For the Love of Endings Ben Purkert

2 posts

“At Least Metaphors Have My Back”


Yesterday I shared a poem from the collection I just finished reading. As is my habit before filing a book of poems, I’m following up with a second poem for those who enjoyed the first. In this case, it’s from Ben Purkert’s For the Love of Endings and, like more than one poem in the book, is inspired by an “Ex.”

The thought of considering your “ex” as inspiration for poetry never occurred to me. Of course, I have no “ex’s” to rely on. Only “presents” (without the gift wrapping, at least most days).

You, however, might have one or more of these inspirations in your writer’s tool box. Think of the arsenal people like Elizabeth Taylor had! But I digress. To B.P. Poem #2:


Dear Ex
Ben Purkert

I’m hardly alone–
like most men, I’ll gaze

at anything to avoid looking
inward. Like how a stream

reflects what surrounds
but never the face of

itself. I mean force, I mean–
forget it. Let’s cast ourselves

into a pond: a still surface
standing forever without

a break. Let’s freeze at
the tipping point when you

leave me, here in the heart
of this song. At least

metaphors have my back;
at least the swallows outside

my window sound into
each other. I hope they fly

so far south, they don’t
remember a thing.


Similar to the end of yesterday’s poem, “If I Shut My Eyes, Whatever Doors in Me Fly Open,” an aphoristic-style finish depending on personification and humor. These are good things to be dependent on.

The poem also gains some mileage at men’s expenses. A bit ironic, however, when a male poet writes “like most men, I’ll gaze / at anything to avoid looking / inward.” The line hopes you remember that men feel safest at surface level and hopes you forget that poets look inward for a living (if poetry can be defined as “a living”).

Humor again, we’ll call it. And safe at the plate, if a baseball metaphor is willing to have my back.

“Eyelashes Peeking Through My Rib Cage”


Over the weekend, I read (and reread) Ben Purkert’s 2018 outing, For the Love of Endings. The book was a good match for me because it’s a.) free verse, and b.) fond of word play, and c.) mostly short poems staying on a single page.

In fact, many stay in the upper fourth of the page, giving the book a lot of space, the final frontier, in certain sections.

To give you a sense of Purkert’s style, here is a poem from the first set, one affording Minnie Mouse a cameo.


If I Shut My Eyes, What Other Doors in Me Fly Open
Ben Purkert

I’d like to meet my bones.
I’d strew them on a Minnie Mouse

beach blanket near the water–
her red dress, eyelashes peeking through

my rib cage. Isn’t this love: to marry
a plush background? I’d unthread

Minnie’s face, stitch it into places
I’ve lived: each hole in the wall,

each rough winter I’ve held
against my lips. I remember snow

like it was yesterday, sticking
into the night. But memory is lost

on bones. Flesh, on the other hand,
grasps what it can, while it can:

like the sea takes the shore,
dragging it by the ear.


I love how the bones get cast on a Minnie Mouse towel only to “peek through / my rib cage.” This, along with the play on words in “…to marry / a plush background” is signature Purkert.

Then summer is contrasted with the memory of winter, and bones (which “memory is lost on”) with flesh — flesh that “grasps what it can, while it can.”

The grand finale gives us an idiomatic personification by way of metaphor: “like the sea takes the shore, / dragging it by the ear.”

Fun. Light. Even when dark subjects are sometimes explored (and they are, in some poems). My kind of poet, in other words.