thirteen ways of looking at the faggot

by Richard Haney-Jardine


nineteen-eighty-six: 28,712 cases reported, 24,599 deaths
(after stevens)





rising from the sea

blond mane sequined

with buds of algae

and salt, beautiful

guilty as an orchid 





two razors

at the sink

rabid with foam





a flying dutchman who never 

comes to port, a tern exiled 

to a vast, unrelenting sea of 

hope, the underling of a druid

love blossoming





four long white tube-socks

coiled, spent like condoms

bedside serpents





put to sleep

like an african violet

barely touched


into himself





six republicans at the 

seven sentinel urinals

jangling coins, pretending

not to watch, pinstriped





a dam awash with stemmed 

power, a motor on the verge

of turning over, a humming 

motel door, but housekeeping knows





the eighth-grade math teacher

forever sealed his moustache

behind the chaste kiss of marriage.

he still lingers, after football games.





it’s funny the things he’d forgotten

about his childhood home.

the number of chandeliers, for instance.

chandeliers, bouquets of chandeliers.





the eagle phone perched on its cradle

waiting to feast at the first dispatch.

Prometheus has stolen fire

but it’s ten and he hasn’t called.





in the struggle of the other’s

arms, they lay turbaned in sheets

slightly moist where the efforts

of sleep made them sweat

breastbone against breastbone,

no ribs taken, no ribs broken.





from the prom he never went to,

a corsage at his breast burst

like carmine ink from a pen

blooming into his midnight chest.





wearing just your shirt or mine—we’ve 

ceded more than wardrobe you gather me

up from my dreams with a smile that stitches

the smallest petals of my sleep. your beauty

aches the morning—how perilous it seemed

at first—two men in love, dear 

god. now at table, your flesh mortifies me,

elbows touching, we. must. live. 




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