Poem 151 ± November 2, 2015

Dan Encarnacion

His hand is just something to grip
—Christopher Isherwood, A Single Man

Walking through the carpark I find your body just
Outside my line of vision your body not like you at
The rosary where you flushed face buried beneath
A mortician’s hopeful palette as if embarrassed by
Your spotlit place no you’re standing next to a shear
Wall dapper in a fine-cropped beard smoking a Kent
Looking pensive looking numbed looking away red
Tip embering out the shadows left hand fisted solidly
Down in your pant pocket the awkward acceptance-
Emptied well-meant little boy seared behind thick
Cheeked premature hair that let that faceless man
Fuck you fuck you a faceless man in a porn store
Fucked you holed up in a tissue-sotted video booth
Came unto you came into you you’re whole heaving
Into your ear it was your face your blood-flushed
Face eyes veined raw with poor regret ten years
After that I stared at daggered when you told me
But was the cached catching voice of the fumbled
Hungried intentioned boy that rose to say that after
He pulled out he whispered to you as you caught
Your breath and wondered if your ass would snap
Back to shape wondered if the burn would soothe
Wondered if he would do more to you anything
More so you could get off too content a man said
Fevered you thought I will never leave you alone

The elevator stops at a floor not lit up on the inside
Panel the doors slide back and nobody is there in
The shine of the fire extinguisher hung in the hall
I find a frail recollection of your face your face still
Bearded van dyked a reflection that slowly includes
All of you hands down in both pant pockets bending
Over reading the instructions for proper extinguisher
Use like the meticulous inquisitive optimistic ten year
Old boy that won first prize at a state science fair and
In that hallway your manhooded ghost melts into that
Optimistic meticulous inquisitive boy beaming bright
Braced teeth in that browned photo you brought me
Of your scientific success the catching voice that spoke
For the frantic shaky pallid man that read instructions
In their extent to escape eye contact the catching voice
That asked the nurse at the clinic whether a person
Could catch HIV swallowing cum because you couldn’t
Admit an unfaced man fucked you fuck you you let
Someone you never saw fuck you

A Christian testimony transistors through the wall from
The kitchen next door the one with a wife with sallow
Eyes anxious stray a husband self-denyingly husband
Of gestures incorrigibly fey a rapturized voice pillowed
And pinched by insulation and pipes pontificates about
The beneficence of God glories in yielding to God and
Gives thanks to God for how He had directed it to the
Only affordable doctor who could help its palsied
Son I hear the catching voice of the earnest loyal
Conscripted altar boy a voice that I heard nightly and
Each Sunday seep through the phlegm of a shaven
Evaporating man a catching voice that made me turn
Face the outside edge of the bed the catching voice
Of the conscripted earnest loyal altar boy once spry
And sunny now spilling and spattering asking God if
The medication he had read about was really going
To be available for the sick to use a caught voice that
Asked God if getting AIDS was a punishment or just
An indication that his purpose on earth was complete
The loyal earnest conscripted altar boy who comforted
Himself that if his purpose on earth was complete then
His purpose must have been to love me a man voided
Of compassion to buff off my tarnish to help me clarify
Cleanse my life to ground me guide me to illuminate
My path towards some sort or other of yes spiritual
Transport yes your purpose was to love me because
He fucked you you once had said

I feel the catching voice of the meticulous intentioned
Loyal constricted boy I feel it earnestly fumble down in
Me but cushioned by folds of seclusion I feel it vibrate
In my throat as I lie in bed an exhausted voice I catch
Ask each passing night why he’s gay if it’s punishment
Or just a symptom that life would necessitate living
More self-consciousness than most

Dan EncarnacionDan Encarnacion earned an MFA in Writing at the California College of Arts and lives in Portland, Oregon. Dan has recently been published in Word Riot, Eleven Eleven, The Southern Review, and/or, The Blue Mesa Review, Assaracus, Blackbox Manifold and The Los Angeles Review. He was the featured artist for Reconnaissance Magazine (Issue 2, 2013) and is included in the anthology Reduce: A Collection of Writings from Educe Journal 2012 (Educe Press, 2014), edited by Matthew R. K. Haynes.

This poem previously appeared in Assaracus.