Back to Issue Nine.

At Pegasus

BY TERRANCE HAYES

 

They are like those crazy women
who tore Orpheus
when he refused to sing,

these men grinding
in the strobe & black lights
of Pegasus. All shadow & sound.

“I’m just here for the music,”
I tell the man who asks me
to the floor. But I have held

a boy on my back before.
Curtis & I used to leap
barefoot into the creek; dance

among maggots & piss,
beer bottles & tadpoles
slippery as sperm;

we used to pull off our shirts,
& slap music into our skin.
He wouldn’t know me now

at the edge of these lovers’ gyre,
glitter & steam, fire,
bodies blurred sexless

by the music’s spinning light.
A young man slips his thumb
into the mouth of an old one,

& I am not that far away.
The whole scene raw & delicate
as Curtis’s foot gashed

on a sunken bottle shard.
They press hip to hip,
each breathless as a boy

carrying a friend on his back.
The foot swelling green
as the sewage in that creek.

We never went back.
But I remember his weight
better than I remember

my first kiss.
These men know something
I used to know.

How could I not find them
beautiful, the way they dive & spill
into each other,

the way the dance floor
takes them,
wet & holy in its mouth.

from Muscular Music (Tia Chuca Press, 1999).

Terrance Hayes is the author of Lighthead (Penguin, 2010), which won the National Book Award for Poetry; Wind in a Box (Penguin, 2006); Hip Logic (Penguin, 2002), which won the 2001 National Poetry Series and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award; and Muscular Music (Tia Chucha Press, 1999), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. His honors include a Whiting Writers Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a United States Artists Zell Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His new collection of poems, How To Be Drawn, is forthcoming from Penguin in 2015.