Open letter to my own body

Dear flesh,

I resent that you are trying to kill me.  Now, I won't pretend I don't deserve it.

We had fifteen years of my pretending you didn't matter. Then all of a sudden I discovered that I cared about your workings just in time also to discover how much I liked to pour poison down you. We've since had decades of my experimenting with the effects various chemicals have.  I acknowledge that this hasn't exactly been fair to you, and I appreciate your ability to absorb and process these things with what my doctor calls "remarkable resilience".  Thank you for that.

And frankly, I am pleased with the way that you are shaped, and with the way that others respond to that shape.  I should perhaps spend more time sculpting you and less attempting to use you to get a rise out of other people and acknowledge this is my bad.  If you really want, we can get back to the routine.

However, as I said, I wish that you would stop slowly murdering me. In addition, while I'm in this quiet room right now with a bunch of people writing, it would be nice if you would stop making weird noises.  Again, I won't pretend this isn't my fault.

In my defense, I only meant to go to one bar last night, to hear a friend's band play.  The bar I went to before that, the pre-bar, if you will, was just so that I could kill time playing pinball--and here I feel I should digress again to thank you for having good enough eyesight and quick enough reflexes to get us on the high scores list, well done there (it would be nice to come in higher than fourth, though, if you can swing it).  I don't think I can be blamed for the third bar, because there was purportedly a horror movie festival and come on, I'm not going to miss that, although I did miss it, but then having shown up it would have been rude not to have a drink.  The fourth bar is on me, but I didn't intend to stay long, and it's frankly not my fault that my barista was in the band. I think it's obvious that in that case I'm going to need to stay for a couple of drinks and buy a t-shirt, which I should, again, thank you for filling out so well.

In any event, the noises are the least of it.  It's the quiet dying that I'm really upset about.  The part where you seem to have decided, all on your own, that it makes sense to slowly strangle my nervous system simply for the crime of ingesting wheat.  Wheat!  Of all the ridiculous things that I have done to you, this is what you take offense at?  Not the caffeine?  Not the alcohol?  Not the promiscuity?  Not the other things that in this public forum I most definitely do not do but in fact do?

I mean, if you asked me to stop those things, said "quit this and I'll let you go", I would. Maybe. I certainly gave up bread with a quickness when you told me it was a problem.  I can't help that this world has a certain ambient wheatiness that you seem to continue to react to despite my best efforts otherwise. I mean, I *gave up pizza* for you. Mostly. They make some pretty good ones with potato flour these days but still.

In closing, body, I understand that I am not the best partner here.  I have, however, largely acceded to your demands, and it would be nice if you could meet me halfway.  Just tell me what else you need me to cut out, the drinking, the womanizing, the late nights, I think we can make a deal here.  I just need you to stop, as I said, quietly destroying my nervous system in a fit of pique about my existence in the presence of foods you have taken a strange offense to.

Yr obdt svt,

Nick

Navvy

Whoa the hog eye sailors roll and go
When they come down to San Francisco
  With a hog eye
  railroad navvy
  With a hog eye and you row ashore
  She wants a hog eye man

The best sea shanty band I've ever seen is--
Sorry New England--
Based out of Indianapolis, Indiana

Hog Eye Navvy plays their hearts out every Saturday
For two hours to a packed crowd
Of landlocked landlubbers
Who would be privateers

I though I heard the old man say
John Kanaka-naka tu-ri-a
Work tomorrow but no work today
John Kanaka-naka tu-ri-a

Tammy is admin staff for a CPA firm, underpaid
Because they don't realize she's load-bearing
And if she walked out the roof would cave in
Andy and Ryan work where they make
Lucky Charms. Together they make more
Than the rest of us combined
And they are here to spend some
Of that sweet, sweet marshmallow money
Jayson is an actor! Who plays a waiter
Tuesday through Saturday from 3 to 12
I work part time for my mom
So I don't have to call myself
Unemployed
We are all talking about lobbying the government
To reinstate letters of marque and reprisal
We are ten people
With seven jobs
And four college degrees
We are the Rust Belt hiding from itself
In a corner bar on a Saturday night

Last Hogmanay at Glesca' Fair, 
There was me, my'sel' and' sev'ral mair 
And we all resol'ed tae hae a tear, 
And spend the nicht in Rothsay-o 

But tonight
Oh tonight
We are sailors
We are smugglers
We are pirates!
We are are no man's secretary
Or staff
We are no proles
We are no one's blue collar gone gray with grime

It's a hog eye ship and a hog eye crew
A hog eye mate and skipper, too
With a hog eye
Railroad navvy
with a hog eye and you row ashore
With a hogeye, yo
She wants a hogeye man 

Every Saturday night
For two hours
We are free

Bull

Bearing this bull body through this china shop world means
A holding back
Means
Carefully watching my haunches
Holding my tail still
Placing each step as lightly as possible
If I am to admire the wares
I have to hold them in these clumsy hooves
Carefully
Carefully

The example of the other bulls shows me that this is not necessary
I could stomp and thrash and champ
And there would be no consequence
Except
All this broken china

I used to be so small
Remember being towered over
Little runty smart boy
Never knew what to do with this
Thick neck
Barrel chest
And these long legs

I'll tell you the bull I would be:

My 6'3" football star of a father
Speaks me the story of his only fight
Where another boy made him mad enough to
Swing
He watched the head snap back
Shocked
Never swung
Again

The Vaccerelli Variations

1.

We trade pictures of paramours
Like two Edwardian dandies
Making admiring noises to each other
Him in his impeccable suit
And I in my nerd-chic and cool shoes
Joking that we should get married
Get a house in Queens
Get two Italian greyhounds
Well, half-joking

2.

I tell him about the crush
And he says "Son, you are playing with fire," and I'm like
Don't call me "son"
I'm older than you and
I am explicitly NOT playing with The Fire
The Fire has a boyfriend
I am admiring The Fire from a respectful distance
And The Fire is welcome to let me know if The Fire’s situation changes
That’s all

3.

He writes a slam poem
About how much he hates the local slam
I write one about how much
I love mine

We would be the most
badass team
Maybe one day will be
Walk into a slam together
Suit and shoes
and just trash the place
(House in Queens)

4.

And ANYWAY, you giving ME
relationship advice is ridiculous
Like you haven’t
torched every attempt you’ve ever made
You burn romantic bridges like
Like a maniac arsonist
Who hates travel

5.

I tell Carrie it’s interesting
We’re so different and so close
And she goes “you’re not different”
I don’t know
I mean I care about politics
And he watches more movies

6.

Bromance is a word straight men use
To sanitize their feelings
Along with “no homo”
(House in Queens)

7.

We talk literature

He loves Grossman
I hate the guy
I just don’t think any of the darkness
Is earned

John Green is like
brain poison inside cheap candy
But he’s so brave
I know because he said so

I am, ostensibly, reading Ulysses
I am always ostensibly reading Ulysses
I feel like we are all, always
Ostensibly reading Ulysses
Never to stop, never to finish
There is only Ulysses
read Ulysses
cherish Ulysses
put Ulysses down
You are still reading Ulysses
forever Ulysses
Behind your reflection Ulysses
You flee
You turn the corner
Alone except for a small black cat
Who hissssses
Ulyssssseeessssss

9.

“I’m going to meet the circus performer this weekend”
“The one with the orange hair?”
“Apparently it’s pink now”
“She’s a zipper buster. I drunk texted Alanna last night
that I was crazy about her
and I’d buy out her modeling contract
if she wanted to come spend some time with me.
I don’t think I could afford to buy out a UK modeling contract for Bazaar”
“You could take some time and fly to the UK, though. Woo like a person.”
“You know that “taking time” thing is tricky.”
“I do.”

10.

We are both thirsty
Both throwing ourselves
At other people
Trying to be
Whole

September

The pumpkin spice latte you hate so much
Is not the mere affectation you believe
It is the first shot fired each year in the eternal Holiday War
That’s right!
In response to the Christmas aggression in November
We are annexing September in the name of Halloween!
Pumpkins in everything!
Candy sales!
Stores that ONLY SELL COSTUMES!
YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE ESCALATED IF YOU DIDN’T WANT WAR, SANTA!

We didn’t fire the first shot,
But I promise you we will fire the last
We will fill everything with
Cloves and cinnamon
Orange and red leaves
That crisp breeze across a college campus
A temperature that is just warm enough during the day and just cool enough at night
That one gif of a guy with a pumpkin face dancing
Night on Bald Mountain
Fake cobwebs and straw men
All the empty warehouses will become haunted all year long
Every hayride will be harried by the Headless Horseman

Yes, this means we’ll have one more month of
Sexy insert-random-object-or-concept
But every conflict has casualties
And it’s usually the women

Just remember our end goal:
We will hold the line at October 31st
While gradually assimilating the rest of the year
Into the Grand Empire of Costumes and Cider
In the name of cheesy horror movies
And Jack Skellington
The future is a leering pumpkin
Squashing the face of a reindeer
Forever

Echoes

Grandpa picks up the strangest things by the road and sends them to me:
1. A tent without poles
2. A Speedway card
3. An honest-to-god troll doll
4. Santa and a reindeer in a car. It plays Jingle Bell Rock.
3. What I find out is a “geri chair”, which most likely someone died in

My mother’s packages have sea glass, or strange rocks. Seashells. I will send you snippets, or links, or pictures of my cat. It’s all the same principle.

Grandma gets science magazines. She teaches me about petrified wood and warm-blooded dinosaurs. With mom it’s architecture and history. From me it could be anything I’ve picked up: the earth’s axis wobble, computational theory, sociology, but what we’re all saying is that we love you.

I am nine years old the first time I hear the phrase “idiopathic neuropathy”. This is when I find out why grandma doesn’t walk much. She’s helped make me too smart not to understand: neuro pathy—your nerves are dying—idio pathic—cause unknown. My grandma is dying from the outside in, and no one knows why.

Grandma once tells me, “if anyone ever hurt you boys, I’d have them killed. I know people.” She laid into me once because she thought I was saying that people aren’t born gay—her Donnie, my uncle, was a GIFT to her—and she had misheard me but I could tell she had given that lecture many times in our small town. She loves fiercely, with her claws out, and sometimes it’s hard to love her back but it’s always impossible not to. She is a warrior of love.

Grandpa makes me a little wooden plaque that says “my funny, funny clown”. One of the Ns is backward. Grandma teaches me to cook a turkey. Mom will be my best friend through every breakup.

These people are baking bricks of themselves, and they are building me structures. They are making a lonely little boy into a man I’ll be proud to be.

I am 22 years old when grandma steps on a nail. She doesn’t know until she gets home, because she has no feeling in her feet. It’s decided that she won’t walk around outside the house any more. It is like watching a monster take bits of her.

I am 32 years old, in a nursing home with the family. We are talking. Around her. This fierce, clawed woman, this warrior, who owned every room I ever saw her in isn’t part of it. She’s smoke where there was fire. Fog. She

CAN’T
SPEAK

She’s there behind the eyes. The conversation is light. She manages…barely…to kiss me before I leave. She loves me still, even claws in.

I am 34 years old and I am at her funeral. It seems like the whole town is there. I talk about the magazines and the petrified wood and I find out that when I grew up she would give those magazines to the neighbor kids, that they loved her, too. Everyone talks about her.

Everyone there had known that fierce love. She left everything on the field. My grandma was not here to be forgotten.

I am every age that I will ever be.
My mother’s feet and fingers crack, parts fall away, like a torch lit from both sides.
Mine go slowly numb.
Idiopathic neuropathy means I am dying from the outside in. No one knows why.

But I got more from these people than some bum genes, so
I have been giving my magazines to the neighbor kids
I have been picking you trinkets from the roadside and the shore so you’ll know
I love you
Fiercely
Claws out
I have been baking myself into bricks. I am building structures.
I am leaving everything on the field.
I am not here
To be
Forgotten

.

Justice completely failed to be done, so to speak, by the stories. The creature was somehow larger than the space containing it, a conflagration of feathers and scales and teeth and color, with two slitted eyes right in the center. It was hard to focus on the thing, because one’s gaze kept shifting away to follow some new flash of movement, the way that a drunk can’t help but stare at the siren screen in a bar.  There was no pattern to the thing, but the mind kept trying to make one, attempting to forge the chaos into meaning. It did give the vague impression of a snake, but that was probably only in the way that it folded and undulated. It was ultimately more like watching a quick-motion video of a fault tremor, or watching plate tectonics happen on a compressed scale. It was like a hundred chickens had been dyed competing colors and dropped in a bouncy castle. It was like a birthday party as drawn by an alien who had only heard one described. It was like everything, all at once, but also like nothing, in that there was nothing like it and in that there was nothing comprehensible going on, nothing to learn, no way to grasp it because there was nothing to grasp. It was obvious why none of the depictions matched another, because there was no way to depict this in fewer than seven dimensions, two of them imaginary.  Quetzalcoatl was beyond description, or understanding, beyond knowing, beyond seeing. Simply beyond all.

Harry, the Wingman to the Gods, said, “This is going to be complicated,” and finished his drink.

.

“So,” said Yeshua, “one bourbon for you, and, heh, a water for me.” He waved over his glass and it darkened.  He lifted it to his companion, and drank, winking.

Harry, the Wingman to the Gods, said. “Didn’t we already do this? I took you to a dive bar, you asked about virgins, and-“

“WHOA! Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa,” said Yeshua holding his hands in the air, “that was dad and I reallly really don’t want to know what you guys did that night.”

“I thought the whole point was that you’re the same person, along with your ghost thing.”

“One god. Different people.  Look, it’s like…. think of us as shift workers who all have the same position.  We’re all God, but he’s day shift and I’m evening shift.”

“So what about night shift?”

“Oh, that guy. He is really weird. Less said the better, but I don’t think he’s going to call you, so it’s not really worth thinking about.”

“All right,” said Harry, relaxing into the idea that this wasn’t going to go the way that evening did, “what are we here for? Are you into virgins, too, or -”

LALALALALALALALALA ME H. CHRIST I said I didn’t want to know what dad’s into, man! Oh god that’s just… him and mom, AGH, wow I so totally wish I did not fucking know that!”

“Oh, shit, I’m sorry, I still don’t get this. I deal with some weird stuff every day but you guys take the cake.”

“Just, look, think of us like any other family, and don’t tell us what the other ones are into. I do not want to know.” Yeshua leaned back, pulled a joint from behind his ear, winked, and lit it with a zippo that he had hidden somewhere in his robes.

“All right,” Harry said, “so you’re not your dad. We’ll start over. What are you into?”

“Honestly?”

“I guess.”

“Well,” said Yeshua, leaning back forward, “you know any whores?”

.

“I’m sorry, I guess I’m not following. You’re a professional wingman?”

Harry, the Wingman to the Gods, said, “Not exactly professional, more like a very experienced amateur.” He gave the bartender a precisely calibrated nod which conveyed refill my drink and hers, put hers on my tab, but don’t tell her unless she asks, I’m not doing this to score points. The bartender nodded back and refilled Harry’s bourbon, then began mixing a new cocktail for his friend.

“What does it pay?”

“It doesn’t, really. I get payment in kind, I guess. While I’m working for someone they put me up and cover my expenses, but it’s not like I’m socking away cash and there’s no 401k.”

“No benefits and no pay?”

“Well, ah. My clients put me up, and the health plan is killer. Or maybe the opposite of killer,” he said, remembering his morning hangover’s fading to nothing with the first bite of ambrosia as Athena and Cindy laughed quietly at the other end of the table.

“I still don’t get it. You couch surf and help people get laid?”

“Not couches, as a rule. My clientele is… high end. Very high end. Mountains, clouds, that sort of thing.” Of course there was the occasional pit of fire or moldy castle under the sea, but this wasn’t the moment to bring that up.

She squinted at him, then noticed the drink. She started to turn to the bartender but Harry said, “no, it’s on me, my tab’s being picked up.”

She turned back, squinted at him, shrugged, and sipped. “How do you even get a job like that?”

“Eh. It’s less a job than a geas,” said Harry, remembering the cold grip on his soul as the Crone intoned the curse. “I’d rather not talk about it.”

“Okay. So is tonight your night off?”

“Sort of. I don’t really get ‘nights off’, but,” he looked across the room at Baldur, surrounded by a knot of beautiful men and women, each laughing uproariously at anything he said, each jockeying for position, trying to lay a hand or a finger on the impossibly beautiful man. At the end of the evening, he’d simply select one to three of the most interesting and then wave Harry over. They had the routine down, and the only reason Baldur would request him was to give Harry some rest. “Tonight I’m not really needed.  So what do you do?”

.

“Are you sure you’re up for this,” Athena asked, “because it doesn’t seem like your wheelhouse.” She gestured at the bar, a riot short haircuts, comfortable flats, plaid, and commitment.

Harry, the Wingman to the Gods, nodded. “I’ve been at this a long time, and I’ve had much bigger challenges than a lesbian bar. You’re basically human, no wings or scales, you have the normal number of limbs, and your voice doesn’t destroy the minds of mortals.”

“That’s because I’m not a showoff.”

“You’re wearing full armor.”

“It’s my birthday suit.”

Harry smirked. “Fine, it’ll work out, anyway.  A seven foot tall amazon with a spear should be an easy sell here.”

“I am not an Amazon. I am of Olympus.”

“Sorry, language drift.”

“So what do I do?”

“Really, there’s one big tip for connecting two lesbians.”

“Okay, so what’s that?”

“Just this: someone has to make the approach. Pick who you like, and start a conversation.”

Athena looked around the room while Harry tapped his feet to Tegan and Sara. She caught eyes with a woman across the room, who tilted her head, and Athena motioned for Harry to stay there. He sipped his bourbon while they talked animatedly for a bit.  There was laughter, and eye contact, and everything was going well. Conversation got animated, and then Athena brought her over as Harry caught the tail end of a sentence with, “he’ll tell you. Tell Cindy.”

“Tell her what?”

Cindy said, “She claims she was born in a smithy.”

.

The bar dissolved around him and the air crackled with power, and in the darkness he saw a blasted tree. He saw a creature with a thousand wings and ten thousand eyes. He saw a great chasm filled with molten fire, and there was a voice like the thunder of all of the storms that have ever played across this green earth at once
I LIKE NOT THE DECOR, THIS PLACE SEEM’TH DIVEY

Harry, Wingman to the G-d, was dragged back into his own body, coughing blood into a cocktail napkin as his head swam with incomprehensible visions.

“Sorry,” said the Metatron, appearing next to him, “he hasn’t been out with mortals in a while, forgot the protocol.”

Harry blinked tears of pain and wonder out of his eyes, and looked back and forth between the angel and the nigh incomprehensible form of יהוה‎, asking, “does he really need me? Aren’t you a literal wingman?”

“I know not the ways of dating. My kind are banned from it.”

“Right, the Nephilim thing.”

יהוה‎ rumbled at the mention, just below the level of speech and therefore tolerable, if uncomfortable, to Harry’s ears and mind.

“In any event, you know the rules,” the Metatron said, “and you have been requested. You must serve.”

“I know the rules better than anyone except the Crone,” Harry replied. “I’m the one living with them.  Let’s get this going. I know the place is a little on the trashy side, but the request said he was looking for a one night thing, and this is where you go for those.”

“Very well,” said the Metatron, as the incomprehensible form of the G-d seemed to nod reluctantly. “What then is the next step?”

“Well, it’s going to be complicated, with you in the middle, but I think we can make that work for us.  We’ll say he’s a mute, and that’ll play into the ‘broken dove’ thing some women have. Plus he’s-”

Harry turned to look as closely as he could at the form beside him, which was to a man the way that a rocket launcher is to a Nerf gun, the way that a billionaire is to a Monopoly winner, the way that all of human language is to a poem, the way that the object is to the shadow it casts in the cave where men live their lives huddled in the bare warmth of a fire and fearful of the outside.

“-magnetic, I’ll give him that, even compared to the gods I spend most of my time with.”

The air grew dark and dangerous and there was a menace to the G-d’s form.

“He says, ‘Thou shalt not mention-‘”

“Hang on,” said Harry, “I know The Commandments, but I literally spend every evening with a different god.”

The menace grew thicker, and Harry collapsed to his knees.

“Stop! Okay, fine, I won’t mention them, but you know you won’t break the Covenant either. Let’s get you laid!”

The sharp malice that hung in the atmosphere lessened.

“You presume much,” said the Metatron, “but you are correct that for this night the Covenant shall hold. What is our next step?”

“Well,” said Harry, standing and leaning on the bar while his head cleared, “What’s he into?”

The Metatron stared deep into his master’s form, communing in some deeper language of thought that could be sensed but not understood by Harry’s lesser mind, but he could sense that something of import was passing between them.

The Metatron asked, “Will there be any virgins?”

“Oh come on!“ said Harry.

.

“I just don’t know how to bring it up in conversation.”
Harry, the Wingman to the Gods, looked at his companion and sympathized, “I think you just have to say it. Not right away, but pretty early.”

“I know, but it’s embarrassing.”

“It’s not anything wrong with you, it’s just how you are.”

“What if she’s not into it?”

“Well, look. She probably won’t be. It’s a pretty rarefied taste. But you’ll find someone it really works for, and you’ll be perfect for her.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, people are into all kinds of weird stuff.”

“Hey.”

“Sorry, not how I meant it. It’s just that, no matter what you’ve got going, there’s someone who thinks it’s great, and you’re not an exception.”

“Yeah. Yeah, okay.”

“All right, let’s go meet some people. You ready?”

“I’m ready.”

Harry and Osiris wandered around the room, talking to all the pretty women, buying drinks, nothing really clicking until they met a pair of friends, Sally and Lauren, who wandered in late. Everyone hit it off, and the conversation just naturally split after Osiris gave a quick look to Harry to indicate he wanted to talk to Lauren alone. Harry steered her friend back to the bar and chatted amiably with her for a while until the quiet conversation was interrupted by Lauren’s voice pitching up from the table nearby.

“A fucking crab!?” she was asking.

.

“I think I’m going to turn into a goat.  Yeah. That’ll do it,” said Zeus.
Harry, Wingman to the Gods, sighed into his bourbon.

“Just talk to her,” he said. “You always do this.”

“No, I think she’d be into it.”

“They’re never into it.”

“That last chick was totally into it.”

“She ran screaming! Plus you trashed the whole bar! No one wants to sleep with a hippopotamus, you have to know that. Just talk to her, like a person.”

“No, seriously, I read in this book that you want to be weird and stand out, it’s called peacocking.”

Harry blinked. “Wait, have you been reading The Game?”

“Oh! I should do a peacock”

“Don’t do anything, just talk to her. Aren’t you all-seeing? Do you really think some hybrid of pickup artistry and bestiality is a better choice than just talking to her like a person?”

“…”

“What?”

“It’s just hard, man. Breaking the ice. It was easier when I could just turn into a bull and have Eros-”

“No, we are not doing the roofie arrow thing. First of all, gross, and second you promised Hera when she finally agreed to the open marriage.”

“I know, I know. It’s just… she’s so pretty. It’s intimidating”

“You are the literal king of the sky. You throw lightning bolts from your hands. You have all of human knowledge.”

“Yeah, but-”

“No buts! She’ll be into it! Or she won’t, and you’ll move on, but stop dithering and just do it.”

Zeus looked over at her, knocked back the last of his ouzo, and stood up. “I’m gonna do it.”

“Good! Go! I’m here if you need backup.”

Zeus began striding toward her with a confident walk, a god’s walk, a real hell of a strut for a guy wound up in that much cloth. Harry saw him lean in and say something to her. She turned and smiled, and said something that looked like “sure”, but Harry couldn’t read lips.

Zeus turned into a peacock.

She screamed.

Xes

The slogan of so many kids in my class was“You wear your X and I’ll wear mine”
Despite the fact that we only had one black kid
And Jay wasn’t sporting Malcolm’s gear

I wanted to shake them, should have shook them
Should have shouted “It’s not! Your! X”
This was a northern state
This was a Quaker town
The Friends Church where my scout troop met
Had a little room with its own lock
Where they used to hide runagates
Every old house here has hidey holes
We were founded for the Underground Railroad
This town was the opposite
of your X

And when shots were fired on Sumter
So many Quakers set aside their peaceful ways
Stood up
Said “If I fight for anything it will be this”

These kids want pride so bad they’ll
Wring it from the rags of slavers
But not so bad they’ll crack a book
Not so bad they’ll look at themselves
Their houses
Their church
And see that they could have been proud of the right things

Growing up in a red state you fight or you break or you leave
And I fought until it was leave or break and I left

But the Xes stayed.
As my years on the Brain Game turn to years spent as brain drain
I go back to my old high school
And they’ve put up a shiny new main street
They tore down all the old Quaker houses
Tore down that holy place with its hidey hole
Tore down all our history
Tore down a place where the people stood up

Side Character

A.

I think Fatty Bolger was the bravest hobbit.
He knew that someone had to stay behind,
And that straggling halfing would have just as much at stake
With no glory. I mean he wasn’t even in the movie.

When we met you were already moving but you said,
“It’s okay, I move fast” and you did, and then you left
And we stayed in contact for a while
And then we didn’t, and I know why, and it’s fine
But the internet is a whale’s song
In my distant sea it sings me sonar snippets of you
I am always glad to know you’re well

But when they make a movie of you, I won’t be in it

M.

I wish Oberyn Martell had more time
He just seems so important, right up until the last
But that’s the way those books go
Sometimes you just get one moment

We were months of messages and one weekend
And you said “If my history is anything to go by
We’ll either see each other a lot or never again”
And it was that last one, of course
The whalesong brought me news of your tumor
Years after I could have done anything
Which of course I couldn’t, and you did just fine without me

It’s just that I thought we’d have more moments

E.

I think Aberforth Dumbledore was the better brother
He only comes in at the end, but he’s clear with Harry
He doesn’t hide anything in riddles, he doesn’t keep secrets
But he doesn’t have much time

It was three months before I talked to you
The only other whale in my naptown sea
And three more months before I asked you
When we were chatting on a Thursday evening, the way we always did
And you said yes, and then you drifted off
I didn’t hear from you on Friday
On Saturday your ex called me because I was the last number in your phone and

What do you mean she’s dead?!
How is that possible?!
How did she get it?!
What kind of doctor gives an ex-junkie morphine?
What do you mean, I can’t save her? The hero always looks like me!

He says they found you on Friday morning, dead for hours
And I count backward to Thursday night
When I thought you fell asleep

I had all the trappings of a main character
I thought we’d have more time, but no one told me
That I’d only meet your parents at your funeral
No one told me I should have spoken sooner
No one told me it was your last chapter
And I was the wrong Dumbledore

open letters from an openly bisexual man

To whom it may concern,
I’m told invisibility is the superpower that everyone would choose
And I think that’s funny because they could just, like,
Indicate an attraction to more than one sex and
Abrcadabra

And maybe they’re right, it is a power
I will never know how many dates would flee
If they knew
How many
Beatings
I’ve been saved because it does not say “man love” on my sleeve
I only know how strange it is to be this
Big, loud, corn-fed farmboy cum hipster and
Sometimes be so hard to see

To the people who ask “why did you come out? I’d never have known”,

You answered your own question.

To Michael Hutchence,

Your videos are where I first realized. I was a teenager. I am, indeed, one of your kind. Rest in peace.

To Grandpa Simmonds,

I wish I came out before you died. You’d have gotten over it, just like the hair, which is to say mostly, slowly, grudgingly.

To Grandma Zeigler,

I wish I came out before you died. You’d have been so proud.

To the American Red Cross,

Take my money
As you will not take the blood from these veins
Too tainted by too much love
I never knew how to draw your lines
Would that I could do the same good somewhere else
But
I will pay thy poverty, o
Thou bigot Apothecary

To the people who ask if my wife knows,

Yes.

To my wife,

I love you.

To Grandpa Zeigler,

Thank you for the support. Get over the hair.

To Grandma Simmonds,

We’re cool, I just didn’t want to leave you out. I love you.

To those who say the word should be “pan” or “omni”, not “bi”,

I don’t care for your words, but I agree with you that attraction is not a coin flip. When I say “bisexual”, I am using it as a shorthand for:

Humanity isn’t one binary, it is a spectrum, it is spectra, it is a grand sky stretching out in all directions and all dimensions
and for some people attraction is the sun, bright and focused
and they know that to see their light they can look in one direction
for me attraction is the night sky, and everywhere there are pinpricks of light

Maybe they collect in patterns, and
over here is the constellation riot grrl
over here the constellation glitter boy
and here in the middle are librarian, musician, scientist, all
straddling what some would pretend is a dividing line
but if it’s there I don’t even see it

I don’t begrudge anyone their basking in the sun
knowing where their light will be
but I would never trade it for my night sky
where my light comes to me from all directions all at once
unpredictably and beautifully

I also think maybe more of you should admit that even on the brightest sunny day
occasionally
you can see the moon.

I am real

The death of Chivalry

They say “chivalry is dead”, but they don’t knowI was there, we saw him come
Galloping up to, I don’t know, hold open a door or something, and
Sick of his shit we
Grabbed his ankles and dragged him from his shiny steed who
Turns out to be a horse named Mark he’d spraypainted silver and
Mark was pretty chill so we washed off the paint and we sent him on his way and then we
Turned back to Chivalry, sitting there, in his fucking armor and we
Kicked and kicked him, all
WHAT IS YOUR DEAL WITH DOORS?!” and
WHY DO YOU CARE WHO PAYS FOR DINNER?!” and
A fat femme with a pierced septum stripped his cloak off a mud puddle and
We dragged him there and pushed his face in it and
An androgynous queer kid with spiked purple hair stood on Chivalry’s head until the
Last
Bubble
Popped

We picked up the body and bore his pall to
The Cemetery of Outmoded Creatures where
We walked past the grave of Trickle-Down Economics and
The tomb of the Efficient Markets Hypothesis, and
We buried Chivalry between a Megatherium and a Trilobyte
And carved a headstone of coprolite so we could write
“Here lies shit so old and tired it has fossilized” and
On the way out we bought plots for
Evolutionary Psychology and
Sociobiology, so
You two should know
We’re coming for you

When we got home, we had a wake
Not out of respect for the dead but just because we like a party and we
Held doors for each other because it’s nice and not because
Women are too weak and frail to manage doorknobs or whatever and we
Bought each other food and drink just because we love each other and want to see each other fed and
We freed the mud puddles of their cloaks and we jumped joyously into them with no care for our shoes

The legends say that to this day
On dark and moonless nights
Chivalry still stalks these streets
You can hear him around corners and in dark alleys
M’lady….. m’laaaaadyyyyyy
But we have been buying garlic
And we have been carving wooden stakes
And we are waiting