July 24, 2019

Benjamin Aleshire | @benjamin_aleshire

Good Manners by Benjamin Aleshire, poem written in red type on yellow paper

benjamin_aleshire Wept with a customer, clutching each other in the street while no one understood what was happening between us. She’s in love with a 62-year-old man, and even tho he’s so much older his muscles are tight from all the work he does and it turns her on. But at first he kept saying, Hey, I’m just using you. Like he was pushing her away. They fell in love anyway, and he finally told her the truth: leukemia, maybe a few years left—the doctors are helpless, there’s nothing for them to even cut out. So in a letter she joked with him that living too long is bad manners, anyway. Now I feel empty and full at the same time. But you can’t carry this around with you and be as lonely as I am; I had to exorcise it with a ritual of words to wash it away, and then a whiskey in Vesuvio that tasted like water or somehow, sand. I bought a white rose from the bum sucking his gums at the other end of the bar and didn’t even know why—gave it away to Tony across the street at Specs who looked at me all strange. City Lights again today, it’s not like I have a choice. #poetry #poem #poetforhire

from Rattle #64, Summer 2019
Tribute to Instagram Poets


Benjamin Aleshire: “I make my living by traveling around the world and writing poems for strangers on a manual typewriter in the street. I post on Instagram to let people know where I’ll be setting up, and also as a way of sharing some of the stories behind the poems in the caption, the reasons why strangers wanted what they wanted—which I see as an opportunity for flash-prose, and also a method of exorcising people’s stories, so I don’t have to walk around with their pain clanging around in my skull.” (web)

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