Poem 134 ± October 16, 2015

Drew Attana
That Street with all the Food Carts

Thick pollen in the air, mixing
with the Clorox scent of those cum
trees. Walking downtown, put upon
by the few days of city sun,
our ankles were even thicker, jutting
up from our low top Cons.
Camo shorts and Hatebreed
shirts cut to the shoulders.

We were bad.
We were hardcore.
Thinking we owned the city.

A Jeep, red or black—
the color doesn’t matter.
Stopped at the nearest light, the driver
laid on the horn and called us faggots.
Andy asked if I wanted to fight.
We tossed up our arms like villagers
with torches and a group of muscles and
old money slithered across the street.

Head against the base of the closest tree,
the driver pleaded for us to stop,
until the door of Greek Cusina
opened, the chef wedging between us.
Andy and I limped away, hobbling to
the train, knuckles, lips split, and our
skin was stained, red or black—
the color doesn’t matter.

Nor did it matter that Andy was the
only gay friend I had, or that he had
just received a positive result, or that
I wasn’t sure if I had fought for him, or
for myself. What did matter, was that
I couldn’t know for sure whose blood
was whose, or how someone gets HIV.

Or how to see myself after I shied away
from him once we cleaned up. The
mixture of fear and cowardice and
shame, like bloodstains and paint jobs,
kept him at arms length—
as far as the distance between
those unexplored crevices of sexuality.

And my ignorance of it all.

Drew AttanaOriginally from Los Angeles, Drew Attana spent over a decade getting into trouble from Tijuana to Portland, before heading South. His fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry has appeared in Eunoia Review, Drunk Monkeys Magazine, Yellow Chair Review, Pathos Literary Journal and is forthcoming in Common Ground, Cargo Literary, and Apeiron Review. He is currently living and writing in Lafayette, Louisiana.

This poem previously appeared in Eunoia Review.