2 Poems (Ben Kline)

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