Rick Benjamin is the State Poet of Rhode Island. He teaches or has taught at Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, the MFA Program in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College, in many schools, and in community & assisted living centers — where he has passed good time in the company of people who range in age from six to ninety-six. He also serves as a Fellow at New Urban Arts — an afterschool arts mentoring program for Providence high school students. His poems & essays have appeared in PRØOF, Watershed, The Providence Journal, Tongue, 350.org, The Writer’s Circle, American Poets in the 21st Century: The New Poetics (Wesleyan University Press), Urthona: An International Buddhist Journal of the Arts, Poem, Home: An Anthology of Ars Poetica (Paper Kite Press), and La Petite Zine.
He lives with his family in a very small village in the smallest state.
► Rick's Origami micro-chapbook & selected poem are available below.
Cover Art by Charlie Spear Gallery
Learning to Shoot at Things that Moved
Soup-cans, tires searing in the summer
air, coke bottles so old the red rubbed
off— these were easy to shoot at, even
while the Winchester bucked back into
my shoulder like his fist bruising my
body near to death. Just hold your
breath, he said, just squeeze the trigger
until it surprises you.
Only after we’d
sped back to the city, sun-stroked,
burned, did I think about what
else I’d learned, aiming at some
stillness that was also sentient—
lizards sunning themselves
on stones, jack-rabbits stunned
as bleached statues staring right
back at who was sighting them—
how it felt to take life away when
someone else seemed to put a gun
to your head forcing you to do it,
& you would to have to find a way
to live with the fact that he hadn’t.
Rick Benjamin © 2014