Back to Issue Twenty-Eight.

History Is After Us

Finalist for the 2019 Gregory Djanikian Scholars Program


like hounds raised on flesh      & starving

to please     their masters' curses

& traumas are generational:     we bury

our sons before     we’ve finished mourning

their fathers     you can learn a thing too early

& lose it too late:     what bodies are useful

& used     who calls the shots around here

& the police     how to love this land bitter

& inhospitable     trees that don our dead

for decoration     rivers digesting our men

giving them back     bloated & fish-chewed

waves of grain     amber     with our blood

mountains purple     with the echo of our outrcy

if we run fast it’s because     we are trying

to outrun history     if occasionally we break

out in song it’s because     we are so tired

Hometown Glory

Finalist for the 2019 Gregory Djanikian Scholars Program


Before learned I should master
my body’s dainty inclinations & stony
every soft inch of me with fraternal
inheritance, I discovered men’s arms
& navels, men’s bony angles & jaws.
It was spring; my mother’s marigolds
bloomed anyway; I came to Jesus
over & over. Believing in the possibility
of conversion, I sat in the doctor’s ramshackle
office, dignified his invasive
line of questioning. When I left I said
I wouldn’t go back & didn’t. The long road
out of there was straight but overrun
with dangers. Thieves came near masked
as friends. Men hid red histories
in their sleeves even they didn’t know. Now
when I go back down it I recognize signposts
& landmarks like images from a dream that means
nothing yet won’t be forgotten: The house
on Hiawatha where I was discovered
by my father, in drag as his wife. The pool
where I held my breath too long underwater.
The locker room where Eric Frye
showed everyone his penis. The junior high
where Colin Yoder didn’t want to kiss me,
where it seemed that no boy would. The park
where the news said men were arrested
for lewd behavior & the nights I parked
there & waited. The diner where James
outed me to everyone. The parking lot behind it
where I made out with a boy for the first time.
The high school where I wouldn’t call him
my boyfriend & the bedroom where I bargained
desire for mercy. This year, the marigolds
have bloomed as always, determined to see
their seeds’ work through, & it is all I can do
not to crush them: they are so smug in their
flower beds, so sure of themselves.

Chad Morgan‘s work has appeared online and in print with Hobart, Entropy, Analecta, Columbia Poetry Review, and elsewhere, sometimes as Indie Jones. He lives in Chicago, where he is completing a MFA in Poetry.


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