This is a first for me,
the de-icing of the plane,
melting the stoicism
of being away from you.
For three days, I was a business
man. I thought of you,
but the gears turned for hours,
the pistons of introduction,
the pivot of compliment,
Jensen, Hennessy, Klein,
the poets of this machine.
Even my nostrils froze in Chicago,
dizzying my head
with a cold you gave me,
so that even when you weren’t on my mind,
Missouri between us stole my breath
and would not give it back.
© Bryan Borland
Audio Version: Click to hear “How Facebook Ruins Legends”
Eric sends me a friend request
after his parole. He starts calling.
Sixteen. Seventeen times in a row.
When I do not answer, he leaves me
messages saying I have to talk to you;
I have to see you. There is the madness
in his voice that comes from needing
something forbidden. In the middle
of the night, he sends a text message:
Come sneak me out. He means
from the halfway house. He is addict;
I am crystal methamphetamine.
His brother, Michael, cannot spell.
His status updates are simple. They reek
of a straight man, cold beer, deer meat.
The smell of forced bachelorhood.
Where is the confident boy
with the balls to place his hand
on my school-bus riding thigh?
I know what you are, he said then.
Now he announces to the world:
99% DNA match. Guess I’m a daddy.
Joshua does not confirm me,
does not confirm he was my first.
He does not confirm how he
would touch me underneath
the blanket, how he wrote love
letters from Joplin, Missouri.
Yesterday a tornado ate the heart
of the town. Now Joplin
is gone. So is he.
Matt is military. We play
a game of chicken. Neither of us
click Add as Friend. He is Romeo
in army fatigues. I am Juliet
in starched pink shirt. Both believed
the other dead. The past is buried
and grass has grown over its grave.
You wouldn’t know the bones
of something spectacular
rest in peace beneath the dirt
where soldiers march to war.
© Bryan Borland
It’s close enough to call it a year. Last March 12, My Life as Adam showed up on Amazon.com, and soon after, I made the decision to transform Sibling Rivalry Press from a vanity operation for my own books into a legitimate publishing house. Since then, Adam has met with some success, and SRP has published anthologies and chapbooks (like Ocean Vuong’s Burnings), but today is special. Today marks the release of our first full-length collection since incorporating the company – Road Work Ahead by the iconic Raymond Luczak. He doesn’t consider himself an icon. But, trust me, he is. He came to prominence in the publishing world in 1990, when Christopher Street published “Notes of a Deaf Gay Writer.” Since then, he’s published more than ten books, seen his plays workshopped or performed in multiple countries, and won even more fans and critical praise with 2010′s Mute (A Midsummer Night’s Press). For his full bio, click here. He’s become a friend and mentor, and in our daily email exchanges, he’s schooled me on poetics and publishing. On March 26, we’ll officially launch Road Work Ahead at a familiar place for me, New York City’s Rainbow Book Fair, where Raymond will be performing work from the book.
Sometimes I question whether I’ve made the right decision in forming SRP. It’s a lot of work, and then there’s the pressure of wondering whether I can represent these authors in the manner they deserve. Luckily, people like Raymond, Ocean, Theresa Senato Edwards, Jessie Carty, Saeed Jones, Kevin Simmonds, Loria Taylor, and Steven Reigns have been willing to take a chance on me, and they have been patient as SRP has grown. This morning, when I woke up and saw the excitement over Road Work Ahead, I knew I’d made the right decision. Watching Raymond’s latest promotional clip (for the poem “Jules”) gave me chills. These are poems that deserve a home, and these are books that deserve to be read. There’s no turning back now, folks.
And that’s fine by me.
Road Work Ahead, thanks to Ingram, our new distribution partner, is available everywhere (that’s right – everywhere. Your bookstore down the street can order and stock it). You can, of course, get it directly from SRP. You’ll want it after you check out Raymond’s clip.
I will never be a father or an older brother
but that day I was both, a high school junior
giving the keys to you, barely 13, barely tall enough
to see over the dash of my Ford Mustang. You would
have been fine on those country backroads
had the sheriff not appeared in the rearview,
had you not lifted your foot and slowed to a crawl,
had you not been a highway toddler in irresponsible care,
then blue lights, of course, and we died together
as he walked to the driver’s side, ticket pad in hand,
but when he saw you he laughed and said
don’t let cops scare you, boy.
We tell this story over beers
on your 27th birthday. I am 31.
You have your beard and guitar. I have
my husband. I have never loved you more
than this moment. I have never better understood
what I’ve missed, what I’ve had.
© Bryan Borland