Two Poems by John Byrne

John Byrne

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


Flower Boy
John Byrne

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.