By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
"I was expecting your call today," he said. I was overcome. That night I took him to a gallery opening and asked him to help me direct a student play. He stared into my eyes with an inescapable, sexually ambiguous boyish charm.
He wrote me letters for months, even though we were together all the time. He named us "the Official Hooligans." We turned the play from an episode of Beverly Hills 90210 into an avant-garde experiment, the main character bathing in offal as she descended into madness. Meanwhile, his lingering stares slowly progressed to brushing his hand against mine, moving his leg closer to mine under the table.
After the closing-night party, we lay under the summer stars in a hammock. In a moment of silence I leaned over and kissed his cheek. He turned his face and met my lips with his and we kissed softly. He moved his hand up over my chest to my cheek. I slid my hand down over his taut stomach and into his loose boxer shorts. We made love for the first time.
The next morning as he left he said, "I'm probably going to be quite distant now." I never saw him again.
In Brooklyn, when I wait for the subway at school closing time, the same groups of kids come laughing and shouting onto the platform. Most of them are coupled up, the boys holding their girlfriends close to them as fathers do, though the girls are usually taller. I watch one pair kiss against the tile wall of the subway station. They appear impossibly novice as they turn their heads from side to side, mouths open wide enough to swallow each other's nose. After they kiss the boy writes "El Capitan loves Lady Capitan" on the tile wall with a red marker.
I once carved the words "I Love Claire" on a small space of wall hidden behind my single bed in the attic of my uncle's lake house upstate. Claire was my first girlfriend, and she was my girlfriend at the start of every following summer spent there until I was old enough to work back in Brooklyn. When we were first introduced (at age seven or eight) I remember all we did was sit and pick the ticks off of her dogs, cross-legged in the driveway. The dogs came up to our shoulders. I listened to Claire as she explained each of the personality traits of the enormous animals. She was tan and skinny, and I thought she was pretty.
In the middle of that summer on a rainy day we walked through the drippy forest together trying to light strike-anywhere matches on every boulder and stone we passed. (It was safer, she said, to light matches only when it rained.) At the end of the trail we stopped and I looked at her and put my tongue in her mouth. Her mouth was warm and small. She tasted like sulfur from the match she'd tried to strike on her new ridgy front tooth. Claire didn't seem afraid. We stood still there, looking at each other. She put her tongue in my mouth, hard and straight. I remember focusing on her wide-open eyes as she poked the insides of my cheeks with her stiff, hot tongue. From then on at the end of every day, I put my tongue in her mouth and she put her tongue in mine.
love in the time of the first amendment
heat travels up my river of sacred bone.
sanctus sanctus sanctus
how beautiful your dark red red bruise!
how warm the radius of
ulna and humerus, buttock and lip
each of our phalanges
wild legislators of the flesh.
The body of my senate stands
in your lower house,
as we roar our allegiance
to a mutual congress of excess.
on this night of ache
and welcome loss, be uncivil
with my liberties:
intrude upon my private offices,
handcuff me with love!
now that I lie indiscreet
with arrest as you, in flagrante
delicto, habeas my corpus
Luis H. Francia
Traditional Irish music sounds like raucous conversation, a cacophonous argument, really good sex. Passionate, willful, exploding with tension, notes less joining than colliding with each other. Maybe that's why they call them reels.
My eyes drift around the circle of musicians in the pub, and stop on Dan, his knees bouncing up and down to the rollicking tune. I look at the shoulders I love to bury my face in, hunched over and down, lips I can kiss for hours forming a gentle embouchure above the mouth of a flute. I can't help feeling a little envious, having watched the way he gets together with these musicians and picks up this intimate, intricate conversation after not meeting for weeks, months, years. I've come up to Boston from New York to see him, spend the weekend, and I wonder: Are we like that?
Outside the bar, he kisses me for the first time in weeks. We skip past the formalities, our bodies pressed together, but not tight enough, and I'm restless for the collision. In this frenzy of kisses I feel the fierceness he brings to playing in sessions, the competitive instinct. I push back with the confidence of knowing that in a way I've already won; he's mine alone for the rest of the night.