Boyd W. Benson

The Department of Licensing


The large woman who squints up
from behind her desk, her coffee and computer,
and the photos of the smiling family,
asks if I’m an organ donor
and then if I’m a registered voter.
Behind me, across the disinfected
waiting room, a child coughs
whose mother once had someone needle
into the upper, fleshy part
of her breast the name “Mark,” now
yellowed like an old newspaper headline,
who would not vote for me, or me her,
neither of us desiring anything
of the other’s organs.

For a moment, in this glow
from the large window (that should be
a wall) overlooking the parking lot
and my old truck — the light
spilling in upon the polished floor,
the white stucco walls — and for all of us
resigned to the strange need
to license ourselves,
to squint at one another
and cover our coughing mouths
for the betterment of the general public,
this is how it is.


Boyd W. Benson spent his youth in Everett and Whidbey Island.  A semi-professional musician, he moved to Idaho in his early twenties and ended up in Clarkston, Washington, where he spent over two decades.  He has recently moved back to Everett.  He’s most comfortable as a cook, but he’s dabbled at many roles.  He taught writing at Washington State University for a decade.  He’s currently trying his hand at freelance writing and, likewise, playing music in Everett, and looking for employment.  All in all, the game of poetry has been very good to him, enabling him to meet and converse with poets and writers he’s always admired, and he would like to thank the various editors and committees that have supported his work.  Since poetry has little or no economic value in a capitalist society, he believes in it highly, and remains humbled by all the poets of Washington.