READING O’HARA TO A WATERFALL
I stand on that stump in the middle of the ring of stones
someone laid out years ago for just such an occasion.
I touch my finger to the rushing water to find out for my
-self if the stories are true. Spoilers: they are. Everything
we’ve ever been told about water is real. I’d stay away if I were you.
When you touch my arm longer than One Heterosexual Second
does that mean you’re into me? Or are you just secure in your
masculinity enough to play with my feelings? I’ve lost the tongue
of touching. What does it mean when a boy grabs your arm, or drags
your hip next to his? Forgive him; he knows not what he does
to me when he puts his fingers in my hair and tosses starlight
at my eyes. I have no time for fragile masculinity, Frank. I need
a good man who will hold me like he means it, and I can’t keep
relying on you as my fallback. Sunday afternoon, I read
your poems to a waterfall crashing through a sewer grate into a pool
of murky brown water. Up the banks behind me, a mother and her dog
walk two kids along the trail, yelling about dragonflies in the mist.
I’ve never seen a dragonfly soar in the mist but, God, it must be special.
The little vessel of hope flits above the still water, reaching high
enough on glassy wings it may as well be a real dragon, roaring and fire
and everything. Like an angel signifying terrible change about to come
to the world, it dances over the morning waves a lonely light, forgotten.
This is where the sad boys keep their rock collections.
When they move their curly heads dust falls from their shoulders.
The little tree in the corner
isn’t a signifier of cheer
or belief but it does light up
the room some. They’ve pushed
the tables to the far wall
to make room for the beautiful woman who dances like it’s okay
to be afraid of death even when everyone shames you for wanting it.
The closest to God
we’ve ever gotten is nothing.
The closest to being alright
we’ve ever gotten is being
alive. Cities across the country
clap their bells together to ring in the new year of shameless creation.
This is how the prophets tell it: They say life is a feast, well if it is
The collective consciousness
of every boy I’ve
ever touched presses
on me like a winch tightening
around my throat. I expose my reed-pipe bare bones to the universe
and hope for a return of want. I’ve decided not to hope if I can help it.
I’ve decided I’ve learned
all there is to learn about
longing; my teachers
have been each person
who has ever sat next to me.
What a time it will be: when there is no one left who knows who I was born.
Call me the ridiculous heat. Call me a stack of dirty, crumpled bills shoved
in his elastic waistband.
The membrane snaps and recoils
and I wake again, the dreamscape
dissipating in the morning light.
Go ahead, say this has never happened.
Say this isn’t how it really is. I’ll pull back the curtain for you; I’ll demystify
the myth of our existence. Call fire a flower, and it will still burn your reaching