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how many times must i mourn this year 

Queer & There

GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell

mine was called tracks

because of its proximity

to the train tracks, you

could feel the rumble

if not for the bass

i'd go with my friend mason

we'd been friends since middle school

and came out at nearly the same time

just a couple years before. it felt

fated that way. mason danced

like he was the only one in the room

(which got us in trouble a few times)

flailing his fists and waving his arms

like he had never danced before

it was there that he told me:

you've been watching that girl all night.

when are you going to talk to her?

and it was there that I swallowed my fear

crossed the swirling sea of bodies

to ask her: do you want to dance

and we danced

that entire night

like we were strobe lights

unsure of how to be on and off

each other at the same time

i never went with the intention of finding anyone

so much as i went for a chance to leave my body

and i always left my body on the dance floor

didn't matter how shitty the music was

DJ, how many times can you play titanium?

none of us are titanium, especially on those nights

we got to become something so unlike metal

but still indestructible

like the mist of hot breath refracting the night

we could move around each other like air

we could move through each other

like intersecting spotlights

i never had to get drunk to dance back then

never had to take a shot

to become something lighter than myself

to move around other bodies

like we were swirling mist

i never had to get shot

to leave my body

how many people left their bodies

that day, across the country,

returning to memories of nights

where all our flesh became breath

how many people

are missed

is this not our history

how we keep existing

reviled in the way our bodies

move with other bodies

the way we move

around the fist

that tries to catch us

the other day, my friend and i

pulled off a canyon road, the road

we drive most nights when we feel

our lives falling apart.

we seem to make this drive

more often lately.

she showed me the spot

where she told the truth

for the first time

to the moon

and the mountains

and the river below

that she wants to do with women

what these landmarks do with each other

we shouted into the echo

our not so secrets knowing

the wrong sort of people

could hear us and do to us

what lead does to flesh

but here we still are

carving out space

like wind carves a canyon

can you hear the train whistle

can you hear the rumble

of a hundred phones

looking for love

on the other side

can you hear my pulse

or is that just

the bassline

Editor's note: An earlier version of this poem was originally published in Inauguration by Nico Wilkinson and Idris Goodwin, which you can find online at tinyurl.com/InaugurationIGNW.


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