Ari Banias




The book I almost finished.

The look I gave you

while you weren’t looking and now

you’ll never know the way I feel.

Oh well. Most paint jobs

are shoddy. I wrote “pain jobs”

then fixed it. On my desk three stones

two earplugs and a tangerine.

The earplugs and tangerine resemble

each other in color, but this doesn’t

hugely matter. If only we didn’t

care about what doesn’t matter

but people do. An awful TV show where

women fight in reality over something

unreal: a “good man.” I say

unreal but mean invented. I consult

the bat necklace hanging above

my desk when angry, a talisman

of decentralized personal power.

You’ve given me a bad name

I’ll only make worse.

I collect stones because

they won’t leave me before

I leave this world. By night,

trees that in daylight look dark

transform to beige

oversized insect legs flailing in a garden

that’s mostly a shitty

walkway between buildings

city dwellers would covet a view of

because it’s better than no window.

Better than nothing: I wouldn’t say that

of the “good man” who fucked

with “unparalleled enthusiasm” last summer

but I’d say it of you.


ARI BANIAS lives in the Bay Area and is a Stegner fellow in poetry at Stanford. The author of a chapbook, What’s Personal is Being Here With All of You (Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs, 2012), his poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, PEN Poetry Series, The Offing, and others. His first book, Anybody, is forthcoming from W.W. Norton in fall of 2016.