“Vascularity” by Ben Kline

Grindr grunts NEW MESSAGE FROM BIGBOYPIGBOTTOM, and Dr. E
re-enters the room, quick handshake and How are you? I’m cold
in my sagging white CK briefs they discontinued in 2005. You’ve got

envied vascularity, his MA in the hall ready to test my veins while blindfolded
he jokes, and I reconsider mucus membranes probed through sharp circles
in back rooms at previously gay bars until I remember that old joke

about a preacher son’s curls slick with the first grease God made. Dr E
laughs again, forgetting the nature of privilege, pressing the cold scope over
my left pectoral, his chaffed thumb on the blue tributaries flowing up

my weaker left arm, and we’re back to another government effort to categorize
and prioritize who am I by how I fuck. He drones about Hep A through triple Z,
PrEP and mutant gonnorhyphillisidia, and I snap It’s not as if they want

my middle-aged gay blood. SIR I HAVE A PRETTY PINK BOUQUET
FOR YOU WHEN MAY I COME BY…. I think you should be more serious
about this. MAY I SHOW IT TO YOU NOW, but I don’t have enough OnlyFans

who auto-renew to justify more frequent content, to afford the Truvada Dr E
recommends. I think about Centrum Silver, cute underwear on second dates,
regular screenings, asking questions before sharing my address with guys like

BIGBOY, consulting a dermatologist before caulking the deep furrow
between my brows with chemicals lacking Latin origin because hayfield sunburns
carved a permanent gulch between this subject and other desired objects YOU

CAN DO WHATEVER YOU WANT not nearly as close as it feels when he slides
two gloved fingers in my sphincter, and I lie on my left side, scrolling results
for a new cellular tripod. Amazon suggests I might like one with suction cups.

Who needs mirrors on the ceiling? SHOW ME WHAT YOU WANT TO DO, SIR.
I should reply “Spend less time hiding your name and face,” more accelerating
my pulse and leaving so I can focus on the false calculus increasing my co-insurance

because Dr E has icicle fingers and I don’t go to work for this. I don’t bruise
my knees for this. I lie prone, about my age, bookmarking sites for buying lube
in gallon tubs the mailman leaves out back. I wear a harness or jockstrap to sniff pits

in brief clips to afford this, moaning toward the microphone, a strange way forward
when I pray to all the gorgeous dead boys who already did this, PLEASE SIR YOU
WILL NOT REGRET IT, and we’re all done, looks good, even if it might blister my lips.

—–

Hailing from the farm valleys of west Appalachia, Ben Kline lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, toiling away on his full-length manuscript and two chapbooks, drinking the right amount of bourbon but more coffee than seems wise. His work is forthcoming or has recently appeared in DIAGRAM, 8 Poems, Pidgeonholes, Graviton, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, petrichor, Riggwelter, Grist Online, Trailer Park Quarterly, Rappahannock Review, Toe Good and many more. You can find and read more at http://www.benkline.online