MOMENT OF SELF-REFLECTION AS MANIMAL

I’m worried I’m going to lose my adult

teeth it’s irrational but I’m self-haunting

my gums into remembering what it felt

like to be blood caves because I grew up

going to the Bat Caves all the way up Canyon

Drive supposedly a scene from the real

Batman was filmed there supposedly I’d

check behind every boulder for any

combination of a Bat and a Man really

I think I’m just some combination of a man

my favorite part of the word masculine

is the part in the middle where it goes yuh

where the air tension rubber bands between

the tongue and the roof of the mouth

is erotic is what makes me all animal

inside and up and down and all around

as an animal I went pubic → armpit →

happy trail → upper lip → chest

pubes in fifth grade were easy to hide

a few yelps when the velcro on the swim

trunks bit back but at summer camp

I was the only one with animal armpits

so I did arms glued to side then feel shame

ferally alone below the showerhead

boy who is wolf: let the water trickle down

the fur listen to me it’ll be okay

shake the body furiously to dry off

comb thoroughly to prevent matting

pruning the paws is hygienic

and can also be an act of flirtation

come mating season there it is again

my gums are emptying out on me just can’t

help but howl at the moon oh boy it looks

like a bowl of milk oh boy I wonder if

this man I am can do tricks I wonder if he can

sit.

YOLO HAPPY TRAIL, STRINGS ATTACHED

I don’t think anyone has turned AIDS

into an acrostic and if I was born in

a different decade I would have been

remembered as a quilt. I remember

you as someone I used to hate. Dad

always told us to kill them with kindness

but I could never get them to drop dead.

Dead is your favorite oak in the garden

we like to call a cemetery. We remember

them as people who used to live.

Here’s a superstition that doesn’t exist:

each time a tombstone offers you a name,

offer one back. As in I’m offering a

bouquet to a patch of dirt. As in a great

white lays butchered on a beach so an

egret prays at its tail, fastidiously.

On dating apps we’re all torsos

and if you refresh the page every

profile becomes a stone on a wall.

Fastidiously, I remove my stone from

the wall to see if the whole thing

crumbles. It doesn’t so I’m left

to my own devices: a hula hoop,

us in the shower at four years old,

the shark in Jaws was an animatronic,

believe me when I tell you I’m ready.

Here’s a superstition that doesn’t exist:

if a bird smashes into a window, cut

a hole in the glass where the collision

took place. As in it knew all along where

it was going. As in others will follow.

Barker Thompson is a poet from Los Angeles, California interested in how poetry can be used as a tool for radical self-exploration. Barker attends Vassar College where he is an American Studies major with focuses in English and Art History.