Passing Love
by Rick Benjamin

The artful compression in these fine poems enriches insight, magnifies detail, and allows for more spacious contemplation. Word by word, revelation after revelation, Rick Benjamin has given us a memorable collection of poems.

Margaret Gibson

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

Poems from Passing Love

Personal Reference
In this photograph
I am holding a dead fish
I didn’t even catch.
I have never
caught a fish
I did not want
to let go.
One Sign That Things are Changing
for Jim Tull
Dawn plants a bug
in your daughter’s ear.
What needs to be said
is never easy.
A house, divided,
can stand.
So one morning
she’s biking over
to yours for something
she’s left there, which
is when the moth
flies into her ear.
Deep, alive,
wings still
flapping against
the delicate
membrane we call
drum where
it hums a sound
drowning out all other
thoughts, like the fact
that her mother
isn’t there, like the fact
that her father
isn’t going to be able
to fix this. It’s just
her, & the moth, &
the new song
she’s only, just now,
beginning to hear.