Illustrated Games of Patience

Ben Estes


The Song Cave, 2014. Softcover, 77pp., 6 x 8 inches


What exactly is an illustrated game of patience? Imagine something like group solitaire within a room full of objects, Duchamp on a TV, some great old albums, voices from a radio or the past, and a set of reverberating cymbals. In Ben Estes’s Illustrated Games of Patience, the game involves sorting through objects and landscapes to reveal their “soft hums of isolation,” often in the wake of love. If there is winning involved, the rewards are hope for renewal and a “faith in arranging.” Filled with color and light, these poems make vivid the tender details of close observation, “urging love to stretch and green.”

“This beautiful work of late Romanticism finds Estes often roaming, sometimes making his bed in uncomfortable places, exemplifying patience, to which he at one point builds an actual broad-bodied monument. He is patient because he has the whole world and all of time at his disposal. The poems speak in riddles, impossible questions, vivid sensuous description, and, on one page, doggerel. Scent fetishists will appreciate the descriptions of crotch smells. In fact, there should be something here to satisfy hedonists of all stripes.” Aaron Kunin