Poem 25 ± June 29

David Groff
Fire Island Song

It would be nice if you weren’t dead,
you with your hair and skin flame-red
and your way of getting me in bed.
It would be nice if you weren’t dead.

It’s not time’s fault or even fate’s,
though this second claim demands debate:
Too many dead to live, you nearly said.
You savored dread.
You liked where it led.

You let death happen with your
drinks and drugs, your tour
of all the high points of despair.
You were a living cigarette.
You blistered and burned down. You let
me down. This grates.
This isn’t fair,

I say, walking your beach beside myself,
your windy wispy ghost a stealth
seagull full of shit and caw.
You’re also wind. You fuck me raw.

You like where I’m led.
You wanted me to die, you almost said.
The sunset is a scraped-skin red.
I would be nice if you weren’t dead.

GroffDavid2400David Groff is the author of Clay (Trio House, 2013) and Theory of Devolution (Illinois, 2002), selected by Mark Doty for the National Poetry Series and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and the Thom Gunn Award from the Publishing Triangle. With Jim Elledge he coedited Who’s Yer Daddy?: Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners (University of Wisconsin, 2012). With Philip Clark he coedited Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS (Alyson, 2010). With Richard Berman he coedited Whitman’s Men: Walt Whitman’s Calamus Poems Celebrated by Contemporary Photographers (Universe, 1996). He completed the book The Crisis of Desire: AIDS and the Fate of Gay Brotherhood for its author, the late Robin Hardy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999; Univ Of Minnesota Press, 2002). David’s poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. He teaches in the MFA creative writing program of the City College of New York.

For more information, visit www.davidgroff.com

This poem appeared in Clay and is reprinted by kind permission of Trio House Press. It originally appeared on The Awl on