Chrome Histories

(for Zach)

I had a friend who had

a 1956 Bel Air—frame chunky, smooth;

I still feel from its soft head lamps

a hypnotic daze that suggests

every mile, every driveway

it saw since it began

twenty years before I was born…

Didn’t you tell me, once, you wanted

an El Camino: half truck, half car,

your world again swollen with indecision?

But I was always happy to just sit

and listen to you decide—

that story of yourself you wove

out of the cloth of American rust:

the specter of a glory before us both,

as you felt stranded, I guess,

on the island of twenty-one…

And look, I know, I know

how hard it is to be someone,

to find the foothold on thoughts

that you can actually call home,

that grew up beside you and

saw the same television,

roamed the same playgrounds—

thoughts that burn like the little candles

that you found in your mother’s cupboard

that lasted through the rainy November afternoon…

Soot.

Soot.

Candle or car exhaust, it cakes

my hands, burns my eyes—

our days and days chatting online, and

what I’ve left to show for it

is a mouthful of ash

and a muddy old junk yard

with your name on the sign…

Today you look handsome in your El Camino,

but remember, no matter what history you purchase,

we have no choice down which roads time will lead us.

Though, whatever our destiny, I am happy

to tell myself the story of you:

your soft eyes beaming,

your flat chest, chunky and smooth…

Eat Pussy

EAT PUSSY blared the bumper of the car next to me;

someone had taped out the message in block letters,

then spray-painted the bumper, then removed the tape, to reveal EAT PUSSY;

at first I was annoyed,

I bristled at the banner on the bumper, but then

I caught myself, realized myself, and

realized a fundamental truth about men.

At this point in history the mighty Western penis

has become so perfunctory as to almost be cliche;

I’ve nothing against penetration (believe me)

but it takes real skill to communicate

with just a tongue and quivering lips,

and the difference between a man doing oral

and a woman doing oral

is the pure abstraction of manhood

(tasting great, filling less).

EAT PUSSY, then,

on a sun-bleached Honda Civic bumper

is a radical act of straight male reclamation:

a mini-pride parade with every trip to the gas station,

the video game store, or yes

with every date…

Another Song For Tommislav

I wasn’t even 21 yet; I’d just finished college—too early—and I drove my graduation present up to Los Angeles to be with him.

I remember most, the day we spent driving through Bel Air, making fun of the sprawling mansions; that night, after In-And-Out dinner, I drove us through Malibu, and he held my hand as the Pacific Ocean pulsed along the shoreline.

I’ve had other nights, in my 44 years of life, almost as romantic; I doubt I’ve ever have one more perfect that way, though.

Jewish Blue

Most Mormon gay men born 1976 but not here now
—alive on Earth—didn’t vanish from AIDS;
we killed ourselves before ever losing that virginity.

Some, like me at 18, guessed wrong which whole bottle of pills would actually work, so somehow survived.

Soon after though—Tomislav Katsuic—you somehow showed up to be the young man I finally realized I wanted, who could make it all worth it for me, who made me want to want to be married, regardless of temple ceremonies, the 20th Century Supreme Court, or my family’s would-be-native, ersatz Utah gods.

But, Tommislav? My Tall-dark-haired-and-twenty! It wasn’t until just this year, 2021, when I finally realized your favorite thing about me was the same favorite thing about me as Kamisha’s—the girl who was my only actual girlfriend ever, for a month in high school.

Now—and this is your fault! you did this to me!—whenever I catch, in a fleeting mirrored reflection, a glimpse of my face, I understand my eyes’ hue to almost have been, to in my heart’s heart would-have-been-by-marriage-been and thus still ever still be, eyes the color of Jewish Blue.

Prayer To An Ex-Boyfriend

Tommislav, this
Thought, it haunts me:
At first I was
Glad (I still am)
To find certain
Solace from a
Soul’s presence I
See as but some
Kind young man, close
And innocent.

Yet I can sense
How he must feel
Weary, and also
Grateful, to be
So charged with
Looking after
Me, my safety.

Does he strain to
Say it? Or does
He have a poise
That I would yet
Take my pride from?

Tommislav! Tell me
In words that can’t
Be taken back; is
He whom I dare
To hope he could
Indeed maybe be?
Is he somehow
Some kind of a
Bridge between us?

I sit here, past
Midnight, and I’m
Hollow with dread,
With sprawling bright
Hope; I’m too scared
And forgotten to
Even ask of him,
“What is your name?”

I beg you, please,
Please come tell me;

Is he our son?