Stories by James Benger

James BenderI could tell you about the time

we raced to the top of the water tower,

bare legs and arms pumping up the

wet, cold metal rungs of the ladder,

its white paint coming off in patches,

adhering to our palms or falling to the ground.

Before we got to the top, we imagined

from up there we’d be able to see the

world, or at least the state line, but

no matter where we stood around that

sunbaked tank of drink, all we saw

were fields, trailers and someone’s

lost mangy dog hobbling down the

gravel road that was more dirt than gravel.


I could tell you about the time

we jacked the keys to Buddy’s sister’s

Mustang from the kitchen counter

when she wasn’t looking and how we

flew with the wind ripping at our eyes,

all of us too false-macho to ask for the

top to go back up – it was winter, after all.

When the sky went dark and we finally

came back, she was red-faced and spitting,

screaming till she cried and everyone laughed,

but I almost cried along with her,

no one should ever have to feel like she must’ve.


I could tell you about the time

I found a lost chick on the side of the road

when I was walking home from fourth grade,

her yellow fuzz still there, scared eyes above

a scraped-up, ravenous beak.

I took her home and hid her under that sink

that no one ever really used.

I named her and fed her dry rice until the end.


I could tell you about the time

that we shot our bb guns at anything

that would yield to the tiny balls,

downed leaves and mulberries,

soft moldering wood in the fire pit.

We emptied fast food ketchup packets

into the barrels so that when the bb’s came out,

they’d take the ketchup too, make it

look like blood spray, or a food fight.


I could tell you about the time

that that girl who sat behind me in

seventh grade algebra, the one who always

copied my homework, even though I

was a D student, otherwise she’d fail, the

time she took my hand in the hallway

in between fourth and fifth hours and she

kissed me on the cheek, a tiny ring of wet

warmth on my face, and I swear I

could feel the flutter of an eyelash on my skin.

The next day she was just gone from

everywhere but my head.


I could tell you about the time

I pretended to not care when everything

was crashing down in insurmountable

obstacles, towering doubts, negativity

and pressure to just give in, but you

pulled me back and righted my angle

and reminded me that everything is temporary;

nothing is static, pressure is only pressure

because there is inevitable release.


I could tell you any or all of these things,

but you’ve heard all my stories before.

So I’ll just stand silently beside you

And breathe in the next moment.

~ James Benger

James Benger is a father, husband and writer. He is the author of two fiction ebooks, Flight 776 (2012) and Jack of Diamonds (2013) and one chapbook of poetry, As I Watch You Fade (EMP 2016). He lives n South Kansas City with his wife and son. In 2015 James started an online anthology among fellow poets called 365 Days. A book has since been published with a collection of some of those poems – 365 Days: A Poetry Anthology.

Ronda Miller enjoys wandering the high plateau of NW Kansas where the Arikaree Breaks whisper late into the sunset and scream into blizzards and thunderstorms. She lives in Lawrence close to her son and daughter. She is a district president and the state vice president for Kansas Authors Club. She is a life coach specializing in working with those who have lost someone to homicide. She dances every chance she gets. She has poetry in numerous online and hard copy publications that include The Smithsonian Institute. Two books of poetry include Going Home: Poems from My Life and MoonStain (Meadowlark Books, May 2015).


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