Eros Was a Boy I Loved in High School

—After C.P. Cavafy

You’re Chaos-born in a post-practice ice-bath;
you need heat. I fold paper into cranes and find you
hidden in each crease. I cut a hole in my skull.

I’m trying to let the secrets in. Just this once
let’s eschew meaning and shrug off shawl after shawl
so our shoulders are cold in the autumnal evening.

O dappled acorn rain on the roof! O coarse stubble
on a chiseled chin! O you! Ditch starched army blues
for a towel—Nude Lucifer pouring water over hot coals.

See steam, see me, see only what you need to get by.
Why, I’m merely clipping snippets of memory
for a word-vomit scrapbook. None of this is real.

Remember when you learned you had a sister,
how you confided in me? I kept scrawling your name
under my tongue, swallowing the shape of you

like a stone—you’re stone; I’ve always thought so.
The Greek gods weren’t blonde but they all looked
like you, probably fucked like you too.

Keep them, your stories, to your carved-marble self,
but to me, your blue eyes, surrender them—
and I will bite your ear the way you used to bite mine.

Cover art by Siri Margaret Stensberg

John Byrne

John L. Byrne is a queer writer from Nebraska, where he studied creative writing and French, and currently lives in Charleston, South Carolina, where he received his MFA in poetry at the College of Charleston. He currently works as a manager at Buxton Books. His work can be found in Roanoke Review, Pamplemousse, and Charleston Currents.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *