SELECTED POEMS AND READINGS

MIRROR BOYS

“Bryan Borland honors his husband and anticipates their future son in this breathtaking poem. THIS is how you write a love poem!” (read at The Good Men Project by CLICKING HERE.)

_____

LONOKE
published in Glitterwolf

We find one another grown
in half-mowed cemetery grass

across the highway are adolescent fields
bodies on the cusp of gin

I am the son of a farmer
you / the son of a mortician

we grieve like we kiss like we eat
these lantern ways of our American south

small towns have their limits
cars filled with families pass

seeing us they think they understand
why I cling to you / something has died

yes / we buried our dead today
now we celebrate our living

_____

THE JUMPERS
published in Between: New Gay Poetry

A thousand boys move to San Francisco, where
Kerouac hits like water. The body stops. Remains. Just

like the jumpers the heart keeps going. Some boys travel
there to launch themselves from bridges, all scraped-

knee red, circus angels doing backflips with needles jutting
from naked bellies. Hear them sing till waves eat their bones.

Pass them down Chinatown’s stinking rows, headless
chickens hanging like wasted rich kids from chandeliers.

Some boys want to fly before they want to write. They kiss
the feet of pretty ones, don’t speak to men making love

where mapmakers pissed themselves and left beautiful
stains. Some boys find jobs and apartments by reading

obituaries. The jobs are crushing, the apartments’ empty
bedrooms full of mirrors. These boys jump to die. Other boys

find jobs and apartments by reading poems. The real jobs
begin at quitting time. They smile in photographs. They do

not turn their backs on dirty history. They are not victims
of residency, these boys. These boys, they jump to live.

_____

SONS OF ABRAHAM
from  My Life as Adam 

My grief grows with the years. I count
seventeen Octobers come and gone,

imagine a green-eyed boy
with hair the color of straw,

wooden walls sturdy on branches
long since chopped and used

for firewood.  The older I get,
the more aches and pains: a nephew

and a treehouse, these things
my brother would have made.

_____

PILGRIMAGE TO ARKADELPHIA
from  My Life as Adam

We lied to our parents
and drove too fast on an overnight trip
to revisit people and places from the limp
and leaning pedestals of his childhood memories.
I helped prop them by listening from
the passenger seat as he told of
what life was like before his parents’ divorce,
before Pangea cracked and drifted apart and
distance as he knew it was created.

A hundred and twenty miles at fifteen is continental,
when crossing county lines seems foreign, when
feeling warmth through the holy shroud of tight denim
is enough to inspire acts of self-inflicted arson.

He knew I was in love with him. I’d hand him
painstakingly-crafted letters on folded notebook pages,
sweet words the same as any cheerleader
would write to the High School Golden Boy.

But he was never golden, this one.
He was a tarnished Boy God of sun-soaked skin,
North Carolina eyes, Arkansas tongue. Southern
Colossus chiseled in
Arctic-blue crystal and cloudy onyx,
black hair he or I would push away from his eyes,
black heart that in private pumped lava
just for me. He was
a chest just beginning to define itself,
to define my thoughts and my
slow unfolding.

He was lips wet with spit I craved
and chipped teeth sharp and almost a man.

I remember the moment I acknowledged
I was aroused by thoughts of kissing him,

him, another he,

when before it had been the
bare bone basics,
sex raw and rough, like boys with dirt-stained knees
wrestling
with no hint of softness or intimacy.

My hand moving across
the newness of his pectoral muscles, it was the same as
two fifteen-year-olds driving
their first hundred miles in the dark.

When we made it,
he showed me his old house
but couldn’t remember what he’d really come to see.
One in the morning with nowhere else to go
we parked under an overpass and made
peace with geography.

When he looks back,
I’m sure I’m not the jewel in the crown of his youth
but for that year
I was queen in his kingdom.

I still carry the title of royalty.

_____

INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO APPROACH THE BEREAVED
from Less Fortunate Pirates:
Poems from the First Year Without My Father

Do not dance around
the dead elephant in the room.

Do look over your words in the mirror
and remove the last sentence
before it leaves your mouth.

Simplicity is always best.

Do look them in the eyes and say
I’m sorry for your loss

and

Please let me know if you need anything

even if
you secretly hope
they won’t.

_____

INTRODUCING A GRANDSON TO HIS GRANDFATHER
from Less Fortunate Pirates:
Poems from the First Year Without My Father

You will know him through your own
sense of humor, the practical jokes
of heredity that make your eyes water
to the detriment of friends.

You will know him through acts
of kindness, the anchor of heart
that compels you to share your treasure
with less fortunate pirates.

You will know him, little Noah,
when a cat stakes her purring claim
against your leg, when you walk
the first of many dogs on winter nights.

You will know him in your name,
in your knees, in your near
tone-deaf ears that hear melodies
beautiful in the absence of pitch.