Ben Kline




Random encounter in a controlled data harvesting enterprise commonly referred to as a "dating app." Subsequent texts, proliferate sexts. Phone calls. Video chat. That mysterious tattoo on his left carriage, calligraphy obscuring the Italian spellings, only glimpsed when he performs in the boylesque or the lights remain on. Pheromones mingled in the sheep meadow. Time the crows navigate as nautical miles. Alpha waves that outlast gravity. Two apartments in urban residential neighbors. Show tunes and dead gay poets. Risk.


01. Experience articulated companionship, love and personal development as a shared venture.
     a. Share a cute dog, likely a butterscotch labradoodle named Riley.
02. To apply past learning achievements to intended future successes.
03. To have great sex with someone for whom you care deeply.

Background Knowledge

You met him for cookies on temperate Saturday afternoon in Hell's Kitchen—2 tuxedo, 1 iced oatmeal dark chocolate, 2 white chocolate macadamia—and walked to the park. He is the youngest of four, the brother of sisters, the watched over. He knows musicals like you know call numbers and comic books. You feel his Scorpio sun stinging your skin if you step too far off the one two. Your Scorpio moon crossing Gemini nights might terrify him. Avoid talking too much. Do not always have to be first.


84 structured one-hour sessions covering:

  • family dynamics
    • including who shot whose dog and which cousins might be more than relations
  • ducking through the 6 ft doorways at his parent's home in Boston
  • vigorous sexual practice and magenta experimentation
  • manifested patterns, hourly moods
    • Mother's Note: Avoid interacting with him before 8am.
  • areas of contention (Reminder: do not always have to be first.)

Field work involving:

  • cooking without garlic or peppers
    • Father's Note: Acknowledge the sacrifice required of person of Italian heritage.
  • Broadway shows, Broadway Bares, Broadway Backwards
  • sharing a bed too short for you
  • how to be open with your emotions
    • no talking from the corner of your mouth
    • no leaving messages on Read
  • navigating outside participant permissions


Long weekends in one another's company, including drag brunches with friends and learning favorite places, where you will kiss the top of his head and rifle through his pants. He will tease your twang and miss your beard when you have a mustache. Minimum of two planned one-week trips together per year, to places compatible to speedos and dancing, and one family gathering, including possible connections to Disney, boats, baling hay or keeping track of cousin names.


Pass or fail class. Make up exam available upon first failure. Suspension for the second. Expulsion for the third. Pass requires demonstration of fortitude, compassion, forgiveness and frequently engorged penis. Marriage certificate in one of three possible states: Georgia, New York, Ohio.


01. He enjoys it in the shower. T / F
     a. Essay: Define "it."

02. Who should forgive first?
     a. errant partner
     b. erred partner
     c. whomever ate the last yogurt

03. Which anniversary is the anniversary? ________________________________________

04. How often is too often to text him? ___________________________________________

05. Long-distance relationships succeed by: (Choose any that apply.
     a. shared Google calendar
     b. dick pic
     c. compartmentalization
     d. bouquets delivered on Tuesdays
     e. lots of phone/video calls
     f. adopt-a-star
     g. always focusing on the future

06. Why is a musky armpit sexy? _______________________________________________

07. Which type of knife works best when mincing garlic cloves? ______________________

08. He is a countertenor. T / F

09. Essay: Share an example of failure in a previous relationship and how you would avoid that problem in the future.

10. Essay: Explain why you are not dating someone in your own city.







One grey wood shed squatting on half a yard of rusted junk metal broken by fuzzy purple thistles and nosy sunflowers. Two skinned cottontails and a six point dripping blood from the light pole. Goats leaping between bed linens, brown pelts and t-shirts clipped to the nylon line swaying between the gutter and the corner of the shed. The house down the cut bank from the county highway. The house Grandma paid for with regret until her death at ninety-nine. The house in which Uncle Mike vacillates on a broken switch.


Primary: Foresight from hindsight, by way of relations and genetic probability.
Secondary: To learn more about the variate nature of mental illness.

Background Knowledge

Uncle Mike is your mother's oldest brother. He is your father's least favorite. He is your likeness. (Especially with a beard. Strangers like to tousle both y'uns curls.) He answers the door in his tighty whities. He answers to more names than his own. He has two sons with his fourth cousin. He has two sons far removed. He is warrior and warning, all in the pitch of a high-throated scream. He is the sky in colors other than blue. He forgets to bathe.


3 classroom hours covering:

  • family dynamics
  • chemical imbalance disorders
  • anatomy
  • choosing to stay or go

Field work involving:

  • deer hunting
  • field dressing
  • knots
  • dissection

Student Practice

Twelve Saturday hours spent in Uncle Mike's company, including hitchhiking to the flea market on the west end of town, where someone will test a rifle against the limestone and serve white beans and ham from the tailgate for their muddy truck. Minimum of one deer and one fowl must be shot in the state forest before dusk.

  • Optional extra credit (good for a half-grade raise) if you photo document how to cut the midline on a squirrel using ungloved "guide fingers" with a smooth blade upturned.
  • Optional extra credit (good for a bonus half day of off-campus engagement) if you produce a short video in which you feather and skin a trapped quail, open its larynx, play a few familiar chord.


Pass/fail exam.
Clinical demonstration of abdominal skin removal without contamination/consternation.
Certificate of Understanding Those Who Cannot Be Helped Because They Do Not Want It


01. Pit bulls do not eat beans. T / F

02. Whiskey can mix safely with lithium. T / F

03. How many stomachs do sheep have? _____________________________________

04. What is the recommended daily dosage for Abilify? _________________________

05. Yard goats enjoy eating: (Choose any that apply.)
     a. grass
     b. chicken bones
     c. soda cans
     d. small children

06. Pigs do not perspire. T / F

07. Which type of knife works best when skinning a fawn? _______________________

08. Hearing voices is what type of hallucination:
     a. dietary
     b. auditory
     c. hereditary
     d. tertiary

09. Essay: Explain why you resemble your uncle.

10. Essay: How do you remove blood from sunflower seeds?






These lesson plans began as a few lines in a sonnet about The Young & the Restless, which various members of my family have watched since the early 1990s when it aired during our lunch breaks on the farm. Said sonnet became an outline that transformed into these two poems, several other quizzes, character charts and more, including an unfinished how-to about manipulating your family in the style of Victor Newman.