“Plus Ca Change,” “Telling” and “About Last Night”

“Plus Ca Change,” “Telling” and “About Last Night”

Plus Ça Change

That swagger-daddy  On the Red Line el

asks the auntie  if she’s Spanish

she’s Italian  he requests a sex act:

poor lady won’t muster  insult or outrage

and we roll our eyes  on her behalf.


Faces forge authentic  Etched as wrinkles,

they laugh, as she, refusing,  shakes her head

’cuz boys will be boys  and they both know

from his perspective  at least it don’t hurt.


Nature has rhythms:  Bodies, breath(e)

digest and reproduce  season(s)

fold predictably into  unpredictable inevitability.


                          Forest fires

smolder over gender  revelations

making space  new landscapes

replicating infinite  variations.


   We are on the same train

they sat here  we’ll sit there

wondering how  chill as ever

this world  this world

could die  having so far

since this world began  only rendered life



You tell me I left a gold-beige stain:

concealer marring white hotel towel.

You, for whom everything's a text,

subject to rigorous interpretation,

tell me how we treat a towel is fractal

of our footprint on the world at large.

Do you remember those Turkish carpets,

near the Virgin Mary house?— each with flaw;

small, deliberate; highlighting our humble role

as servants of some Higher Power,

and if you tell me my error renders

our union besmirched as a stained towel,

I’ll tell you I am double-bound: the need

to hide my imperfection ensures its revelation.

About Last Night

At a seminar with some people

from work, my best friend from high school,

many strangers I was keen to impress, and Samuel Beckett.

     He must have been a descendant of the Irish playwright,

     although he was a compact Asian man and a philosophy professor,

     both, coincidentally, like my waking life boyfriend,

     and he had a cute poodle he kept needing to walk.

Peeled someone else's banana and ate too many cookies,

couldn't find the ladies' room and had to relieve

myself, discreetly, in the park next door where some bros

were playing basketball. Squatting, I worried about the hem

of my dress, and, worse, cameras documenting any indecent exposure.

       My best friend from high school was showing home movies

       and, in several, my parents appeared, my father with long 1970s sideburns

       and both with a lot of black still in their hair.

It seemed important that I say something about my sexual response,

quick, despite the Prozac, and strong, despite my age,

but I couldn't see how to work that in, how to explain

it was not on behalf of myself, I wished to speak, but the world.

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.

Read more work by Julie Benesh.