“Linn Junction,” “Midwestern Blues,” and “Dear Capitalism”

Linn Junction
Photo by Anna on Adobe Stock

Linn Junction

My father built the cabin by the river

himself, and built me a treehouse

on the riverbank and two kinds of swings:

one with a tire you sit on and one to hang

on upright. We found a wounded duckling

near the pond, and nursed it back to health.

I scraped my sternum raw on the styrofoam boogie board, shot arrows,

and played a game with darts now outlawed;

relieved myself in a bucket

or an outhouse.

It was not a good place for menses,

with no running water, due to a burst pipe

never fixed, but the meals outstanding, barbecue

on charcoal or wood my parents doused with gasoline

and threw a match at. We ate prime steaks and my mother

made cheese sauce on the electric stove to put on the baked potatoes,

with salad and corn from our garden up the hill.

We had a fishing boat we'd take out to camp

on sandbars, and my father would seine for minnows

and release armadas of crawdads.

He planted hundreds of trees by hand on that one acre,

and fed dozens of cats. The neighbor's dog used to carry

them around in his mouth, gently, a form of recreation

for each party.

My parents wanted to build their dream

home there and I don't remember

when I realized that railroad bridge

Dad put a hundred sparklers

on for 4th of July

the one with the walkway

added when that boy and girl

jumped to their death

to avoid the train,

would become a highway

over the river connecting

two sides of the city.

Midwestern Blues

Our sky a modest scope and scale:

not too big, and not too small.

Cornflower is a portal,

(upright, uptight), as any local bee

can tell us; vying with violet;

eyeing the iris, flagrant with fragrance.

They call that desert acaí and those Maine ones super-

foods, but our neither-black-nor-red rasp-

berries are tasty, too, sown by the bird

best known for happiness.

Slate-colored paint

labeled Prussian, French, or Caribbean

mirror pools more lake-like than ocean.

Our noise is not so white:

a robin's Easter eggshell,

pastel as our blood,

less royal than loyal.

Dear Capitalism

Dear Capitalism,

I told my colleague

that, in the world,

he and I are the 1%;

He said, oh I guess

that may be what the world

thinks, and I said no

it's a true fact

I mean to say: math.

He and I generally reject

most reductive paradigms

but gravity

is what it is, believe

it or not. This is not a protest poem

nor love song or break

up text. I can't quit

you, so why pretend

this is/I am/we are       not

codependent

Jungians call the (Higher) Self

"capital S"or "Big S" Self,

with winks and chuckles.

The bots will overwrite

us, but in the mean

time we will optimize

worship/workshop/warship

as we outsource

poetry-industrial complex-

ity and co-exist

like true crime

and true romance.

About the Author

Julie Benesh

Julie Benesh is author of the chapbook ABOUT TIME published by Cathexis Northwest Press. Her poetry collection INITIAL CONDITIONS is forthcoming in March 2024 from Saddle Road Press. She has been published in Tin House, Another Chicago Magazine, Florida Review, and many other places. She earned an MFA from The Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and received an Illinois Arts Council Grant. She teaches writing craft workshops at the Newberry Library and has day jobs as a professor, department chair, and management consultant. She holds a PhD in human and organizational systems. Read more at juliebenesh.com.