FIVE POEMS by DALE BOOTON

OVER TEXT


we tell each other the sordid things

we want to do

to each other and to others

while the other watches or catches

in the act there

but not there

in the heat of the action an onlooker

of sweat and flesh and groans

that bounce around the room

like a ball dropped down stairs

that rush towards

a destination flooding out

into the hallway

where I’d hold myself

through my trousers watching

your bodies in rhythmic

transgression his gnarls of daddy

fingers stretching over

your back your hand around

his throat eyes pressed into his

as if trying to become one

 

I TELL YOU I LOVE YOU


but what I mean is I am grateful you are here

with me in this dark time against

the dim light of the flickering bulb against

the pushy sun and the dancing moon I tell you

I love you against the backdrop

of the distant nights that you crawled over me

fingers snagging at the hairs on my arms

asking me to hold you and I did out of love

out of duty out of respect for what we had or didn’t have

anymore


I tell you I love you

because I am thankful you are here with me

cosied up as the rain hammers its drunken fist against

the window again the way it had all those years

ago cocooned in the bed of my father’s house

my arms as barriers we couldn’t cross and again

in the world beyond the tracks the coy eyes

and unclean lips words never heard but understood


and I told you I loved you and you smiled

just as you do now when I tell you

that I love you because

I don’t know how to tell you anything else


I tell you I love you

but what I mean is

I don’t know how much longer I can do this

 

AFTERWARD


I am sipping breakfast tea and thinking of you it has been months

since we last met almost as long since I last wrote

about you about us about what we had and didn’t


the sky has turned a hideous congealed-purple colour

like a bruise as if someone had punched the sky days ago

and it has only just become apparent


I guess this is how I am feeling you could call it pathetic fallacy

could call it revelation after the fact could call it no call it

the ending to the original Planet of the Apes film


when Charlton Heston realises

he was home

all along

 

IN THE CLUB


we were freshly cut diamonds precious

jewels amongst the rough rubble-faces

built up from decades of partying lusting after

the newest gem to waltz through the door and

make this place its home for the night soon

to be gawped at grinded against directed

by the wandering hands to the centrefold the

dancefloor circled around the flashing darkness the

mighty plug ready to be pulled down through

the pipeline of smooth movers tugged out

to the smoking area toward what dismal light

offered for further inspection the fresh air

a treat the smoke a sourness that burned

the eyes of us who were new to the nightlife new

to the quick-step pace of whatever

this was whatever they would allow it to be if

they wanted it to be anything more than

the passing of stone over palm and so the story

unfolds of a lustrous mineral polished by the hand

who might pass it on after a night slightly-used no

profit made just relishing its beauty

 

THE MEN


the Welsh crush the boyfriend the comforter of the night

the supporter of Labour of Aston Villa of silence

the doctor who had a wife and a dead Christmas tree in the corner

the peacekeeper the Buddhist the Muslim who wanted to talk

afterwards who taught me the delicate truths of the world

the Christian who afterwards said we needed to head to church

to repent the barista the friend the other friend

the friend’s friend their friend too the friend I fell for

who wasn’t quite ready for more but smiled anyway

the friend it got weird with

the cinema buddy the writing pal the dancing partner

the ex who told me my writing would get me nowhere

who wanted me again months later detached

the uncle the father the son

the boss who took me aside whispered sweet nothings to me

made me work in little more than my dignity

the other ex the ex’s ex the ex of an ex of an ex of an ex

the waiter the bartender the smoker

the man who gave me a false name just as I did to him

the right one the left one the one stuck

in the centre of a triangle he couldn’t figure out

who walked out who stood on the outside and looked in

the posh bloke the poor bloke the man who offered all his

change to the homeless who saw goodness everywhere

the one who offered nothing but took everything

the one who stole my heart and promised me paradise

even if it was only for a single night

 

Dale Booton (he/him) is a twenty-six-year-old queer poet from Birmingham. He is a teacher by trade and a poet by nature. His poetry has been published by Verve in their Diversity anthology, Untitled: Voices, Re-Side, and by The Poetry Society. Most recently, his poetry has been featured by Ligeia, Queerlings, Fahmidan, Tealight Press, Dreich, Selcouth Station Press, Spelt, Acid Bath Publishing, and Musell Press. He is currently working on his first pamphlet.