Sunday Jun 23

CameronAwkward-Rich Cameron Awkward-Rich is a Ph.D. candidate in Modern Thought & Literature at Stanford University and is on staff at Muzzle Magazine. You can find his poems in The Seattle Review, The Journal, and elsewhere, including his forthcoming chapbook Transit (Button Poetry, 2015). You can find him on public transit somewhere. 

Faggot Poetics

Yet I was, in peculiar truth, a very lucky boy.
James Baldwin

In any case, the story begins
with darkness. A hallway. A broom closet.

A bowl of bruised light held over a city.       
Or, the story begins with a child playing

the role of an ashy plum—how it rises
to meet the man's teeth, or doesn't.

How the skin is broken or breaks
because the body just wants

what it wants: to be a hallway
where men nail their photos

to the wall. Does that make sense?
To want to own the image of the man

but not the man? To want the memory
of his hands without his hands

having ever nailed you to the dark?
James, we’re still looking for that world

you couldn’t write. Where the story ends
& the man never dies of love & the sweet

is in the fruit & not its breaking on the tongue
& the child in the mirror knows he’s beautiful

before he’s hurt & he has his own mouth
& he speaks his own name.

Girl, With Flowers

Move to Oakland, CA & there are no more months.
No years. Only new apartments, new tenants

of the haunted room upstairs. One night, I fall asleep
inside my life & wake up in a cold house with four cats

a new song on the radio. One night—or is it the same one?—
the whole block floods with the music of another someone’s daughter

skipping off to whatever happens after this.
There are always flowers blooming in this city

a kind of cruelty, after all, how do you know when it’s time
for tears? For carving a hole beneath a snowbank & living there

for just a while? A girl ends & still there are roses. A boy is carried off
to jail & roses & all the while I ride the train. I get on in the morning

& get off & it’s still morning, but a different season altogether
sundrenched always though I darken all the rooms & it’s not
so bad, just look outside, how terribly gorgeous it all is. Outside
the window of my new apartment there are children singing

the same sweet song & I don’t know all the words, but they pierce
my granite heart until I’m such a useless dam & O, I could tell you

about so much. But, for now, there’s just one girl, one solitary girl racing
her shadow across the blacktop. One of these mornings, I know she’ll win

& I’ll turn my back on the window & be finished with poems
where, in the end, a girl disappears from the story, even if

that morning, she does.