Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern

Ben Kline


"I don't want to die like my upstairs neighbor"


hemorrhagic on the third flight
of our front stairwell, hunched
spread-legged in a damp white tee
and wrinkled khakis, missing
his starched blue oxford, his tilted
newsboy or loafers with frilly tassels,
rubbing his bald crown glossy
from concealment, from blood
not flowing where it should. He said
I'm so cold, perhaps considering
hell isn't as Calvinist as he said
his mother always insisted, shaking
because my head feels like it's
fucking seven figures Celsius

despite a reduced oxygen supply,
and when I rubbed his shoulder
he shook his finger, insisting
that he still needed to fix this face
and he absolutely had to steam
his pink Chanel suit, you know
the one Donnie bought me at Barneys
in April 62, our first weekend away
before he married or I started
performing
. When I lifted him
he wobbled like a newborn calf
discovering gravity, grabbing
my waist, swearing I haven't had
a drop to drink
. That Sunday,
brunch and forgiveness started late,
those young P&G girls who lived
on the fourth floor click clacking
past us, emitting pre-drink giggles
and swinging tailgate Vuittons
as he asked me What's your name
a third time and told me his
was Bill, not short for William.


Ben Kline lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, works in a library, and drinks a lot of coffee. His work is forthcoming or has recently appeared in Typehouse Magazine, Beech Street Review, Love's Executive Order, The Birds We Piled Loosely, Figroot Press, Poetry Is Dead, Pretty Owl Poetry, and many more. He tweets @PineCreekPoet.