Rosebud Ben-Oni

AntiMatarose! Strikes! Again(!)

You no longer feel anything for the movies.

It’s a death star you live on, splotch of desert spared

in mind trick. They’d made you small in that Great House of—

as if outlier. Your Highness. Like shoe itch, like rusty gumball. Cry

Uncle Solo. Cooler than Schlomo. Hyperdrive of shame & thrill. Only,

there is no try, & only you had such right to call across Shabbos

table: Great Solo! He’d turn all their homes upside-down

when you came to visit, & of all the great

grandchildren, he chose


a girl,

who mostly lived outside

their close-knit galaxy, somewhere

else, far, far away. A girl with a mother

whose name he would not say. You rasped it to him

anyway. Esperanza. Esperanza. Midnight falafel & mixed

grill. Just you. & your Solo. Not quite a rebel

alliance. Stop-start gridlock over the bridge, eyes

like light

-sabers battling x-wings off the 3. Cusp

of Giuliani years. Sweeping though lower

Manhattan, its early morning avenues always

alleyways. Fingers entwining a force within

you. Both talking at once. Both hands cold. He chose

the rabbi who’d converted her, who’d tried

to change her name. Ester. 

Ester. Eight years later, you

were born & still they rose

one big stone tide. Waiting for you

to fall to the dark side. Tent city in Tompkins.

Alphabet City. Even Shopsin’s where Kenny okayed

Solo could simply sit as you devoured pancakes of

macaroni & cheese. Not kosher, rebbe, he’d laugh

& throw out yuppies for looking too long

at the menu. If you have to ask. If,

perhaps. You never did. There is

no try. But waiting. &


for the song of your Jedi

name, for I


from your own Solo. Your own

Solo pinching your cheeks & refusing

even a nibble & you

grew, believing this

was the only love

you’d never need

to test,

even when you, like

your father, married too

out of faith, & married without asking

if it meant a strike against, a strike

again. You believed even when

it broke


-rose. Spat once. Stormtrooping heart

woke, how I loved you

despite your father’s mistake

& you believed still,

a millennium it seemed, like rogue

falcon who leaves

as soon as she can reach light

speed, a light

for which he reached

on his deathbed & cried

with my own eyes & never did


It didn’t matter he left you

his most precious

things, you let them

bury all that matter,

all that grief

in which you stood on your hands

& bloodrushed & bent to upend

this universe where anti-

matter can no longer


on its own,

no use trying for who

really loved whom. Who. How could you imagine

AntiSolo anymore

than he


Rosebud Ben-Oni is the author of several collections of poetry, including If This Is the Age We End Discovery (March 2021), which won the Alice James Award and was a Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. She has received fellowships and grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, City Artists Corps, Café Royal Cultural Foundation, CantoMundo and Queens Council on the Arts. Her work appears in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, Academy of American Poets’ Tin House, Guernica, Electric Literature, among others. Her poem "Poet Wrestling with Angels in the Dark" was commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in NYC. In May 2022, Paramount commissioned her video essay “My Judaism is a Wild Unplace" for a campaign for Jewish Heritage Month, which appeared on Paramount Network, MTV Networks, The Smithsonian Channel, VH1 and many others. In 2023, she received a Café Royal Cultural Foundation grant to write The Atomic Sonnets, a full-length poetry collection based on her chapbook 20 Atomic Sonnets (Black Warrior Review, 2020), which she began in honor of the Periodic Table’s 150th Birthday in 2019. In January 2023, she performed at Carnegie Hall on International Holocaust Memorial Day, as part “We Are Here: Songs From The Holocaust.”