Fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from our favorite emerging writers
Johnny, decades on & your returning occurs without me seeing you
anywhere save in the heart, the spirit's boomerang
for great love released as energy reverberant in wavelengths
to hands which held, shared in that creation in the first place.
Memory holds all of that as well as imagination keeping track,
pacing our separate quadrants for when words are put down in love,
committed to space on paper with passion
that love supersedes denouements, no matter how messy or clean.
Closure is no more than a rosebud then, tight in its secret scents,
but still capable of unfurling: ripe spiral of petals layered
connected right back down to their source.
After I left, in the first months stretching on into years,
their heaviness was often nightmarish
as if woven of your fragrant flesh, the folds of limbs pinning,
holding me in, lying on top & I having again & again to explain & convince
we were no longer together, in a threesome with alcoholism,
though I'd still wake as if gasping, fighting off the bed spins
of being uncontrollably drunk.
Even when news of your death showed up, those accidental beans spilled
by an acquaintance L.P.N. bringing my father his nursing home meds,
the dreams did not stop nor do I ever expect
your consciousness not to pop in, occasionally coincide with mine
though these visits have become more of ease,
a subliminal shared joke that we both know
how I am on to your tricks.
You are Connie Francis again, the Connie sensation
so many knew you as, half mad & hilarious
with your drag's bit blowsy craft taken so seriously
between the vodka - (it's scentless) - mixed with Gatorade -
(it hydrates) to combat nerves of some PSTD strain
for broken-into hotel rooms & hidden rapists to forever escape.
They'd become terror desperately, valiantly turned again on its head
with "Stupid Cupid" lyrics for where the boys were
with someone waiting with no lipstick on his collar
telling tales you'd have to chide with long elbow-length gloves,
a gown of sparkling black taffeta & wig of equal shimmer
Ah, but how you shaved everywhere for that fantasy,
pulling stockings into hungry love-for-sale heels
& I watched fearing for you, small boy still before his mirror
lip-synching to the boxed turntable, the spell of the vinyl
record whirlpool, while wanting your dreams to become real.
Johnny, your beautiful medleys spot-light shine
from P. Town dives still, tinsel echoes of Grizabella glamour now
off-stage, & no longer dragging the need to be touched
in a show-stopping torch song for you are Dorothy
& the friends of, barfly by barfly, clicking the ruby slippers
to at last have found yourself an Amazing Grace salvation,
with mercy for the wretched, in some place like home.
"Once one has seen God what is the remedy"
Blue, chin stubble, the razor jaw
at five o' clock constant
even right after shaving with the roseate skin
of the just awakened...
This too is how a face can be superimposed,
the eyes, long-set, & you now pouring through his gaze,
you & he never having met at all, yet there is the resemblance
in warm brown, in glints, the remembrance
of somebody living only in dreams.
A haunting is composite membranous stuff beyond flesh
as I touch whole systems afloat through who we were.
Surely you are that star there amid the wheeling gulls,
& surely you are the shore where my boat is lapping
the Mediterranean - you - gondolier of deep shadows
steering the stillness but, centuries on, will it matter?
Love, guns go off in salutes, squads & warning shots,
but I have seen the face of god & it is glorious,
atrocious, vast. I have been leveled, devastated,
& been brought back, so what is death now to me?
What is existence when I am this ever-fog?
What, I ask, what? - but his chin is against mine,
mouth finding mouth, & that answer is beard burns
for my gun powder thoughts.
The Detonator Heart
It won't go off while you are waiting.
One-one-thousand, two -
it feels the count of your breath,
outthinks your tinkering with this aorta
& that valve, a handsome technique to be sure,
but I am the pauses between each broadcast
made by a Tokyo Rose. I am the wavelengths.
I am the air waves, sonar in my stillness,
the slightest ticking motion:
your fingertips, your lips,
the lids of your eyes-----
Just blink & it could happen.
Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer. Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online. He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. Currently he is resident artist/curator for The Chroma Museum, artistic renderings of LGBTQI historical figures, organizations and allies predominantly before Stonewall, The Chroma Museum