Benjamin Brindise

A Room Full of Mannequins

a circle of blank faces
soft eyes, block hands
stances that never change
even when the water comes

sometimes it feels like Hertel Avenue
that one time it flooded
right up to everyone’s porches

when anything kept in boxes
basements, under stairs, put away
was brought to the curb

had to be thrown out
for health reasons

they stare unaffected
from stitched together sockets
no matter how loud
they don’t remove the pins
from their eyes

sitting on those wood slat piers
that splinter in your shoes
it’s all right—
the wind coming off the water
keeps flies from landing on your cheeks
the rush of air fills your ears
blocks out screams from the kid who
dropped their ice cream overboard
you accept this as the best it’ll ever be

sometimes speaking
is like shooting a fridge
full of thermite
the last moment of pressure
pulled tight on the trigger
the instant explosion
that you can’t get back

this lack of body language
has me feeling like a unicycle
playing the floor game
where the floor is my life’s greatest ambition
and I’m in stasis about it in full spin
never finding traction

sometimes I sit in rooms
full of mannequins
and make sounds with my mouth
dictated by scratch marks
on the paper in front of me

I look up and project
the absolute nothingness that’s inside me
onto their stocking faces
and nothing changes
the pins in their eyes push deeper

sometimes I sit in rooms full of mannequins
make sounds with my mouth
and wonder what the fuck
I’m doing


Benjamin Brindise is the author of Rotten Kid (Ghost City Press, 2017) and a Teaching Artist at the Just Buffalo Literary Center. He qualified to compete in the 2015 and 2016 National Poetry Slam, helping Buffalo to place in the top 20 in 2016 for the first time. He has most recently been published or accepted for publication in Your One Phone Call, In Between Hangovers, The Magnitizdat Literary, Page & Spine, and the My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry anthology (BlazeVOX, 2017).