I caught sight of a few lines in an open document on my desktop. Poetry! Obviously, immediately good: “charcoal shadows of what / were once craters, / eruptions.” I hoped I had written it. But no—it was Rick Benjamin’s Passing Love: 50 poems replete with the excesses of the ordinary, the longing inside possession—clever poems, like the sweet weight of children, all modulation and emphasis, palpable with thought: “a reminder to see / like a Dutch painter / every one of our days.” Benjamin’s fine line opens a dialogue between the domestic and what it is protected from—ten Bengal tigers, the scorpion on the neck, the alligator in the swamp. But the swamp comes into the alligator, the tigers come into the boy, and a flick of a knife produces both “the sharp / sizzle of a scorpion / in flames” and “the rest of your life.” This line is a zone of exchange—where being a twin, husband, father, and Buddhist transcends identity; it is less division than ring.
– Mairéad Byrne
Passing Love is deceptive in its down-to-earth honesty and simplicity. Rick Benjamin’s clear-cut language brims and sings, and one is taken to the edge of reckoning before he or she realizes what has happened. There’s a needful celebration of everyday life at the core of Passing Love.
– Yusef Komunyakaa
There is a fantastic eye for detail here, whether Rick Benjamin is close to home watching over his children, or gazing off to the Bamiyan Buddhas. His poems sing the most ancient themes: vulnerable love, the primal lair of family, heartbreaking affection for children, fear for fragile things when danger appears. This is poetry for the twentyfirst century, blazing with irises, cranberries, and mineral salt.
– Andrew Schelling