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Love Letter to Ace Perry photo


It's winter and again
my knees are beginning

to ache. My wants
are simple: (1) you

to teach me how
to spring from my back

to my booted feet
with what appears

from the crowd to be little
to no effort and

a grin, (2) you
for twenty-five minutes or

however long
sketching your form

takes me, (3) you
driving a cerulean convertible

with the wind and
my hands in your hair,

no matter the temperature,
no matter the snow

getting lower, wetting
the upholstery and

your unexplainably bare chest,
and (4) you

on top of me
like fleece

blankets in the Indiana
night. Here

we are and I’d drive
if we weren’t.

My car’s a piece of shit
but this poem

has a convertible
already. Let’s roll

the top back up.
These seats lean back.

The night we met
I wanted nothing

but a little something different,
a seat at the armory

far enough from the front
to not get pulled

into the ring.
I am not a willing participant.

I wanted nothing
but boom-boom-claps,

a few amateurs pinned
in embarrassing times,

and a new conversation
piece with the boy

I’ve drawn dozens
of times but

couldn’t commit to
leaving. Neither could

I believe we weren’t
the only gay couple

who paid to watch men
slam into each other

terribly. Couldn’t believe
they wore matching paisley

button-downs. Then, couldn’t
believe how wholesome,

how clean cut you looked
in a sea of denim

and ’80s highlights.
Couldn’t believe, again,

people in this town
wear camouflage unironically

and I live here.
And how can I describe the lights

at the match, except
as headlights searching

for as big a crash
as possible. When it came—

a shrimp’s concussion—
I was only glad

you knew the game
better. Pretty

boys never win, but
they never get taken

through numbing cold
on a stretcher.

It’s how I’d describe
my relationship:

always both the ambulance
and the wind-chill.

No matter our stagnation,
our directionlessness,

we stay
for its slow wheels.

The night we met
I wanted nothing but

a photograph of my hand
on your brief-clad hip,

my shoulder under
your arm, our grins

brighter than your name
bedazzled over your ass,

nothing but the time
to copy it by hand over

and over in the sketchbook
I’d never show a boyfriend.

But how can you ask
for such a thing

in Southern Indiana.
How can you ask

yourself to spend
the winter’s remainder

alone. What
we really need

is only a steam
and a good stretch.


image: Doug Paul Case