At the end of the 80s,
he threw away his phone book;
everyone in it was dead.
Now strolling Christopher Street
to brunch and therapy,
he gazes into familiar doorwells,
remembering leaning figures, handlebar mustaches
curling, like fingers through denim belt loops:
those five o’clock shadows in the shadows.
He’s 66, paunchy and gray
but they still wink at him from the grave:
to the piers, the truckyard,
back to their place.
Crossing the cobblestones,
he’s still too stunned to be amazed
by all those faded one-nighters
lined up and waiting
for him to come.
Michael Montlack is the author of Cool Limbo (NYQ Books, 2011) and the editor of My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them (University of Wisconsin Press, 2009), a finalist for the 2010 Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Anthology. His work has appeared in Cimarron Review, Barrow Street, Mudfish, The Cortland Review and Assaracus, among other journals and anthologies. He lives and teaches in New York City and has been awarded residencies and fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Ucross, Lambda Literary Foundation, and Oberpfalzer Kunstlerhaus in Germany.
This poem appeared previously in the journal A&U: Art & Understanding and the anthology Poetic Voices Without Borders 2 (Gival Press, 2009), edited by Robert L. Giron.