CW: features wordplay with reclaimed homophobic slur


I saw him— a mirage under neon lights
Strobing hues like stained glass,
illuminating something holy, divine

He was Roman, I thought
or at least his nose was,
crooked and beaky,
handcrafted by renaissance sculptors—
drunk on wine and hedonism—
to draw the eye.
or at least, drawing mine

I had the desire to see him,
and see him and see him,
in charcoal, dark and delicate,
blanketed between sheets
cartridge paper, cotton,
and keep him there

I saw him, a spirit in the early hours
wading in and out of my consciousness
hips making ripples, then waves.

I saw his lips in bruised peaches,
iris of hail nestled on grass.

Him and him and him and him.

If he felt the heat of my spotlight eyes,
He didn’t show it.
Till that night outside Club Apollo
we each took a breath.
Back against graffiti’d brick
and halo’d by headlights
He turned to me, neck bared:
A Saint Sebastian
of the back alley.

“Fag?” an offer, an affirmation
Accented, and chemically charged,
pulling out another cigarette
with piano fingers
to light a spark between us.

I didn’t smoke
But I brought the tip
to my parted lips and
thought “When in Rome”