Listen:

All my timelines lead to this poem.

Proof: What brought us here is all

the same horse. So I have some questions.

Which of us are the shallow wood.

What if blood is emptiness. I suspect

my own veins are rogue simulations

flitting with a new kind of heightened self-

awareness. Proof: the nurse says they are flighty

& hard to find. Drink more water, she sings,

pushing her own tin. What if what’s within

is simulated to keep every artery compliant.

You know.

That whole thing being

as being undead

dead creeks.

 

It’s also sad to think

the envy still filling us over some horse

we knew for less than a week

is simulated. Don’t you feel better at least? Well,

do I have news {for you}: I suspect the horse is

also false, bogus, feigned. Proof: he comes running

when we do not call for him. Proof: In one timeline,

he and I are doing a lot of simulated things.

Get your mind out of the gutter.

On holidays we openly bathe

in a {manmade}

heated spring

 

—or rather: he fears the water & balances

on edge. Half the time he slips. Falls in & blips. Holds me

responsible. Resets. Drink more water, tweets the anti-horse

threatening to annihilate another anti-

{horse}

come salt

winter, come stone

age. So place your bets

that advanced civilizations don’t always

not annihilate themselves. Woah.

Let’s try this again.

Reset.

*

Maybe our most real timeline resides in another verb tense.

Or is hiding in new irregular superlatives. Should we ask for

who

whom

whoest. Because why be skinned when you can be

skunned. Would you do the honors. My deliberateness says to trust you.

One simulation to another, am I wrong. Didn’t we see we through

fire, windmill, heated floors. Were we not a woman waving

a white handkerchief. One if by land. Skull

& bones. Ticks in the trees & mysterious

{reset}

nil & :: please.

*

If nothing else,

can we not all agree

hummingbirds win Most

Fabulous Simulations.

Even if they are the secret guards,

& their tears

the anti-virus software

injecting all those broken

1s & 0s into our hearts.

& surely in one timeline they are the gods themselves ::

the superlative whoest

of engineers

who’ve made mincemeat

of asteroids & atomic

timewears.

It’s too bad that all our timelines are inherently self-destructive.

Proof: we watch the same video of a hummingbird snoring for hours,

still sitting in the nurse’s chair & not a step closer to what life,

outside of human reach, desires. I’m okay with that.

The horse is calling.

& I’m running

my hands through his mane,

unable to explain.

 

Where & when this comfort,

this crisis,

took root.

How did we meet, was it two if by sea.

I can’t remember when we did not cheat

life with a horse

:: when all timelines were

a real

& :: even field

in which the humming

-bird drank our blood

straight from the creek.

 

Illustration: Ansellia Kulikku.

Rosebud Ben-Oni

Rosebud Ben-Oni is a recipient of the 2014 NYFA Fellowship in Poetry and a 2013 CantoMundo Fellow. Her most recent collection, turn around, BRXGHT XYXS, was selected as Agape Editions’ Editor’s Choice, and will be published in 2019.  Her work appears or is forthcoming in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, Tin House, Black Warrior Review, Prairie Schooner, and Poetry Northwest. Her poem “Poet Wrestling with Angels in the Dark” was commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in NYC.  She writes for The Kenyon Review blog, and teaches creative writing at the UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program. Find her at 7TrainLove.org