by Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith

How to describe what it felt like
to be gay when I was young?
I didn’t feel different, a given
for a boy who went to church,
didn’t cuss, and stayed inside
all summer. The guy said,
“Thanks for missing the football,
faggot,” after class, and I died
inside the flood of lockers. Not
dead, or unborn: a mercy I was
afraid of, but wanted. Hiding
in the corner to change for gym,
they laughed at my soft, pimpled
back. Boys on one side of the field,
girls on the other. “Aren’t you
on the wrong side, Smith;”
even the coach laughed, and I was.
Days I stared through three-pane
windows at trucks gliding
interstate to somewhere better,
stranger, not quite right, but true.
The gray-weather chest
I carried the summer I rubbed
the pillow between my legs
and thought of the UPS man
and neighbor’s tight belly
until the semen I wasn’t sure
how to clean, but God wasn’t
watching, he turned away,
and I begged him like I would beg
all men before I hardened to stone,
not one rolled away, but invisible;
stone, invisible, not right either.
What do you call the kid of a dad
a mother calls home from evening
shift because she caught him
watching “nearly-naked men”
on television? He didn’t spank
me, but didn’t love me anymore
in the same way. “Don’t tell
your mom about this again,
Dammit!” Damaged, Damned.

Last updated November 07, 2022