i’ve seen inside so many homes lately their bedrooms
idiosyncrasies bass clef sheet music on a stand
a cello in the corner piles of books no bed frame
mattress on box spring king bed behind sectional couch
low queen in a back room between two night stands
standard drawer with lube standard blue robe on the rack
standards lowered just for tonight always alcohol first
rooftop bar i walk to bar’s back patio for cigarettes
the corner near the bar in the bar the parking lot by the beach
twice table in the quiet library on a hot day thirsty before
dinner he pays for in cash fifty dollar bill thirsty after
the walk there thirsty after him hard & pressed against
him hard grinding against armpits too ticklish for tongues
too hairy hairless i’m always attempting to leave
some mystery leave them wanting more leave before
the creaking bedroom door latches shut underwear
on the floor the rolling him on top then me him again
a string tying me to all those before a bedsheet tangle
a sudsed up shower subaru moonroof each one turns ghost
before he knows the first thing about me they are first names
first a face i say i’m tired say i should be getting home i have to drive
they are lonely as i am lonely as the moon is lonely
as a lake as a lamppost how they shine just to the edge
of the sidewalk where the next post picks up
Oh darling darling I have goldenrod veins. I plant myself
deeper into my thoughts. How many more days
before the sunrise? How many more days before the sun
dies? Every potted plant whispers your undoing.
You will wilt and wither away by the time my buds flower,
by the time I open my face to the sky. If we’re still
singing the same song why does the tune elude me?
My feet match pitch with your ceiling fan. My fingers
pluck the chorus on your shoulder blades. If this
is a springtime dance for two why can’t I nestle in
with you? Whenever I stop myself from speaking
do you want to pocket watch me? I’m already
putting on my socks. I’m already tucking in my shirt.
Do you hear my cracking joints? In the doorway I hesitate
between two worlds. Wind and sand can’t tickle my skin.
A light drizzle could uproot me from my thoughts. The roots
mirror the branches. That is to say I’m all stem and no leaves;
that is to say I flower late; that is to say I have nothing to offer.
Birds pick my fruit before it drops. If you want to catch me
before autumn you need to monitor my growth. I keep you
next to the light switch. In this way I make you
like a light switch. Spiral me spiral me I am floundering.
You pocket me. I want you to. The syntax of this relationship
reverse it. I need, to be and not to be lonely, a reason.
Author’s Commentary: I'm not sure if there's much to add by way of commentary on the poems, other than to state that "cuddleslut" is meant to reflect on the strangeness of feeling connected to a found/chosen queer heritage while simultaneously feeling disconnected from oneself, while "Flower Boy" seeks to remedy that disconnectedness through language and the giving of oneself to another.
John L. Byrne is a queer poet living in South Carolina where he is an MFA candidate at the College of Charleston. He can be found on Twitter @byrninlove.