Poem 244 ± February 3, 2016

Rich Goodson

Dad’s face at the window
ensures I feed the mouth
of the bonfire with all of it:
all of Brad, Marcus, Lukas & Jeff
& all of my short life with them: months cutting halos
round the lines
of their glossy contortions.

Since my gallery’s reveal
I’ve been a dud.
A cissy.
Dad’s pupils have shrunk as small as fleas.
He will not say a word to me.
He will not look me in the soul.
& Mum is not to be told at all.

Under these striplight stars
I feed the fire.
I feed it my glossy conspirators,
oddly relieved to have their American bodies brought to light, in this English dark.
I know I, too, will be scissored from my story
fed to a fire

because being cissy is human
immunodeficiency virus
is it not?
is abjection
is hyperchondria
is slipping off the tightrope wire somewhere between here & twenty-one
is it not?


Brad going down on Marcus
breaks out into aubergine lesions
the moment I put a match to it.

Marcus going down on Lukas
into green-edged fistulas.

Lukas going down on Jeff
is where the dye’s ammonias twist
into peacock-blue sarcomas.

Jeff going down on Brad
is where opportunistic rashes of mauve
grab grab at the air.


Dad’s face has gone from the window.
He’s left me to it.
So I snatch one glossy page back
shake shake the fire off it.
I hold its edge as close as I dare to my eye.
Its inner edge a hissing lava, moving inward, crossing bedsheets.
Its outer edge frays, gently cremating into air.

& then I notice that Brad, Marcus, Lukas & Jeff have completely slipped off the page.
I squint into the dark around me & there they are
crawling on their stomachs
through the delphiniums
like Army Ken dolls
neither created nor destroyed
eyes swiveling to the left & to the right, escaping.


Rich GoodsonRich Goodson is a poet from Nottingham, U.K. As a day job he teaches English language to refugee and migrant teenagers. He read English at Oxford and went on to do a doctorate in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University. He has two poems in the Penguin Poetry of Sex. He is Queer, Zen Buddhist, is growing a mighty beard—but no, he is not trying to be Allen Ginsberg.

This poem is not previously published.