i loved chris muller that year

vintage photo of two boys, on vintage bicycle, male affection, gay

Because he had a sparse moustache
growing across his upper lip, a thin
precursor to manhood, an almost man—

because he smelled like cigarettes,
I loved Chris Muller that year.
I loved Chris Muller the day he asked

me into the locker room,
beyond the urinals and benches,
through the narrow hallway

of sweat and gym socks and the words
we used that would send us straight
to hell: Dickhead. Asshole. Fudgepacker.

We used words that would send us
straight to hell, but he had found one
that would get us there quicker,

had heard his father use it once,
a word so dirty it’d make you serve
twice your time in hell:

Pervert, he said his father said.
How his lips puckered at the word,
the hairy lip cowering over the mouth

like a stretched animal, a salt
pucker: A man who smells the seats
of bicycles
, he said his father said.

And I believed him, saw him grab
the world as I knew it and drag a line
through the middle, between men

who smelled the seats of bicycles
and those who did not. It would follow
me the rest of that day: Pervert,

out to the concrete parking lot,
in the long line of locked bicycles,
in each wire spoke, it tensed—

Pervert, over the handlebar grip,
up the aluminum post, until I found
myself face first against the leather

seat of his bicycle, the nose of it
worn and soiled with use,
and because the line was drawn,

because the voice from within
was his, I listened: Go ahead,
sissy boy, take a whiff.

Text: The Fifth Grade, Angelo Nikolopoulos
Poem published in Ganymede, Issue 7, Spring 2010
Image: Subjects and photographer unknown, via Schwar/flickr

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One Comment

  1. Roger Walker

    Please don’t stop. Your work opens my heart, poor old, rusted thing. There must be others who need this as much as I. Thank you again.

    Posted March 3, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

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