When I first came to high school I couldn’t say the word. It was somewhere inside me, but something scaled, pointed down towards my stomach, so that when I tried to pull it upward it lurched against the grain and scraped my esophagus. When I finally coughed it out, it was pallid. It flopped weakly on the floor in a pool of blood and bile. My throat ached for days after. The next time it came out clean, still sickly but able to crawl around the room and touch the other boys, shocked when they passively succumbed to its pressure. It looked at me and bared its teeth, more bone than face, and I saw now that it had learned its strength. My throat was raw but recovered in hours. Mine was still different than the other boys’: theirs were upright, standing so I smelled chest. Theirs bear-hugged and fist-bumped and did so without affection. I continued to spew it until it stood strong, capable of confrontation. Even when its fitness peaked I would still taste blood in its wake.
like nylon on nylon a sound I have always felt deeper than the ear—shalom he said first meeting me shalom before I started shalom when I was finished shalom when hot oil anointed my forehead reverberated
the next day an uninhibited music but still scratching internally this lousy phallus never taught me to catch a football but I still learned to fear emasculation
there are too many people to blame in a day I like to compromise and blame myself I move through streets with the tepid entropy of cannabis burnt in the dense summer air surrounding the brittle branch posture held rigid by urge
quickly dispersed as we collapse into briar those tangles always stiffen and the eyes gloss over in defense cover is blown by the thin line of tear salt on the glasses
the covenant was made to burden the breaker the manna was bug shit and we still thanked god he called me weak and I thanked him on the way out