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2 Poems by Alexander Gallagher

A Retinography

The sun, a blue orb, burns artifacts

in contact lenses. Flares, so I am always

cradling my eyes. Thank god for midnight haze,

the Royal Farms’ fluorescents cooling off my head

which thrums full with the warmth of them.

Once a week, we saturate in each other.

When I leave, my windshield wipers shave cicadas

off the glass in armfuls. I let a wasp bypass the door

without a welcome. Invader angel. Overly sentimental,

I hide my arms under their pillow.

In the summer, they radiate until they’re tired of me

again, so I bottle the fruit sweat their skin produces,

my tongue scraping shaved ends on their stomach.

We confess to each other in the dark, between burgers

and french fry mouthfuls. Each night, I dream again.

The inn again, just moments after a gunshot suicide.

We all wonder at the stains, wandering into our room,

but still, folding gingham sheets, we smile. Surely,

we inverts turned up on earth to adore each other.

(In spite of all the rest.) We invert ourselves again,

kissing into women. This summer, I keep blooming

strawberry scabs they scratch and lick the sweetness off of.

My mouth seeks out something I forgot under their tongue

and spins it into a glue, while they are sleeping on my arms.

My contacts kiss the retinas.


Hide and Seek

Today I will be patient

Today I will be a steady needle.

Today I will write a poem meant for whispering To myself, knowing you will weave between its lines: a spectral thread.

Today I will write a slow poem, a healthy poem.

Today I will unwind the wet yarn of my brain and lay it out Three miles, twisting grey, and

I will follow it by my fingertips.

Today I will launder myself like dirty money. No,

Today I will steam with the oranges, and kiss them because they are round.

Today I will remember that the strong don’t prey on the weak,

But that the weak prey on each other,

And I must be healed to stop hunting.

Today I will comb the lion’s mane and untangle it by its strands.

Today I will remember how to braid, to soften my fingers for you,

For your hair that catches in my teeth.

Today I will make peace for all my selves.

My sweet-tooth and bitter incisor,

My salmon shimmer and my alligator skin,

The catfish feeding off my foot.

Today I will still myself. Listen:

When the wind blows sometimes it whistles

a lucky helix-song through my left ear’s rusty hoop.

Today I will be grape jelly: a boiled smear, but mostly sugar.

Today I will forget the knife and imagine something stranger,

I imagine you wash your elbows

thoroughly at night. I imagine a smell

about you, and myself: heating up

like a hard drive beside you. I spin.

Today I will eat the lemon and the rind for you.

Today I will laugh the child’s laugh.

Today I will imagine that you and I are beautiful together,

Fluorescent I with my cool hands on your back,

And you, deep and indigo, with your nose

against my ear. That we could dance

a nine-step together, on four feet.


Alexander Gallagher is a queer poet writing about intimacy, identity, and infection. He is also a current student at Bennington College, where he is developing a collection of personal poetry inspired by queer historical archives and medical documents. His past work has been published in Collision Magazine, The 120 Anthology, and Baltimore’s Qu-Zine.

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