Word Choice features original works of fiction and poetry. Read one poem by Ben Pease, selected by Daniel Moysaenko.
Note from the poet and artist: Black and white images serve as frontispieces for each section of the poem. Before reading the poem, the reader must confront these ghostly images that stand somewhere between a constellation and a Rorschach test. Since the pre-ghost images relate to the poem in some way, the reader may visualize something different before and after reading. Recently, I have begun to make videos that incorporate a similar visual technique. You can watch the first three sections here.
from Chateau Wichman
Darkness embraced The Wichman a black nylon flesh covered his own the symbiote suit however maliciously it fed off Spiderman’s adrenaline when he slept at least provided the webslinger breathability and a fashionable wardrobe not so for the Wichman his sauna suit kept him in the dark a claustrophobic but all too familiar lack of light maintained itself for some time just as impatient as The Wichman the darkness began expanding as one imagines pasta unfolding from a pasta machine luckily for The Wichman’s sanity the darkness didn’t go on for eternity or make The Wichman feel like a ribosome in the first cellular organism to make its own food thanks to a vague returning omnipotence The Wichman knew he was on a battlefield near the Ardennes Mountains hunkered down in a foxhole wriggling his toes to get a little feeling back he hugged his rifle tight kicked his feet up and right where his boot touched the edge of his depressed shelter a cigarette flared up a few miles off The Wichman got on his radio about to say Who The Fuck Ignored Light Discipline? but it was too late the batteries of German howitzers blasted The Wichman’s eardrums and shook the ground The Wichman tried to hum that line from the 1812 Overture between blasts but they came too quickly instead of an explosion burnishing the night sky the flicker of light from the cigarette intensified the howitzers’ salvo boomed like an Atlas-sized luggage cart rolling over the indents of a titanic walkway the shells continued their bombardment at the same precise location the bombastic light in a shrapnel formation hurtled toward The Wichman each fragment upon entering The Wichman made him flinch though he felt not pain but the faint steadily increasing motion of a vortex seizing upon him tourbillion the French word for whirlwind occurred to The Wichman then the battle thundered on moving inward not dispensing injury but strengthening The Wichman each blow eradicating what notions of the world he once held The Wichman glowed like Han Solo coming out of carbonite soldiers from both sides walked side by side speaking in a language he knew he nor anyone else could understand he reached and called out for them to help him they came and peered into the vortex twirling from the center of his chest and were consumed by it the howitzers the trees the mountains the entire landscape The Katamarian Wichman in god mode consumed whole countries whole continents whole worlds whirling within him The Wichman floated in a river of dead trees the dead trees swirled around him and once more put on the garment of life The Wichman reunited with everything of this universe above it beyond it and yet below it less than it The Tourbillion Wichman spinning amid 10,000 others they spun around him he around them no center every point a center The Wichman a boy a beast a girl a liquid bird a fiery sea not anything not nothing he twirled over every space he could not be found beyond contentment and agitation beyond male and female beyond joy and sorrow beyond Wich and Man beyond rock ’n roll and silence beyond love and melancholy beyond exploration and conquest beyond punting squads and quarterback sneaks beyond waxing and waning beyond iron and spice beyond bobble heads and fleur-de-lis beyond feint-within-a-feint and attack outright beyond recoiling bark and lead-tipped arrows beyond unwanted fame and undeserved obscurity The Wichman spun
Ben Pease is a poet and visual artist with degrees from Emerson College and Columbia University. He hails from Ludlow, Massachusetts, the setting for his next book, Fugitives of Speech. He is an assistant professor at ASA College in New York City. A chapbook with selections from Chateau Wichman, Wichman Cometh, is available from Monk Books.