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About this poet

Ari Banias was born in Los Angeles, California, and grew up in the Chicago area. He received a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MFA from Hunter College. He is the author of Anybody (W. W. Norton, 2016). Banias has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the New York Foundation for the Arts, Stanford University, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. He lives in Berkeley, California.

Villagers

boxes taped up and up then tied with twine | addressed on every side | in that careful longhand taught on other continents | they looked like mail bombs | going round and round the carousel | in a regional anxiety | stinking barrel of sheep’s cheese beaded in sweat | olive oil tin wrapped in much plastic | each printed letter a rounded separate bundle | standing on its own | the sore thumbs of my parents’ immigrant luggage at the United terminal | a friend who doesn’t speak at airports | except when spoken to | word for home that could also mean journey | or never-arrived | at the baggage claim | a person waits in a t-shirt printed with English words | whose arrangement is nonsensical | and it doesn’t matter | that what matters is far | while right here at any moment—  | no one need remind anyone | tether that | suitcases duffels packages | taped and bound so emphatically they look like total crap| what matters is the words are undeniably English | anyone can tell you this | is why the shirt exists | tether that to this | anyone whose intimate particular knowledge lives | with a line drawn through it | “they were a simple people” | my mother often said | from whom she untethers | and bundles into packages | all taut with twine and sends away | at the carousel on which they circulate | printed with her surname | she could | and might refuse them | that “they were a simple—” | was the sort of thing that sparked in me a rage | which I am only now beginning to draw a line through | line I wish to repeople myself | on the other side of | with a friend | a dear friend | who | doesn’t speak at airports unless spoken to

“Villagers” from Anybody: Poems by Ari Banias. Copyright © 2016 by Ari Banias. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company.

“Villagers” from Anybody: Poems by Ari Banias. Copyright © 2016 by Ari Banias. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company.

Ari Banias

Ari Banias

Ari Banias is the author of Anybody (W. W. Norton, 2016). He lives in Berkeley, California.

by this poet

poem

People, far too many people here—
drinking, leaning on the furniture,
congratulating my father
on his new life. Here’s
his young wife, young enough
to be my older sister.
She—if you can’t tell
the whole truth—is nice.
But he slams his glass
onto the table, yells

poem

Enough birds.
No more branches, no more moon, no more
clouds, light glinting on
no more water. Refuse to sing because
the song is stuffed and birds
they lilt and carol wordlessly of what, of whose
turn it is to bird and bird and bird
the same translations as assigned.
Whose

poem

I watch a woman take a photo
of a flowering tree with her phone.
A future where no one will look at it,
perpetual trembling which wasn’t
and isn’t. I have taken photos of a sunset.
In person, “wow” “beautiful”
but the picture can only be
as interesting as a word repeated until

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