August

August has a special place in my work. Many of my poems (probably too many) that circle back to the farm take place in August. It’s often the month of new projects – often without me realizing it. I tend to write a lot of first drafts of poems and start a dozen short stories that I won’t have returned to a year later.

A month of transition despite having the same hot, muggy long days, August was frequently one of our least busy months on the farm. Uncles and cousins took vacations. We spent afternoons in the swimming hole, maybe going to a matinee at the movie house in the next down. I would sit on the porch with my notebook.

This August will also bring lots of exciting news and developments that have me…excited for the longest month.

Revise

Revision has become my chosen creative enterprise lately.

I’ve crafted a few new poems, but as the pandemic has endured, by interest in writing about it or other fresh topics has waned. My attempts at writing protest work about the prevalent injustices are best left in draft; I’m at least smart enough to know I lack the agency or the life experience to write capably about some things. Thus, I’ve returned to old musical favorites – late 80s/early 90s Prince, British trip hop, Ray of Light, etc – and commenced rewriting old poems, drafts and ideas I had between 1996-2000.

I wrote mostly short fiction in those days. I completed two terrifically bad novellas and one collection of paranormal short stories in that time frame. (Published a couple of the stories in long forgotten journals. I think my contributors copies are in a box somewhere in my parents’ basement.) I wrote poems, or least their outlines, and often emailed them to myself in my old Hotmail account so I’d have them forever, if possible. Revisiting these texts has been revelatory. I had forgotten how heavily HIV/AIDS weighed upon me then, despite my often risky proclivities, and how going into public library work altered my understanding of the social contract, our social fabric and life in general.

Anyway, a few of these rewrites are beginning to take real shape, becoming the kinds of poems I wasn’t sure I could write ever/anymore. I don’t know if a new collection is taking shape, if these poems can join other bodies of work, or if I even want these shared with the world. I’ll see how my beta readers react and pivot from there.

I hope everyone is staying safe, behaving wisely, and engaging their creative self!

Update

Sadly, no one took me up on the donate/social justice/poem idea. So I’ve been quietly donating my own money.

I wanted to highlight one particular organization: the Freedom Fund. Their mission and work is on point and they use PayPal.

Meanwhile, life continues as such: wake early, have coffee, writing new poems set between 1994-1999, FTE work remotely all day, workouts at home, long walks, evening cocktail.

Tonight’s drink was a lavender gin martini made with Empress 1908.

I received some major poetry news today that shook me to my core. Still haven’t processed what, if anything, it means.

Donate and Request a Poem

Instead of payments in this time of uprising against injustice, when others are on the streets working toward greater recognition, understanding and ultimately freedom, anyone requesting a poem should first donate to a bail or bond fund – a great list here – and share your receipt of donation with me along with your poem request.

A poem of your own

I’ve launched a new service on this site: Poems by request!

Whatever the occasion, be it poem for your father’s birthday or cousin’s wedding, we will work together to create the perfect poem for you. You’ll provide the necessary information and context. I’ll write the poem. Check it out at my Request a Poem page.

Gift your boyfriend with that sexy villanelle he didn’t know he needed!

(R)ejaculation

My poem “(R)ejaculation (Tumblr Edit)” finishes a long journey today as it debuts at Hobart. I love this poem and what it has to say about me, you, all of us in our digital world.

Originally the last poem I wrote (in the summer of 2013!) for Going Fast in Loose Directions, I held on to (R)ejaculation because its format wasn’t working. The poem has traveled several versions, receiving crucial feedback from several poets and editors. I landed on this edit and format late last year. The time from start to finish proved beneficial – lots of details about our digital lives and the structures supporting them have been revealed since 2013, adding new layers to the poem.

Funnily enough, (R)ejaculation now sits near the end of Twang, the second half of which functions almost as an unofficial sequel to GFiLD. Circles and loops, kids, even if time is a straight line that breaks on occasion.

Update

Apologies. Happy May. I spent most of April/National Poetry Month in Teams and Zoom meetings for work. I managed to complete a NaPoMo 30/30 challenge – I’d guess about half of the drafts are salvageable. We shall see. I had to cancel Poetry Afield 2.0. Hoping to make it virtual soon.

A few poems were published: “Patient” and “Dead Uncle, 1979” in A&U Magazine. “Lover” and “Uncle Mike” in DIAGRAM. You can find the links here. I participated in the Wild and Precious Life Series with a virtual poetry reading on May 6. They will be posting video soon.

I finished my new chapbook, tentatively titled Back Holler Magic. Poems inspired by Appalachian folklore and superstition. “Will / Inherit” and “Giving Up the Dew” come from this collection. I didn’t finish in time for several April 30 contest deadlines though. Oh well. Next year, lol.

That’s about it. I’m doing well under a stay-at-home order. My entire second decade of life was a stay-at-home order – on the farm, pre-internet, no cable tv, no neighbors who weren’t family – and I experienced all the pent up frustrations, crazy thoughts and bad behavior that time. Now, I am fine to sit on the sofa and watch movies I’ve never seen and read books.

Stay safe and be well!

Will / Inherit

Check out my new poem at Vagabond City Lit!

VAGABOND CITY

Suddenly / late summer / shirtless in the loft / he watches me / surmount the top rung / Soft timothy exhaling June / The twine breaks / spreading blue / purple florets on which we lie / about men / the Virgin / glistening skin / senators and welfare / other things we cannot carry / like pistols / plastic bags / creek mud when it floods / uncovering July’s empty cans / our fathers’ distal bits / shredded mineral deeds / gold watches and fillings / silver rings my nephews will inherit / as we leave / behind nothing 


Ben Kline lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, writing poems, telling stories, drinking more coffee than might seem wise. His chapbook SAGITTARIUS A* will be published in 2020 by Sibling Rivalry Press. He is a poetry reader for Flypaper Lit. His other work is forthcoming or has recently appeared in

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New work debuts!

Greetings from COVID-19 Isolationtown. Hope everyone has found their quarantine groove, made playlists, binge watch agendas and progress on that stack of unread books on the end table.

I’ve had a few new poems debuts lately. First, “The New Math” debuted at the awesome Juked. This poem opens Twang and manages to touch on many of my favored themes. Second, “Covenant” – also from Twang – debuts in issue 7 of the always amazing Impossible Archetype. Mark does an spectacular job of gathering work from a broad range of LGBTQIA+ contributors. Really, mind boggling yet spirit lifting!

Meanwhile, I’ve been anthologized again. This time, in the first ever Bending Genres Anthology 2018/2019, from the team at Bending Genres Journal! My poem “Me, Too, Once, and I Could Only Make an Outline” appears on page 21!

Stay safe everyone and keep reading!