Outside the bar on Bourbon,
you and the other queers,
have claimed this beer-speckled ground as yours.
It is June hot, the rain hard and sudden,
and under the lesbian bar’s awning,
you are all faggotry, all lady Lazarus pretty boy.
The mosquito-haloed streetlights show
the short dress soft on your thighs.
Your friend snaps his fingers in Z-formation,
as a man up the street smashes a beer bottle
at a cop’s feet, yelling “fuck pigs! no cops at pride.”
The officer slips through the parade
to stop a shotgun a block up from throwing you
somewhere beyond blood.
Later, you are smoking in the quieter streets
just past Dauphine when a man bikes by
playing the trumpet, a poor man’s blues.
He looks you over with lazy eyes,
heavy music never ceasing.
But the he stops, watching you
and your friends pass a makeshift
spliff back and forth. When you converge
at the corner, he says, “he shoulda killed ya’ll”
spits at the ground and rides away,
still playing the same song.
Basking in the afterglow
Of the night you didn’t die
The sun is setting like melting glass
The winds reflect the wrath of fading winter
And we are on the back patio,
Lamenting the new mosquitoes,
Smoking the same brands as our fathers.
Lineage is tricky like that: an aberration
Without the hassle of burial, the taste
of something you never once ate.
You tell me your hand around the knife
Felt the same as when you first plucked the guitar
As when you held the instrument by the neck.
Like you just knew someone way back
had done the same exact thing, you said
the blade gleamed like your brother’s smile.
You said you didn’t think I’d pick up the phone.
But I did.
But I did, I say.
You watch the birds roost, the tree of rotting limes
I try to pinpoint in my mind where home is
For you. I decide it is not a place, but a series of things:
That lucky lighter, the Persian rug you dug out
The trash on Willow street, that Kafka book you carried
Around all last summer like a blanket or a bible
I look at your wrists, the brown nimble fingers
See the slight twitch gifted by the new meds.
But I did, I say again, reaching across
The worn wicker chairs to clasp your hand in mine,
Feeling it still under the pressure. But I did.
Theo Triplett is a black artist originally from New Orleans, LA. A senior in undergrad, their work offers perspectives of black, queer tenderness and violence, both interwoven and undervalued. Their work has previously been featured in Kweli, Screen Door Review, and Crosstown Conversations.