Everything All at Once

Oliver Baez Bendorf

                                      right now,

someone is having sex and someone

is dying and someone is trying to find

a lid so they can, before bed, put away

the soup and someone is dreaming

of that made meadow and someone

is gazing through a hospital window

to a faraway peak

and someone can’t decide what

to watch so they remain

on the menu screen for company

and someone wants to call but

can’t and someone wants to answer

but won’t and someone is studying

to become a moth scientist and someone

is dizzy and doesn’t know why

and someone is, after work, practicing

the vocal techniques of opera

and someone receives

a phone call saying listen it’s my

neighbor I told you about the singing one can you

hear it and someone

is clutching the heavy still warm hand

of a lover and someone is digging

a hole and someone is waxing

their back and someone

is remembering a poem permitting

bits and pieces to return

and someone

would do almost anything to forget

How did this poem begin for you?

This poem began in a tension between weariness and wonder, echoing the currents of my book, Consider the Rooster. The inexhaustible nature of its subject matter, as suggested by the title, led to a list that explores life’s rhythms, simultaneities, and lonely moments. Though the poem ends, the experiences within it continue beyond. Appearing in the “spirit in flight” section of my book, the poem animates this permeability and ongoing-ness through its syntax and lines. The formal decision to structure the poem into three parts felt both futile and deeply significant. The lines and stanzas blur, with almost unexplainable gutters in which I try to steal breath back from time. I am interested in what happens to all of us, our interconnectedness in liminal spaces.

Oliver Baez Bendorf is the author of Consider the Rooster, forthcoming in September 2024, and two previous collections of poems: Advantages of Being Evergreen and The Spectral Wilderness. He has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Publishing Triangle, CantoMundo, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. Born and raised in Iowa, he now lives in Colorado.
Originally published:
June 5, 2024


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