Back to Issue Twenty-Five.

i don’t go to gay bars anymore



someone tells me & sure enough
another boards up     soon there won’t be

a need for places like these anymore
there’s a word for what we lose

when we’ve gained our utopias
have all been urban have all been set

like jewels across the coasts we’re from
different elsewheres    evenings I sat

with my father to watch fish flick
the pond until dark    I’ll never go back

there isn’t a queer pastoral for a reason
though it doesn’t hurt anymore

does it I hold your hand through public
parks the eucalyptus trees all

peel overhead into strips the koi
flutter through we see another gay couple

making out on a bench & some days
it seems we’ve found it    a holy city

swollen with light & sound
on the back of the tongue so close

you could almost swallow it
I know it won’t last I’ve read

every myth    somewhere a western wall
still holds our prayers in its teeth

I want to be seen I want    to live
like in Jerusalem right before or right after

it was sieged


Jacques J. Rancourt is the author of Novena, winner of the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize (Pleiades Press, 2017) and In the Time of PrEP (Beloit Poetry Journal, 2018). His poems have appeared in the Kenyon Review, Georgia Review, Missouri Review, New England Review, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Best New Poets 2014, among others. He has held poetry fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, and Stanford University, where he was a Wallace Stegner Fellow. He lives and teaches in the SF Bay Area.

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