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Benjamin Buchholz is a US Army Officer recently returned from Iraq. His non-fiction book "Private Soldiers" is forthcoming from WHS Press and his chapbook "Windshields" is available through BlazeVox. For a full bibliography see

The Coats of Ivory

I. A Dancer of Sorts

La chanteuse to the gendarme:
choose a debilitate, any fungi dark and strong
inhaled with proper flare, a lasciviousness,
will get the rise of you; raise you
(you might say)
from here to there, which is nowhere really
or everywhere, depending.

She was drunk, though beautiful,
which is excuse enough for a man
on the Magdalene streets of Old Subura,
these many leagues and worlds.

A sorter of dances, that is me!
says the sloe-eyed mannikin,
offering to his politick lips
a beaded lace and a come-on: divertimento
Mon Capitan, let me taste of you
for I am hungry and not accustomed
to this exacting coyness.

He slings her over a shoulder,
careful of his epaulette new-polished
and mindful of the unfamiliarity still
creased and starchy in his limbs.

But she is the one with money
and a capacity to whistle
for their cab.


II. Detachable Pisces

What is your name?
she asks as she rolls down her socks,
trying like hell to not look at the watermark
walls and the very septic quality
of the quilting.

He notices and signals with his hands:
I wanted the experience of it.
my worlds are new worlds and have
not so much character as this.

No matter, she says. No matter.

But, a name?
He has none. Never had.
He writes in the air:
I am dust. I am dis-infinite.
You’ve had names, haven’t you?
Certainly, you must have had names?
This is not your very first . . .

But it is.

And the hole in your stomach, why?

I plan to eat nothing. The toll is too much
for that pound of flesh.

Poor little fish, she says.
He has hit at a chord in her,
a sympathy for the underprivileged

III. Naming Bone

I shall call you my Ivory . . .

Oh, Chanteuse! He breathes against her,
through his nose
as she sways and girdles him
with her hips. They are perfectly
juxtaposed between the sweetness of their
sweat and the distance of their enveloping

I have not known it like this before.
I am closed around you but unable to possess you.
You fill me and empty me of myself.
I look into myself and feel nothing, see nothing . . .

That is when she laughs.


You have a hole in you,
snorting with laughter:

you are empty already.

IV. Mustaches

The simulated Chevy
with the simulated fins
and the cherry-cola colored taillights
glowing, has parked. The roof
billows: a glitch, but what can
Ivory expect in this sort of arcade:

Remembering her, how he left her
amid her questions on the nature of distance,
travel, time, the continuity of all
things when they are made equal in the flash
of flesh dissolving into pure
information; remembering the dark patches

of her, like something thought alone
should remove, except that they existed.
A drive upcountry to the Hollywood sign
where he had heard through old acquaintances
a rumor of music. But, like he expected, beyond
the fuselage of the letters, the field

ended in gray and the only sound
a white noise of data refuse.
He’d kept his mustaches. At first they
had bothered him, itching, getting in the way
of the drink. But once Chanteuse kissed them
they outweighed even the very tariff of memory.


Copyright © 2007 Benjamin Buchholz