Seven Ways of Being Open by Evan Benedict

i.

a cracked door on a winter morning

bracing wind and slivered light

steam from a coffee mug

lit by sunrise,

and onrushing

of waking.

ii.

bared teeth baboon

smile peeled back

lips stretched in rhesus rictus

face of incisor

and bicuspid,

canine bend

to turn muzzle

to bone

the smile only warns

those who know

how to read it

iii.

a book, obviously.

imperfect metaphor

for oversharing.

an open book requires

an active reader,

but why not tell

the stranger

about your eighth month

of sobriety?

iv.

vomiting up

your binge-eating habits

to your therapist

until your guts

slop the floor

like an overturned

trough in a sty

you empty yourself

like a morning weigh-in

jog before you eat

sweat it out.

he says the scale doesn’t give you value

but everyone else says it does

and you wonder if internalizing

adds to the number.

v.

speak stresses into

the sunlight, that it may strike—

disinfectant beam.

vi.

The parts of a lock:

springs, pins, bible, cylinder.

a little tension,

thin wire

clicks binding

sets driver

turns mechanism

foreclosed homes

only shut out the unhoused

if you let them.

vii.

ask how they’re doing

listen when they answer

you are not the only side

of the open door


Evan Benedict is a high school English teacher at Norfolk Collegiate School in Norfolk, VA. He writes poetry in his spare time, which he has because he neglects other things.

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