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FOUR Poems


‘Make me believe in you’—a lavender
throated plaint takes lodge in the cheek
of the jocund punter, sweet for all that’s
capaciously to come (on my face) not
failing to plug the Technicolor residue
of august simplicity. I am mother of this
house, preparing clock-faces for close-ups,
arranging crystals of the heart’s salt to cure
your queer return. I sip from the ode
of the ritually dejected, impure glamour
of the cruising fairies. Rouged and quartered
you follow me to an empty dive sick
with play, where the twinks are departed
and the jockstraps cannot hold, where
we cannot know the otters from the bears.
However slick your handshake, bodies
are not your empire.


after David Wojnarowicz

How to distract the body from its work
and yours, from silent needs laying still
and nude, hard-as-nails made manifest
in blush. Our little past: I’d trim pieces off you
forgive. Today the lid of your lotion jar
cracked clean and glassy at the temple
of self-improvement, a clink in the communal
showers, no joining fee, gift of life in a golden
shopping complex, pressed to join the ranks
of the visible and feel the cut of silver, crimson
wetness expressed by tissue. It will glisten, like us,
with traces of the rawest instinct, the lights
of broken indicators. They flicker to the tune,
unknown by metronome, of one corporeal song.


An easy letter or unsimple melody
chained to epics of problematic splendour,
the chequered auspice of remarks 
you called cute and I, old-fashioned,
unknowing schedules broke and hard
to keep when claiming rebellion at the drop
of a nib, spent by post-tense stops
and gay pains of irresponsible being.

I’m newly opened to finding solace west
combing stumbles in the arc of bent
togetherness, our mess, how luggage orients
us otherwise, recovering comforts of the amateur.
Express routes vex the promise, and dead ringers
phone, my voice arching to keep us here, so lone.


My serenity is no longer alarming,
just light and wired and lacking red
so I chase velvet and blonde
and hunger but find only the cut
in the trinity, the fatty joints
of the search while we pause
in moods before glassy shutters. 
What does disappointment
do? It sprouts not blooms and has
its thorns and takes as given
the freshness of enough, re-matching
chore to charm to make a remedy
of the over-indexed, to soothe like the lure
of the plant-based and the sting
of its abandonment, so open-faced
and bookish I go on to go off, fall in
and out of rising to quirks in the rind, 
I want to live in credit, the apex
of impossible behaviour, but tardiness
comes in stretches and drains the cline,
flexing dulls loose and honeyed
and at last the pocket buzzes in early
hours with a message: the triple threat.

Jack PARLETT recently completed a PhD at Cambridge University on gay cruising in New York poetry, and holds a Junior Research Fellowship in English at University College, Oxford, where he also teaches literary theory and modern American literature. His poems have appeared in Blackbox Manifold (co-written with Anne Stillman as ‘Otto & Gisel’) and the BFI Flare zine, and his essays and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Literary Hub, Poetry London, the Cambridge Humanities Review and Dazed and Confused. He is currently working on a book about Fire Island, and can be found on Twitter (@jvjparlett).

The lead image is a detail from David Wojnarowicz’s ‘Untitled (Time/Money)’ (1988)


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Partner to a press called Tenement, Hotel is a publications series for new approaches to fiction, non fiction & poetry & features work from established & emerging talent. Hotel provides the space for experimental reflection on literature’s status as art & cultural mediator. 

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