by Kevin Bertolero
Kevin Bertolero is the founding editor of Ghost City Press. He is a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire and is the author of Soft Boy (GCP, 2017). Kevin's work has appeared in Maudlin House, PNK PRL, Reality Beach, Tenderness, Yea and elsewhere. He tweets @KevinBertolero.
This poem was longlisted for the 2018 Peach Gold in Poetry with guest judge Morgan Parker.
This Too Shall Pass
You put on A Love Supreme and came back to bed. It’s strange to think that when we listen to Coltrane in your bedroom, I’m not feeling your heartbeat through two fingers but rather waiting for you to tell me you’ve felt enough. Better than house music or anti pop, you tell me, and when I hear him play I think of south Philadelphia, you know, he died so young. You read to me your selected tweets about socialism and post-presidency Obama and I find this endearing, not in a way that holds me back, but reminds me that seeing our breath in cold air was important, the way you kissed my bruise. Our only hope for retirement is the end of capitalism, you joke—but not really. I think you’ve found a new aesthetic, sincerity through social change. We are activists, or hope to be, or wish we were, or rather stay inside reading novels about despondent boys. You wear Revlon 215 and you’re always late to work. Late to bed, you say, because social media really helps you think. So I float in your bath water with thirty-two minutes of jazz. I’ll dry my body and we can tell each other about our first times, about how we knew. I was eleven and couldn’t close the pop-up ad— beautiful boys, all eighteen. We discuss former loves as shadows, our former selves. In photographs I show you I was happy while camping (Pawtuckaway Lake, June 1999), flower boy at my cousin’s wedding, dancing to synth-pop with girls in a middle-school gymnasium. You’ll remember these stories even though I ask you not to. I spit your hair from my mouth, press my face to your shoulder. We should revel in our shame, you say. There’s nothing wrong with being proud.