Still Life with First Best Friend by Joshua Bennett

after Adam Falkner

Danny in the scrum
& his hands are meadowlarks,
their fulvous ascent. Danny after
the fact. Danny listening to you weep,
quiet as this umpteenth L must be
kept. Danny does what all best
friends who growth-spurt first must do.
Danny defends. Danny deflects
classroom heat, the jokes that land like lash
& linger. Danny suspended like twice.
Danny can’t safeguard in absentia. Danny talks
about his daddy same way you do yours
when yours goes phantom. Danny ethics.
Danny don’t go missing. Danny forged in flame.
Danny igneous. Danny obsidian. Danny covert
nerd on black ops mission. Danny Magic Cards.
Danny Charizard. Danny still blacker than you
depending on that day’s definition.
Danny Bigger Thomas & Big Bird & Big Pun
in the same bookcase. Danny all-inclusive
literary tradition. Danny claims your block,
its very bricks as kin: you tell him
duty is a dead idea. Danny won’t listen.
Danny principles. Early twenties you talk tough
& Danny gets defensive. You do school, J.
Someone starts problems out here, you call me.
That’s my business.
Danny stabbed twice & shot once
& still smooth as a piston. Danny invincible.
Danny illegible. Danny family. No one else
checks in on Dad when you forget to miss him.

Joshua Bennett is a doctoral candidate in the English Department at Princeton University, & has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation & the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop. Winner of the 2014 Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, Joshua’s work has been published in Anti-, Callaloo, The Collagist, Drunken Boat & elsewhere. He is also the founding editor of Kinfolks Quarterly.