Some of My Poems
are about you. The sonnets, mostly.
More lines than that, too costly
to keep me organized and exorcise
violence rhyming with -ick. Erotic
was my editor’s feedback, proof
he overlooked how you felt aloof
in my tiered sentences doubling
back to the bar after troubling
me for a ride, finding two cocks
in my mouth, warts where freckles
used to be, your sac of jelly rocks
bruising my eyes. It still heckles,
what you said: I hope you realize
I dated you because you said quixotic.
What I want has changed
halfway though my bourbon,
fashioned me a stranger
to myself, my tank top
and shorts too loose,
obscuring weight gain
and how I love you
like a favorite pair of jeans
splitting at the crotch. Here
in this loud gay bar, shouldered
by acquaintances who think
they know enough to spot
our differences–I want
to change my feeling past
tense weeks inside rewatching
entire seasons, bourbon
warming ice spheres, masks
hand washed, hugs held too long
before parting to return
to jobs we dislike, the rush
of jaywalking and hot sidewalk
stench, equity losing its grip.
Which of us decides how long
to hold on? What I want
to change elbows a clear path
to the restroom, bourbon
emptying time by tinkle and sigh,
shaking off the infrequency of calls,
texts just to ask How are you
when I know you aren’t busy
with another rerun, another lover.
I want–halfway through
the dribble–to ask how
we return to the feeling?
Who mends the seam?
Songs threaded by living
room dances, on rainy days
we couldn’t walk
through the park? I want
what changed to reveal
who I am now, next to you
in this bar, halfway through
another bourbon neat
swirled until swoon makes sense.
Ben Kline (he/him) lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Author of the chapbooks SAGITTARIUS A* and DEAD UNCLES, Ben was the 2021 recipient of Patricia Goedicke Prize in Poetry. His work appears in Southeast Review, THRUSH, West Trade Review, CutBank, Olney Magazine, fourteen poems, The Indianapolis Review, Limp Wrist, Hobart and many other publications. You can read more here.
image: MM Kaufman