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.