My First Poem (Hey, where are you going? Come back and read this!)

by Andy Jay Bennett

I was lucky enough to be selected for a year-long writer's intensive. 12 'emerging' writers ('emerging' in this case can be defined as people who don't make a living at it) in Minnesota were selected - 4 in fiction, 4 in nonfiction and 4 in poetry. 

We meet one or two times each month and work with mentors in those three fields. However, we ALL meet with ALL mentors. Which means I'm spending some time learning from an actual, honest-to-God poet. Me. The guy who still thinks the height of literary achievement is that part in Hatchet where Gary Paulsen describes the powdered orange drink Brian found in the plane wreckage.

And, tomorrow, I'll turn in my first assignment from her. A poem. My first poem. Yes, my first. I'm refusing to count those things I wrote in junior high. Those weepy, weird, melodramatic yarns that always ended in death and always rhymed.

As a quick aside, I used to write those poems every Friday in my typing class at Morgan Park Junior High (am I really old for having a typing class?) and give them to my dad to read when he picked me up. He cried while reading the first one I had written, which sealed his fate to a semester of weekly metered drivel. But I quickly ran out of topics. My second to last poem was about being in Vietnam. Which I hadn't been. And which my father had been. Let's just say I got some of the details wrong. My final poem was about a kid who wants to commit suicide. And no matter how much I protested, I couldn't convince him it wasn't a cry for help. I haven't written a poem since. Till now.

Here it is, everybody. Read it and weep.


i’m sick with it

this guilty love

this vile, bile

green-hued affection


i think, i dream

plot, plan, scheme

bend and twist obligations

like taffy


folding, reshaping plans

daily planner origami

all for a stolen moment

or two

with you


undressing you

that shimmering silver slip you always wear

for me

is it just for me?

your heat

i crave it all


but when we’re done

when you're gone

then the sickness comes

the fresh memories refract

that silver slip

now a bullet

you’ll kill me

and i’ll let you


i want you

i love you

i hate you