A Critical Path to Forty


Looking at my life and thinking, “oh cool
a bored sticky child made this”

A mouth and an eye, the reflection is really 
affecting me, back to back

Colors all over, whenever you go simple
this eye and this eye make a face


Who’s that, James Dean? The expression
was shared before, you can see the terror up ahead

Or Benicio Del Toro? Movie scenes,
and candlelight, dark lines, and Dutch cheekbones

Maybe not, it could just be old-school 
horror shoutouts, because I’m screaming with him


And I think, if you look close enough, 
there’s still some kind of technique, on the skin

The shading of the shadows, on glass
a sparse background holds up a dancing queen

A figure, if you just focus on the person, 
so much is going on, super strong, I still pop

Ben Nardolilli

3 Questions for Ben

What was your process for creating this work?

During the pandemic, I watched a Twitch stream show where a trio of guys talked about art and the submissions sent into them by their fans to review. I took bits and pieces of their reactions and created the initial piece. After a while of sending it out and getting no positive reaction, I went back and edited the poem, changing it from a sort of found text into something more polished with a direct idea behind it. 

What is the significance of the form you chose?

I chose the form to match the process, to seem like a kind of collage, which in turn reflects the source material of the initial lines. I wanted it to sort of feel like "reading" a painting. 

What is the significance of this work to you?

At first, it was just a reflection of our cloistered lives during the pandemic. A way to play around with words. But as I reworked the piece it became less about seeing art and more about seeing oneself as a kind of painting, and one that's getting older.

Ben Nardolilli currently lives in New York City. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, Danse Macabre, The 22 Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, The Northampton Review, Slab, and The Minetta Review. He blogs at mirrorsponge.blogspot.com and is trying to publish his novels.

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