Not the poet—though yes, a poet, aspiring. Old. At Big Cup he regards us slickened with testosterone, his eyes entertained. Though his full hair helps him seem a youth in drag save for the swags of his neck, he can’t but help present himself as age itself, a brand of birthmark we think we won’t accrue, unnerving as June rime limning a suburban lawn, as if he were a black man scouting a Mormon temple. His melting candle of body, cupped, burns. He grins. Compare him to the man-crone trolling Our Place in Des Moines with Frank Fortuna and Dan Grace two decades ago: Brutally cruising, drunken, his halo of hair aflame, he swaggered to budding men declaring "You'll be me!," his annunciation denunciation, then stalked off, sated. The boys, abashed and angry, decided time was a virus you just had to swallow. "The faggot angel of death," Frank baptized him. Now Frank is fifty-one, commences drinking at noon. Maybe knowing Frank, or himself an initiate of crones, and warhorse of Village cafes whose soldiers now are wraiths, (who here knows what old men know?), Milton acts like he belongs. He steps among tattoos, buzzed hair, and bashful mouths, inhales the caffeine and finds himself an appropriate chair, surveying the sipping guys, while taking care to seem a clean old man. He winks, to summon us to the fallen fruit of himself that if we’ve got guts enough we will pick up and eat.
First published in Bloom. Copyright © David Groff. Reprinted with permission of the author.