Ben Kline

Missing Things

Thank you for breaking into my locker to kick off sophomore year, dumping its contents onto my lap in homeroom, lamenting the lack of revelation like an accusation, as if I would do that to you. Thank you for laughing, I laughed too, the only one who knew as you strutted away, as your buddies brayed, slapping your back, swaying to a chorus of Ha ha homo queer. They didn’t know I learned from my grandfather’s pet crow that missing things are thesauruses of secrets you thought you were keeping until that night, years later, on the sofa in your cousin’s trailer, you had returned from Iraq, had more muscles than words, more red than blue in your eyes squeezed shut as I rubbed your pale scalp, counting lumps, laughing about your once pretty black curls that wooed all the girls. Thank you for laughing too, for unbuttoning your shirt, my tongue through your lips, my fingers climbing your ribs, skipping your lost nipple. I traced the hard pink scar across your abdomen, It’s ok, ending with a knot of dead flesh where your navel used to be when your tears were clear, not this strange, luminescent orange.

Be a Good Boy

Mom says We’re going at 2. I’m in the basement, wearing a white tee and long johns, chopping sycamore, drinking High Life from the summer fridge, two cans, four. They didn’t smash as easily then. Glow of the stove like penance. Or persuasion. Promises are just threats made nicely, aren’t they? I shower before we leave. Only whores sweat in church. I still did it for free. Before textbooks, rent and $4 gasoline. Bush didn’t care about me either. Amend that 36 states. Click, pop, zzzzz, one more can. Why not? It’s the best way to experience time. Now as always, same as that look Mom gives when I sigh. Tomorrow as yesterday when I lift that Hustler at the drugstore for the senior bullies who meet me behind the weight room, learning they might like doing more than viewing. 6th can’s a blink. I feel for Father McKenzie. For all he has to know about me, yet smile every Sunday at his magic show. The chalice never sparkles. The wafers still taste like paper. You have to believe. But what are the ingredients? How much cornstarch and yeast do you need to float on a holy breeze? I want to see. It’s been one month since I realized death is blindness and echo. I want to see before I can’t in that time, I’ve committed several, very mortal sins.

Ben Kline lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, writing poems and telling stories, drinking more coffee than might seem wise. His work is forthcoming or has recently appeared in DIAGRAM, 8 Poems, Pidgeonholes, Graviton, Horny Poetry Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Risk Magazine, petrichor, Riggwelter, Grist Online, Trailer Park Quarterly, Rappahannock Review, Toe Good and many more. You can read more at

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