JANUARY 31, 1989

I wake to wiggle out my tiny pill.

Each morning I drown it with tap

Water. I wash myself with ghosts.

I am full of such weeping things:

Citations, language, and memory

Salivate me into the late morning

And don’t let it go. We were dying

So we stopped the Golden Gate

Bridge. We stretched the banner

Wide to say, We won’t let us go,

See us as we drop the page. Look

There’s people out there, fucked

Like an emerald is fucked by green.

It takes my hands to take its shine.

Take its green, right here, from me.


Just be honest about the cups & plates

& the length of the day in its brightness

In the neighbors’ kitchen the amaryllis

Shooting up petals in the neighbors’ pot

There’s something you’re not telling me

An expression like the oil an olive weeps

& there may be more that voices carry

Each time you take my hand & laughter

On this side of the television Agnes dims

Her eyes when she’s completely at peace

When I pick her up to jiggle her belly

& search the internet for hummingbirds

& squirrels she seems to adore the noise

Of what seems to be right in front of us

The moving screen of this life together


For pleasure, stick your fingers

Into your own ass, and you can

See how that feels. You either got

To practice or you don’t have to.

I’d argue that I cannot know

Anyone else’s queerness. I try

To access only my own inside

Warped by experience, these

Unexpected turns of phrase.

I was like the drunken summer

Beetles gone down warmer

Currents, swarming. Bobbing

And floating funny, I mean

I was multiple and naturally

Part of the ecosystem of bad

Ideas. I was gleaming, bright

With Boy Butter in the pools

Of Palm Springs. In the alleys

Behind bars, the dense bushes

Of national parks, I was exiting

Shining and suppler, heeding

The urgent calls for more

And more, or was it more

Political to tell you about it?

It was Lazy Bear weekend

So I told everyone about it all.

That was something I could do:

I could become a homosexual!

The closet was a terrible realism

Staked around me. It was a net

That could only keep me alive.

I committed myself to unspending

The obligations of a tender life.

That’s what it felt like, those

Were the class politics: everything

Ready for me to go, but I didn’t.

Career sabotaged with smallness

And the sex I adore, I’m a goner.

I fell like Orion’s jockstrap

And gathered up the planets.

I went out like a geometrician’s

Ray—an infinite line that explodes

Its single coordinate among

The nebulae. I’ve seen you there.

The star of your life streaming

Right by me, screaming fashion

And verve, hoping to sail across

The gulf between Oakland and SF

When BART’s just about to close

The night—but we want to live.

Eric Sneathen is a poet and queer literary historian living in Oakland. He is the author of Snail Poems (Krupskaya, 2016) and Don't Leave Me This Way (Nightboat Books, 2023). With Lauren Levin, he edited Honey Mine (Nightboat Books, 2021), the selected fictions of Camille Roy.