Laughing Boy

Laughing Boy



It must be hard          with hips like that.     Must be shit

with lips like that.      What’s it like to be gripped   like that?

Must be shit to           live      like that.        No friends to give

a shit n’ that.



In the park off Brigstock Road, I saw you say yes to Laughing Boy,

who with a grin said come we go – so behind the train-track

and the Tesco loading bay that was a serious plunging.

I heard his knees in the leaves.


I feel an arching up when I see a boy’s bare ass clench.

I feel that trapped in my perineum is a trunk

that thinks and acts like his – I move like he does,

walk with bollocks like him; mid-way through a film I feel

compelled to check what isn’t there.


And when the house is silent, all mouths wet holes in the pillows,

I watch twinks ramify their points in this boy and this boy –

I watch them wince, nearly-men with their gruff gasp of completion,

muscles in neck and ass locked in.



After the news, we spent the day between your garden

and the corner shop. Single cigarettes, maltesers melted solid

in the packet. When we went to take them back, the bus pulled up:

boys from the year below were staring down, their white tongues

flicking the tip of their lollies, their ice-poles pushed deep into their cheeks.



I held your hair and pulled you close. Your collar was black,

the dampness of your two fat staffs met the smell of P.E.

It’s true what they said about your hips – wide and womanly.

I pressed mine to yours, ran a hand over your head and asked

how you’d like it shaved. How would you like to be smooth,

like molé on a knife? How about I cut under each breast

and sup the yellow roe? And then you touched my hand

and pushed it off, said please like you were asking for a polo.


I cannot know power from power, shame from shame,

I cannot be that young again. I cannot part the fibre from the flesh,

the error from the act, the hour from the afternoon.

Your body in my hands; the caution when you spoke.

And how we laughed it off, as though it were a joke.


Jay Bernard is a writer, zinester, cartoonist and film enthusiast from London, and a former student at Oriel College, Oxford.

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