Three Poems

by Ben Kingsley

exchange-rates-1255284

Economy

Even though I’m told

death is a sunk cost

at the funeral,

I don’t understand

the exchange rate.

Fleshy durables in the casket

have expired. The corpse

awfully well

-dressed for

a brittle boat of unpaid

property tax.

Burn me up. Pour me

over the earth alive

and now ashes. Never

a phoenix, still just

a dead thing.

Still afraid. As if all

my sense will blaze up

after death and what will

be worse: embalming

or cremation.


Along a Field by my Then-House

Eroded rocks spread like my then-

golden lab Sasha when she shattered

a hip curled under hyssop and sun-eroded

to the size of a pup buried

beneath spades of porch light

grass in steam-printed thatch on my then-

lover’s thighs and her small breasts smelling

like handled change then-

certain we were more than the sum

of two or more

urges sequestered then-

beneath skyplanes shelling out

stars that stained children’s fingertips straining

to reach a telephone wire sagging against the weight

of one-hundred lost boy’s then-shoes

back-then’s field a piebald mudslide

shorn by wind gonging through skeletal rakes, red

backhoe loaders drumming past crawler excavators

tearing down and tearing down then-

boys on neon-green bikes then-riding high on

doubled dirt hills being built up

and being built up popping wheelies then-

without their mothers to bring them back

from a field by my then-house and my then-mother

to call me home and into the kitchen

where my then-father gulped milk and Raisin

Bran from a glass Pyrex measuring cup

and he said to dress for the job I want

so then I delivered pizzas dressed like James

Franco gripping the handles of a battered

dirt bike

Now I look at those hills along a field

by the house I inherited and I speak

to the window as if it’s one

of those boys now riding

high and say: “thank the one

that washed your small body

that dressed and fed you

that saw to it you got enough

sleep.”


G-20 Summit: The War Counsel Tattle Tale

Here on a Pittsburgh playground children huddled

like a cloud of mayflies flapping and round

a songbird crushed on pavement. Here boys rigged

in Kevlar backpacks to guard against the unseen assault:

rifle(ling) through his goods is Shinzo, now, with bits of

Doritos in his braces casted into a crunchy crown. Here

Vladimir jabbing a red umbrella lance at Angela’s ankles

the spurs of her light-up sneakers a fleeing police siren

amid the crepuscular October nightlife. Here are their socks

and unraveling mittens like gauntlets stained brown, tiny

teeth popping singsonging, each little dragoon plying

their wares: fresh erasers in a pouch, a finless plastic whale,

candy corn smushed into a giant orange suspended above

Salam’s eager mouth. Cooing, Calling, Crying, Keening—

Cristina stands atop a sagging plastic crate, reporting on

the G20-Someone-thing, so she says, like her momma: “Here!”

the children point and call, pulling the Great Miss by her

invisible lead to stomp some little songbird out.


Ben Kingsley is best known for his Academy Award winning role as Mahatma Ghandi. This Ben is a touch less famous. He hasn’t acted since a third grade debut as the undertaker in Music Man. Currently, he is a Michener Fellow, VONA: Voices of our Nation Scholar, and belongs to the Onondaga Nation of Indigenous Americans in New York. He holds an M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. Most recently his work has been published in [PANK]Prairie Schooner, & nominated for an Academy of American Poet’s Prize.

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