Thomas Renjilian

The Summer After the Spring All the American Apparels Closed

We feel apocalyptic at the beach,
and all the gays are theorizing
that after the Anthropocene,
at last, we’ll enter The Age
of Consent—a term to be reclaimed
by the slugs who take over
our knocked-out corpses, hot
as we’d get at the Monster’s
basement dancefloor,
which we didn’t really like,
and suck from us what gives life
without taking it, while we lie
in our harmlessness.
Remember when
I got roofied at that bar
in Manhattan? No?
Two nights ago? Me neither,
but it’ll be like that.
And didn’t that turn out fine?
Even if I did pass out
on the sidewalk and the floor
of Mount Sinai St. Luke’s,
where the ambulance took me.
Even if I did lose my best tank top,
which is irreplaceable
because this is the summer
after the spring all the American
Apparels closed. Not so bad, even if
I did end up passing out
in the stairwell to the shared
room I sublet for my last
summer in Brooklyn, by the pier
where all June tourists
ferried to watch the sun set
behind the Freedom Tower
and consider how those pink
flashes were some of the last.
Was that the queerest
I’ve ever felt?
The closest to 'stripping
off the struggle
for power', and without
my agreeing to feel
that way? ‘The self
the sexual shatters’
and all that rectum
is a grave crap.
‘The phone screen the sidewalk
shatters.’ I twirled
and stumbled, the worst
bad dancer in bright
blue briefs, unashamed
as if I were just a visitor,
nameless and fading.
Negligence spidered
across my glowing nudes.
I looked good then.
Come back little man
on the crosswalk.
Stop this chopped off
hand’s bruising slap.
You can’t sleep here,
this is the street.
You can’t pee here,
this is the street.

I’m writing the writing
on the wall in piss. Awake
is a police state anyway.
Two men lifting me
up to the siren light.
I’d never felt so light.
This is just a test.
Finger prick.
But would it kill you
to put some clothes on?
I’m so tired, we’ll tweet
in unison from hospice beds
the slugs repurpose
for their Victorian leech.
Reduce, reuse. They understand
the untapped potential
of bodies, off-brand
sandwich bags leaking
spiked plasma, the suck
of a needle, a fist
clenched and unclenched.
You want me? Sure.
I wasn’t using me. Desire
a helpless shell-less mollusk,
dissolved on a salted rim,
immaterial in retrospect,
so did anyone slip
through my gritted
teeth? The slugs say
in unison, open wide.
Two days later I’m throwing up
on a towel at Brighton Beach—
incredible act of unconscious
agency, the body abjecting
sour slugs of undigested
past: inanimate hours
pool beside boxed wine
at the tide’s crest, and dissolve
fast as a stranger snaking,
swollen, through the bar’s crowd
to his rideshare, ready
after a long, good night for sleep.



Thomas Renjilian is a queer writer from Scranton, Pennsylvania. A graduate of Vassar College, he received his MFA from Oregon State University and is pursuing a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California. His work appears or is forthcoming in The Missouri Review, Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, Denver Quarterly, and Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading. He serves as an editor for Joyland Magazine and Gold Line Press. He lives in Los Angeles.