Poem 160 ± November 11, 2015

Lawrence Schimel
Call Boy

Someone there is that doesn’t love a call
boy’s line of work, who notified your folks,
that they might put an end to this career
you’ve chosen for yourself: escort/masseur.

Your heart accelerates its steady beat
when you recognize the flashing number
your beeper’s display reveals: How had they
found out? No matter. You must call them back.

You doubt they’ll understand, but you are not
ashamed of what you do. Wary, of course,
in who you tell, for prejudice informs
many a reaction—but not wary

enough, it seems. Someone opposes this
oldest of professions. To be desired
is what we all desire, though few admit,
to others or themselves, how strongly they

possess this feeling—or rather, how this
yearning possesses them. Your parents fear,
of course, that you’ll catch AIDS, or wind up dead
in some back alleyway. But sex for sale

these days is almost safer than any
relationship, where trust might be misplaced
and rash decisions made in the heat of
passion. “Go ahead and fuck me without

a condom, but just this once.” In hustling
there’s a boundary, well defined, of what’s
to come—and often, who. No compromise
is made for love or pity, though someone’s

always trying to toe the line. That’s fine;
it merely helps define all the limits.
Good fences make good neighbors, after all;
it’s what these transactions are all about:

distance, disinvolvement, discovery
of barriers: latex and emotion,
things which keep men wanting more, and coming
back. Even you. You lift the phone and call.

Lawrence SchimelLawrence Schimel is  the author of the poetry collections Deleted Names (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2013), Desayuno en la cama (Egales, 2008), and Fairy Tales for Writers (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2007); the short story collections The Drag Queen of Elfland (Circlet, 1997), His Tongue (North Atlantic, 2001), Two Boys in Love (Seventh Window, 2006) and Una barba para dos (Dos Bigotes, 2015); the graphic novel Vacation in Ibiza (NBM, 2003); and the benefit cookbook Food for Life (Cleis, 1996), featuring recipes and anecdotes by LGBT celebrities whose royalties were donated to food programs serving people with AIDS. His children’s books include Volando cometas (Bellaterra, 2013), about women and HIV. He has won the Lambda Literary Award (twice), the Independent Publisher Book Award, and the Spectrum Award, among other honors. Since 1999, he has lived in Madrid, where he works as a Spanish-English translator.

This poem appeared in Deleted Names.