“WE ALL GOT OUR VICES”
His addiction, mine
Window in the back of my head.
He is right. I made a habit of looking at boys
Straight in the face until they saw things
Differently. Resign, or stay
Two seconds too long.
Eighth grade latchkey analyst
Assessing my fellas’ fetid cores.
None of that news was good.
I made peace for growing men &
I slept good beneath that bridge.
Their Eyes Were Watching Girls and I
Was paid in trinkets
From dead civilizations.
I think I thought
Beshitten by the bondage of boyhood
A boy was still
A person, and like most
Might want someone to stare at them knowingly
Like a father
Who forgets he is your father.
Like someone who wants to help, but needs to
Forget what it is they are up against.
So, against a locker
In the middle of English against a wall
In the dark after clean-up-crew
Against the sill of that window, I’d go
Bro. Please. Look at me.
I know you’re better than this.
PRAISE FOR NIPPONAPHIS MONZENI
: a species of sap-sucking aphid that, after maturing for more than a year, lives between three and five.
On winter hazel trees—pale, grounded suns that tolerate neglect, you build your hollow worlds, each one called a gall. Your life, I think, is sucking? Sweet.
You hope for nothing and resilience is not
Your language. This is why.
Predators take pleasure in attack, but you take pleasure away
from the lacewings and the ladybugs, the wasps and the hoverfly larvae.
You wish a midge would
Do what their god requires, and you get it
In broad daylight, with all your neighbors watching. There is light
Where there should not be, and it is time now not to be a single being but
a menace to your enemies. They want to see how you living, and you ain’t build shit for acquisition.
My microscopic gnocchi from the undiscovered country.
And just like that, your lipid-rich innards, liquidated. Goo shot across the gall-holes and your almost dead, lilliputian legs shriveling, stirring, smearing to seal that door of no depart, and it is already done: your history hardening from the inside-out.
HIGH AS HELL
Brooklyn Museum, 2016
Holding that mandarin to your lips
You peeled his leather tummy and kissed.
Think: we’re the first to see
This small, small world.
A brand-new sun just for us.
Then, we devoured.
USED TO LIFE
After Grandma says I never get used to life
& apologizes, I drink at the computer.
I get six books, put them beneath. I elevate my experience.
I send other people’s poems to people I want to become
For. N & I agree that gay people get used
To life. Used to live. Sooner than the rest, or, with less of a death.
We laugh like liars. We make our lives because we have to.
Get used to it. When my dog—a real dog’s dog— barks, I shout,
Stop screaming. Think, Get used to it. He is small & will never
Kill me. He hurts me like a real me’s me. When he wants to eat, or feel
My fingers wonder his floppy hearing flaps, he screams. He does not
Apologize. He can’t. He stares until I stare— until I, caged &
Cooing, cube my cheek against the steel veil, & he,
Cursed, poses his first question. When did you know…
Did you know you’d never get out?
Author photograph by Keylah Mellon