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Berlin Poem for Owen


I laugh when I realize you’re also noticing

the near-naked men in leather harnesses

on elevated platforms, 

everyone feigning nonchalance in the line.

You look so polished in your white button-down, 

so controlled and untouristy

we don’t struggle getting past the coat check.

Then bursting into the club with you,

the guttural thrum of techno

and how you aren’t afraid to dance, haven’t been

since that boy called you a faggot in the tenth grade.

When you’re turning around to get a drink,

I find myself randomly in awe 

of your sturdiness, wanting to tell you

we came this far

or something equally trite

but instead I let you disappear onto the balcony. 

We grant each other our private fantasies,

knowing only a few can converge,

lines perpendicular for a long second.

That’s how it is, I think, inarticulately,

as you return with a gin and tonic,

the sort of Zen repose I only get

when you’re moving your hips,

about to tell me a joke.


We don’t get home until sunrise,

the streets orange-tinted and industrial.

Too riled to sleep, 

we watch a free movie about a teenage drug addict.

We are burrowed on the couch like immobilized cats, grotesque,

not needing beauty. That is exactly what you do for me. 

When I met you, we were chubby, suburban,

poorly-dressed, fourteen. 

We didn’t know the first thing about our bodies. 

We ate together every lunchtime.

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