Forgive Yourself


It is time to forgive yourself
for all the things you did

do wrong.

Forgive yourself
for all the times
your innocence was
made to feel like guilt.

Forgive yourself
for carrying the boulder of
shame they put on you.
No wonder you couldn’t fly
for all those years.

Forgive yourself.

Forgive yourself
for showing yourself
only to have people tell you
to hide.

Forgive yourself
for every time you shined
with child-like pride
and got pissed on for it.

Forgive yourself
for the times your brilliance
was rejected.
They had to close their eyes,
because they were too accustomed
to seeing in the dark.

Forgive yourself
for the lies
they told about you.

Forgive yourself
for the self-mutilation,
trying to fit
into their categories and concepts.

Forgive yourself
for the self-hatred,
for getting so lost in their madness
that you couldn’t even see yourself anymore.

Forgive yourself
for compromising your integrity,
hoping to be loved.

Forgive yourself
for helping more than you should have,
for being unable to save a lost cause.

Forgive yourself for trying too hard
for too long.

Forgive yourself
for getting so lost.

Forgive yourself
for all the things
you did not do wrong.
Forgive yourself
for not loving yourself
for so long.

You are not bad.

You are good.

July 7: Ben Gallup at Third Place Books/Raconteur

"Ben Gallup will share from his new book of poetry, 'I Want to Meet Your Light.' More than just a reading, he wants everyone (including himself) to heal through poetry, improvisation, and participation. Far from hocus pocus, Ben helps us find ourselves and each other by getting down to the immediate, humble, and human."

There's a bar at the book store.  Let's hang out afterwards!

Sunday, July 7, 2019 at 7:00pm

Third Place Books

5041 Wilson Ave S

Seattle WA 98118

New Book, “I Want to Meet Your Light”

Now available to wholesalers via Ingram

I’m excited to announce my first poetry collection will available online and in independent book stores on July 1, 2019! I’ll be selling advance copies at special events leading up to the general market release.

What readers are saying:

The poems in this collection are raw and earnest. Often conversational, sometimes beautifully minimal, and always honest. What threads them together is the expression of longing and desire in all of us to connect.”

– J. Yoon, Psychotherapist

Most poetry leaves me unmoved; it doesn’t make me feel anything.  Enter Ben Gallup with the most raw, original poetry I’ve read in years. Reading Ben’s poems will rip off emotional scars and twist a knife in your deepest aching, yet somehow leave you buoyed and filled with life. His simple words evoke beauty and love side-by-side with heartache and yearning. His preoccupations are life-and-death matters: rebirth, identity, meaning, alienation, trauma, nostalgia, growth. Ben makes you feel human. Ben makes you feel.”

-John Michael, Firefighter
Book Specs

ISBN/SKU: 9781733966115

5.5 x 8.5 in or 216 x 140 mm

Perfect Bound on Creme w/Matte Lam

Page Count: 84

Spine Width: 0.20120  in

Weight: 0.261  lbs

No Compensation


An excess of one kind of strength


weakness somewhere else.


Find where you have become too strong,

rigid, brittle,

and you will find your weakness

in its shadow.


Compensation does not correct the imbalance.


It reinforces the imbalance.


It is a temporary solution,

an emergency measure to save you from disaster.

But left uncorrected

it becomes its own disaster.


You are soft in ways you should be stronger.

You are too strong in ways you should be softer.


Let your brick walls breathe and stretch.

Let them become flesh again.


Seize your weakness.

Plunge it right into your frenzy of fears.

Let it stay there and struggle

and tear and resist and persevere

day after day.

Let it become strong like a tree,

bending with every wind

and always returning to impeccable posture.


Life needs structure to flow.

Life needs structure to flow.



I’m always digging

I don’t know why I can’t stop.


Maybe I always want to know what’s underneath.

Or maybe I’m never satisfied with what I see.

There’s got to be more.


Sometimes I see a glint down there

or imagine what’s below those

unremarkable surfaces

and then I just can’t help it.

I dig. I'm a digger.


You can always uncover a new space.

Sometimes it’s bright under there.

Maybe part of me knows that the only way out is through.

Maybe there’s another sky down there.

So I dig.


Often I want to go wandering out wide

and sometimes I do.

But mostly I dig.


I’m getting somewhere.

Maybe a wiser part of me knows

the greater adventure is to go in, inner, in-est.



I'd really love to see you tonight

but, um, actually

I have this really important digging thing I have to work on...”


Maybe I can’t help digging through the past,

piled up and decomposed.

I extract nutrients,

organic matter reduced to elements

that can become new life,

old materials to combine in new ways.

I find artifacts

that can help me see my way backward

and forward

at the same time.


Maybe some part of me remembers that,

while I’ve tried so hard to build myself a

certain way,

the real me

was already built


but got buried long ago,

and its excavation is now an emergency.


Or maybe I’m really just looking for a simple home,

A place to plant myself.

Maybe my secret is that I’m a seed


So often I ache to rise

to new heights.

Instead I just keep digging down deeper.

But maybe a wiser part of me knows

like a tree does

That you can only reach higher if you stretch deeper.


Maybe I’m digging a well.

Maybe I’ll strike the aquifer beneath all forms,

feeding each variation into being.


And one day,

after a lifetime of digging,

if nothing else

I’ll have a grave

and I'll crumble into it,




There’s dignity and purpose in digging it yourself,

starkly aware

that is what you are doing.


I Could Tell He Never Saw Me


I could tell he never saw me
because his sight couldn’t reach me,
because it stopped before it left his eyes,
because it couldn't shine
past the clouds
in his pupils.
It just reflected right back
into to his self-contained world.

I could tell he never saw me
because his sight couldn’t reach me,
because the usual traumas of becoming a man
had blotted out the pure and tender lens
he was born with.

I could tell he never saw me
because his sight couldn’t reach me,
because his light couldn’t escape
the gravity of his own pain
and hunger and despair.

I wanted to help
but there was nothing I could do;
he couldn’t even see me,
because he couldn’t see
beyond himself.

I’ve Been Hurt



I’ve been hurt.

Real bad.


No, I’m not trying to compare.


Everyone has a right to honor their own wounds.


And everyone has a responsibility

to go to their pain

and heal it

because hurt is contagious.


It helps to talk about it a bit.


I don’t remember

what happened.

I remember bad things

but I can’t find the memories that explain




I’m sorry.

I always feel like I need to apologize.

I’m a walking apology.



I feel like I need to apologize for being born

but no matter how much I apologize for it

I never feel forgiven


to live

my life.



I’ve been hurt

real bad,

somewhere deep where my mind isn’t allowed to go.


But I feel it

when I try to speak

or dare to try something that would require me to believe I have a right in this world.


I feel it

when it swells up

and spreads through my body and I


and clench and contract and shrink away

like I’m trying to protect myself from another blow

or just disappear.


I used to use anger to get big and strong

and push everything away

and get enough space to


But after just a few years

I burned through my lifetime supply of rage.


I used to use alcohol and drugs

for the soothing

and the cheap, fast illusion of power,

but each night’s step forward

cost me two steps back.


I finally found myself

but I was miles behind.




I stopped taking the edge off.

Now I want to leave it on.

I need it to cut this mystery open.


I’ve spent years trying to give myself permission to cry.

I can do it a little now.

It feels useless trying to squeeze a river

through a little crack.


But I remind myself that

one little crack is all it takes

to bring the dam crashing down

some magnificent day.









Patience and


of water.


Water’s ease and assurance, effortless

in awesome weight and power,

in inevitability.



And I will burst through that wall,

taking the spaces that are mine to fill,

with innocent confidence,

trusting nature

will continuously correct my course

as I flow freely into my life,

laughing at my silly self

for ever having been a river

who wanted permission

to join in our ocean.

Whatever You Do


In Seattle

people obey the “don’t walk” light at the street corner

even if no cars are coming.

Yes, they just stand there!


It looks bizarre and surreal to see them

standing there

obeying without thinking,

but how many signs do we all obey

without even noticing?






facial expressions,




Signs only have power over you

if you don’t reflect on them.

Reflect on them and

take your power back.



wearing that cross means

he’s an ally to the poor and oppressed,


maybe he’s just exploiting that symbol

so he can exploit you.


Don’t trust a sign.

Meet the substance.


Maybe that flag stands for freedom


maybe genocide, slavery, and imperialism


maybe all of these and more.


Maybe it’s not so simple.


You see, a sign is a very simple thing

but significance is


the opposite of simple.


Maybe that look means

the person doesn’t like you


maybe they like you a lot

and it makes them nervous


maybe you’re irrelevant

and they’ve had a hard day


a lifetime of trauma.


All day we react, unaware:

“He looks trustworthy.”

“He looks dangerous.”

“I should…”

“I’m so…”

“I can’t…”

“I’ll just…”


Why did you think that?

What was your sign?

What did you assume?


How many signs do we obey

without even noticing?


(And how many useful signs do we ignore without noticing,

signs that could help us if we were more observant?)


Signs only have power if

you don’t reflect on them.

Notice them,

in the street and in your mind,

and reflect on them.

Take your power back.


Next time you see the “don’t walk” light

and no cars are coming

you can just stand there

or you could cross

or you could roll around in the street

or fall to your knees and sob.


Whatever you do,

first, wake up.