Mom calls the graveyard beside my school a cemetery precinct. Not because she works the polling station in the gymnasium every November, completing ballots for our uncles in the east line of faded tombstones. Or because winners are alleged to write history. For the family, she insists, stuffing sheets from her purse into the machine.
The graves are too close for our tall people, bejeweled by dental fillings, shallow to sinkholes, hiding places for sophomores anxious to be voted Most Likeable or Best Shade. Their dead are names we inherit, sometimes edit in the 977.1 section at the library. Mom says we have to keep Uncle Linus in office. Think it through.
I imagine the cemetery under a strip mall, school kids at a new froyo shop, kissing with icy lips to select a class treasurer. The graves accessible in the sub-basement. Uncle Linus propped in the corner, slack white mandible holding a “Vote FIELD for Progress” sign. Ghosts wander the unlit tunnel, around the walk-in freezer, complaining about the damp.
Ben Kline lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. His chapbook SAGITTARIUS A* will be published in October 2020 by Sibling Rivalry Press. A poetry reader for The Adroit Journal and Flypaper Lit, he is the 2020 recipient of the Christopher Hewitt Award for poetry and a finalist for both the 2020 Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and the 2020 National Poetry Series. His work can be found in The Cortland Review, Impossible Archetype, No Contact, DIAGRAM, Hobart, Juked, A&U Magazine, and many other publications. You can read more at benklineonline.wordpress.com.