Prosody, or an Origin Story
Dad blued my glutes with the big paddle,
the one with holes, my younger siblings
giggling in the hallway, not in the terror
ten swats intended to garner, Mom adding
I’d have to spend subsequent TV nights writing
I will not attempt to choke my little brother
to death over rocks bombs or forts walls
while he has a machete five thousand times
in blue ink, full cursive, every loop inspected
for closure, made to restart on any page with a mistake.
I didn’t mind. I conquered my errant use of won’t
by the 4th page. Between the lines I doodled
Psylocke’s butterfly, Storm’s hair pluming,
Gambit charging an Ace close to Havok’s crotch,
and my favorite, Dazzler in the Gaultier cone bra,
the gold version from Blond Ambition. Pages piling,
I practiced my o and r sounds, “brother not bruther,”
and possible rhymes for machete, “sweaty” the first
my fingers felt, then “confetti” over Dazzler
severing the 623rd machete with her photon blast.
Mom said nothing about the margin art or the legal pad
of poems I started when my hand needed new words
and fewer swoops, when I glamorized Lady Deathstrike
shoving her blade fingers through Wolverine’s neck
under the 986th death, the hatched pool of blood
obscuring all but the o in the next choke. The bruises
dotting my butt greened to yellow–spotted brown.
Three of those poems earned a scholarship.
Some of them I adapted into short stories
about Mystique mourning Destiny, who saw
her death approaching like too many of my uncles.
I stowed some poems for a future collection
I’d attempt after my parents died, the 4998th sentence
beginning a new page, ample space for the last
while he has a machete to fall into the maw
of a Brood queen, her fangs piercing the h’s,
the birthmark on her triangular exoskull
Mom’s initials, unnoticed as she flipped
the pages one last time and dropped them
into a metal bucket on the patio
with a struck match.
Ben Kline (he/him/his) lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Author of the chapbooks SAGITTARIUS A* and DEAD UNCLES, host of POETRY AFIELD and POETRY STACKED, Ben is a poet and storyteller whose work appears in bedfellows magazine, Pangyrus, South Carolina Review, Southeast Review, Autofocus, POETRY, fourteen poems and many other publications. He tweets at @BenKlinePoet and you can learn more at https://benklineonline.wordpress.com/.
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