National Poetry Month Day 6: Ben Purkert







I was there, then saw it go. The world crawled
through the middle of the night and arrived needing

something to drink. The bar was closed, so the rain ran
its fingers through a neighboring tree. Many cars

passed, dreaming of changing lanes. It was,
how can I put this? The middle of the night had

little to say. You were there, listening to me
like a phone call you couldn’t take. It was too late

for another drink. Another time? And the world full
to the brim. As the storm gathered strength, windows

taped themselves shut. It was impossible to see precisely
how you felt. Impossible, I repeated, hearing the cars

that came and went, never the ones that stopped
to think. The world was all around. It was the rain

and how it fell. It was the wind pushing the tree
to leave its roots behind. And I was there, begging

you to let me stay the night. There was nowhere
I could go. There was you and that was it.


Photograph of Ben Purkert by Ben Purkert.

Ben Purkert is the author of For the Love of Endings (Four Way Books, 2018). His poems appear or are forthcoming in the New Yorker, Poetry, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. An editor at Guernica, he is the founder of Back Draft, an interview series focused on poetry and revision. He currently teaches creative writing at Rutgers. More from this author →