Rosebud Ben-Oni

Amaranthine & thinning the mist
Amaranthine skinned she & I drift
Through the bird market
Through yuen po street
Your mother is squeezing my hand
We should go home & sleep
How long has it been
Eye & fist
I know all the birds by name
I am reciting somewhere else
After a gulf coast hurricane
I'd mend leg fracture & wing
Shelter in enclosures open &
Wild I learn the winged
Hard & thin
I run after
Never again
Will I see so many
Wild amazons the truest I'll ever know
Squalling over the rio grande
Here I no longer belong to them
In a market I cannot click & sing
To peach-faced lovebirds
& overcrowded cages of parakeets
I don't know what keeps
A macaw on a t-stand
Without leg chain
We should go home & sleep
Amaranthine we are thinned
Amaranthine pricking
A cockatoo runs up my arm bare
& scratched
One claw raised
Toward my shoulder
I no longer belong
I do not know what name
Falls sharp & stern on the man
Who tries to sell us
Most agreeable & well-trained
Feathered crest falls tightly against
Her words over and over
Hanging on the side of the mouth
Your mother whispers to me
My shoulders in her hands
That man she whispers
Can’t understand
Too much hanging on the side of his mouth
What he's done for a bird that never asked
When think of what was taken
Think of what was taken
Amaranthine eye & fist
Amaranthine she & I drift
Out of the market & away
She breaks
Your mother
Arms airplane
She storms
A flock of pigeons
In her way
A young girl’s game
A wild & ramshackle plane
She falls upon the ones who remain I forget
For a moment I forget her eldest brother
Is why we came
As she releases over & over his name
As pigeons flail and twist away
As they scatter in the rain


Born to a Mexican mother and Jewish father, Rosebud Ben-Oni is a recipient of the 2014 NYFA Fellowship in Poetry and a CantoMundo Fellow. She was a Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan, and a Horace Goldsmith Scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is the author of SOLECISM (Virtual Artists Collective, 2013), a contributor to The Conversant, and an Editorial Advisor for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Her poems appear in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, TriQuarterlyPrairie Schooner, Arts & Letters, Hunger Mountain, among others. She writes weekly for The Kenyon Review blog, and recently joined the Creative Writing faculty at UCLA Extension. Find her at


Photo by BeyondDC