THE LAND OF COCKAIGNE
When we pose he says good, good, just like that & I feel like what his brush will do to our bodies is like what porn does to our bodies when we stop watching & just let go of ourselves for a second.
& because that’s true, I feel like shit, after you stop looking at this painting there’ll be that sudden shame of finding your body in the world again. You lie down & close your eyes & I just hope you’ve got some pin-ups
of my body latched to your eyelids like middle-school lockers. Later, when I see the finished painting, I will know he saw the cracking-angel-wings of my desire for you seeping from my pores. He painted them black, he says, so their light wouldn’t blind
the few people willing to even look at my timid body dressed in flesh- tone breeches, my legs inside of legs. & O how I imagined them your legs grasping me, your arms closing while I fell into the well of myself, until I reached the sweet, sweet water
at its base: you. At the end of the scene we silently play for him like puppets, when I have suddenly found again the shame of my body breathing in this world, I squeeze my chest & ask why am I gay, why am I gay as if that were even a question with an answer. & then he says got it
& you stand & come again to embrace me & your arms are warm & I can feel what he will do to them with his brush, how the art he’ll make will become your body in its most numinous moments & I stop asking myself the question because your arms are around me & I remember in them. I remember.
THE PROCESSION TO CALVARY
Everything here looks back. The pipe man notes the air
all crows, just waiting for the Jesus that is & the Jesus
that ain’t. How it happened was magic. How it happened
was you tortoise & hared my body to its limestone. Someone threw
in a cross, just to be safe. All the crows, just waiting
for you to look back at me, my gargle & prostration.
What I’m saying is we’re distant as the hills. What I’m saying
is we’re marching backwards towards the ring of bodies watching.
What I’m saying is you ain’t no mother Mary & no matter how you want it
I ain’t no Jesus, neither, just crows waiting crows.
J.M. Gamble lives and writes in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He currently serves as the poetry editor of Sundog Lit.