Benjamín Naka-Hasebe Kingsley
says my father and I’m leaping
out onto the highway pavement the road
is not a spilled ribbon of bow-tied asphalt not
the powdered rib cage of likely-beaten
boys it is just fucking
concrete. I ragdoll
through God’s unpaved
underbelly His surfacing pebble-pocked lesions
curl my hands against a guardian angel
who never Never came alive for me
in faith I stretch myself long across traffic
lane after unending lane as if
there is a mother’s minivan who will take me
far from the floodgates of heaven
buoy me to safety restart my world with a rainbow
like Noah’s magic boat never dreamt it could.
Parent and child—much like the relationship between driver and passenger—you are along for the ride. This poem leapt from my desire to express the violent yearning for agency crammed backseat in so many children’s lives.
Ben Kingsley is best known for his Academy Award-winning role as Mahatma Gandhi. A touch less famous, Affrilachian author BenjamÌn Naka-Hasebe Kingsley has not acted since his third-grade debut as the undertaker in Music Man. A Kundiman alum, Kingsley is currently the Tickner Writing Fellow and recipient of a Provincetown FAWC fellowship. He belongs to the Onondaga Nation of Indigenous Americans in New York. Peep his work from 2018 in Boston Review, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, and Tin House, among others. His first book, Not Your Mama’s Melting Pot, selected by Bob Hicok for the Backwaters Prize, was released fall 2018.