James Benger

The Park

Probably the saddest thing
about it all is that
so many of them
never even had
dreams to lose.

Often we think of these people
as having somehow fallen,
taken a wrong turn,
made a bad choice,
lost it all,
and they end up here.

Thing is,
so, so many,
maybe even the majority,
this is their lot.
They’ve never seen it any other way,
and see nothing wrong with it.

The boy fires off his
neon orange plastic water pistol,
small crack in the seam of the handle
keeps his palm perpetually wet
with lukewarm hose water.

He ducks behind dingy sheets
clipped to a nylon line
stretched between his mother’s
and the neighbor’s trailers.

The boy’s not sure what he’s shooting at,
but is sure that the single-wide in the dirt,
all the trailers squatting in the grassless park,
it’s all something worth defending.

They boy’s mother calls from the door;
something about shoot them sheets again,
and I’ll shoot you, you little shit,
then recedes to the shuttered
darkness of their shared home.

The boy slinks off into the
stretch of woods that separates
the trailer park from the highway.
He once found a box turtle shell there,
what remained of the animal was
gooey and non-descript,
like alien blood in Saturday afternoon movies.

He hopes to find a baby fox or coyote,
something to call his own,
something that will love him
in the way he loves his home.


James Benger is a father, husband and writer. His work has been featured in several publications. He is the author of two fiction ebooks: Flight 776 (2012) and Jack of Diamonds (2013), and two chapbooks of poetry: As I Watch You Fade (EMP 2016) and You’ve Heard It All Before (GigaPoem 2017). He is a member of the Riverfront Readings Committee in Kansas City, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online poetry workshop and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and son.