scrawl of fingers pressed
inside my eyes the scent

of vanilla mixed with your ginger
they are not your eyes
or bones but suspend a pale

predecessor's frame
some dallied youth
recombinant for an hour

throwing dice from a cup
against your firm scroll version

James Benton, Photograph by Randall Benton

James Benton, Photograph by Randall Benton

James Benton lives in Eastern Oregon with his wife of 35 years. He received his BA from Eastern Oregon University, and his MA in creative writing at Cal State Sacramento, where he received four Dominic J. Bazzanella Literary awards for his writing. Poetry, short fiction, memoir, and reviews have appeared in cold-drill, Oregon East, Calaveras Station, Convergence, Raintown Review, Word Riot, Ragazine.cc, Flatmancrooked, Poetry Now, Rattle and is forthcoming in New York Quarterly. He also serves as a senior editor for noir fiction at Mixer Publishing.

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