He leans into the ruined doorframe
of The Edge on 18th Street,
where the disco ball still turns dreamily
over the worn parquet floors, casting
its glass snow on walls postered
with 70s porn. Drenched in drugstore cologne
under the gauze of sulphur and smoke,
he blazes in the early morning
like a wig on fire, takes a long drag,
and the bandaged light fills the hollows
of his gold cheeks like a swatch of sequin
from an old queen’s gown. Men saunter by,
touring the lush gardens of youth. A muscle boy
in a “Nobody Knows I’m Gay” t-shirt blurs past
on rollerblades, his wheels sending bits of grit
and gravel into galaxies of mist. A pack of twinks
cruises toward Powell, toward the hammered iron
of trolley rails that spiral into fog’s country of ghosts,
ferrying whispers into the safe harbors of each other’s ears.
He isn’t waiting for the past to stroll up
like an old lover, swallowing him in his arms.
He stands there as if he’s still twenty-two,
his body chiseled into monument form,
dressed only in what’s tried to break him,
lovers devoured by death, blood
that tunes itself each day to a viral chant.
He does not shine, exactly, but wears
the benediction of endurance, verdigris
of everything that has fallen away.