Shyanne Figueroa Bennett

When My Husband Dies, I Freeze in Time  


Shyanne Figueroa Bennett is a Brooklyn poet with roots in Panama, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. Currently, she is an MFA candidate at Columbia University, where she is a recipient of a Chair’s Fellowship and a Creative Writing Teaching Fellowship.

IG: @shyanne.bennett

“When My Husband Dies, I Freeze in Time” was originally published in Queen Mob’s Teahouse.  The remaining two poems are additions published for the first time here.

A fly lands on my eye. I do not blink.
July 1967, sweat seals me
to this couch. Two weeks
swallowed by waves, a nest 

in a Japanese cargo ship.
Colón to Brooklyn. I leave
adorned: bracelet of daughter’s caress,
necklace of baby boy’s breath. 

With factory smoke I build myself
a man. Name him Julio. Tostón
to his mouth. Nipple sucked
and licked. My body is a curve 

for hook-mouth children.
One cannot escape the shadow
of his hand laid heavy—no soothing
drunken words for comfort, 

so soon begins the fade
till two eyes float
in a mass
heaving. My children wail.
Chant. Dance in circles. 

The middle one reaches
for what may be a hand,  
whispers to what
may be her mother: 

He left. We will say
he died in Puerto Rico.    


This is to Certify That

You are torn
a type of subject
                  not returning.
You are a port 
                  a sex
                  a number 
                  12,336,839 times
         by law
         by passport
         by visa.
         A condition old as nation
                  on any day, any year. 
You are any immigrant
                  an absence
                  an exclusion
                  a temporary failure
in the form of a natural current. 




On the Topic of the Panama Canal

“We stole it fair and square.”

         -U.S. Senator 1976 

Stole it. Fair. Stolen
fairness. Stole we.
We it stolen. Stolen it. We
quarried stone. We it. 
We far. No room.
Us old in stone. Our stolen
oldest and little ones, too.
No air. No fed dawn.
We sewed to stone, 
set fire and strewn.
Laid east and west
us lead drowned souls.
Dare our undead wails
      rattle rafters.
Dare our undead wails
      warn new toilers.
Dare our undead wails
      deafen roars of nefarious towers










© The Acentos Review 2020