Boy and Dog by Lana Guerra; for more information, visit

How to Deal With Strays

by Ben Kline

All the skinny puppies dropped off
by the single lane slat bridge across Pine Creek
barked at high pitches, not knowing

my father had a strategy for strays.
I cursed their errant owners ignoring
this other outcome, foolishly behaving like

married men seeking the unspoken after dark,
ripening one way, peeling another, often teary.
The strategy proved odd practice for romance.

Once I told a lover, You seem like uncured leather,
and he claimed to know not what I meant.
Now he wears hoods, tails, and studded leashes.

My cowardice microwaved my tight parts.
I moved like melting plastic when my father
tasked me with wrangling the happier strays

at play between mustard weeds, mud holes
and the cold steel Colt waiting in my coat pocket.
I never enjoyed taking the shot. The kick

felt like the entire universe objecting
to how I would treat my future former lovers.

About Ben Kline

Ben Kline lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he writes about our modern digital existence, former lovers, the Eighties, the cosmos, and growing up Appalachian. His work is forthcoming or has appeared in Impossible ArchetypeKettle Blue ReviewThe New Verse NewsThe Birds We Piled Loosely, and many more. He thinks aloud, comments, and visualizes at

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