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Meaning, Inaction
We've Tried

Benjamin Bartu


the waters mixed with bitters   


the water’s mixed with bitters


if waters


a river in my hometown.

if water’s,


he smiles and hands you a highball in california.

stay with me.


if a river in my hometown

but there’s no such town.


even if he smiles,


no town suggests the river, as well, does not exist.


either stay with me =


the author distrusts his ability to speak clearly about the matter we’re now discussing.




the author wishes he could be the one smiling handing you a highball

(in california).


if there’s no such town,


the stones can return to their rightful place.    


rightful place motions toward a rightful time,


irreverent of schrödinger’s river.


rightful time :


a) once, the stones, their rightful place

b) the hour at which, the stones, their rightful place


these might be the same.


either i’m corny, no word in this language of mine meaning both for and of,


or the deer could make something for me yet.


corn, melodrama, 


things choices made earlier can no longer change.




melodrama: for a stand-in for of




corn: as right a maze as any, to shake these troubles of mine.



but wouldn’t mine still be the trouble? what will take more than a drink, a smile. 


than all of california, which never was my home.


borderless the places for a river that isn’t.


& none of what is happening, that wasn’t happening already.

Benjamin Bartu is a poet & writer. He is the author of the forthcoming chapbook Myriad Reflector (2023), runner-up for the Poetry Online Chapbook Contest. His poetry has been nominated for Best of the Net 2022, and his writing has appeared in Guesthouse, The Lickety-Split, Adroit Journal, & elsewhere. An Associate Editor at Palette Poetry & Editor at Literistic, he can be found on twitter @alampnamedben.

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