by Justin Thayer

I am no James Baldwin. This is no Paris. I do not know how to move because I am reduced to that place where he touches me. There is no other thought, part, knowledge. My body, here, here, skin and fat and muscle and bone and organs and all those thoughts behind my eyes, trying to figure out what to do next where to go what I’m doing with who without who — do I not know (?) I do not know anything anymore.

This is what I think: you are beautiful, that there are parts of you that you are afraid of — they are dark — and you like it there, but you are afraid that others will think you’re ugly for it, the crags and turns and horrors of you. I have those places too, disturbed, too close to a psycho too close to crossing the line but you draw me through them, into this perhaps love and I can’t tell you yet. Not now. Someday it won’t be a secret.

We’re too old to be young anymore. We aren’t making the scene part of the scene even aware of the scene (is there still a scene?). I am trying to decide whether I believe in anything (except us). In the future we won’t have to prove we’re worthy of existing because in the future I am safe and you are safe and we are thriving. This is a fact I insist on, that I make true with my joy. But in the present all is mauve and dying — what can we do? — we laugh in the dark, inhaling the earth and loving the asphyxiation. My eyes are wide open and my voice is mute. I watch the atrocities, newsflash flash FLASH, stare at them, not talking, not talking, overwhelmed, jaded, pissed, helpless and mostly distracted by what I need to do to live my life, to become something, I guess.

I don’t know if he feels this way, but I imagine sometimes that he understands.

Watch us ride this lost empire, sinking down down down and see the bubbles rise. We are chained to this money dollar devil thing. I prostitute myself away for nothing, just squandered days and bills paid and bills paid and bills paid. At church when I was a child there was celebration and singing: we would gather together (people use words like that in church, words like gather), and we would worship one god, monotheistic, one (1). At the time I didn’t know that god was us, just us, our best and worst ideas, gathered together and ugly and generous and lost in a room, looking for something better.

I found it (maybe, I think?). Touch me again.

Justin Thayer’s stories are mostly still in process. He lives and works in St. Louis, Missouri.

Image by Nicole Köhler from Pixabay.

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