Rosebud Ben-Oni


You are in a windy Lower East Side square.

Henry Street, arid and slow.
An elderly street without monuments.
Arched in inner city catheters
bending the sun. A contradiction but warm.

Crackling in exhaust fumes.
Cracking like Rivera’s murals at the New School
where you write of the idolatry of the Wailing Wall
opaque and palpable.

You cross Brooklyn bridge.
A river a summons a cemetery
a howl cut short,
barb wire overcast.


Pages scattering from a mausoleum,
you fall out of its doorway, taken
as sacrament. Useless vandal.
Evicted tenant.


You call yourself an Annex Jew—

from the Frick’s untouchable pools
sinking down
an upright bass on the Bowery

you and the pianist climb the terrace of Beatrice Inn

you are lost among long tables of refugees
and folk hymns muffled on Allen Street

Sabbath morning, coarse and whimsical
leaks its veil in Chinatown’s oils

sober and lit without sleep
alone on a pier
the edge of Battery sharpens
pampas along the surf howl and stretch

here strikes your last prayer
a bruised howl in the wall
and oh, to sleep
to sleep through

the brute of dawn


*originally published in SOLECISM (Virtual Artists’ Collective, 2013)


The Real Frank Vega was Epic

In real life badass was a gringo
and there’s danny trejo
playing himself
I’m not sure we’re in on it
Like the prada store
in marfa
or padre island
now a big, gated hotel
where we need wristbands
to use the pool
No island anywhere
No vaqueros coming home
No cameros bumping down the road
which is fine
since in real life that kind of badass
never goes anywhere
say on a plane
that crashes in the reboot of predators
where danny trejo plays the entire zeta cartel
nowhere on any screen
is the man who got clean
so maybe this is why
danny trejo
is the first to die
while lawrence fishburne survives
years alone
in that sham
of a new world


what a waste of trejo
not quite the catalyst
for something more
this man, not even a sacrifice
this man who never touches
the story at all
unlike say saddam
all badasses brought down
and cursed
while we are still rooting for a man
who’s eaten
by a giant anaconda
before opening credits roll

and then we’re back in the ring
in the state prison
and all we can do is listen
for the ripple of dollar bills
that will reveal
the next danny trejo
has risen

*originally published in The Portable Boog Reader 7



Born to a Mexican mother and Jewish father, Rosebud Ben-Oni is a 2013 CantoMundo Fellow and the author of SOLECISM (Virtual Artists Collective, 2013). A Leopold Schepp Scholar at New York University, she won the Seth Barkas Prize for Best Short Story and The Thomas Wolfe/Phi Beta Kappa Prize for Best Poetry Collection. She was a Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan where she earned her MFA in Poetry, and was a Horace Goldsmith Scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Recently, her story “A Way out of the Colonia” won the Editor’s Prize for Best Short Story in Camera Obscura: A Journal of Contemporary Literature and Photography. A graduate of the 2010 Women’s Work Lab at New Perspectives Theater, her plays have been produced in New York City, Washington DC and Toronto. Her work appears in The American Poetry Review, Arts & Letters, Bayou, Puerto del Sol, among others. Rosebud is an Editorial Advisor for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Find out more about her at